Explore, Experience and Enjoy the Beautiful Smith River in Southern Virginia

Saturday, May 14, 2011

CPR: Catch and Proper Release

Fishing is part of our natural and cultural heritage.  Keeping our fisheries healthy and productive for future generations is our responsibility to our children.

 Do you know CPR ? (catch and proper release )

Wild populations of brown trout reproduce in the Smith River but are not stocked.  Practicing catch and release on the brown trout will increase this productivity of the fishery for everyone and eventually lead to consistently bigger fish and even trophy fish.  Continuing to take or kill brown trout on the Smith will only continue the decline in the average size of the trout. 

a "stockie"  rainbow
In some trout streams, like the Smith River, Rainbow trout are stocked by the VDGIF as “put and take” fish.  These hatchery fish rarely survive one full season so catching and removing these fish for food is an acceptable practice.     
4 STEPS to help your Fish Survive
  1. If possible, don’t handle the fish. When you handle the fish you disturb the protective slime coating and the fish can develop a fungus which eventually causes death. Do not touch a fish with a dry hand.  Leave fish in the water and reach down to release the hook from it’s mouth and allow it to swim away untouched. Small pliers or forceps help facilitate hook removal.
  2. Handle the fish gently. Turn the fish on its side in your hand near the water, where it will become immobile. Do not squeeze the fish, this will damage its delicate internal organs.  After the fish is on its side, remove the hook and release the fish easily without a struggle.
  3. Do not put your fingers into the gills to hold the fish. The fish can survive if it begins to bleed slightly from the gills, but will not survive with major gill damage.
  4. Revive the fish completely before releasing it.  The fish is exhausted from the fight and will not survive without water flowing across it’s gills.  Hold the fish upright in the  water, in a gentle flow can get its gills working and recover oxygen from the water.  In still water hold the fish gently and glide it back and forth in the water so the water flows through the gills, providing oxygen to the fish.