Constant Contact: 5 Great Tips for Catch and Release Fishing

One of the most effective ways to catch fish is to use natural bait. And one of the best ways to release fish caught with bait is to keep in constant contact with that bait. Undetected hits can lead to deep hook removals, thus reducing the chances of watching fish swim away unharmed to catch another day.

Here are the 5 tips for Catch and Release Fishing with bait:

  1. Choose the right hook shape and type. There are dozens of types of hooks for a reason. Select a hook that matches the bait and species targeted. For example, shrimp are naturally curved so will thread in a similar shape on a release-friendly circle hook. Or, if catching tiny-mouthed bluegill, a hook with a long shank may help with unhooking.

  2. If fishing on the bottom and using a rod holder, keep an eye on that rod tip. Position yourself or the rod tip so that it is clearly visible, like contrasted against the bright sky instead of a busy backdrop of trees.

  3. Give the fishing rod some angle. Do not point the rod directly at the fish or the bait. When the hit comes, the rod flex will help with detection and hook set at the right time.

  4. Afraid to reel because you think the fish might feel it and drop the bait? Just turn to the side or take a small step backwards to tighten the line slightly. Carefully, if on a boat.

Keep a finger on the line. Even with a sensitive rod, small vibrations traveling to a finger can be a wealth of information.

Are you ready? Check our Places to Boat and Fish Map and choose a location for your next Catch and Release adventure!

Andy Whitcomb

Andy Whitcomb

Andy Whitcomb is a columnist, outdoor humorist, and stressed-out Dad. He says there are “people who fish”… and there are “fishermen”.  One of the few things he knows is that he is a “fisherman”...  To the point it could be classified as borderline illness.  Sharing this obsession is rewarding, therapeutic. He likes to encourage people to “stop and smell the crappie."  Enjoys catching fish, but gets a greater thrill out of helping someone else hook up.
Born in Florida, but raised on the banks of Oklahoma farm ponds. Now relocated to western Pennsylvania. He has fished, worked, lived all around the US.  He has a B.S. in Zoology from Oklahoma State as well...
And he met his wife while electrofishing. He has been contributing weekly to since 2011.