Admittedly, there are things I regret. Like every once-in-a-great-while I’ll catch my fingers cranking up Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” as I limp down the road in my old pickup. Or, I’ll find myself half-heartedly humming off key into a hymnal; daydreaming of soakin’ a croaker on the end of a bottom rig.
I’m doing my best to do better—and that goes for my fishing too.
As a big fan of catch-and-release, I rejoice when one goes flawlessly.
Likewise, I shudder when one shuffles off the track. With summertime peeking around the corner, prudent handling of fish becomes of paramount importance. As the mercury rises, dissolved oxygen levels in local estuaries decline. Limited oxygen and warming waters stress fish to a point where their survival is easily compromised.
To minimize fish mortality rates, give these a try next time out.
1. Time out. The longer a fish is out of the water, the more stressed it becomes. Move quickly to remove hooks, returning fish to the water ASAP.
2. Handle with care. Make certain your hands are wet when handling fish thus minimizing the damage to their protective slime coating.
3. Fight time. Nothing’s more exciting than a prolonged fish fight. However, the longer it is, the more stressed the fish grows and the less likely its safe return to the water.
4. Revival. For those fish who’re just pooped at the battle’s end—gently revive them until they’re ready to go alone.
5. Singularity. When possible, opt for single hooks. By avoiding trebles, you minimize unhooking times, which minimizes handling and maximizes survival rates.