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3 Quick Tips for Your Catch & Release

In modern sport fishing, the phrase “catch and release” has become a standard. Introduced by the younger generation of anglers, it’s slowly changed the way we think about fishing. To ensure a quick and safe catch and release, here are my three best tips to help you along the way.

Speed & Preparations 

To handle and release the fish as quickly as possible, preparation is the key. When it’s time to handle the fish, you want to be ready. With prediction and preparation, even the trickiest situations can be defused fast. 
Start by assembling the crucial tools: pliers and a good, strong cutter. A small first aid kit and waterproof, elastic bandages are always good to have at hand. I carry all those things in one bag: the Rapala Tool Organizer. It’s a versatile bag that’s easy to take with you while fishing. 

•    Long pliers (Long Reach Pliers)
Deep-hooked fish can be tricky to unhook. In those cases, long pliers help you to unhook and release the fish. 

•    Split ring pliers (RCD Mag Spring Split Ring Pliers)
Sometimes the line can get tangled up around the catch, and the easiest way to release the fish is to remove the lure from the main line. With split ring pliers you can easily detach the lure and operate with ease.

•    A good, strong cutter (Angler’s Double Leverage Side Cutter
A hooking gone wrong can lead to an injured fish. If the gills are bleeding or you can’t see all the hooks, it’s better to just cut the hooks and remove them. A good cutter can turn a lot of bad situations around – also when removing a hook from a finger.

•    First aid kit (with waterproof bandage and a bottle of disinfectant)
Always have the first aid kit nearby. It’s best to deal with blood and wounds directly – to play the bleeding hero never pays off. Instead, clean the wound with disinfectant and wrap it with elastic, waterproof bandage and you’ll ensure the chances of still having a good day of fishing.

With these tips you can minimize the accidents and unwanted situations that can occur when you getting a strike and landing a fish.

Secure & Protect Your Catch 

In order to safely secure and register a catch, some handling tools are highly recommended. Here’s what I’m using in my catch and release fishing.

•    A large pike net (with rubber mesh)
Make sure that your net has enough space for the fish you’re targeting ¬– bigger fish need bigger nets. Larger mesh size helps unhooking the fish by a great deal. The net frame should be big enough to allow the fish to rest in a natural position while being handled.
 

•    Weigh & Release Mat
A mat made of rugged PVC protects the fish and its mucous layer. The meshing at both ends of the mat prevents the fish from falling off. In case you’re wondering about the size of the mat, fear not: my catch of 121 centimeters and 12 kilograms had no problem of fitting on it.
 

•    Scale and a ruler (RCD Roll Ruler and 25 kg RCD Digital Scale)
For measuring and registering the catch, Rapala provides a variety of high-quality options. The UV-protected and waterproof Roll Ruler makes measuring the catch easy. All you need to do is lock the ruler in place, measure the fish and wash the ruler after use. The digital scale goes up to 25 kilograms and can store up to eight measures of your own choice. The scale is durable and can handle rain and decent amount of water, making it a solid year-round tool. I use it even on my ice fishing sessions!

Handle, Register & Release

Once getting a strike, there’s a series of steps to follow. First, secure the fish in the net and unhook it as quickly as possible. Let the fish rest in the net while securing the lure to the rod and placing it to the side – it’s best not have any hooks lying around. Then, wet down the weigh and release mat and get the RCD ruler and scale ready. 
After that, it’s time to handle the fish. While holding a fish – in this case, a pike – place your hand under the chin. Sliding the hand between the last gill and the thicker, lower parts of the chin allows for getting firm and steady grip. This way, you’ll avoid cutting yourself on the sharp parts of the gills – the worst you’ll get is scratched knuckles. While lifting the fish, you can place the other hand under the belly to support the vital organs. Place the fish on the weigh and release mat and close the mat. Quickly scale the fish, get the measurements up – and then it’s time to let the fish back into the water.

Catch and release can be tricky at first, as you’ll want to be as careful as possible to spare the fish from any unnecessary pain. To complicate the matter more, handling a bigger fish can also be quite intimidating. That’s why it’s good to remember that everyone starts from zero – all it takes is a little practice. The basic steps provided here are a sure way to get you started on a journey full of memorable fishing!

All the best to your fishing sessions,
JN