Best
Practices

Prepare for trip

Prepare for Trip

  • Have a plan:
    • What species are you targeting?
    • What depths are you fishing?
    • How do you plan on catching the fish?
    • The season, size, and bag limits for the species you’re targeting.
    • Incorporate releasing fish into your routine fishing plan – plan ahead for how you will release fish.
  • What to bring?
    • All necessary gear to release fish (dehooking devices, venting tools, descending devices, and enough weight to descend the fish you are targeting).
    • Gear that prevents further injury to fish, including heavy enough tackle, proper hooks and bait for your targeted catch.
  • On the water:
    • Know what to do before a fish gets to the surface in order to effectively release it.
Minimize fight time with fish

Minimize Fight Time and Hook Injury

  • Why it matters?
    • The longer a fish fights, the more lactic acid builds up in a fish, which can lead to death.
    • Lighter gear will lengthen fight time and increase predation encounters leading to unnecessary death of fish. 
    • Light gear is likely to lead to more breakoffs and excessive gear left either in a fish or in the ocean.
  • What to do?
    • Use heavy enough rod, reel and terminal tackle to quickly get fish to the surface. 
    • Use non-stainless steel, non-offset circle hooks to prevent gut hooking fish. 
    • Cut the line if a fish is gut hooked; trying to pull the hook out will lead to further injury. Non-stainless steel hooks will rust or fall out over time.
Minimize Air Exposure - best practices for handling fish

Minimize Air Exposure and Handling Time

  • Why it matters?
    • Fish use a lot of energy and oxygen during the fight, which needs to be replenished in order to fully recover. 
    • Fish are unable to breathe out of the water and need oxygenated water running over their gills in order to breathe.
  • What to do?
    • Only hold a fish out of water for as long as you can hold your breath.
    • If a fish is not showing signs of barotrauma, use a dehooking device to quickly release the fish over the water. 
    • If you plan to take a picture, have a camera ready prior to pulling the fish out of the water.
    • If a fish is gut hooked, cut the line and get the fish back in the water quickly.
Dolphins

Presence of Predators

  • Why it matters?
    • Although it is often unavoidable, predators such as sharks, dolphins, barracuda, goliath groupers and others may take your catch from your line. 
    • Interactions with predators lead to fewer fish available both to anglers and in the ecosystem to grow and spawn.
    • Predators may interact with fish being descended leading to a loss of gear.
    • Predators consuming hooked fish results in frustration when angling.
  • What to do?
    • Move or rotate spots frequently. Although predators are quick to appear to boats, it is often possible to get a few good fish in the boat before they arrive. 
    • Use heavy tackle to reel fish up quickly before predators get to them. 
    • If you are worried about losing gear while descending fish, try rigging your descending device and weight with steel leader.
Handling fish

Photography and Handling

  • Why it matters?
    • Fish are often injured if improperly handled. 
    • Improper handling can cause you to drop the fish, leading to physical injury/harm.
    • Fish have a protective coat of slime over their scales. Removing this slime makes fish more susceptible to disease.
  • What to do?
    • If you plan on releasing fish and want a picture, have a designated camera ready before you pull the fish out of the water.
    • Hold the fish horizontally to support the body weight of the fish.
    • Try to avoid putting your hands in the gills of the fish.
    • Use wet gloves or a wet rag to improve grip, minimize slime loss and avoid injury to hands.
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