Catch And Release – Fact Or Fiction
By Iain Loveman
Is it possible to catch and release a fish without harming it any way?
The answer is NO!
So, now you have to decide either you want to catch a fish to provide a meal or catch a fish and release it with the minimum amount of damage allowing it to recuperate and survive.
What we are talking about is known as delayed mortality.
I can hear you saying, “I practice catch and release and I do everything I can so the fish will live”.
The question is are You?
How many of us use a 4 to 6 lb. test and set your drag loose so you can “play” your prey?
This technique prolongs the fight and stresses the fish out.
Do you really think that the fish say to themselves, this is just a game and this guy is going to let me go?
Of course not, your fish is hooked and is fighting for his life every time. It is recommended to use heavier line and put the pressure on to get the fish to you as quickly as possible.
How many of us use barbless hooks or squeeze the barbs with a pair of pliers?
Although some damage is inflicted it is a lot less even to the point where they do their own catch and release.
Can you say you use circle hooks and are aware of the technique used?
It takes a little more practice but when you set the hook you only embed the hook in the lip.
Have you ever removed the treble hook and replaced it with a larger treble?
Think about how many times your hook was swallowed to the point of no return.
Do you remove the side hook?
I can’t count the number to times the treble nearly fell out of a Bass’s mouth but the side hook was impaled in the gill or eye area.
Let’s talk a little about those release methods.
Ok, so you’ve got your bass, crappie, sunfish, muskey, walleye, etc. and you reach out and grab it while it dangles on your line.
Do you grab it by the lip? Do you hold it by the gills? Do you hold it gently squeezing the sides?
Do you use a rubber net or a string net?
You know that slimy stuff you got on your hands?
That slimy stuff is part of the fishes immune system and by removing it you have effectively killed the fish by opening it up to infection. Your prey will not die today or tomorrow but you might recognize your catch as it floats by on the surface the next time you visit.
Believe or not the safest way to catch and release is to never touch the fish, just cut the line and hopefully, the stomach juices should dissolve the hook in about a week but short of that using a cradle or rubber net or grabbing your fish by the lip would be your best choices. Grabbing and holding your fish by the gills is an automatic death sentence.
The whole point is to increase the survival rate, so that future fishing will be possible.
Just some food for thought.