Literally and aptly named, catch and release fishing is just that: catching a fish and then releasing it. During that quick span of time, the fish can be measured, weighed, and photographed for proof of catch. Then, it’s unhooked and sent back into the water. 

Sure, this sounds easy. But it’s not always so. Proper techniques and equipment allow for less stress on the fish, ensuring its survival once returned. That is not to make it sound complicated and give a reason to not do it. It’s just like any other action you do that requires a bit of knowledge and practice. Below are a couple of links to some great articles from the National Park Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that explain the ins and outs of a successful catch and release:

But why do you want to catch and release anyway?

Catch and release is practiced for several reasons. One big reason is to prevent overharvest of fish stocks. Due to growing human populations, mounting ecological pressure, increasingly effective fishing tackle and techniques, inadequate fishing regulations and enforcement, and habitat degradation, the number of fish are heavily declining.

Still some may say, “Eh, whatever, other people can do it, but not me.” But think of it this way. It is a fact that the number of fish are declining at a rapid rate. A fish saved is a fish left for someone who needs it for food or survival. Or for anglers who can also enjoy the act of catching and proving said catch (and then releasing). Or to simply let it live so it can reproduce more fish for future generations.

Sometimes you have to even if you don’t want to

In some areas and for some species of fish, there are already laws in place when dealing with size, season, limits, or local catch-and-release fishing regulations. You know what else? It’s not just you, and not just this generation. People have been doing it for decades already. Thankfully. If they hadn’t, how much faster would the rate be decreasing?

Do you have to release every fish? 

Of course not! But keep some parameters in mind: Catch only what you can eat (and that you plan to eat in the near future). And then to go a step further: if you do catch more than what you can eat in the very near future, then please prepare it adequately and correctly for the freezer so it’s not wasted.

So, in a nutshell, the act of catch and release may seem like heresy to some. But there’s logic in it, reasons behind it, and a great deal of the time it’s just the right thing to do.