Texas Parks & Wildlife Biologists Offer Advice on Releasing Fish
If you're not going to eat your catch, you can release a healthy fish to the water using these five basic steps:
1. Always wet your hands before handling a fish. This will help reduce damage to the fish's protective mucous coating that helps prevent disease and makes it glide easily in the water.
2. Use a rubber net rather than the knotted nylon type to help prevent abrasions to the fish.
3. Always use two hands to hold a fish that may weigh over 5 pounds, supporting its weight with a hand under the belly. Holding a big one only by its jaw will almost always cause injury and hinder the fish from feeding after being released. Smaller fish (< 5 pounds) can be vertically held by the lower jaw, either by hand or with grippers.
4. Gently lower your fish into the water until it begins to swim away. If it isn't ready to swim, you may need to slowly swish it in the water first.
5. Plan ahead and take along a de-hooking tool or needle-nosed pliers to help remove the hook as quickly and safely as possible.
Lunkers need love too. If you plan to donate your 13-plus pound largemouth bass to the ShareLunker Program, careful handling helps keep it healthy until the TPWD pick-up takes place.