Catch & Release
Florida Saltwater Fishing
These quick and easy tips can help increase the survival rate of fish you release, so they may be caught again another day. Properly releasing any fish you do not intend to keep can also help maintain and improve fisheries for future generations.
- Use tackle heavy enough to land a fish quickly so it is not exhausted and can avoid predators.
- Avoid removing large fish from water. If you must remove them, support their weight horizontally to prevent damage to their internal organs.
- Wet your hands before handling a fish to prevent damaging its protective slime coating. Don’t use gloves or towels, as this will remove the protective slime.
- Take any pictures of your catch while it is in the water. This puts less stress on the fish and the fish will look bigger.
- Revive a tired fish by holding it horizontally in the water and moving it forward with its mouth open to allow water to flow over the gills.
- Gripping devices can be effective for controlling and handling fish. Grip behind the lower lip and support the weight of the fish in a horizontal position.
- Never hold a fish by the gill cover or eyes.
- If a net is needed to land or control a fish, always use a knotless, rubber-coated landing net.
- A dehooking tool will allow you to remove hooks safely and quickly without damaging the fish.
- Use non-offset circle hooks, which tend to hook in the jaw, to reduce the chance of gut-hooking a fish.
- Using barbless hooks, or hooks with the barb flattened, is one of the most important things an angler can do to minimize internal damage to fish and ease release.
- Use non-stainless steel hooks that will eventually dissolve or pass if the line must be cut due to gut-hooking a fish.
- For lures with multiple treble hooks, remove a few sets of treble hooks and cut one of the three points off the remaining trebles.
- For fish caught in deep water with signs of barotrauma, use a descending device or vent the fish by inserting a sharpened hollow tube at a 45 degree angle, one inch behind the base of the pectoral fin.
You can help positively impact the future of Florida’s fish populations by striving for 100% survival of the fish you release. To learn more about proper catch-and-release techniques, visit MyFWC.com, then click on “Fishing,” “Saltwater” and “Fish Handling.”