Catch and Release - Best Practices
Catch And Release
Best Practices for Protecting Weary Trout After a Long Winter
Jackson Hole and the Upper Snake River drainage are managed as a native Snake River Fine Spotted Cutthroat area. This spectacular fish has evolved to survive the hostile conditions of the area. Special catch and release regulations are in place to protect them and ensure their survival. How you release them is nearly as important as releasing them at all. The basic concepts of effective catch and release are handling the fish quickly and handling them as little as possible. The less time spent handling them and the more gentle the handling, the better the survival rate. Barbless hooks speed up handling time and reduce the effort in unhooking fish.
5 Steps to Proper Catch and Release Technique
1. Play the fish quickly. The majority of cutthroat that are caught aren’t sizeable and with the strong leaders that can be fished in Jackson, it isn’t hard land them quickly. On larger trout, land them as quickly as feasible. Use the heaviest leader feasible. This isn’t about the skill of using light leaders this is about fish survival.
2. If you don’t have to, don’t touch the fish. Many trout can be unhooked in the water without touching their body. Let the water support their weight, while using your fingers, forceps or a Ketchum Release to unhook the fish.
3. If you need to touch their body, do it gently. A soft net in the water is good or cradle them in the water with your hand. There are different theories on fish handling, but all come down to being careful and gently.
4. The less time the better. Don’t wait five minutes for a friend to come see the fish before you release it. If you need some extra time, such as having difficulty removing a hook, move the trout into clear aerated water at least deep enough to cover their gills.
5. Don’t kill a fish with a camera. This is the time where most will meaning anglers harm fish. Be quick and gentle! Have the camera ready. Have a friend be ready to take a photo as soon as the fish is landed. The grip and grin photo looks great on Facebook, but don’t manhandle a trout to get it. Use a net to lift the fish or cradle them in the water with your hands. If you must lift the fish do it close to the water where if a fish is dropped it won’t harm them.
These are your friends; make sure they can play another day.