Fish Care for Catch & Release

Fish Care for Catch & Release An in-depth look into how to take care of your fish during a tournament. You'll want to read this if you're dedicated to Catch & Release.


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Bass are sensitive creatures that can be injured more easily than you might think. Tips for handling fish before you put them in your livewell include the following common sense items:

  1. Keep the fish in water as much as possible. Bass can only hold their breathe as long as you can. Wind and other elements can damage their skin, too. Wet your hands before touching the fish so that you don't remove the slime coat that protects the fish from infections and fungus. Don't handle the fish any longer than you have to, and be gentle, don't drop the fish if you can keep from it. Bouncing off the carpet also destroys their protective slime.
  2. Never hold fish through the gills or stick your fingers in their eyes. Lip the fish gently and do not bend back the lower jaw as it can break easily, particularly in larger bass. For larger bass give support to the body under the wrist of the tail so that you are not holding the fish's weight balanced on it's own jawbone.
  3. Do not rip or tear out hooks. Gently remove by backing off the barb or use needle nose pliers. If the fish is deeply hooked just remove the lure portion (lizard or whatever) and cut the line, leaving about 18-inches off the hook and release the fish. The hook will eventually come out. There are ways to remove deeply embedded hooks, but do not do this without having a demonstration beforehand. The barb has to be backed off by applying pressure back against it and on small fish this is tough to do as you can't get both hands in their mouths. Not all hooks deeply embedded can be removed, but don't necessarily kill the fish, however if you see dark colored tissue or entrails coming up through the throat you have gut-hooked the fish and should clean it for dinner. If the fish is not a legal size you will have to cut the line and release it anyway due to state law.
  4. Try to land the fish you catch quickly, don't wear them out by making them fight longer than they have to as this expends so much energy the bass can not recover and has no chance for survival if released.
  5. If you feel you must use a dip net try to purchase one specifically designed for fish. Nets can remove the slime coat and leave the fish open to infection.
  6. Gently release the fish back into the water. Do not throw or toss the fish.
  7. Don't use stringers for fish that will be released. Just as sticking your fingers in the gills is bad for them stringers can destroy their gill filaments. Regardless of where the stringer is placed in the fish, there is no good way to use one, all do damage to lips, gills, etc. How would it feel if someone stuck a stringer in your lungs? However, if fish is bleeding a little from gills because of a hook injury you have not necessarily killed that fish. Hold it in your livewell with Catch & Release treatment in the water for several hours until the bleeding stops. Much like you pricking your finger, a little blood does not signify death in all cases.
  8. Once you have the fish in your livewell use the information provided in this package to assist you in proper care of that fish while in your possession. Don't just fill your livewell and forget about it.
  9. Treat the fish in your care as you would want your children treated and always use Catch & Release, year-round, never be without it. This product carries medicine that can save the fish you catch from disease and death. It replaces slime knocked off during the catch, treats antibiotically to reduce fungus and infection that can occur after you have released the fish back into the lake, and it calms the fish so that it doesn't do more harm to itself in the livewell.
  10. If true catch and release is your goal follow these steps and others discussed in this package to the best of your ability. Delayed mortality is not generally seen by those who cause it, but shows a lack of respect for the bass by those who see it after you have gone. Live catch and release requires more than just the act of doing so.

Continue to:
Fish Care During & After Tournaments

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