How To Handle Fish

5280 Angler Promotes Best Practices

Retrieve Trout Quickly – Use size 3x or larger tippet when reasonable and effective. Bring trout in as quickly as possible. Do not overplay the fish. Trout can be played to exhaustion, resulting in loss of the fish.

Limit exposure to air, keep them wet – Keep trout in the water as much as possible. Net the fish and remove the fly in the water. If a trout is removed from the water for a quick photo, wet hands first, and make every attempt to keep it to 10 seconds or less. If for any reason additional time is required, keep trout netted in the water and upright. To prevent injury or unnecessary stress, attempt to avoid handling the fish on shore, above, or on any dry or hard surfaces. Please crimp the barb on all hooks and have hook retrieval tools easily accessible. 

Proper Release – If Trout is netted, Do not simply roll it out of the net. Hold the net so that trout is upright and breathing. When it struggles to get out of net, then release. When net release is not practical, hold trout by the tail, upright, and (A) Still Water: gently move forward and back, with back motion very slow, not forcing water backwards through gills. (B) Moving Water: Hold trout with nose upstream, use gentle side-to-side motion, allow current to revive the fish. Wait until fish struggles to swim on it’s own to release.

Take your Time – Be prepared to release a fish properly. The larger the fish and/or longer the retrieve, the more time necessary to properly release. Warmer water temps dramatically increase the release time. In warmer temps, emphasize minimal handling of the fish (particularly out of the water).

Follow – Up – Observe Trout after release. If trout is still sluggish, or begins to roll to one side, retrieve again with net or hand and spend additional time for a proper release.