Once again with the 2022-23 DOF regulations and future sport fishing catch quotas drastically changing, it will be important to adapt and adopt some new practices moving forward. On Charters with KingSlayer it is common practice that when we battle a large Tyee Salmon which is apart of a gene pool of giants, they should be protected and released back into the wild to spawn and ensure future populations have the best chance for survival. With the regulations changing this practice could ultimately happen with all Salmon species and a few others.

There are ways in which we can try to release the fish with minimal damage, however, they will still be damaged regardless as they’ve been punctured, and it can affect their breathing once they are put back in the water.

The right tools make releasing fish easier and more effective, so keep de-hookers, descending devices, nets, cameras, etc., close at hand to limit time on deck and the amount of stress a fish will experience as you release it.

If possible, dehook the fish in the water. If a hook is swallowed and you can’t easily remove it, cut the line as close to the hook as possible and leave the hook in the fish.

Circle hooks, barbless hooks or hooks with crimped barbs can increase survival and make removal easier.

Lost stainless-steel hooks may stay in the ecosystem for a long time; consider using other metal hooks that will corrode faster and cause less damage to wildlife.

If we must remove a fish from the water, we will try to keep air exposure to a minimum. Less than 60 seconds is ideal. Handle the fish as little as possible and only use wet hands. Use an appropriate release tool.

If we remove a fish from the water, we will try to support its weight along the length of its body. If sluggish, resuscitate a fish by facing it into the current or moving it back and forth until it regains strength before releasing it.

We will try to avoid the fish having contact with dry surfaces as they can remove the protective slime that coats the fish and make fish more susceptible to diseases. For less damage to the protective mucous membrane, eyes, fins and scales we can use a soft knotless mesh or a rubber landing net.

More tips and info:
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  • Rolling fish onto their backs (while still in the water) may reduce the amount they struggle, therefore minimizing stress.

  • Don’t simply toss a fish back into the water. Handle gently and with caution.

  • Use circle and barbless hooks to enhance survival.

  • Don’t play the fish to exhaustion as it could cause irreversible damage that leads to the death of the fish after release.

  • Assist in the recovery process of the fish prior to release.

  • Don’t try to pull the hook out of a gill or gut hooked fish.

  • Learn the proper release technique for the type of fish you’re pursuing.

  • Don’t squeeze the fish or handle it more than necessary as you could do damage to their gills or scales.

  • Learn how to use descending devices for fish that are bloated from barotrauma.

  • Handle the fish with dry hands as Fish have a layer of mucus which protects them from diseases.

  • As opposed to knotted and mesh nets, rubber nets are less abrasive and will not get caught in a fish’s gills.

  • Don’t dig the hook out of a gut-hooked fish. Clip the line off as close to the fish as possible, and let it swim free.

  • Keep the fish in the water as much as possible. A fish out of water is suffocating. Internal injuries and scale loss are much more likely to occur when out of water.

  • Never lay a fish on the shore/rocks or floor of your boat because if it starts to flip around it could hurt itself. The more it flips around the more likely it will stun itself and may just swim off and die.

There are many benefits that come from catch and release fishing, however conservation would have to be the number one benefit. When we handle the fish accordingly and respectfully, we are then able to release the fish after catching them, giving the fish the opportunity not only to survive but to reproduce as well. By doing this we are helping preserve the ecological balance of British Columbia’s natural environment and it also prevents the fish population from dying, thus helping keep BC’s oceans populated with the various beautiful types of fish for other generations to enjoy.

One negative effect that catch and release fishing has is that when the mouth of the fish is hooked, the tissue around the mouth is often damaged, sometimes severely. Fish with hook injuries are less reliable feeders, which then creates the possibility of risk to their overall survival as a species, the fact that such wounds make it significantly more difficult to eat suggests that the long-term results could be dire. Therefore it is so important to educate yourself on the correct handling of each individual species, that way we can try release the fish with minimal stress or damage to it – allowing the fish to continue living as well as reproducing.