7 Safe Fish Handling Tips

Photo via Flickr.

Photo via Flickr.

Do you know how to follow safe fish handling techniques when you go fishing with your kids in the Rocky Mountains?  Here are a few simple tips to follow to make sure the fish stay alive if you practice catch and release.

I know that not everyone practices catch and release when fishing.  If you fish for dinner then don’t worry about these tips because you don’t need to worry about keeping the fish alive.  However, for those of you that practice catch and release and want to share fishing with your kids keep reading.  These tips are for people new to fishing and those that have done if for years.

Why Is Safe Fish Handling Important?

Safe fish handling is important because without it there is a chance that the fish will die.  Sometimes the fish may swim off and appear to be fine after you release it.  But, you may have handled it wrong and done damage to the fish that will slowly kill it over time.  For example, you may have removed the protective slime or crushed internal organs when you squeezed it.

Remember you are releasing the fish so that it can survive and keep living.  Following these safe fish handling tips will help make sure the fish lives and can be enjoyed and caught by other anglers.

7 Tips for Safe Fish Handling

Try to minimize the amount of time you are fighting the fish in the water.  The longer the fish fights the more it will wear itself out.  That means it has less energy to swim and survive when you release it back into the water.

safe fish handling, trout, net

Photo via Flickr.

Use a net – if you have one you should use a net.  This makes it easier to land the fish, reducing the time the fish is fighting.  This also makes it easier to bring the fish under control before you attempt to remove the hook.

Never touch the fish’s gills – when you are holding the fish never touch the fish’s gills.  The gills are very sensitive and could be easily damaged.  Damaging the gills could harm or kill the fish.  Remember fish breathe through their gills (that is one of the things that makes a fish a fish).

Never lay a trout on dry ground – the fish is covered in a  protective layering of slime.  Laying the fish on the ground for even a minute can cause that slime to come off.  Without that protective coat the fish could get a disease.

safe fish handling, trout

Don’t throw the fish back! Photo via Flickr.

No throwing – Do not throw the fish back into the water.  Throwing the fish will greatly increase the chance of damaging or killing the fish.

Do not keep the fish out of water very long – the longer you keep/hold the fish out of the water the greater the likelihood that the fish will die.  I researched a little bit to see how long you can safely keep fish out of the water.  Some sources error on the side of caution and suggest not keeping the fish out of water for more than 5 seconds.

Make sure to have wet hands or use gloves if holding fish.  If you simply pick up the fish while your hands are dry you will remove the protective slime coating the fish, which could lead to problems and death for that fish.