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Catch and Release: Tips for maximising fish survival

Releasing a mulloway. Image: Patrick Linehan

CATCH and release fishing is an increasingly popular practice among many anglers. It is quite common for fishers with a strong conservation commitment to release fish that they could legally keep.

Bag and size limits, closed seasons and locations and protected species, all require some fish to be released, so you need to be prepared.

Below are some top tips to maximise fish survival:

  • Reduce deep hooking by using circle hooks or by lure fishing.
  • Use suitable tackle for the species that you are targeting and minimise the time spent to land the fish.
  • Use a knotless landing net to minimise damage to fish.
  • Minimise time out of water.
  • Wet hands/gloves and brag mats before handling fish.
  • Use needle-nosed pliers to reduce time spent unhooking fish.
  • If fish is deeply hooked, cut the line short and release – do not attempt to remove hook.
  • Consider the effects of barotrauma and release fish quickly. Use a release weight if necessary.
  • Do not suspend fish by the jaw, gills, or eyes. Support the fish properly for photographs.
  • When releasing fish, gently lower them into the water and revive – Do not return fish to water by throwing them.
  • Place the fishes head into the current or do figure of 8 pattern.

Check out the video below from NSW DPI – Fisheries for more catch and release fishing tips:

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