The reel deal
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.