Fly fishing, a popular pastime for many anglers, often involves the practice of “catch and release” fishing. This is where the angler fishes for a particular species, catches it, and then carefully releases it back into the water.
Many people believe that catch and release fishing is a harmless practice, as it allows fish to be returned to their natural habitat and prevents overfishing. However, there is still much debate about whether or not catch and release fishing can harm fish.
One of the main concerns with catch and release fishing is the physical stress that is placed on the fish as it is being caught and handled. The act of fighting against the angler’s line can cause the fish to become exhausted and depleted of energy, which could make it more susceptible to predators or other threats.
In addition, the handling of the fish during the catch and release process can cause further stress and harm. The fish can be injured by the hooks used during the fishing process, and the handling of the fish can damage its protective slime layer, which helps to protect it from disease and infection. If the fish is caught in water that is too warm, its body temperature may also be raised, which can cause further stress and harm to the fish.
There are several steps that can be taken to help reduce the potential harm caused by catch and release fishing. The use of barbless hooks can help to reduce the amount of damage that is done to the fish, and angling gear that is appropriate for the size of the fish being caught can also help to reduce stress and harm.
Additionally, anglers should try to minimize the amount of time that the fish is kept out of the water and should handle it as little as possible. When releasing the fish, it should be placed gently back in the water, facing into the current, and allowed to swim away on its own.
Ultimately, the decision to engage in catch and release fishing is a personal one, and anglers should always be mindful of the potential harm that could be caused to the fish. With the appropriate gear and techniques, however, catch and release fishing can be a responsible and enjoyable way to engage in the sport of fishing.