Nassau Sport Fishing Association

Nassau Sport Fishing Association

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With temperatures dropping, can you handle the fish?


Fish Handling

Using the correct methods to handle your fish once you’ve landed them is important to ensure that released fish are in prime condition when returned to the water.

  • Return the fish to the water as quickly as possible. One of the major factors in the survival of a released fish is how much time it spends out of the water. The more fish that survive upon release today, the more fish there will be available to catch tomorrow.
  • Wet your hands before handling a fish to prevent damaging its protective slime coating. Don’t use gloves or towels, as this will remove the protective slime.
  • Never hold a fish by the gill cover or eyes.
  • Hold fish horizontally to support their internal organs.
  • Gripping devices can be effective for controlling and handling fish, especially ones with sharp teeth. Grip behind the lower lip and support the weight of the fish in a horizontal position.

Removing the Hook

Removing a hook can be tricky. Use these tips to get the hook out and protect your trout (and other catches).

  • If possible, keep the fish in the water while removing the hook.
  • If the fish has swallowed the hook, cut the line as close to the hook as possible. Attempting to remove the hook can do more harm than good. Use non-stainless-steel hooks since they eventually dissolve or pass naturally.
  • Using a dehooking tool will allow you to remove hooks safely and quickly without touching the fish, giving it a better chance to survive.

 Releasing and Reviving

Taking steps to return fish to the water properly can be a significant factor in their survival. With a little extra effort, you can give your fish a fighting chance at survival to reproduce and fight another day.

  • Place the fish in the water and allow it to swim away on its own; do not toss the fish back.
  • Revive fish that do not swim away immediately or appear lethargic.

·         Place fish in the water head first – it is easiest to hold one hand on the bottom lip or tail and one hand under the belly of the fish.

·         Move the fish forward in the water – this allows the water to be flow through the mouth and over the gills. The fish must face the direction of water flow.

·         Use a figure-8 motion to move the fish forward constantly, ensuring water continues to flow over the gills. Never jerk fish back and forth, since this action prevents water from properly flowing through the gills.

  • For fish caught in deep water with signs of barotrauma, use a descending device to return fish to depth or vent the fish by inserting a sharpened, hollow tube at a 45-degree angle, one inch behind the base of the pectoral fin.
  • Practice C-P-R: Catch-Photo-Release. Quickly land your fish, have a friend snap a quick photo during the action and return fish to the water expediently. Then submit your photos on com to earn prizes for your fishing achievements!

Ensure Fish Survive to Help Populations Thrive!

The steps you take on the water today can help positively impact the future of your Florida fish populations! Dropping temperatures don’t have to mean a drop in the survival of the fish you release. To learn more about proper catch-and-release techniques, visit

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