Catch and Release Fishing

Most Florida anglers practice catch and release, ensuring there will be plenty of fish for the future and helping species with low populations to recover. However, many fish caught and released may die because of the stress of capture and handling. A set of simple steps may be taken to greatly increase a released fish's chances of survival.

1. How to Begin

  • Set the hook quickly to prevent the fish from swallowing the bait.
  • Use hooks that are barbless and made from metals that will rust quickly.
  • Keep release tools handy.

2. Handling Your Catch

  • Try to keep the fish in the water while removing the hook.
  • Use a wet glove or rag to hold the fish if it must be handled.
  • Get the fish back in the water as quickly as possible.

3. Removing the Hook

  • Back the hook out the opposite way it went in.
  • Cut the leader close to the fish's mouth if the hook can't be quickly removed.
  • Debarb hooks with needle-nose pliers.
  • Use needle-nose pliers or a de-hooker to work the hook free and protect your hands.

4. The Release

  • Gently place fish in the water, supporting its body until it swims away.
  • An exhausted fish can be resuscitated by moving it back and forth to force water through its gills.
  • If a released fish does not swim away, recover it and try resuscitating it again.

A released fish that has been handled properly has an excellent chance of survival. Commit yourself to ethical angling -- the future of sport fishing depends on it!

  • Help fish stocks through catch and release.
  • Limit your take and vary your target.
  • Observe all regulations governing season and slot size for kept fish.
  • Only keep fish for food, not trophies.
  • Share what you know to help the sport grow.

Source: Boating and Angling Guide to Collier County

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