As anglers, we spend every adventure learning new techniques. Eventually, the means and manner of angling become muscle memory. However, from time to time, I find myself imparting sensibility when handling a fish. I’ve seen plenty of anglers finesse a fish into their grasp, but anglers with too much adrenaline can rip the hook out of the fish incorrectly and mistreat it.
While fish are tough, they are not invulnerable to rough, improper handling. Removing a hook should be done delicately and quickly. I recommend keeping a pair of thin, long-nosed pliers on hand to assist with speedier hook removal.
When it comes to a fish’s safety, a good rule of thumb is as long as you can hold your breath underwater, that’s about the length of time a fish has out of the water.
Keep in mind that fish are equipped with natural defenses, such as creating a slime when threatened. Be careful not to handle a fish with bare hands too much or you will remove that slime and damage the fish’s natural defenses. Also, never grab a fish out of water by the belly or gills.
When fishing from a bridge or tall structure, be aware that lifting a fish out of the water can dramatically decrease its chances for survival. Thus, having a net is essential.
During an offshore jaunt, your bottom fish will be rising from the deep. Be sure to have the proper tool handy to deflate the swim bladder. Gently release the air-filled bladder to allow the fish to retain buoyancy in deep waters once released and returned to the deep blue.