Catch & Release, Fish for the Future
by
Dave "Nugget" Downie

Whether you like it or not, catch limits will be a fact of life in years to come. Bag limits on some species and limited number of total fish for specific impoundment’s are already in place. As they are implemented and increased they will affect every keen angler in Queensland. Fishing is so popular that the demand exceeds the waterways ability to supply. While there are various methods employed to even up the demand / supply imbalance such as closed seasons, fingerling stocking and increased minimum size limits, the human race has realized that recycling is one of the most effective ways to save our natural recourses. The recycling of fish stocks, catch and release, will result in greater numbers of larger fish and is a major part of the solution to the problem. Anglers that enjoy their sport are now looking at fishing as an enjoyable experience rather than a food supply. Like the city council telling you what you can put in the recycle part of your wheelie-bin, anglers need to know how to treat fish that are going to be released.
Probably the most important action that will increase a released fishes chance of surviving is how it is handle when caught. Dry hands, barbed hooks and rough handling are equivalent to recycling used toilet paper.
If you remember that the longer a fish is out of water the less chance it has of survival then it is easy to see that barbless hooks are easier and quicker to remove therefore increasing the survival rate. If a fish has to be lifted out of the water then a damp rag or at worst a wet hand supporting its under body weight is a lot better than it being waved around in the air as it’s swung over the gunwale.
Where the fish is hooked and how it is unhooked is a major contributing factor to a released fishes survival. Hooks in the side of the mouth or jaw do little damage. The ideal way to remove them is to use the weight of the fish to pull it out. This way you don’t have to touch or squeeze the fish in any way. If a fish is hooked deeply in the mouth or gut, cut the line as close to the jaw as possible as they have a better chance of survival with the hook left in them than with you trying to do major surgery for the sake of a 20 cent hook. Avoid at all cost squeezing the fish’s stomach area. When releasing a fish don’t throw it into a two and a half pike dive, gently cradle it in the water in an upright position until it regains it orientation and strength and swims away. There is a misconception that any bleeding means the fish will die. I don’t know about you but I’ve done a hell of a lot of bleeding and am not dead yet. Internal hemorrhaging is usually fatal but slight bleeding from the jaw or lip is not terminal.
Catch and release, fish for the future.
 
Dave ><>

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