Fishing for the Future - Tips for a Successful Catch & Release

More Offspring

The largest game fish are often the most valuable in terms of their ability to produce offspring. The contribution of one large female fish to the future of a population can exceed the contribution made by many smaller female fish. It is not always possible to identify which large fish are females, so err on the side of conservation and focus on ensuring the healthy release of the fish. After all, we owe it to the resource.

Land 'em Quickly!

Try to land big fish quickly. Hooking up with a trophy-sized fish can be the experience of a lifetime. Landing the fish quickly is in the best interest of both the angler and the fish. For the angler, the longer the fight ensues, the greater the chance for the fish to become "the one that got away." For the fish, the reduced fight time can substantially increase the chances for survival after being released. The longer a fish fights, the more toxic lactic acid builds up in their body. As a result, an exhausted fish may initially be able to swim away only to die several days later.

Tips for Releasing

Remember, warm water = more stress
Keep fish in the water
Take time to aerate
Minimize handling
Photographing in the water
Use lip-gripping devices only when necessary
Recognize signs of barotrauma
Use descending devices instead of venting

Tips to reduce the fight time

Don't go after elephants with equipment for squirrels
Use the right line
Have a plan

Tips on reducing injury to the fish and yourself

Use circle hooks
Take care when removing hooks
Modify your hooks
Keep the fish under control

Coastal Conservation Association

The Tips for a Successful Catch & Release is also available as a downloadable resource in PDF format. This information was created with support from Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) South Carolina.