Catch and Release

The practice of catch and release fishing continues to grow in popularity as fishers want to ensure they contribute to the sustainability of the fishery for future generations. It is also an important method for fishers to adopt when considering the various regulations in place such as bag and size limits, closed seasons and protected species, all of which require certain fish to be released back into the water.

When releasing undersized, protected or unwanted catch back into the water, it is important to use best practice methods to maximise fish survival. Some key tips to help the post-release survival of the fish include:

  • Minimise the amount of time that the fish spends out of the water, or if possible, leave the fish in the water.
  • Use fish-friendly landing nets made from knotless mesh to avoid physical injury to the fish. Knotted nets are not recommended as they may damage the scales, skin, eyes and fins of the fish.
  • Always use wet hands or gloves when handling the fish to avoid damaging the scales or removing the mucus from the skin.
  • Use non-offset circle hooks to improve lip hooking and avoid deep hooking the fish. Using artificial lures over bait reduces the chances of deep hooking.
  • Unhook the fish quickly when mouth-hooked using long-nosed pliers and hook retrieving equipment. Barbless and long-shanked hooks are easy for anglers to remove from the fish.
  • If the fish is deep hooked, the hook should be left in place to avoid damage to vital organs and the line should be cut close to the mouth of the fish. The hook will rust away over time.
  • Allow the fish to recover, especially if it has put up a big fight. If the fish seems tired, try to revive the fish by moving it forward through the water as though it was swimming, so it can get enough oxygen to recover.

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