Constant Contact: 5 Great Tips for Catch and Release Fishing

By Andy Whitcomb

Nov 18, 2014

One of the most effective ways to catch fish is to use natural bait.

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 is an outdoor writer ( and stressed-out Dad has contributed over 380 blogs to since 2011. Born in Florida, but raised on banks of Oklahoma farm ponds, he now chases pike, smallmouth bass, and steelhead in Pennsylvania. After earning a B.S. in Zoology from OSU, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fisheries research technician at OSU, Iowa State, and Michigan State.