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Handle Fish with Care


North Dakota’s open water fishing season has many anglers hoping to land that elusive trophy fish. While hooking a wall-mounter is important for some anglers, others simply enjoy the thrill and return the fish back into the water.

Catch-and-release is effective only if released fish are handled carefully. The following precautions will enhance the likelihood of a released fish remaining healthy:

·         Fish should be caught from depths less than 30 feet.

·         Land the fish quickly. If possible, don’t play the fish to exhaustion while attempting to bring it in.

·         A needle-nose pliers or similar tool should be used to remove the hook.

·         When removing the hook, don’t squeeze the fish or hold it by its eye sockets, and avoid contact with the gills.

·         If the fish is hooked deep, cut the line close to the mouth.

·         If possible, hold the fish in the water while preparing it for release, including while handling it to remove the hook.

·         Don’t throw the fish into the water. When releasing it, place it into the water and move it slowly back and forth until it becomes acclimated.