1 – WATCH THE WATER TEMPS
Water temps above 20C produces stress on all trout species and the higher the temps get, the bigger chance they have of getting over-exhausted and dying after being released most fisheries now close these days when they think the fish are starting to stress out.
2- FISH BARBLESS HOOKS
Barbs increase the size of the puncture in a fish’s mouth and tears more of their skin when they are removed. These wounds don’t heal as well and can harm the fish’s ability to survive. Pinching your barbs makes for an easier release and for less overall damage to the trout most do this once they have reached their fish limit or when they have one for the pot. But why not use barbless hooks all the time modern hooks are so much better and you will not drop that much more and makes unhooking much easier for you and the fish.
3- GOOD C&R BEGINS WITH PLAYING THE FISH WELL
The key to proper catch and release is playing the fish quickly and safely. The longer you play a fish, the more lactic acid is built up in their system and the more they struggle to recover.
Play the fish quickly by keeping side pressure on the trout to bring it to the net quickly. Side pressure is turning the tip of your rod to the left or right of the fish to turn its head back towards you. You’ll be amazed how doing this can bring the fish in quicker and with the heavier leaders, you can bring them in faster.
Landing the Fish
3- KEEP THE FISH IN THE WATER AND OFF ROCKS, BANKS, AND LAND
Landing the fish is where most things go terribly wrong. Fish have a protective slime coating that stays off infection and diseases. For trout, this makes them drastically more susceptible to whirling disease and other infections and diseases that kill trout days after being released. Placing the fish on the rocks, banks, grass, or other places out of the water harms the fish in three ways:
- It removes the protective slime increasing risk of disease or infection
- It can damage the fish beyond recovery. Fish can’t handle damage to the head, gills or gut since they don’t really have much in terms of a skeletal structure. Gravity out of the water is much greater and causes enormous stress on the trout’s system.
- Fish can’t breathe out of the water. Every second you keep a fish out of the water can reduce their chance of survival by 10%. 5 seconds is a coin flip on survival.