GOOD BoatU.S. FOUNDATION FOR FOUNDATION BOATING SAFETY & CLEAN WATER By John Page Williams
Good CatCh, Better release
What do you do when you catch an out-of-season, undersized or oversized fish?
in a world increasingly full of seasons and slot limits, it’s important that anglers learn to release at least some of our catch quickly and with minimal harm — to both the fish and ourselves. It’s also important that we fish in ways that respect these natural resources upon which our sport depends, leaving as small a footprint as we possibly can.
author John Page Williams
and susan shingledecker
of the Boatu.s. foundation
land a 34-inch Rockfish
using a cradle.
36 | Boatu.s. magazine
Thanks to the new Careful Catch partnership between the Maryland chapter of Coastal Conservation Association,
the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and the
BoatU.S. Foundation for Boating Safety and
Clean Water, there’s good information readily available to anglers that can answer their
questions, and maybe even teach some
new skills to increase your hook-ups. The
program’s website developed under a grant
from the BoatU.S. Foundation, www.care-fulcatch.com, is packed with information,
diagrams, and videos, including practical
Careful Catch tips and explanations of their
scientific bases. It also features a bulletin
board on which you can share your own best
Careful Catch practices.
To practice Careful Catch, decide ahead
of time which fish you plan to harvest for
food and which you’ll release (assuming the
fishing gods smile on you that day). Then
consider the four major stressors that fish
face when they’re hooked, fought to the
boat, handled, and released: exhaustion,
loss of slime, time out of water, and wounds.
An exhausted fish is similar to a fatigued
athlete. As it burns more and more energy,
bodily chemical changes take place, including the buildup of harmful lactic acid. The
longer the fight lasts, the more likely it will
permanently affect the fish’s health. To avoid
over-fatiguing fish, use appropriate tackle to
reduce fight time to a reasonable level, ideally no more than five to 10 minutes under
stressful conditions like hot weather. Large
species may require a bit more time.
Photo: alanna KeatInG
loss of slime
Any body of water holds bacteria and fungi
that can get under scales and infect a fish’s
skin. This kind of infection can cause special