By NM Game and Fish
In this time of change, the Department would like to encourage anglers to stay home, mend equipment and prepare for the upcoming fishing season. In the weekly fishing report, provided by Dustin Berg of Go Unlimited (supporting disabled anglers) and the Department of Game and Fish, we will be sharing tips and tricks to help you be ready to go on future adventures. Each week we will feature some different flies, lures, activities or cooking recipes that can be done at home:
Catch and Release Tips
Sometimes we anglers simply want to catch fish and then release them back into the water to go about their fishy business. Here are a few simple ways we can increase the odds of fish survival after catch and release.
1. Crimp down the barbs of your hooks. With a pair of pliers, you can easily crimp the barbs of your hook which enables a much easier and less invasive hook removal from the mouth of a fish. This technique causes less trauma to the fish by decreasing damage to the fish’s mouth and by reducing the time it takes to get unhooked, causing less stress to the fish.
2. Use rubber nets. The outer layer of a fish’s body is covered in a layer of “slime”. This layer is a glycolprotein layer of mucus that fish produce to help protect them against invaders such as fungi, bacteria and parasites. The old school traditional knotted string and nylon nets remove a lot of slime, leaving fish vulnerable to invaders. Rubber nets remove much less slime and therefore greatly increase the odds of a fish surviving after release. Also, remember not to drag your catch across rocks, or the shore line, as this can harm your fish faster than anything.
3. Limit time out of water and handle with wet hands. Naturally, fish don’t live long out of water, therefore releasing fish while in the water is best. If you take fish out of the water remember that with each passing second, the fish becomes more stressed and its chance of survival decreases. Wet your hands before touching your catch. Take a quick picture and release your fish by holding it gently in the water facing into the current. Once the fish is oriented, it will swim away.
4. What to do if a fish swallows the hook. Often when fishing with bait, the fish will swallow the bait and hook altogether. When a person pulls on the fishing line to remove the hook they can cause massive damage to the fish’s entrails because the hook is lodged deep inside the fish. In this situation, it is best to simply cut the fishing line leaving as little fishing line as possible protruding from the fish’s mouth. Fish have a tough stomach used to eat spiny creatures. They also have strong digestive enzymes that will eventually dissolve a hook. So, rest assured that leaving a hook inside a fish is something that they can overcome.