If you plan to release a fish, it is important to give it a chance to survive and thrive. First, and foremost, keep the fish in the water. Don't lift fish out of the water – don't even touch the fish if you don't have to. Many fish can be released without ever touching them. Just bend over, remove the hook with your hand or with pliers, and let the fish swim away. Research has shown that keeping a fish in the water dramatically increases its chances of survival.

BoatUS ANGLER: RecycledFish Stewardship Tips

Handling Fish

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If you plan to release a fish, it is important to give it a chance to survive and thrive.

Here are three tips to keep in mind as you release fish.

First, and foremost, keep the fish in the water. 

Don't lift fish out of the water – don't even touch the fish if you don't have to. Many fish can be released without ever touching them. Just bend over, remove the hook with your hand or with pliers, and let the fish swim away. Research has shown that keeping a fish in the water dramatically increases its chances of survival.  Speaking of keeping the fish in the water, use a waterproof camera and photograph the fish underwater rather than going for the hero shot.

Keep your hands wet when handling fish

If you do handle a fish, and you do it with dry hands, it can cause some of the protective coating ("slime") on the fish's skin to come off. This coating is designed to protect fish from disease. Wet hands reduce this risk and can actually make it a little easier to handle your catch. Some anglers prefer soft wet gloves.

Maintain control of the fish

Fish that are allowed to bang around on streamside rocks or the bottom of a boat harm themselves and expend a lot of undue energy. Depending upon the fish, you can control it by cupping your hand (or hands) around it, cradling it, grabbing it by the bottom lip, or grabbing it across the back. Under no circumstance should you ever grab a fish by the eyes or gills (despite what you've heard before or seen in outdoor magazines). Avoid squeezing fish around the belly, as this can damage internal organs.

For More Conservation Tips visit www.recycledfish.org

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