Know the proper technique for catch and release fishing. Keep those big ones healthy and strong. Your kids and grandkids will thank you!
There is nothing more enjoyable in this world than a great day on the water. If conditions are perfect and the fish are active things don't get much better. Well, maybe catching big fish can add a level of excitement that is hard to match.
Fish populations across North America are, in general, suffering. Stocking efforts and recovery programs are happening virtually in every jurisdiction. Some areas are suffering more than others. Think about it. How often have you heard someone say, "The fishing just isn't as good as it was a few years ago". That goes for a number of lakes and rivers right across this continent.
The good news is you can do something about it. Catch and release fishing is one of the keys to help populations recover. It is pretty straight forward - keep only what you are going to eat. And just as importantly, let go the big one's (they lay many times more eggs during the spawn).
Too often we see anglers keep more fish than they will eat. Often this is done out of ignorance of the impact to the water system. Unfortunately too often it is done out of lack of respect for the fish and water they are taken from.
This has an unbelievable impact on fish populations. Think about it. A good fishing location that has red-hot walleye fishing in the spring for eight weeks can have as many as 100 boats a day visit it. Particularly if the lake is accessible by road. Assume that each boat has 3 anglers in it. Also assume that the limit for walleye is 5 per day.
8 weeks x 100 boats x 3 anglers x 5 walleye = 12,000 walleye! If you are rolling your eyes at that number, don't. There are many lakes that are under tremendous pressure like this and our fish population is taking a pounding!
Catch and release fishing is a key to helping our fish populations recover. The key to catch and release is to reduce the mortality rate of the fish. There are things you need to consider. Use a barbless hook. It makes the time the fish is out of the water much shorter. It is also much easier on the fish as the barb can often get caught in the throat or the gills making the odds the fish will live much longer (plus it is a lot easier on you as you take the hook out).
Try to land your fish quickly. The less energy they spend on the way into the boat, the faster they will recover. This is a key element often not thought of during catch and release practices.
If you can keep the fish in the water as you remove the hook, this is a huge advantage for the fish. If you need to pick up the fish, wet your hands first. Try not to squeeze to hard as you hold the fish while you remove the hook. If you can hold the fish upside down, quite often this will immobilize it, and give you a chance to quickly remove the hook! Above all, be gentle!
Often you will need to hold the fish in the water as it "catches its breath"! Be patient, this is an ordeal for any and all fish species. When catch and releasing a fish, do your best to release it in slow water.
If there is a current, make sure the head is facing upstream. This will give it a chance to regain its strength and equilibrium. It also forces water through the gills helping the fish realize much needed oxygen. If there is no current, slowly move the fish forward and backward in the water to get the water through its gills! Make sure you don't release an exhausted fish until it appears the gills are working properly. When this happens, the fish will usually swim out of your light grip on its own.
It is the responsibility of every angler to take care of our fish population! Limit your catch. Let go the big ones go, and ensure a productive resource of fish for generations to come!
For more information visit http://www.freshwater-fishing-canada.com/catchandreleasefishing.html .
Thanks for reading!
Good luck out there!
About the author
Craig Fiske is from Saskatchewan Canada and has been an avid angler for over 35 years! For great advice on catching big fish, check out http://www.freshwater-fishing-canada.com! Tips on walleye, pike, trout muskie and more. Practical advice on when to go and where to stay on your fishing adventures. Fishing tips cover all the seasons, including winter. Delicious fish recipes too!
Written by: Craig Fiske