All recreational anglers should practice to be the model Responsible Angler. Responsible Anglers value the marine resources and know that by minimizing our impacts on fish populations, we help preserve, protect, and enhance these resources for future generations.
Most of the time, we only think of our own harvest – what we personally bring home from our fishing trips. What many people don't realize is that improper catching, handling, and releasing of fish cause many unintentional injuries and deaths. A little knowledge goes a long way in reducing fish injury and death. Below are some ways to practice being a Responsible Angler and help reduce the amount of unintentional harm to fish.
::Practice Proper Handling
-Use a dehooker to release fish above or in the water. This helps maintain the mucous layer on the fish.
-Keep the fish in the water so they can breathe and maintain their mucous layer. If you have to remove a fish from the water, wet your hands or use a wet rag to protect the mucus.
-Never hold a fish by the eyes or gills. Hold it under the belly and the caudal peduncle(where the body meets the tail or caudal fin) for more support.
::Practice Proper Release
-Be attentive, set the hook immediately, if fishing with a j-hook.
-If the hook is swallowed, never forcefully remove it. Cut the line as close to the mouth as possible and then release.
-Return fish to the water head first to force it to breathe as it enters the water.
::Understand Limiting Your Bag VS Bagging Your Limit
-Eat or release. There is no reason to keep any fish that will not be consumed. Pictures and fiberglass trophies look better and last longer than a stuffed fish will.
-Catching the bag limit every time you fish is wasteful, even if you plan to freeze it. Freezer burn fish does not table well, and most of the time it goes uneaten.
-Because a fish has no limit doesn’t mean you should catch as many as you can. Many species that are limitless are either not good food or not well known as a food item.
::Don’t Hurt the Ecosystem
-You may think marine flora, like eelgrass, are a nuisance, but they provide important habitat for many of the species we fish for.
-Fishing line should never be thrown into the water and shouldn’t be put in the trash. Instead, collect it over the fishing season and send it in to Berkley Recycling at 1900 18th Street in Spirit Lake, Iowa 51360.
-Don’t throw anything in the water. Unused bait, tackle, or any other trash should be disposed of properly.