The key to careful angling is planning ahead. Before putting a line in the water, decide what you will keep for trophy or dinner. Have all the tools and tackle necessary for properly releasing fish. Here are some things to keep in mind.
- Tackle: Use strong enough tackle. Any fish you plan to release should be brought to the boat quickly to minimize exhaustion.
- Bait: Use artificial baits whenever possible. Fish tend to swallow natural baits, but are usually hooked in the lip or mouth with artificial baits. A lip would is much less sever than a gut wound.
- Hooks: Use barbless hooks and skip the treble hooks. Single, barbless hooks are much easier to remove from a fish, meaning less wounding and time out of water. If you must use bait, use circle hooks to minimize gut wounds.
- Dehooker: Use a dehooker to remove hooks quickly. You can buy one or make one yourself.
- Other gear: Have your catch-and-release gear ready (including your camera and ruler) to shorten time out of water.