Catch and release fishing is becoming a more popular practice these days as anglers are increasingly concerned about the sustainability of fisheries. Catching fish that are too small to eat and not returning them to the water can have a major impact on these populations, so it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with the best practices for ensuring their survival once you release them:
- Don't try to remove the hook if it is too deep: Sometimes a fish will take a hook so deep that you can't remove it without performing surgery. It's better to simply cut the line as close as possible to the hook and let the fish go, as they'll either expel it themselves or the hook will eventually corrode.
- Get your hands wet when you handle a fish: Fish have a layer of slime on their scales and skin that protects them from infections and parasites. If you touch them with dry hands, you risk removing this and exposing them to these hazards underwater.
- Stick to a five second rule: Fish should never be out of water for more than five seconds at a time. Once you pull them out of the lake or ocean, place them in a bucket of water as soon as possible.
- Try to use a net as much as possible: The less that you have to handle the fish, the more likely they will survive once they are released. A rubber net can be used to lift them out of the water.
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