Catch and Release

Catch and Release on the Tamar

Endsleigh Fishing club requires catch and release from its fishermen and offers the guidance below to help ensure that best practice is followed. This guidance comes from a variety of sources including the Wild Trout Trust and the Salmon & Trout organisation.

Catch and release – the quick guide

  • Use barbless hooks
  • Bring the fish to the net as quickly as possible
  • Keep the fish in the water
  • Handle as little as possible, and always with wet hands
  • Do not squeeze – it damages internal organs
  • Remove the hook using forceps if necessary
  • Avoid contact with the bank or gravel as this removes protective slime
  • Release the fish by pointing its nose into the current so that water is flowing over its gills
  • Support it gently until it swims away

Recording your catch

You can measure the length of the fish by holding it briefly against the rod whilst it is in the net and convert the length to weight based on condition using the table below.

Removing hooks  – Forceps

You will need to carry long nosed forceps (or a release tool) and it is good to get into the habit of assuming you will always need them. Have them in your hand as soon as the fish is in the net.

Don’t squeeze the body of the fish in order to remove the hook. If the fish is thrashing, cradle it belly up in the net whilst you remove the hook. If you cannot remove the hook quickly (for example if it is the throat of the fish), cut the leader close to the hook and leave the hook behind. It will work its way out and is likely to cause less damage than a prolonged wrestling match.

Letting it go

Point the nose of the fish into the current so that water is flowing over its gills.

You need a reasonable flow but not a torrent, and clear water, not water full of sediment. If you have done a really good job, the fish will instantly kick away. If the fish is stressed, it may take a minute or two to recover before swimming off. Hold the fish gently in the water until it moves off.

Do not move it backwards and forwards. Water needs to flow through the mouth and out over the gills for the fish to breathe. The unnatural backwards movement pushes the delicate gill lamellae in the wrong direction and hinders their breathing, potentially damaging the gill, causing additional stress and prompting the fish to swim away before it is actually ready.

A summary of things to avoid:

  • Holding the fish out of the water for more than a 10 seconds. A gasping fish is ​‘drowning’ in air.
  • Laying the fish on grass or shingle or any surface away from the water. fish are covered with slime which protects them from disease, particularly fungal infections, and contact with surfaces (including rough nets) will remove slime.
  • Touching the fish with hot, dry hands as this will also remove slime. Wet your hands before handling.
  • Don’t squeeze the fish or get your fingers near or in the gills.
  • Don’t have a wrestling match to remove the hook. Barbless hooks should come out easily but if you can’t easily remove it then cut the leader close to the hook and leave the hook in place. The hook will come out naturally in time and this is better than squeezing the fish and holding it out of the water.

Reference Video and info sheet

Please refer to the following links for posters and videos with more detailed information;