Releasing the fish you catch can help sustain and build the population of wild fish. Here are a few tips for ensuring fish have the best chance of survival.
Use barbless hooks or flatten the barb on the hook before using a fly for the first time. This makes the hook much easier to remove and lessens the potential injury to the fish’s mouth.
Use either needle-nose pliers or forceps to gently remove the hook from the fish’s mouth.
If the fish has swallowed the hook, or if the hook is set too deeply, cut the line and release the fish. The hook will dissolve over time without harm to the fish.
If the hook is in the gills, the throat or an artery, the fish’s chances of survival are greatly reduced. If it’s legal, keep the fish. Also, if a fish is bleeding, keep it if it’s legal to do so.
Minimize the amount of time the fish is out of the water. Once the hook is removed or the line is cut, gently hold the fish in the water, pointing upstream, until it can swim away on its own.