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Recommendations for catch & release

Don Quilici

According to the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW), with the ever-growing interest in conservation, many anglers have adopted the practice of catch-and-release fishing.

This practice involves catching a fish and then releasing it, in a timely and controlled manner, back into the water where it was caught.

The key to successful catch-and-release fishing is doing so in a manner that gives released fish the greatest opportunity for survival, otherwise, the practice is nothing more than window dressing.

NDOW offers the following guidelines for giving a released fish the greatest chance of survival:

It’s hard to imagine using a fish hook with no barbs, but the first step in catch-and-release fishing is using barbless hooks. Without the barb, it’s much easier to remove the hook from a fish’s mouth. While barbless hooks can be purchased, they also can be made by bending a barb over with a pair of pliers.

Bait fishing with a treble hook is not the way to go.

One of the fun aspects of fishing is playing the fish, but playing a fish to exhaustion will almost ensure a released fish will die. That’s probably not a real issue if you plan on eating your fish, but if you plan on releasing it, land your fish as quickly as possible. When you land your fish, use a fine-mesh landing net. Doing so will prevent the fish from thrashing on the shore and make landing the fish much easier.

Fish are covered with a mucus coating that provides them with a level of bacterial protection. To protect that coating, it’s important to keep your fish in the water as much as possible. It’s also a good idea to wet your hands and net before handling the fish. Avoid touching or putting your fingers inside the gill slits. Hold the fish by placing one hand under the fish near its head and the other hand near its tail.

Once you have control of the fish, use hemostats or needle-nose pliers to remove the hook. This will help to protect your hands from hook-related injuries and is much easier on the fish than sticking your fingers in its mouth.

If necessary, cut the line or the hook itself. This can be very beneficial if a fish is hooked deep.

To release a fish, hold it upright in the water and allow it to swim away under its own power. If the fish is bleeding from the mouth or gills due to your actions, you’ll need to keep it and keep working on your catch-and-release skills.