How To Release A Salmon

How to release a salmon

To non-anglers, it may be difficult to comprehend that someone who wishes to catch a fish may care about its wellbeing, and yet there are few communities more passionate about fish conservation than fishermen.

Despite efforts to preserve them, Atlantic salmon numbers are still way below what most anglers and environmentalists would like to see. Indeed in some areas, commercial netting has literally decimated their numbers. It is imperative that we all do our part.

You can contribute to the likelihood of a salmon surviving by practicing careful catch and release techniques. These practices can contribute to increasing spawning success, the health of individual fish and, long term, the number of wild Atlantic salmon returning to our rivers.

Video: catching and releasing Atlantic salmon

You may look at this video and think “7 minutes? That’s way too long”. But wait – give it a chance. Not only does the video illustrate a number of important lessons, it also shows some spectacular fishing action. There’s some wonderful underwater footage, some decent sized fish caught, a nice example of how to drop your rod when a fish jumps, plus a gorgeous dry fly take at 5mins. Watch, learn and enjoy!

How to release a salmon in 14 easy steps

Studies have shown that, when released correctly, catching salmon has little effect on the fish’s ability to reproduce. Follow these steps to minimize injury to fish and increase the chances of survival:

  1. Always use barbless hooks
  2. Never use a tailer
  3. Do not use a nylon landing net – use a soft mesh, which is less harmful to fish scales, gills and eyes
  4. Use a strong leader, so that you can land your salmon quickly
  5. Do not beach salmon
  6. As much as possible, keep the entire salmon underwater
  7. Once landed, do not squeeze the salmon – handle it gently
  8. Avoid touching the gills and eyes
  9. Remove the hook gently with pliers or with your thumb and forefinger. If you cannot remove the hook, cut the leader as close to it as possible
  10. Keep the salmon in an upright position, facing into the current
  11. Supporting the fish under its belly
  12. When measuring, weighing and photographing your fish, keep it in the water at all times
  13. Do not hold the fish vertically by the tail
  14. Allow the fish to recover and swim away only when it is fully revived

Best way to release a salmon

Want more?

Watch this video of catching and releasing salmon on the Gaspe Peninsula

See our post on how NOT to release a salmon

[Images taken as stills from movies]