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Releasing Fish – The Gentle Way

There is a growing trend among anglers to catch and release, unharmed, a part of their allowable catch. As well, more restrictive regulations on specific waters can severely limit the angler's allowable harvest. A fish that appears unharmed may not survive if carelessly handled, so please abide by the following:

1. Play and release fish as rapidly as possible. A fish played for too long may not recover.

2. Keep the fish in the water as much as possible. A fish out of water is suffocating. Internal injuries and scale loss is much more likely to occur when out of water.

3. Rolling fish onto their backs (while still in the water) may reduce the amount they struggle, therefore minimizing stress.

4. Carry needle-nose pliers or haemostats (surgical pliers). Grab the bend or round portion of the hook with your pliers, twist pliers upside down, and the hook will dislodge. Be quick, but gentle. Single barbless hooks are recommended, if not already stipulated in the regulations.

5. Any legal fish that is deeply hooked, hooked around the gills or bleeding should be retained as part of your quota. If the fish cannot be retained legally, you can improve its chances of survival by cutting the leader and releasing it with the hook left in.

6. If a net is used for landing your catch, it should have fine mesh and a knotless webbing to protect the fish from abrasion and possible injury.

7. If you must handle the fish, do so with your bare, wet hands (not with gloves). Keep your fingers out of the gills, and don't squeeze the fish or cause scales to be lost or damaged. It is best to leave fish in the water for photos. If you must lift a fish then provide support by cradling one hand behind the front fins and your other hand just forward of the tail fin. Minimize the time out of the water, then hold the fish in the water to recover. If fishing in a river, point the fish upstream while reviving it. When the fish begins to struggle and swim normally, let it go.

http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/fw/fish/ethics/#Releasing
 
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