What is Catch and Release Fishing? Explained!

Catch and release fishing

For decades, catch and release fishing serves as an essential part of recreational angling. However, this practice has received critical mass in recent years.

Many anglers today value fish species for their quality in sports and recreation rather than eating, including; carp (<< best tips on link), grass carp, bass and trout.

Catch and release fishing has tremendously grown in popularity.

Here is an exclusive look at what is catch release fishing.



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What is it catch and release fishing?

Catch and release is a descriptive term of a situation where a fish that has been caught is released unharmed with the aim that it survives and goes back to exist naturally in its environment.

The fish might be temporarily removed from the water for unhooking or may be released from the hook without being removed from the water or being handled.

Circumstances under Which the Fishing is practiced

There are several reasons why catch-release fishing is practiced.

One of the circumstances is when a captured fish is smaller than the legal minimum landing size. In such a case, it is mandatory to release the fish.

Some of the angling organizations indorse that members should abide by the minimum or maximum size limits for ethical and conservation reasons.

Consequently, those who comply with these recommendations release several fish captured voluntarily.

This mode of fishing also applies to incidents when you catch a fish species that you do not want to eat.

More so, if the circumstance in which you have caught the fish cannot allow retaining or storage for consumption, you can use this fishing technique to take the fish back to its habitat unharmed.

Catch and Release Fishing Handling

Handling the fish carefully is essential.

You should first ensure that your hands are wet prior to handling the fish to avoid removal of the protective fish mucus also ensure to hold the fish correctly while you avoid squeezing it.

Gloves might be useful in larger fish too help you to hold on to them as you remove the hook.

Make sure that the fish does not batter itself against the ground or boat.

The Fishing Debate

The perception of recreational anglers on catch and release fishing that the successful survival of the released fish will go a long way in contributing to conservation and improved fishing in the future determines the level of voluntary catch and release compliance.

It is essential for anglers to feel that they are making a difference by carrying out successful fishing.

In most places around the world, marine fishery resources have a management framework that accepts both commercial and recreational fishing.

These fishery resources should have a well-integrated management system.

This system puts restrictions on both recreational and commercial fishers to achieve the optimum social, economic return.

In such incidents, restricted minimum or maximum landing sizes and recreational angling bag limits often results in increased levels of fishing.

More so, the quality of the angling experience has been enhanced due to restrictive management.

More anglers are willing to practice catch and release fishing, and more fisher is developing high confidence in managing fisheries.

The development of marine fisheries policy has overlooked recreational fishing in Europe. The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) has grown into a mindset of only considering commercial fishing, which paints it as a core failure for being industry-centric rather than a society based.

Today, the organization has stocks that are far less abundant as compared to the past four decades.

Consequently, the recreation catch-release fishing and angling quality have significantly reduced with most of the publicly-owned fishery resources being overexploited commercially by a framework of the management that gives priority to short-time survival commercial fishing.

The European fisheries management is leaning towards failure with an increased decline in the catch and release fishing sea angling experience.

This is attributed to the shortcomings of CFP and lacks recreational sea angling as a way of improving commercial fishing. This has contributed to a perception of continuous decline in the sea angling experience and quality.

Several recreational anglers are less willing to accept the fishing.

They tend to believe that the fish they catch and release have a lower probability of being captured commercially, resulting in a little or no benefit to the long-term improvement of angling quality and fishery resources.

However, you should not confuse the European marine fish management restrictiveness for commercial and recreational fishers with the restrictive management in other parts of the globe.

For instance, restrictions for the striped bass fishery on the USA east coast are very different in magnitude as compared to EU restrictions.

catch and release fishing

Survival Rates for the Fishing Mode

Several scientific research projects worldwide for both freshwater and marine fish shows enormously varying survival rates.

The dependent factors that have a significant effect on the fish survival rates include;

  • water temperature,
  • air temperature,
  • fishing methods,
  • fish species,
  • the depth of water they are caught,
  • and how you handle them.

The massively scaled fish, such as bass, carp and grey mullet, have a higher survival rate.

This is proven by the fact that bass fish caught by a rod and line have been tagged for research over a lot of years.

At the end of the spectrum, some of the fish species, such as mackerel, have a higher death probability even when handled lightly and immediately returned to the water.

According to research studies carried out in Australia, angler captured grey mullet reveals that the fish has a mortality rate as low as four percent.

Elasmobranch fish family has also been subjected to several tagging, and there is a small percentage of subsequent deaths.

Gadoid fish families such as cod can undergo catch-release fishing successfully as long as they are handled minimally and brought to the water surface slowly.

It is undoubtfully that although more research is the need for different fish species under different circumstances, there is sufficient research to prove that the catch and release fishing practice should not result in a high mortality rate.

However, this fishing promotes economically and socially valuable aging activity.


In conclusion, the majority of the anglers have incorporated other methods and practices to increase the survival rate of the fish released after being captured.

Some of these methods include the use of circle hooks, striking the bites early to avoid deep hooking, and minimizing unnecessary use of treble hooks.

All this will play a significant role in promoting catch and release fishing.

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