Water Flows

Catch & Release Tactics

Catch & Release Tactics to Maximize Trout Survival

These tips apply specifically to trout, but are general enough to apply to all species of fish.
  • Use flies and artificial lures (not live bait).
  • Use single point, barbless hooks to maximize survival chances and minimize tissue damage.
  • Land your fish as quickly as possible.
  • Have your pliers (or other necessary tools) easily accessible so you don't have to search for them after you've grabbed the fish.
  • If possible, slide your hand down the line and grab the hook, then turn it upside down.
  • Always wet your hands before handling fish (this minimizes loss of slime).
  • Handle fish with care! Don’t squeeze them - handle them like you would an egg or baby bird. Always support the middle (belly) section with the palm of your hand.
  • Do not lay trout on the ground as this can damage their internal organs.
  • Never touch the gills or eyes of the fish.
  • Only use rubber or cotton nets, avoid knotted nets.
  • Never use stainless steel hooks (use ones that rust quickly in case you have to cut the line and leave the hook in the fish's mouth).
  • Keep exposure to air at a minimum. Ideally less than 20 seconds.
  • If you can't easily remove a deeply imbedded hook, cut the line. NEVER TEAR A HOOK OUT OF A FISH'S MOUTH!
  • Take pictures of the fish in the water.
  • Always hold fish horizontally, never vertically.
  • Gently hold fish facing into the oncoming current and allow it time to resuscitate. An erect dorsal fin indicates the fish is recharged.
  • Watch fish as they swim away. If it falters, repeat the resuscitation process.
Monitor water temperatures on the stretches of water that you fish. Sustained water temps of 70 degrees (Fahrenheit) or above mean that trout will likely not survive a release. If you decide to fish warmer water, plan to keep the fish you catch, or better yet, fish another stretch of water.