Fishing is a sport like any other enjoyed by millions of people across the globe. There are fishing regulations as to what time of the year to fish, and the number and size of the fish that you can catch. This means that anglers are forced to catch and release some portion of their catch. This is what is referred to as catch and release method of fishing.
Releasing the fish after catching it means that you have to unhook it. It is not simple as it sounds as you have to make sure that you don’t injure the fish while removing the hook. Some fish released end up dying because of injuries when removing the hook. The chances of the fish surviving depend on where the fish was hooked, the length of the fight after being hooked, and the handling and release of the fish. While most professional anglers are conversant with the best techniques to keep the fish alive and in good condition, some beginners are not as informed. This article provides the best practices of removing the hook to ensure that the fish is not injured.
Use Single Hook with Barbless
The best place to start with is choosing the right fishing hooks. If your intention is to release the fish after catching it, make sure that you use lures that have single hooks. Using lures with many hooks increases the chances of injuring the fish while unhooking it. Make sure that you use a circle hook that is also barbless. These types of hooks appear more humane as they don’t easily fatally injure the fish. Circle hooks don’t easily gut-hook the fish like J hooks, but they instead hook the fish in the corner of the mouth. They are therefore easier to remove and less likely to injure the fish. Also, avoid deeply hooking the fish in order not to fatally tear its internal organs.
Barbless hooks enable you to easily and quickly release your fish while occasioning less damage to the mouth of the fish. If you have ever hooked yourself with a barbed hook, then I’m pretty sure you know how hurting it is. People claim that barbless hooks make you lose your catch as they don’t hold it up well. If you are a professional enough and have a perfect knowledge on how to retrieve your fish, I promise you won’t lose any just because your hooks don’t have barbs.
Unhook according to the place of hooks
The place where the fish has been caught by the hook determines what you need to do to unhook it safely. If it is hooked in the lip, then you can easily unhook it without injuring its mouth. If the fish is hooked in the gills or gut, it is better to cut off much of the hook as you can and release the fish than try pulling the hook out. In some cases, the hooks left inside the fish will dissolve and the fish will be able to spit them out. Some species of fish such as catfish can survive with the hooks trapped in them.
The handling your fish when removing the hook also determines whether the fish will survive or not. Holding the fish with your hands makes its protective layer wear out. This layer protects fish from diseases. Sometimes it may be necessary to hold the fish by its body while removing the hook. In this case, you should wet your hands. If the fish does not have teeth that can devour your fingers, you can hold it by its lower jaw. Make sure you don’t touch the gills of the fish because they are very sensitive and can easily be damaged.