Native fish populations play vital roles in the delicate balance & ecology of our rivers, creeks & waterways. By practicing Catch & Release fishing, you are helping Conservation & sustaining fish populations for future generations of Anglers.
If you are new to Catch & Release Fishing, here’ s a few tips to get you started.
Using suitable tackle for the type of fish you are targeting, reduces stress on the fish with quicker landing times, whilst minimizing bust-offs.
Rubberized gloves help maintain the protective slime coating on the fish when handling.
Knotless or fine mesh landing nets minimize landing times & damage to the fish.
Barbless hooks are great for quick hook removal & for minimizing hook damage. If you don’t have Barbless hooks, try pinching the barbs of a standard hook with needle nose pliers.
The use of Circle hooks & Artificial lures or flies increase the frequency of mouth hooked fish, rather than gut hooked.
Hook-Eze can be used to assist in the removal of mouth hooked fish (up to 3kg) & as a line cutter.
Hemostat or long nose pliers help to remove hooks quickly & Wire cutters come in handy if the need arises to cut a hook from a lure to assist in lure removal.
LANDING THE FISH
Always try to land the fish as quickly as possible, don’t play it to exhaustion – fatigue can kill. If it takes a while to land your fish, check the drag is not set too loosely & your gear is not too light for the fish you are catching. Using a sensible line & tackle & keeping fight times short, will reduce stress on the fish & minimize bust-offs. Landing nets reduce the amount of time landing the fish & protects the fish when thrashing about.
When water temperatures are warmer, dissolved oxygen levels in the water decline, so fish are subject to stress & exhaustion in a much shorter period of time, compared to cooler water temperatures, so take this into consideration as the seasons change.
It’s extremely important never to use a dry cloth or towel to hold the fish, always wet your hands & any equipment that comes into contact with the fish, such as Gloves, Brag Mats etc. This prevents the removal of the fish’s protective slime coating, which acts as a barrier against disease & infection.
Hold the fish firmly but carefully. Avoid dropping the fish onto hard surfaces such as rocks or the bottom of the boat.
Cradle the fish near the head & tail if possible or gently support the mid-section. Bass can be safely handled by holding the lower jaw, thumb in mouth & forefinger under the chin.
Never hold the fish by the gills or the eyes & always keep the fish in the water. The longer a fish is out of the water, the less chance of survival once released. If you do have to take the fish from the water either for hook removal, measuring or photographing your catch, always support the fish correctly & release back to the water as soon as practical.
Remember, many surfaces, especially metal can become extremely hot in the sun, placing a fish on such surfaces can damage the fish significantly, reducing its chance of survival once released.
Try to keep the fish in the water during hook removal if possible & remove hooks quickly. If the fish is deeply hooked & hook removal is difficult or impossible without harming the fish, cut the line as close to the fish’s mouth as possible & release. Damaging the internal organs of a fish in an attempt to remove a hook, will not result in a successful release. Survival is significantly reduced when damage results & bleeding occurs.
Release the fish as soon as practical & do not keep it out of water any longer than necessary. Always release the fish head first into the water, supporting the body. Revive exhausted fish by gently holding upright underwater, facing into the current, this forces the water to flow into the mouth & through the gills, helping to resuscitate the fish. If there is no current, gently move the fish forward & backward to help water flow through the gills. Give the fish enough time to recover, it should remain upright in the water & be able to swim off forcefully on its own.
Revival time can depend on the species & temperature of the water; longer recovery times are required for some large cold water species. If you do happen to catch a fish that does not revive & swim away on its own, is bleeding, sinks to the bottom or floats to the surface after being released, this should be kept as part of your daily limit if it’s legal to do so.
When you’re finished fishing for the day, leave no trace. Discarded fishing line, lures, sinkers etc. cause serious wildlife injury & often death, please do the right thing & take your rubbish with you when you leave your fishing spot. Recycle all plastic containers, even when you’re not fishing, plastic in the ocean & our waterways is a major Global Issue.
Lastly, remember, never to over fish a particular river or stream, always familiarize yourself with current fishing regulations that apply to your State, such as size, take & possession limits & keep protecting our waterways.
Happy Catch & Release Fishing!