CATCH AND RELEASE
Increasing numbers of anglers are fishing our accessible waters and remote areas of the state. Continuation of Alaska's high quality sport fishing depends upon more anglers choosing to practice catch and release when fishing for our resident fish species. An objective of the Division of Sport Fish is to provide a diversity of fishing opportunities while assuring the conservation of Alaska's stocks of fish. You help do this when you harvest only those fish you will use and release the rest of your catch unharmed. Using catch and release techniques to land your fish when practicing selective harvest also assures you that the fish will be in the best possible physical condition when you make the decision to harvest it for food or to release it.
Choosing Your Tackle
- Use strong line to bring your catch in quickly.
- Fish caught with flies or lures survive at a higher rate than fish caught with bait.
- Use hooks appropriate to the size of the fish.
- Use pliers to pinch barbs on hooks down.
Landing Your Catch
- Land your fish as carefully and quickly as possible.
- Avoid removing the fish from the water.
- Do not let fish flop about in shallow water, on the ground, or in the bottom of your boat.
- Use landing nets made with soft or knotless mesh.
Handling Your Catch
- Keep your fish in the water.
- Cradle large fish gently with both hands: one under its belly, one at the tail.
- Keep your fingers out of and away from the gills and eyes.
- Use wet hands or wet cloth gloves to handle the fish.
- Never squeeze the fish.
- Support your fish in the water while your partner takes your picture. Fish can not remain healthy out of water for longer than you can hold your breath.
Removing Your Hook
- Use long nose pliers to back the hook out.
- Remove the hook quickly, keeping the fish underwater.
- When the fish is hooked deeply, cut the line to release the fish. If the fish is bleeding form the gills, it is likely to die and you should keep it as part of your bag limit.
- Use steel hooks that will rust out, avoid stainless steel hooks.
Reviving Your Catch
- Keep your catch in the water at all times. If you want to take a photograph, have the photographer get ready, then lift the fish barely out of the water (unless prohibited by regulation e.g. king salmon in Cook Inlet) and quickly return it to the water.
- Point your catch into a slow current, or gently move it back and forth until its gills are working properly and it maintains its balance. When the fish recovers and attempts to swim away, let it swim from your hands.
- Large fish may take some time to revive.