Catch & Release
Its great the see the amount of anglers lately that are practicing catch
& release. This will help to ensure healthy fish stocks around our shores
for future generations. However, many fish returned will not survive. Although
you can never guarantee a %100 survival rate, there are a few things you can
do that will increase your success rate:
- Use appropriate tackle and bring the fish in quickly to reduce exhaustion.
Although light-tackle fishing is becoming increasingly popular, a tired
fish will find it very hard to recover once returned.
- Bend down the barbs on lures that have treble hooks to cause less
damage to fish when releasing them. Better still, try removing one of the
hooks, or even replacing the treble with a standard hook.
- Know the best way to handle the fish species you are targeting and have
release equipment ready. There are many unhooking tools on the market.
Disgorgers, forceps and needle-nose pliers can be found in most tackle shops
and if you fish there's no excuse for not carrying the suitable equipment.
- If you can't see the hook inside the fish, cut the line as close to
the hook as possible. It has been proved that a large proportion of
these fish will survive.
- If you're beach fishing never drag a fish along the dry sand or shingle.
By doing this, the fish has effectivley lost the slime on half of his body.
- Leaving the fish in the water during release is best, but not always practical.
Therefore, try your best to avoid removing the fish's slime, which
protects it from bacterial infection. Only touch the fish with wet hands.
- Be ready to handle the fish as efficiently as possible - have all gear,
cameras, etc. ready to go. I know its obvious, but try to keep in mind that
these fish are unable to breathe the entire time they are out of the water.
If you do find yourself caught short and need to prepare your camera,
keep fish in the water while you get ready.
- After going to so much trouble with carefull unhooking and handling, don't
just chuck the fish back in the water! Release fish gently head first
into the water. A fish that has been stressed by the fight or handling should
be revived by moving it forward in the water to promote water flow over
the gills. Make sure the fish's head is totally submerged. It may take up
to a minute for a fish to regain the strength to swim away.
There are some fish which may require special attention:
Poor wrasse suffer really bady with catch and return! Although most people
do return this species, a combination of deep water, tough mouths and high
fishing platforms result in a high mortality rate. Therefore, special attention
should be taken when wrasse fishing. When fishing in more about 20ft of water,
fish brought rapidly to the surface will quite often result in the gases in
their swim bladder expanding, often rupturing the swim bladder. This can often
easily be remedied by reeling slower once you have the fish out of the kelp
and rocks. I have often seen people returning wrasse by throwing them 20ft
down a rock face - how are they going to survive a belly-flop like that! Take
the time to get as close to the waters edge as possible, and if this proves
to dangerous, carry a long-handled landing net or a drop net for returning
Mackerel are an extremely fragile fish and do not lend themselves easily
to catch and return. However, if you make sure to never handle them, you are
greatly increasing their chances. This will often prove very difficult as
if you shake them off the hook, its hard to hold them over the water and so
they end up glancing off the rocks on the way back. A very effective way around
this is to hook one of the exposed treble hooks onto the 3rd last eye on your
rod. Then hold your rod over the water and give it a gentle shake. Because
the treble is now upside down, the fish should easily fall off the hook.
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