Catch & Release
Mississippi Saltwater Fishing
Why Release Fish?
- A fish is too valuable a resource to be caught only once.
- A personal commitment to conservation adds fun to fishing.
- Size, season and bag regulations make release of some fish mandatory.
How to Begin
- Use barbless or circle hooks that are made from metals that rust quickly.
- Set your hook immediately. Try to prevent a fish from swallowing the bait.
- Work a fish out of deep water slowly, so it can adjust to the pressure change.
- Otherwise, land your quarry quickly; don’t play it to exhaustion.
Handling Your Catch
- Leave the fish in the water (if possible) and don’t handle it.
- Net your catch only if you cannot control it any other way.
- When you must handle a fish: Use a wet glove or rag to hold it; turn a fish on its back or cover its eyes with a wet towel to calm it; don’t put your fingers in the eyes or gills of your catch. Larger fish may be kept in the water by holding the leader with a glove or by slipping a release gaff through the lower jaw. Avoid removing mucus or scales.
Removing The Hook
- If possible, back the hook out the opposite way it went in.
- Cut the leader close to the mouth if a fish has been hooked deeply or if the hook can’t be removed quickly.
- Use needle-nose pliers, a hemostat or a hookout to remove the hook and protect your hands.
- For a larger fish in the water, slip a gaff around the leader and slide it down to the hook. Lift the gaff upward while pulling downward on the leader.
- Do not jerk or pop a leader to break it. This could kill the fish.
- Gently place the fish in the water, supporting its midsection and tail.
- Resuscitate an exhausted fish by moving it back and forth or tow it alongside the boat to force water through its gills.
- For fish pulled up from deep water, air bladder deflation is achieved by inserting an approved venting tool through the side of the fish immediately behind the upper part of the pectoral fin base. The deflation position varies among species. However, penetration at a point below the fourth or fifth dorsal fin spine is generally appropriate.
- Watch the fish to make sure it swims away.
- If it doesn’t, recover the fish and try again.
- Venting of fish species is not mandatory.