Proper Handling & Releasing Techniques
- Land fish as quickly as possible, except when retrieving from depths of 20-feet or more. Fighting a fish to exhaustion increases mortality as does rapidly bringing up a fish through the changing water pressure and temperature gradients.
- Keep fish intended for release in the water as much as possible. Plan ahead with tools and camera.
- To bring a fish out of the water momentarily, use a rubber net or one of knotless nylon. Handle the fish carefully using wet hands to minimize loss of the fish’s protective slime layer.
- Minimize physical injury. Do not touch gills or allow fish to flop around on deck.
- Carefully remove hooks using a dehooker or needle-nose pliers.
- Use plain hooks, not stainless, to rust away quickly if one must be left in a gut-hooked fish. Cut this line close to the hook’s eyelet.
- To revive lethargic fish hold in a normal, upright position. Move the fish forward in an “S” or figure-8 pattern so that water flows over the gills only from front to back.
- Use circle hooks or barbless hooks.
Sean Cochran/ NJ Div. of Fish and Wildlife
Regulations in red are new this year.
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