1. Prefer single hooks and one hook only. Trebles are potential trouble if you ask me. Multiple hooks are for snaggers.
2. Fish barbless if you're fishing C&R. Pinch the barb on barbed hooks. Barbless hooks hook well and holds fine, but unhooks indefinitely much easier.
3. Gear up for what you are catching. Match rod weight, reel size, tippet strength and hook to the size and strength of your quarry. Fishing too light prolongs fighting times and leaves broken off fish with hooks in them.
4. Fight and land fish as quickly as you can, within a few minutes if possible. A fresh fish manages much better after release.
5. Unhook C&R fish in the water if possible. Simply grab the hook and slip it out.
6. Make optional photo, weigh and measure sessions as short as possible and handle fish as little and as careful as possible keeping them on wet weed, damp grass, in the net bag or on a similar surface.
7. Kill fish you want to keep as soon as you have them in hand. Unhook and take pictures later.
8. Avoid beaching fish you don't want to keep and keep fish off gravel and dirt.Use a knotless landing net if you are no comfortable using your hands.
9. Make sure released fish swim readily and vigorously before letting them go. Hold tired fish upright in the water facing any current until they flap their tail and swim - even in uncomfortably cold water..
10. Use common sense, empathy and consideration when fishing, catching, killing or releasing - but ALWAYS follow local laws and rules.
Catch-and-release fishing has dramatically increased during the past 30 years. This trend has largely resulted from growth in popularity of competitive fishing tournaments, promotion by sportfishing organizations, and an increase in knowledge about the potential benefits of catch-and-release fishing by anglers and natural resource agencies. The ODNR, Division of Wildlife believes that, used appropriately, catch-and-release fishing can be an important fisheries conservation tool. In fact, the Division often relies on regulations that require release of specific sizes or restricts the total numbers of fish that can be kept to improve fishing.
A recent review of over 200 scientific studies indicates that survival of released sportfish averages 82%, yet under certain situations can decrease to nearly 25%! So, as anglers, what can we do to increase the chance for released fish to be caught again? The answer is not as straight-forward as you might think because factors and practices influencing successful catch-and-release fishing are complicated.
For catch-and-release fishing to succeed, released fish must not only swim away, but be able to resume normal physiological functions such as swimming, feeding, and growing. Therefore, both initial mortality and delayed mortality must be considered. Initial mortality typically occurs when a fish is hooked in a way that damages sensitive tissues such as the gills or gullet and results in severe bleeding. Even if a fish is not initially wounded, delayed mortality can occur due to the cumulative effects of numerous sub-lethal stressors.
A MATTER OF CHOICE
The Division of Wildlife provides these guidelines to inform anglers of the current scientific understanding of catch-and-release practices. Releasing fish can be personally rewarding and beneficial in certain situations.
However, neither catch-and-release fishing nor keeping fish to eat should be considered as ethically superior. Sport fishing has a rich tradition of harvesting fish as table fare, which makes sense given that fish are excellent sources of protein and great to eat! Whatever method of fishing you choose, the Division of Wildlife is working hard to assure that you will have a healthy fishery to enjoy season after season.