Save the Fish Population

Good anglers know that fish are food and should never be wasted. Never keep more fish than you can use. If you catch a fish that’s too small to eat or one that’s under the legal or minimum size, it should be released quickly and carefully.

Unhooking a Fish

If you’re practicing catch and release, try to remove the hook without exciting or harming the fish. The eyelet (small hole) of the hook is the best place to grab the hook. Back the hook out the same way it went in.

There are special tools designed for taking out hooks. But needle-nosed pliers work pretty well. If you need to, use a hook remover or pliers to flatten the barb. Depending on how the fish is hooked, you might be able to cut away a small amount of flesh to get the hook out.

Professionals sometimes flatten the barbs on their hooks before they start fishing to cause less harm to the fish they catch. In some areas, you can only fish with barbless hooks.

Releasing a fish and watching it swim away unharmed is a wonderful feeling. If you want to show your fish to others, take a picture before releasing it. The picture will bring you many fond memories and the fish can bring enjoyment to another angler.

Today, some species of fish exist in limited numbers. More and more anglers know this and participate in “catch and release” fishing taking only what they need for food and releasing the rest unharmed. This makes it possible for other anglers to enjoy catching them again.

Some fish take longer to become adults and may not spawn (lay their eggs) until they are 3 to 7 years old and then they spawn only once a year.

You should release these slow-to-mature fish. They include bass, lake trout, muskellunge, northern pike, sturgeon, walleye and most large game fish. Catching and releasing these species is a good practice.

Other fish species mature earlier and spawn more than once a year. For example, bluegill and many other pan fish spawn when they are two to three years old.

Until recently, few anglers realized that the populations of certain game fish in the large oceans could become threatened. However, to increase fish populations, fish hatcheries are raising and stocking fish in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and the Gulf of Mexico. Today, redfish, snook, sea trout, striped bass, and other saltwater fish are being raised for stocking.