Using good catch-and-release practices will help ensure the fish survives after being released. Here are some tips:
- Keep the fight short by using heavier tackle.
- Use a circle hook or crush the barb on a J-hook to avoid injuring the fish.
- Never keep a fish out of the water longer than you can hold your breath.
- The mucoprotein coating, or slime coat, that covers a fish protects it from infection, so use wet hands or gloves when you handle the fish.
- A dehooker lets you remove the hook without touching the fish.
- Never dangle a fish by its jaw, and always support its body with your hands.
- When releasing a deep-sea bottomfish, use a venting tool to relieve the air from the fish's air bladder.
Keeping a LogWith so many factors affecting whether or not fish bite, recording details about the conditions after each trip will help you recognize patterns in fish behavior. Note the moon phase, tide phase, cloud cover, wind speed and direction, barometric pressure, air and water temperature, and precipitation. Also record what baits worked, how the fish responded and the most productive locations.At the beginning of each fishing season, review your notes from previous years to look for conditions or tackle that were most effective.
Storing & Cleaning Fish
Learn how to properly store and clean your fish:
What you need:
- Super-sharp knife with a long, thin blade
- Rubber Gloves
- As soon as you land a fish, put it on ice. Be sure the ice drains as it melts. To improve the quality of the meat, drain the blood by cutting the fish across a major artery. Sharks and salmon should be gutted as soon as they are landed, rinsed and immediately packed with ice.
- Keep the meat in the refrigerator for up to five days. Use a vacuum sealer to pack fish that will be frozen, or put the meat in a sealed bag, and add water until the fish is covered. Be sure to squeeze out any excess air before sealing.
Conservation & RegulationsWhen you buy a fishing license, equipment or motorboat fuel, you're helping to protect and restore our nation's waterways. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service through the Sport Fish Restoration Program distributes a portion of these funds to states for local conservation efforts. However, It is up to anglers to follow local fishing regulations. Each state has publications and websites that detail local and federal regulations on minimum size and bag limits for the most popular fish. Fishing clubs and websites are good places to learn about environmental and management issues facing local anglers.
Snagged Lures & Rigs
Avoid losing tackle to snags, here's how:
- When you detect your lure or rig has become snagged, set the reel in freespool to prevent digging the hook deeper into the snag.
- Run the boat past the structure in the opposite direction the hook was snagged.
- Tighten the line and jerk the rod tip to free the hook.
Finding StructuresOne good way to find fish is to find the structure where they live. The best place to look for these structures is on a nautical chart. Several companies make special charts with popular wrecks, reefs and other fishing areas marked and coordinates noted. Artificial reefs will be documented by the organizations that sponsored them.Local tackle shops will often have publications that list the coordinates of hotspots. Dive shops and clubs are also good sources of information on area reefs.