Handling a fiery trout once out the water can be a a real challenge, especially if you’re intending to return it to the water undamaged. So we’ve put together 5 tips on returning a trout to the water safely.
Of course we are all after the big trophy trout or a tasty trout dinner, but the fact is that not every fish you hook into is worthy of taking home. There are plenty of youngins’ that need to be left to mature and grow. However, in order for wild fish to stand a chance to mature they need to be preserved and handled appropriately.
Trout have very delicate organs and gills and thus there are a number of steps you need to take in order to keep them as healthy as possible. Here are 5 easy tips on how to properly release a trout back into their natural habitat.
While you will definitely want to take photographs of any lunkers you hook into, it is generally a good idea to refrain from touching trout at all when you are planning to release them. If you handle trout then their natural slime is disturbed and they are more susceptible to fungus that they encounter on a daily basis. When you are sure that a trout you have hooked into is too small to keep then try your best to reach down and unhook the fish without making contact.
If you are unable to unhook the trout without handling it then it is best to turn the fish onto its side or even completely upside down in the water. This will make the fish as immobile as possible and allow you to use pliers in order to more easily remove the hook and set it free.
When you are handling the trout you always want to avoid touching the gills with your fingers, or accidentally jamming them inside. Major gill damage is something that a fish will not be able to recover from and is something you want to avoid at all costs.
Never squeeze the fish if you have to grasp it in order to remove a stubborn hook. One hard squeeze can easily damage a trout’s internal organs, which are extremely delicate.
If you notice that a fish seems to be exhausted (you can tell by looking at the action of its gills) then you are going to have to revive it before releasing it back into the water. You can do this by holding the fish upright in the water and gently moving it back and forth. As more water runs through the trout’s gills, oxygen will start to get back into its system and it will be revitalized.
It is important to revive trout in still waters, and not in any fast currents. If you lose your grip on the fish before it is revived it may spiral through the water and meet an untimely end.
Releasing a trout into the water properly is not incredibly difficult, but it is incredibly important. Use these tips, take extra care when handling your catches, and you can ensure that you are doing your part to keep the wild trout population in tact and healthy.