Which Catch and Release Net to Use for Fish Conservation

By Debbie Hanson

Dec 20, 2017

Selecting a catch and release fishing net isn't hard. Get useful conservation tips that make it easy to pick out a net that ensures your catches will survive

In the past, you may not have given much thought to the type of catch and release net you've used. However, the net you take along on your fishing trips actually plays a key role in the survival of any fish you release back into the wild. The best catch and release net will give you the ability to land, photograph, and release fish without causing any harm to your beloved quarry.

Remember that the more you handle a fish, and the longer you keep it out of the water, the less likely it is that the fish will remain alive and healthy once released. When considering which type of catch and release net to use, take into account the following fish conservation tips.

  1. Look for a net that is made with tangle-free rubber mesh instead of one that has knots or nylon string netting. A rubberized catch and release fishing net will keep the fish's slime coat intact, which helps the fish continue to fight off disease or infection. Lures or flies are also much less likely to become tangled in a rubberized net.
  2. Find a catch and release fishing net that is fairly shallow so that you can snap photos of your catch while keeping your net (and the fish) in the water. If you want to quickly remove the fish from your net for photos, hold the fish horizontally. Remember that gravity out of the water is greater, so this can cause stress on the fish's skeletal system.
  3. The best fishing nets for catch and release are lightweight and simple to transport. These nets are easy to carry along whether you are walking along the rocky banks of a mountain stream or fly casting from the deck of a flats boat. 
  4. Consider the species you plan to target in relation to the spacing of the holes in your net. Make sure that the holes in your net are small enough to keep your catches from slipping through and won't get caught on delicate gills or fins. You know, as the old Irish blessing goes, "May the holes in your net be no larger than the fish in it.

Since you know how rubberized landing nets can contribute to higher fish survival rates when catch and release fishing, why not learn a few more catch and release best practices? Applying fish conservation methods like these can help ensure that our nation's fisheries stay healthy and offer plenty of angling opportunities for future generations.

Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit shefishes2.com or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.