Catch and release has become a more popular practice with fishing for a number of reasons. Some species are required by law to be returned to the water, some release fish in the interest of conservation and others simply refuse to kill something they won't eat. Nonetheless, knowing how to release a fish properly is most important, otherwise the fish may end up dying anyway.
Here are three tips on how to safely release a fish back to the water:
Handle with care: Cradling a fish by its lip puts stress on its jaw and internal organs. Also the gills of a fish are extremely sensitive and can be easily damaged. Holding it horizontally and keeping your hands around the lower jaw area or the belly are the best ways to prevent injury.
Land the fish quickly: Exhaustion is one of the most crucial factors regarding a fish's survival. Also, the energy level of a fish especially becomes unpredictable during warm weather when higher-temperature water means lower dissolved oxygen levels for the fish to rely on, resulting in quicker and more intense incidents of stress and fatigue for the fish. Ending the fight as quickly as possible elevates the chances of survival significantly.
Mind the hook: Barbless hooks are ideal when planning on throwing fish back as they are easier to remove and minimize the chances of punctured fingers during the process. Long-nose pliers are also a handy tool for smooth removals. Another trick that can be used is holding the fish upside-down which sometimes helps pacify it and reduce the overall time needed to remove the hook.