|Catch and Release
There is more to catch and release than simply returning a fish to the water. In
Wisconsin, anglers will release more than 2,000,000 trout, but more than 400,000 will die
after release. Some released fish will die from hooking injuries no matter how carefully
they are handled, but with proper care nearly all trout hooked in the jaw or mouth and two
out of three deeply hooked fish should survive.
Please help ensure the survival of released fish by using the following techniques:
- Use barbless hooks.
- Play and land fish quickly. Struggling for too long causes a build-up of lactic acids in
the fish, which can be fatal.
- Keep the fish in the water as much as possible. If possible, remove the hook without
removing the fish from the water.
- Snip deeply embedded hooks and allow them to dissolve. Cut the line if the fish is
hooked in the throat or stomach. Fish are much more likely to survive if deeply embedded
hooks are left in place and allowed to dissolve.
- If the hook is in the jaw or lip, hold the fish gently at the base of the head just
behind the gill covers and remove the hook with needlenose pliers. Be very careful
not to squeeze the fish.
- Don't drop the fish in the boat or allow it to thrash around on the shore. Fish bruise
easily, and damage to internal organs can be fatal.
- Never lift fish by the eye sockets or gills. Use both hands to support the fish's weight
- Wet your hands before lifting the fish. If it is necessary to set the fish down, place
it on a smooth, wet surface.
- An unconscious fish can be revived by holding it upright in the water and gently moving
it back and forth. Don't release the fish until you are sure it can swim away on its own.
Make sure to release the fish slowly into calm water.
- A fish that can be legally kept should not be released if it is bleeding heavily.
Remember that you can't intentionally fish for any species during its closed season.
How to Estimate a Fish's Weight without a Scale
Scales can damage a fish, and weighing can prolong the amount of time a fish spends out
of water. Use a ruler to measure your catch, and then use the following formulas to
- Walleye: length x length x length divided by 2,700
- Pike: length x length x length divided by 3,500
- Sunfish: length x length x length divided by 1,200
- Bass: length x length x girth (the distance around the body) divided by 1,200
- Trout: length x girth x girth divided by 800
Formulas obtained from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Sources: "Wisconsin: A Great State to Fish!" by the Wisconsin
Department of Natural Resources. "Consider Proper Release" by the Wisconsin
Department of Natural Resources. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Web site.
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Brook Trout illustration copyright 1998 Gina
Last updated 05 February 2002 by