Did you know: As a fish is brought to the surface the air in its swim bladder expands. The damage caused by the stomach being pushed into the mouth and pressure on the internal organs is called “Barotrauma”
- Try flattening (or filing down) the barb on your hooks. This makes unhooking the fish easy and causes less damage or stress to the fish during handling.
- Avoid using stainless steel hooks if you can. If the fish escapes with your hook attached, the hook can take a long time to rust and fall free of the fish.
- If the fish has swallowed the hook it is unlikely to survive. Keep gut hooked fish of legal size (within bag limits).
02 Landing Fish
- If possible leave the fish in the water and roll the hook out of its mouth with pliers or a de-hooking device.
- A synthetic rubber landing net is best for securing fish to reduce damage to the scales and eyes. Knotless mesh nets are the second choice.
- If you need to lay a fish down, leave them in the net or place them on a smooth, cool wet surface.
- Contrary to popular belief PLEASE do not use a wet cloth, towel or sponge as they all remove the mucus layer, instead use wet hands where possible.
03 Releasing Fish
- If you must release a deep hooked fish cut the line close to its mouth and carefully release as soon as possible.
- A recent Australian study found that snapper healed quickly if a small puncture was made in the protruding stomach to release the gas and allow the fish to swim back down by itself. This is easily done with the point of a sharp hook or similar object that will not cause a large hole or gash. This practice has historically not been encouraged but the study results found it to be just as effective as using a hypodermic needle to release gas from the swim bladder.
- Fish caught from the shore need extra care as they are often dragged over sand and rocks before release, losing their protective mucus or scales in the process.
- If you can’t release fish whilst they are in the water (due to safety concerns), swinging the fish directly into wet hands for handling and release is the next best option. A longer fishing rod makes this more achievable and helps ensure the safety of the fisher. Depending on the conditions, rods 3 meters or longer are preferable. You may also find a suitable rock pool to handle larger fish before release.
Photographing your catch
- Hold the fish horizontally with one hand under the chin and the other hand supporting the body.
- Please, no fingers in the gills.
- Minimise the time the fish is out of the water.