Best Practices for Releasing Fish

Do your part towards making fishing better for tomorrow by following these simple FishSmart best practices.

Plan Ahead: On any given trip, you are probably going to release fish so make sure you have the right equipment to do so.

Choose the Right Tackle: Know the local regulations and be sure your equipment is right for the species you are targetting. Select tackle that matches the size of the targeted species in order to minimize stress on the fish.

Catch the Right Fish: Develop skills to target the size and species you desire so the need for releasing fish is reduced.


1. Use wet hands when handling a fish or a knotless rubberized landing nets.
2. Hold the fish horizontally whenever possible since this is the way fish naturally swim through the water. Do not drop the fish onto hard surfaces!
3. Keep your fingers away from the gills and eyes of the fish.
4. If needed, use a release tool (dehookers, recompression tools) to minimize handling.

Watch the FishSmart Catch and Release video to learn more.