‘Catch and release’ has become a cornerstone of the fly fishing culture. Not only has it helped conserve fisheries all around the world, the very notion of ‘catch and release’ has inspired a desire in multiple generations of anglers to preserve their own fisheries – which is a really good thing.
That said, despite our best intentions, the truth remains that without responsible release practices, catch and release can still result in fish mortality.
Like it or not, photography has also become a big part of the fly fishing culture. The rise of social networks have created a higher demand for ‘grip and grins’ than ever before, which means there’s a good chance more fish are being handled for photos than ever before. That’s not necessarily a bad thing in our opinion, just so long as they’re handled responsibly.
Its from this very idea that several great organizations such as Keepemwet or Fish Need Water have advocated handling techniques to keep fish destined to be released in the water while being photographed. It’s a great movement and we encourage every angler to keep fish in the water as much as possible when snapping photos (heck, it just makes for a better photo in our opinion).
However, while we’d love for every fish in the world to remain submerged when handled, we also understand that some fish, especially special fish, are bound to be hoisted for a photo from time to time. Therefore, we think its important to highlight the most responsible way to do so.
Our friends over at North 40 Fly Shop recently put together a fantastic article on the best guide and angler practices for releasing rainbow trout which we strongly suggest reading. The article combines scientific data to support the best methods of handling fish with tried and true techniques for handling fish safely for better photos as well. It also outlines our favorite method (the one, two, three.. lift) for hoisting fish for photos as safely as possible as well.
Get on over there and give it a read today. It won’t disappoint.