Catch & Release Fish Handling Tips

Fishing Regulations Icon Maryland Fishing


  • Don’t hold the fish out of the water for more than 30 seconds.
  • Wet hands and hold fish by lip with one hand and support its body with the other hand.
  • Hold fish over water in case it is dropped.
  • For videos about safe handling, care and proper catch-and-release techniques visit dnr.maryland.gov/fisheries/Pages/bass/videos.aspx


  • When removing the hook, use a soft rubber or small-mesh nylon landing net to hold fish, or firmly hold the fish with a wet rag or glove.
  • Use a non-offset circle hook when using bait to reduce the potential for deep-hooking the fish.
  • Use barbless hooks with artificial bait. Barbs can be pinched down with pliers or filed off.
  • Always have pliers, a de-hooker or hemostats handy for deeply hooked fish.
  • If the hook cannot be removed from a deep or gut hooked fish without causing bleeding to the fish, then leave the hook in and cut the line as close to the mouth as possible.


Summer Flounder Hook Recommendations

Undersized summer flounder must be released and there are two things anglers can do to maximize survivability.
Use a size 3/0 or larger hook. A lot of mortality associated with hooking is caused by the fish swallowing the hook and being lodged in the gills or organs. Larger hooks can help to prevent this from happening.
Be ready to release a fish once it is caught. Having the right tools such as a wet rag, pliers and a measuring board will enable you to return the fish to the water quickly. Which will improve the odds of survival.