Catch and Release Done Right: Ensuring a Healthy Future for Our Fish

Catch and Release Done Right: Ensuring a Healthy Future for Our Fish | Jackson Hole Fly Company

Fly fishing is not just about the thrill of the catch, it's about the respect for the sport, the environment, and the fish that offer us so much joy. One of the key components of ethical fly fishing is practicing proper catch and release techniques. This blog post aims to provide guidance on how to do it right, to ensure our waters remain teeming with healthy, thriving fish for generations to come.

  1. Quick Landing

    High water temperatures in summer can stress fish. The longer a fish is fought, the more exhausted it becomes, and the greater the risk of mortality upon release. Using appropriate tackle and line for the size of fish you're targeting can help land the fish swiftly, reducing their struggle time and subsequent stress.

  2. Water Temperature Awareness

    Fish, especially trout, are sensitive to water temperature changes. Warmer water holds less oxygen, which can greatly stress fish. If water temperatures are approaching the upper tolerance level for the species you're targeting (generally above 68°F for trout), consider fishing early in the morning or late in the evening when it's cooler. It may also be best to fish in higher altitude or spring-fed waters, which typically stay cooler.

  3. Wet Hands and Nets

    Always wet your hands before handling fish to protect their sensitive skin and scales. Dry hands can remove the slime layer that protects fish from infection and disease. Similarly, use rubberized nets instead of traditional nylon ones, as they are gentler on the fish.

  4. Barbless Hooks and Artificial Flies

    Barbless hooks or those with pinched barbs are much easier and quicker to remove, causing less damage to the fish's mouth. This is particularly important in the summer months when fish can be more susceptible to stress. Artificial flies and lures are also recommended as they are less likely to be deeply swallowed, reducing internal damage.

  5. Keep the Fish Wet

    Avoid removing the fish from the water whenever possible. If you must lift the fish for a photo, keep it brief (no longer than you can hold your breath comfortably). The less time a fish spends out of the water, the better its chances of survival upon release.
  6. Proper Fish Revival

    Ensure the fish is strong enough to swim away on its own before releasing it. Hold it gently against the current to allow water to pass through its gills, providing much-needed oxygen. Allow the fish to dictate when it's ready to swim away.

  7. Practice Minimal Handling

    If you need to handle a fish, avoid touching its gills or eyes and never squeeze it. The more a fish is handled, the higher the risk of injury, which can be amplified by the increased stress of warm water.

  8. Keep the Fish in Its Natural Habitat

    While it's tempting to bring that trophy trout closer to the camera, dragging a fish onto dry land or out of its natural environment can cause significant stress and potential damage. Always strive to minimize the disruption to the fish's habitat during the catch and release process.

Remember, practicing proper catch and release techniques is not just about following regulations—it's a commitment to the sport we love, ensuring its sustainable enjoyment for generations to come. Happy fishing!


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