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Mastering Fly Fishing - Continued

Catch and Release

Catch and release is a practice within recreational fishing intended as a technique of conservation. After capture, the fish are unhooked and returned to the water. Using barbless hooks, it is often possible to release the fish without removing it from the water (a slack line is frequently sufficient or wiggle the hook.)

In the United States, catch and release was first introduced as a management tool in the state of Michigan in 1952 as an effort to reduce the cost of stocking hatchery-raised trout. Anglers fishing for fun rather than for food accepted the idea of releasing the fish while fishing in so-called "no-kill" zones.

Effective catch and release fishing techniques avoid excessive fish fighting and handling times, avoid damage to fish skin, scale and slime layers by nets, dry hands and dry surfaces (that leave fish vulnerable to fungal skin infections), and avoid damage to throat ligaments and gills by poor handling techniques. It is also important to use a type of net that is not abrasive to the fish (such as a rubber coated net or lightweight mesh), because fish can easily damage themselves in a hard plastic-style net while thrashing.

The use of barbless hooks is an important aspect of catch and release; barbless hooks reduce injury and handling time, increasing survival. Frequently, fish caught on barbless hooks can be released without being removed from the water, and the hook(s) effortlessly slipped out with a single flick of the pliers or leader. Barbless hooks can be purchased from several major manufacturers or can be created from a standard hook by crushing the barb(s) flat with needle-nosed pliers. Some anglers avoid barbless hooks because of the erroneous belief that too many fish will escape. In reality, the opposite is true. Barbless hooks catch more fish. Ever try to get a barbed hook out of your ear or neck. See the light - you have been warned!

Harvesting Non-Native Fish

Stocker have poor survival chances and are less hardy than native trout. For the most part, the first thing we look at is fin wear. Recently stocked hatchery trout will have some degree of fin wear, particularly the caudal (tail), pectoral and dorsal fins. In contrast, wild fish will show very little of this type of fin wear. If the trout fights very well and is highly enegetic it probably is a native. Consider letting the natives go.

Bronze Wire Hooks

These hooks will dissolve with time, hence are more desirable to use if one is left in your fish. Do not dig out hooks that were taken deep or the fish will die from the effort. Cut the line and release.
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