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Fishing WisconsinResponsible catch and release

Live release of a largemouth bass

Responsible catch and release

Catch-and-release fishing has been an important part of recreational fishing for some time, and the practice continues to increase in popularity with many state anglers. As anglers have come to value many fish species more for their sporting qualities than as table fare - like trout, bass and muskellunge - catch-and-release fishing has grown immensely.

Fish responsibly. Alter your method or your gear to minimize hooking mortality. That may mean going to different hooks or setting the hook a little sooner. Apply deeply hooked fish to your bag limit and release the fish that have a good survivable hookup. In some cases, if fish are badly hooked (for instance, in the gills) or are obviously stressed, you may not be able to successfully release them. However, every attempt should be made for a positive release.

Follow these simple steps for a more successful release

  • Land the fish as quickly as possible.
  • Keep the fish in the water as much as possible.
  • Handle the fish as little as possible. Use wet hands or gloves.
  • If the fish is deeply hooked, cut the line and let the fish go.
  • Treat the fish gently throughout the release.

Following the above guidelines will help improve the fish's chance of survival after release and allow another angler to enjoy the thrill of catching a quality Wisconsin fish.

Educational resources: Responsible release presentation [PDF] Responsible release wild card - tuck it in your tacklebox [PDF]

General

If you decide to catch and release, please consider proper release to help fish survive after you have put them back in the water. Fish can be traumatized, weakened, or injured during the handling process. By following a few simple steps, you can help fish survive. Reduce reel-time with fish. Encourage use of rubber nets and cradles. Literally wet hands before handling fish. Easy access to unhooking tools. Always use two hands to support fish. Stick to the 60 sec or less exposure time. Enable fish to recover in water before letting go.

Bass

The best management practices for responsible release fishing for bass can be summarized by:

1. Reducing reel-time with fish 2. Using a rubber net. 3. Wetting your hands. 4. Minimizing handling time and keeping unhooking tools readily available. 5. Cutting the line close to the hook if the hook is too deep 6. Supporting fish with both hands. 7. Recovering the fish in water facing the current or move fish from side to side.

Musky

The best management practices for responsible release fishing for bass can be summarized by:

1. Reducing reel-time with fish. 2. Recommending using a rubber net or cradle. 3. Removing hooks while in water if possible. 4. Supporting fish horizontally with both hands for photo close to edge of boat. 5. Recovering fish in water before letting go.

Trout

The best management practices for responsible release fishing for trout can be summarized by:

1. Reducing reel-time with fish 2. Using a rubber net. 3. Wetting your hands. 4. Minimizing handling time and keeping unhooking tools readily available. 5. Cutting the line close to the hook if the hook is too deep 6. Supporting fish with both hands. 7. Recovering the fish in water facing the current or move fish from side to side.

Ice fishing

Trout release from the ice

Responsible catch and release during ice fishing is important.The good news is that in the winter fish metabolism rates are much reduced and frigid water temperatures offer little risk of thermal shock. However, cold air temperatures and wind chill factors present challenges.

In sub-zero weather, when water freezes in seconds, it is important to protect a fish’s eyes and gill filaments. The best way to do that is by keeping them in the water. If you can release a fish in the hole without exposing it to sub-zero temperatures so much the better. If you want to get a photograph, though, or the fish is so big you need to bring it out of the ice hole to turn it around, expose it to cold air temperatures for as little time as necessary. Handle the fish quickly and gently.

 

Fish On...Wisconsin! It's catching.

Last revised: Tuesday May 07 2019