The reel deal

The News (New Glasgow) - - FRONT PAGE - Don MacLean

It’s the re­spon­si­bil­ity of all an­glers to prac­tice proper catch and re­lease tech­nique to en­sure fishing op­por­tu­ni­ties for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

The end of Au­gust marks the end of re­ten­tion sea­son for brook or speck­led trout in Nova Sco­tia.

Be­gin­ning this Satur­day, Sept. 1, an­glers must re­lease all brook trout they catch. The only ex­cep­tion is in the Cape Bre­ton High­lands Trout Man­age­ment Area where an­glers can re­tain brook trout. In ad­di­tion an­glers can con­tinue to re­tain rain­bow and brown trout un­til the end of Septem­ber, and longer, in some ar­eas.

To­day, more and more Pic­tou County an­glers are prac­tis­ing catch-and-re­lease an­gling. In some cases, such as At­lantic sal­mon, it is re­quired by law on all rivers, but in many cases an­glers are prac­tis­ing it vol­un­tar­ily to al­low fish they catch to sur­vive for the fu­ture. There is no ques­tion catch and re­lease can play a valu­able role in sport fish man­age­ment.

When you con­sider that it can take up to five years to grow a nice brook trout it is im­por­tant these large fish are pre­served for the fu­ture.

En­sur­ing these valu­able fish sur­vive be­ing caught, and then re­leased, is our re­spon­si­bil­ity as an­glers.

If the trout or sal­mon we re­lease are to sur­vive to spawn, to pro­duce fu­ture gen­er­a­tions of fish, there are some sim­ple steps we can fol­low to en­sure sur­vival:

If pos­si­ble don’t han­dle the fish

Fish have a pro­tec­tive layer of slime which is eas­ily re­moved by dry hands or by be­ing dragged

up on the shore. Leave the fish in the wa­ter and re­move the hook. Small pliers can aid in hook re­moval. If you must han­dle the fish first wet your hand and

gently cra­dle the fish as you re­move the hook. Don’t squeeze the fish as it may dam­age the in­ter­nal or­gans. A cot­ton glove makes it much eas­ier to hang on to the tail of sal­mon or large trout. Just make sure it is wet be­fore us­ing it on a fish.

Do not put your fin­gers in the gills

Any dam­age to the gills cer­tainly re­duces the chances of sur­vival, and also avoid touch­ing the eyes. They are eas­ily dam­aged, es­pe­cially if you use a net.

Re­vive the fish be­fore re­leas­ing it

Small trout are usu­ally landed quickly and of­ten don’t need to be re­vived but large trout or sal­mon which have fought for some time must be al­lowed to re­cover. Re­move the hook and gently hold the fish up­right in a gen­tle flow of wa­ter. This will al­low wa­ter move­ment over the gills and the fish will ob­tain oxy­gen. When the fish re­cov­ers it will re­main up­right in the wa­ter and swim away on its own.

Use ap­pro­pri­ate gear Trout of­ten take bait such as worms and min­nows deep in their mouth. This in­creases the dif­fi­culty in re­mov­ing the hook and low­ers the chances of sur­vival. Some man­age­ment ar­eas do not al­low the use of nat­u­ral bait for this rea­son. Use flies or un­baited sin­gle hook lures. Trout caught on this type of gear can be re­leased much eas­ier.

Us­ing proper equip­ment and the cor­rect tech­nique, Pic­tou County an­glers can en­joy their sport and also en­sure the fish they re­lease will sur­vive for the fu­ture.

Don MacLean is an out­door writer and bi­ol­o­gist who lives in Pic­tou County.


Fishing is an ex­tremely pop­u­lar pas­time through­out Nova Sco­tia. An­glers can en­sure great fishing for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions by fol­low­ing a few sim­ple steps when it comes to catch and re­lease.

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