We almost always fish catch and release. Sure if we have a fire going and fancy some fresh Trout we might knock one on the head, but for us, we get the same amount of enjoyment from releasing a fish as we do catching it. However, fish are delicate creatures, and if not released properly could potentially die. So here are our 5 rules for catch and release fishing.
Keep everything wet.
Wet your net before the fish is in it, wet your hands before you touch the fish, really if anything is going to touch the fish then make sure it's wet first. If it's not then you can damage the mucous membrane of the fish which is the fish's first line of defence against parasites and infection. So please try your best not to damage it!
If you are catching and releasing then using barbless flies is a must. We don't recommend using your forceps to pinch down a barb, yes it works most of the time, but we suggest starting as you mean to go on and buying flies with, or tying flies on, specially designed barbless hooks. If you are a good angler you will land just as many fish with a barbless hook as you will with a barbed one.
Use a deep net.
We see a lot of people using nets that are very shallow, almost like a tennis racket where the strings have lost their tension, if you put a fish of any decent size in these nets then you will find them flapping all over the place and potentially doing themselves damage. With a deep, soft mesh net, you are able to control the fish far better and the entire process of releasing the fish is considerably less frantic.
Be conscious when taking photos.
Sure we all love to have photos of the fish we catch, but you can choose to be responsible with how you take those photos. We are going to do another blog post on this topic some other time, but for now, we just recommend that you keep the fish close too or in the water when you take photos, and try and be as quick as possible. We saw an image of someone holding a fish above their head the other day, don't do that, we don't imagine the fish enjoys it much.
Don't take the fish out of the water.
If we are thinking about absolute best practice then we would recommend that you never touch the fish with your hands and keep it in the water at all times. You can net the fish, remove the fly with some forceps or a catch and release tool, and slip the fish out of the net without it ever leaving the water or being touched by your hands. Obviously, this isn't always possible but when it is we suggest that this is what you do.
If you have any questions about catch and release fishing then don't hesitate to reach out to us through the site or through @bearflyfish on any of our social platforms.
Oscar and Nell.