The Maryland Angler's Network supports Catch and Release
By following a few simple rules you can be certain that released fish will live to be caught again. Remember that a fish that appears unharmed when released may not survive if not carefully handled. Here's what you can do and methods to work with to ensure the well-being of the fish that gave you so much pleasure when it was on the end of your line.
Time is of the essence. Play and release fish as rapidly as possible. A fish out of water will suffer brain damage due to loss of oxygen. A fish played gently for too long may be too exhausted to recover.
Keep the fish in the water as much as possible. A fish out of water is suffocating and, in addition, is many times heavier. He may pound himself fatally if allowed to flop on beach or rocks. Even a few inches of water under a thrashing fish acts as a protective cushion.
Gentleness in handling is essential. Keep your fingers out of the gills. Do not squeeze small fish - they can be lifted and held easily by holding the lower lip. Always try to use wet hands when handling fish. Dry hands or rough handling will remove the slime that covers the fish and protects it against disease. Nets are helpful provided the mesh does not become entangled in the gills. Hooks and lines catching in nets may delay releasing, so keep the net in the water.
Unhooking: Remove the hook as rapidly as possible using longnosed pliers UNLESS FISH IS DEEPLY HOOKED. If deeply hooked, cut the leader and leave the hook in. Do not tear out hooks roughly. Be gentle and quick. Small fish, especially, may die from shock from tearing out a hook.
Reviving: Some fish, especially after a long struggle, may lose consciousness and float belly-up. Hold the fish in the water upright. Move the fish forward and backwards so that water runs through the gills. This is artificial respiration and may take a few minutes. When it revives, begins to struggle and can swim normally, then release it to survive and challenge another fisherman. You have done your job well.
Copyrightę 2005 The Maryland Angler's Network. All rights reserved.