With fishing season in its’ prime time of the year, both visitors and locals are casting out from the shore and on boats, and just as important as the catch is what you do after it. Catch-and-release fishing continues to increase in popularity throughout Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is reminding you to alter your gear or methods to minimize hooking mortality. This could lead to using different hooks or trying to set the hook sooner.
The DNR also wants you to add deeply hooked fish to your bag limits, releasing only fish with a survivable hookup. Fish hooked in the gills are under clear stress may not have a high chance of survival after release. The DNR adds that fish have delicate gills and jaw muscles and holding a fish by its gills or lower jaw can cause permanent damage, making it hard for them to eat after being released. Some release tips from the DNR include:
- Keep fish in water as much as possible.
- Hold your catch with two hands and gently release it back into the water
- Handle the fish as little as possible and use wet hands or gloves
- If the fish is deeply hooked, cut the line and let the fish go.