Taking Catch and Release to the Next Level

Catch and Release has made great strides in rebuilding healthy fish populations throughout Canada's Fisheries. Here, Joel Prunty explains the next step to sustaining this wonderful sport!

Catch and Release - The Next Step:

Catch and Release fishing is now a common and standard practice for today’s anglers. Because of the efforts behind this movement, the quality of fishing has been greatly improving throughout Canada’s vast fisheries. Today, the likelihood of catching a trophy fish is even better than it was at any other time in the last 50 years. This is all for one reason... Catch and Release.

Although the efforts of this technique have made great improvements in our fisheries, there is still much more that we can do as anglers to protect our beloved sport. The next major improvement to Catch and Release, as it relates to trophy Pike, Muskie and Lake Trout, is improving the survival rates of the fish we release. Think about it... It does no good to release a fish that is too injured to survive after being hooked and handled by an angler. Along with releasing our catches, healthier fishery populations can be achieved by making major improvements to how we handle trophy fish.

Not long ago anglers were told not to net trophies. If done properly, however, netting your catch may give your next trophy its best chance of survival.

Here are a few quick tips for handling your next BIG fish!

First, make sure that you have a net that is the correct size for the species that you are pursuing. After you reel in your trophy, leave the fish and net and in the water where it will remain calm. While still in the water, remove the lure from the fish’s mouth and lift your catch out of the net. Bringing a netted fish into the boat will often cause the fish to to flop around and entangle itself further in the net, while injuring itself on objects in the boat.

Always hold your trophy Pike, Muskie or Lake Trout with two hands, using one hand to support the stomach. Never hold a trophy vertically with one arm!

Time is of the essence! Of course you want to enjoy your trophy and get a good photo, but act as quickly as possible. While the fish is being de-hooked and removed from the net, have someone get the camera ready and set up your picture to save time. A lodge owner once told me “Think of yourself holding your breath under water...that is what fish are experiencing out of water!”

Never weigh a fish by hanging it from a scale. Instead, weight your fish in the net by attaching your scale to the netting and raising it. More often than not, the weight of the netting is small enough that the reading is still accurate using this technique.

Using these four tips will greatly increase the odds of your trophy surviving to fight another day. Remember... happy and healthy fish make even happier anglers!

To begin planning your next Canadian trip, visit our Adventure Match to find the perfect lodge to suit your personal fishing and/or hunting preferences.

Editors Note: Joel Prunty is the president of Fishulo,llc and is passionate about using his expertise in Canadian wilderness travel to assist anglers and hunters in planning adventures. Over a 20 year association with a Canadian fishing and hunting sportshow producer, Joel visited over 300 of Canada's BEST lodges, resorts and outfitters. He currently sits on the Marketing Advisory Council for Tourism Saskatchewan and was previously named the Northern Ontario Tourist Outfitters Association‘s (NOTO) member-of-the-year.

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