“As long as you could hold your breath underwater after running a marathon” is a saying that comes along often on the topic of holding fish out of the water. It is truly amazing the amount of anglers that participate in this incredible sport all across the world, it is also amazing the amount of anglers that seem to disregard any sort of concern for the fish’s well being once they have it in the net. I have seen my fair share of poor handling practices, wild steelhead drug into 3 inches of water and 10 pound rainbows brought into the boat for 15 seconds while the angler unhooks it and takes an excessive amount of photos. I’ve even seen folks go as far as willingly keeping fish in a catch & release lake only to have their truck, trailer, boat and gear seized by a conservation officer. It’s no secret that keeping the fish in the water for photos is becoming a very positive trend, and it couldn’t be coming around at a better time. Days of the “grip and grin” with the fish high and dry out of the water are becoming a thing of the past. The most important part of fly fishing is that we do our part to give a fish the best chance of surviving, unless it is being retained. Here’s a list of tips for handling the safest way possible:
Hero Shots – It’s not that taking a photo of a nice fish is a bad thing in any way, it’s the act of compromising the fish’s well being for likes on social media. Holding a fish and looking at a camera does not have to involve removing it from the water for ten seconds. There are plenty of ways to take photos of fish submerged or with their gill plate’s touching the water, even if there is nobody around to take a photo but yourself.
This isn’t meant to come of as preaching, it is meant to come of as informative as to just how fragile they are. Even practicing perfect catch and release tactics does not guarantee that every fish will live, lactic acid buildup and shock can inhibit the fish from making a full recovery. A small percentage of fish do not live through being caught and released (especially if they getting caught often), but we should do everything we can to maximize their chances at survival. Thank you for reading and as always if you have any questions or comments feel free to drop me an email. Until next time, happy fishing!