Best practice fish handling

With the trout fishing season now (largely) open, many wild trout anglers will be out on the river or lake hoping for some early season action after a long and very wet winter. This blog post aims to give a timely reminder on best practice for handling our precious wild trout so that they are released unharmed. 

Catch and release fishing is now widely practised, but for us at the WTT, and for many anglers, the question is not whether catch and release is a good thing (that’s a given!) but how well it is done. These are the key points to remember:

  • Use barbless hooks, or press down the barb on a barbed hook
  • Bring the fish to the net as quickly as possible
  • Keep the fish in the water
  • Handle as little as possible, and always with wet hands 
  • Do not squeeze – it damages internal organs
  • Remove the hook quickly 
  • Use forceps if necessary
  • Avoid contact with the bank or gravel as this removes protective slime
  • Release the fish by pointing its nose into the current so that water is flowing over its gills
  • Support it gently until it swims away

This information, along with a handy guide to estimating the weight of your fish based on its length, is available as a PDF which you can print as postcard sized reminder.  

There is lots more information on the Catch and Release page of this website, including information on the effect of catch and release on wild trout populations and individual fish sizes, the effect of temperature on survival rates and how to hold trout for photos.

This video is the best we have found to demonstrate best practice catch release: 

Paul Procter good example
A good example of fish handling form ace angler and WTT Vice President, Paul Procter