Catch & Release fishing is a part of everyday fishing life, even for fishermen who are only looking for a feed for the table.
Ensuring that undersized, oversized, undesirable, competition, sport, or related fish, are released back into the ecosystem with the best chance of survival, generally requires only some common sense, and a few basic techniques. However, some specific fish require additional handling techniques in order to ensure an appropriate outcome.
General Handling Edit
Although it was common to see fish hauled up by their gills, or mouth in the past for a photo, these areas are some of the most sensitive areas on a fish. Damage to the gills can immediately incapacitate a fish, leaving it susceptible to predation after release. Damage to the mouth can stop a fish from feeding, leading to a slower death from starvation.
If possible, attempt to lift a fish from the water by placing a (wet) hand under the belly. Use a grip on the mouth area only as a directional guide, rather than a lifting point.
Fish generally have a even slime coating on their skin, to protect them from parasites, and skin diseases. Handling the fish in a rough way, will destroy the protective coating in some areas, leaving the fish with incomplete protection.
Debarbing your hooks not only gives you a better chance of removing the hook from your skin, in case of an accidental spiking, but it also makes it easier to remove from the fish also.
Nets such as the 'Environet' series have a better chance of retaining the fish's protective coating. Nets with a large gage, can lead to splits in the dorsal, pectoral, or tail-fin.
Specific Fish Edit
Some fish require additional consideration