How to catch Big Fish
Submitted by Fishmaster 3-11-98
It's simple, the only way to catch the big fish is to practice catch and release. If everyone would start releasing their fish back to the water after the catch, they would grow big and you would have the chance to catch them again. Also while they where in the water they would reproduce more and fishing would just get better and better over the years. So next time you get the big catch, just take a picture and then return the fish back to where it belongs.
Proper Catch & Release
Submitted by ACE…
As a long time fisherman interested in conserving fisheries and as a former employee of fresh and saltwater hatcheries, I have observed a lack of information on this subject.

If you are the kind of person that likes to catch and release fish all day, take note.
The slime coat on most fish is very fragile. Clear breaks or scrapes of the slime coat are usually fatal. This coating protects the fish like our skin does us, from infection and decay. In aquariums, fresh water fish get what is called “Ick”. This forms as tiny white tendrils that progressively form a ball of fungus. As this fungus invades the fishes body, the wound invites attacks from other fishes.

I caught and released this beauty using a barbless black and red chronomid, in Washington state. Jason Nielsen

Worse still is to damage the scales themselves.

If you must handle fish, cup your hands and keep them wet. A firm grasp destroys the slime coat and will kill the fish. Putting the fish on the deck or on the rocks condemns it, even when promptly released.
If you can release the fish without touching it at all, it will live to bite again another day. Use needle nose pliers to grasp the hook. Use single hook jigs and grasp the jig itself. Hold the hook upside down and give it a shake while holding the fish over the water. Multiple hook punctures increase the odds of infection. If these wounds occur to the exterior surface of the fish it will be fatal. Oh sure, the fish will look frisky and fine when you release it, it will slowly die.

The wonderful efforts of United Anglers of Southern California volunteers to gather brood stock White Sea Bass for the hatchery in Carlsbad, taught us that only those fish caught on single barb hooks and in the mouth, survived.

Circle hooks are an answer, but not all circle hooks work the same. They must be a little larger than you would normally use. They also have to fit the jaw size of the fish.

Consider a long time favorite of halibut fishermen, beaker hooks. The point bends inward giving the same, corner of the mouth hook set, but with a slightly different , more elongated hook profile.

Trout fishermen who still use small treble hooks with dough bait like Power-bait are killing every fish. Try small circle hooks and you won’t hook them in their guts or gills.

Bass anglers have long been the best at safely releasing fish by lipping them. Don’t try it with the toothy fish in the ocean. Larger size Calico Bass will tear up your thumb.

Personally, I only catch what I’m going to eat. Fish really doesn’t freeze well at all. Each day in the freezer diminishes the unexcelled fresh fish taste. Go more often and concentrate on eating fresh fish.

If you are as hard core as I am about fishing, switch target species when you have enough of one to eat.

For example, after fishing inshore in the kelp in the still mornings where the bite usually shuts off at about 9:00 AM, we’ll go out a little and take advantage of any breeze to drift for halibut or ground fish. This works good in smaller boats who should always start fishing up current so they can come home down swell in the afternoon.

Learning to relax and slow down a little while fishing is good too.
Kick back and enjoy the scenery. You’re not there to kill every fish in the ocean. Leave a few there for next time. You’ll end up being a much bigger hero in your own eyes if you do.
Catch & Release Tools


I fish the the inshore water of Southern California and 90% of the fish I catch are released and some I have more than once in the same location (one in particular spottie in Newport harbor had a chunk taken out of his tail and I have caught him around the same dock 4 times in the past year) I also catch some very toothy species like halibut and barracuda these are very difficult to deal with but I have found that BOGA grips take care of the toothy fish problem.

More C & R Tips by Jeff Sun
If you are going to be doing strictly catch and release fishing or if you already have your limit and want to continue fishing, here are some tips to help the survival rate of your released fish:

1. Use Barbless Hooks These do much less damage to the fish. You can use a small file to make your own or even smash the barb down with pliers is better than leaving it exposed.
2. Use Artificial Lures Most lures will hook the fish around the mouth area and not in the throat as most baits will.
3. Use Heavy Line The fish must be brought in quickly. If you are using light line and fight the fish for a long time, most of his energy will be spent during the fight and he may not have enough left to recover from the stress and injuries.
Also, some species can handle stress better than others. Largemouth bass, for example can be caught, taken out of the water, photographed and even weighed and still have a very good chance of surviving after release. Other species such as trout should not even be removed from the water and handled with the "pliers method" as described above. Some species like tuna, wahoo and white seabass do not release well at all and should not be targeted if you don't plan to keep them.