Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Fish for dinner?

What to do with the fish we catch?

My answer is always the same. Keep enough for a meal and release the rest. After all, the freshest fish is the best fish!
This incredible speckled trout was released unharmed right after the picture was taken.

Fish are a renewable resource, but overfished stocks require years of monitoring and regulatory actions to restore the fishery to a level at which it can sustain itself. As each passing year brings more restrictive recreational bag and size limits, practicing catch and release is one way recreational anglers can help insure the health of future fisheries and guarantee everyone's ability to enjoy a fun day of fishing. Starting out it may be hard to resist the urge to keep as much as you can, but you'll soon realize that the fun of catching is well worth the trip.

Here are a few suggestions to help insure the survival of released fish and provide you with a sense of satisfaction as you return your catch to it's environment and watch it swim away.

  • Match your tackle to the fish you are targeting. If your tackle is too light the fish will be exhausted by the time you land it and an easy target for predators when released.

  • With a pair of pliers, mash down the barb of your hook for easier release and improved safety. Circle hooks are also good additions to your terminal tackle.
  • Leave the fish in the water during release if possible - and if the fish must be handled out of water, wet your hands first to minimize the removal of the protective slime layer covering the fish since removal of this protective layer makes the fish more susceptible to disease.

  • Don't grab the fish in the eyes or gills.

  • Cradle the fish's underbelly while holding it's tail as you rock it back and forth head first into the current until it swims away. This motion moves water across it's gills and will help it revive.

  • Keep current regulations and a measuring device handy for quick determination of legal size.

Sitting down to a meal of fish you just caught is the perfect way to end to a great day of fishing. It's one of the most satisfying things I know of and anyone can do it!

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