Fisheries have a catch and release policy to maintain fish stocks.
Catch and Release
Catch and release helps the natural fish population continue to breed. Healthy fish populations are important for lots of reasons. They provide fun for fisherman. They are part of the local eco system. They are a food for other animals. Fisherman release fish to maintain the local population.
The first official catch and release plan, in the early ’50s, helped reduce the budget for fish hatcheries. This was a new concept. The primary target was trout. People learned to fish for fun, not necessarily for food.
Does it Work?
Catch and Release has been studied over the years
- What percentage of released fish survive?
- What fishing methods are best for catch and release?
- What type of water is best for catch and release?
Many factors determine the success of Catch and Release. Hardier species, like Muskie and Pike, have the best chance of survival. These fish are prized more for sport than taste. Trout are more delicate and more difficult to release successfully.
Shorter fights increase survival. Tournament competitors use heavy rigs to eliminate lengthy playing time to increase fish survival. Or course, they don’t want to loose a trophy. A Carlton University study determined that a strong, healthy musky can take 12 hours to fully recover from a lengthy fight.
The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources indicates that fish hooked in deep water have less the chance to survive. The struggle combined with the change in air pressure is decreases survival. Shallow water fishing produces the most successful Catch and Release.
Cold water produces higher survival rates according to the Ontario MNR. Fish caught in shallow water at the height of the summer have lower survival rates than those caught in the same place at cooler times of the year.
Barbless hooks create less trauma and are easily removed. Circle hooks improve survival because they are not as easy to swallow. Netting fish is discouraged. A cradle net is the safest particularly for large fish if necessary. Artificial bait is recommended. Natural baits are easier to swallow.
Here are some tips for successful Catch and Release Fishing from the Ontario MNR.
- Use barbless, circle hooks
- Use artificial bait
- Catch and Release in colder water.
- Decrease fighting time.
- Allow larger fish more time to recover.
- Avoid netting fish.
- Use a cradle net.
- Keep fish in the water as much as possible.
- Don’t place your fingers in the eyes or gills.
- Don’t hold fish by the jaw.
- Hold fish with wet hands or wet gloves.
- Photograph fish in the water when possible.
- Don’t “throw” fish back.
- Don’t release a bleeding fish.
- Use long nosed pliers for difficult hooks.
Catch limits help sustain fish populations. Many people catch their limit. They continue to fish intending to release any fish caught over their limit. This is not a good practice. It might not be possible to release a fish. This puts the fisherman over their catch limit. They are then open to legal charges.
Fishing seasons conserve fish. Seasons are determined by spawning patterns. They allow a fish population to rest. Seasons prevent over fishing. The province of Ontario now has an “Intent” fishing law. If you are caught with equipment that shows you intend to fish for an out of season species, you can be charged.
Catch and Release has been proved for more than half a century. In some places, the policy is regulation. Most fishermen voluntarily support the fish population through Catch and Release.
Know your local seasons. Know you local catch and release policy. And know your catch limits. If we all do this and obey all fishing regulations, we’ll be able to Keep on Fishin’!
Take a moment to share your thoughts on catch and release fishing. Have you fished somewhere that had this as a policy? Do you catch and release wherever you fish?