Best Fish Handling Practices
REDUCE FIGHT TIME BY USING APPROPRIATE GEAR
Gear that is not strong enough to land fish quickly will prolong fight times and could tire a fish out beyond the point of recovery. Even if you're planning to keep the fish, if it becomes unhooked during the fight it may not survive.
DON'T BANK IT
Fish don't do well on dry land, their protective coating will get scraped off and leaves them vulnerable to infections from bacteria, viruses, and fungus. Even if they're laying there for just a "quick second" while you grab your camera, the damage is already done. The solution?... use a net!
KEEP FISH WET
Exposure to air, for even very short periods, can harm fish. Fish can't breathe air! So, after you've landed the fish keep the fish's head in clean undisturbed water and pointed upstream if you're in current. If you're going to take a photo, consider keeping the fish's head under water. If you are going to lift the fish out of the water keep that time to a minimum, try for a maximum of 3 seconds, and only once!
GET YOUR FINGERS OUT OF THERE! OFFER THE RIGHT SUPPORT INSTEAD
The gills, eyes, and internal organs of a fish are very easy to damage. Images of fish being held up and gripped from under the gill plates should be a thing of the past.
Hold the fish horizontally by supporting the underside of the fish, and don't squeeze and don't dig your fingers in! Internal organs may be damaged if pressure is applied. Think gentle, and be gentle!
RELEASE THE FISH ONLY WHEN THE FISH IS READY
The fish will tell you when it is ready. A strong kick and strong body movements usually are the sign a fish is ready to swim off. This may take anywhere from 1 second to many, many minutes - don't rush it.
Take your time with the fish, support it, don't pump the fish back & forth, and give it the time it needs to recover - you owe it to the fish.
KEEPFISHWET.ORG FOR MORE INFO!