Fly Fishing: Play The Fish & Release It Safely

Photography/Fly Fishing/Net/Catch & Release/Outdoors

Whether a fish is 6″ or much bigger, the intent of a catch & releasing fly fisher is to enjoy the fight but get the fish in sooner than later so the fish is not overly stressed. On the front end, that means using gear that is matched to the size fish you are fishing over to have enough ‘back bone’ to get the fish in quickly.

Also, when the fish is near, using a net for bigger fish is a good way to safely control the fish. Attempting to release fish by hand/pliers/forceps (without bringing into a net) can be done but be careful to not let the fish thrash about on the rocks, boat floor, apron or grass. Fish smaller than 16-18″ can be controlled by drawing the fish toward you, holding the tippet and using the pliers to grasp the fly and back out the barbless hook. Bigger fish may need to slide into a net.

Head In Net B

Now with a net, time can be wasted and the fish taxed if the fish does not slide into the net head first. Tail first and they will often propel out using their powerful tail. Head first they are usually calmer, but may rotate in the bottom of the net. Keeping the fish calm, in the net, is helpful as you attempt to release the hook. My wife incessantly talks to the fish. I try to move gently and precisely to reduce the time in the net.

Trout Tail Out SB

Here the Trout went into the net tail first and within seconds it comes out head first in a hurry.

Fish Head First SB

Just in head first………

Trout into Net SB

Optimum, sliding in head first and horizontal…….

tail in fish out B

Ah, tail first not working here….the Trout is not cooperating

Get them in, admire them and get them back in safely. All Trout caught/released. Click on pics

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