To be good at catching fish these days you have to be good at letting fish go. Releasing fish unharmed turns out to be a good way to share a limited resource, and depending on what you hook, it also may be required by fishing regulations. Yet releasing fish successfully can be tricky. There’s nothing more demoralizing than watching a released fish turn sideways and drift downstream.
Scientists have been studying release techniques since the 1950s, when the catch and release ethic first took hold in this country. Over the years, every imaginable variable affecting fish survival has been studied, including stress from air exposure, exhaustion, bait type and size, hook type, water temperature and water depth (shallow dwelling fish do better than deep caught fish, which are stressed by changes in water pressure), net design, net versus no net, differences between species, size of fish (large survive better than small). Researchers have looked at sub-lethal injuries, too, and their impact on growth and reproduction…the list goes on. » Continue Reading.