TIPS – Keep Fish Wet Tips help support the broader Principles. Most Tips do not require you to purchase more gear, but rather spend a little more time on preparation and mindfulness before heading out for a trip and while on the water. This list provides simple and easy actions that every angler can do.
SECTION ONE: BEFORE YOU GO FISHING:
FOLLOW LOCAL REGULATIONS In some places and for some species, it is illegal to remove fish from the water. Examples of this include wild steelhead, salmon, and bull trout in Washington State, and Atlantic tarpon over 40” in Florida. Likewise, some areas require barbless or circle hooks. Be aware of regulations and any waterbody-specific variations.
THINK TWICE BEFORE GOING AFTER SPAWNING FISH Angling fish that are on route to spawning grounds or are in the act of spawning can disrupt a critical part of their life cycle and impact future generations. In some cases fish are especially vulnerable to capture when they are aggregating to spawn, or are especially aggressive as they defend nests and territories. Depending on the species of fish you are after and their spawning habits, you might want to forego fishing for them during their spawning season.
BE WARY OF WARM WATER Be extra careful of how you handle fish when water temperatures heat up. The metabolism of fish is directly linked to water temperature and this, along with the exercise of angling, can make fish more vulnerable to the effects of catch-and-release. In most cases, dissolve oxygen decreases as water temperatures increase, meaning that it can take fish longer to recover from being angled. Overall, when temperatures increase, it becomes especially important to implement our Principles and Tips. (check out this Finsights for more details on water temperature and fish).
BEFORE YOUR FIRST CAST:
USE BARBLESS HOOKS Crimp the barbs on hooks. Not only do barbless hooks cause less damage to a fish’s mouth, but they are also much easier and quicker to remove – especially helpful when one ends up in your ear or finger! This not only applies to single hooks, but also treble hooks. (see this Finsights for more details on the science)
CONSIDER USING ARTIFICIAL BAITS The number one cause of mortality for fish that are caught-and-released is hooking injury – usually from deep or foul hooking. Fish are much more likely to swallow live and natural baits leading to injury and mortality. If you’re intent is to only catch-and-release fish (and not to keep), consider using artificial baits and/or circle hooks (which also decrease rates of deep hooking).
USE RUBBER NETS Rubber nets are less abrasive and do less damage to fish slime, scales, fins, and gills than knotted nylon mesh nets. Plus, hooks don’t snag as much on rubber nets, which can help reduce time in captivity. (see this Finsights for more on the science)
SECTION TWO AND THREE OF TIPS TO FOLLOW SOON!