Little Missouri Fly Fishing

Catch & Release Tips…

I see so many trout mishandled day in and day out. Trout, while tenacious fighters, are actually rather delicate. We lose quite a few fish, when they’re mishandled, to people who think they are doing a good thing with Catch & Release. Here’s what I suggest everyone try to do when releasing fish. By the way, always fish barbless hooks. You actually get a better stick on the hook-up, and it’s easier to get a hook out of the fish as well as humans.

I never touch a fish unless I have to or we want to take a picture. To unhook a fish, I run my fingers down the leader to the fly and then get a grip on the hook either with my fingers or my clamps (forceps, pliers, etc.) and turn the fly upside-down. Usually the hook comes right out.

If you have to handle a trout, always have your hands wet before touching a fish. Hands will damage the protective coating the fish have on them leaving them susceptible to infections. The worst thing I see is the people who grab the fish with a towel, yank a hook out, and toss the trout back into the river. There’s a dead one.

If you get a fish that is deep hooked, just go ahead and cut your fly off and let him swim off. The hook will work its way loose in a few days without any lasting damage to the fish. The worst thing you can do is to try to get a fly out of a fish’s throat. It may cost you a fly, but, that you can replace.

When you do handle a fish for a picture, just support the fish in the palm of your hand, half in the water and snap that shot quick.

And this business of swishing a fish back and forth to revive it can be overdone as well. The more you do that, the more you’re handling a fish. I saw one guy jerking one poor trout back and forth enough to break its spine. Just support the fish upright, barely touching it with your hand cupped slightly, and let the fish stay there until it decides to leave on its own.

Be careful with the fish you do catch so we keep them available for everyone to enjoy.