Catch & Release

When practising catch and release, fishermen must use sufficiently heavy tackle so that the fish can be landed quickly

Fishermen must be careful to minimize their handling of the fish; wiping the slime and/or scales off the fish reduces its survival chances by making it more likely to pick up skin infection. Netting the fish should be avoided if possible, but, if necessary, a cotton mesh or rubber net should be used, as they are less abrasive than plastic-based material. It is now illegal to use knotted nets (which were particularly damaging to fish which were to be released).

How to release fish to increase chances of survival: Leave the fish in the water if possible. Do not handle it. Use a hook remover. Do not put fingers in the eyes or gills of the fish.


If handling is necessary, wet your hands first and get the fish back into the water as quickly as possible. Do not squeeze the fish, which can cause it internal damage. Hold the fish lightly, facing upstream, allowing the water to flow over its gills. Rock the fish gently backwards and forwards.


When the fish has recovered it will swim away. If a fish is bleeding badly, has swallowed the hook or is exhausted beyond recovery, it must be killed as quickly as possible. The use of barbless hooks will help enormously in the survival chances of the fish. It is a simple matter to crush the barbs flat on flies with fishing pliers.


Never release a fish into or near weed as it could become entangled. Try and release a fish into deeper water where there is more oxygen present. If the fish looks like it is in difficulty, cradle the fish in the water, hold it by the tail and gently move it back and forth until you can feel it gain strength.