Visitor InfoIMAXContributions & Membership

   HOME > Newsroom > Catch & release

Catch and release guidelines
Environmentally friendly tips for fishing fanatics

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (Aug. 2, 2006) – For many, the ideal way to spend National Catfish Month (or any month) is fishing in one of the region’s many rivers, lakes or streams. Fishing is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and the Tennessee Aquarium advocates catch and release for a number of reasons.

First, more fish returned to the river means more fish available to catch tomorrow, next week or even next year. This is especially true of species that return to the lake after spawning, as they can return to the river year after year. In addition, fish that survive to spawn will increase the population for future catching.

The following are helpful catch and release guidelines:

  1. Playing a fish to exhaustion may be fun for you, but for the fish the struggle may be a matter of life or death. Much like in humans, lactic acid builds up in their muscles from over-exertion and the resulting sore or weakened muscles could prove dangerous for the fish.

  2. Fish can suffocate if out of water for even a short time, so it is important to leave the fish in the water while removing the hook.

  3. If you must take a fish out of the water, wet your hands first. The mucous on the body of the fish protects it in the water from bacteria, infection and disease. Your dry hands will wipe away that mucous, reducing its ability to ward off ailments.

  4. A fish's primary breathing organs are its gills. When handling a fish, be careful not to grasp it around the gills. And be mindful that its delicate organs are easily damaged by a simple squeeze.

  5. A fish's body and internal organs are designed to rest comfortably in a horizontal position. Pulling a fish abruptly to a vertical position could jar its organs and cause internal damage. Take special care to allow the water's natural cradling to support the fish after the catch.

  6. For fish, there is nothing safe about a net. If you feel you must use a net, choose a soft mesh material rather than a hard, abrasive nylon.

  7. Do not attempt to remove a swallowed or deeply set hook. Cut the line as close as possible. Fish have a far greater chance of recovering from a swallowed hook than a wounded organ.

  8. The survival of a released fish is strongly dependent on where it is hooked. Consider using single hooks or barbless hooks, since this will make releasing the fish much easier.

  9. When released, even the fittest fish may need a little resuscitation before resuming its natural behavior. If the fish needs a little nurturing, move it back and forth in the current to get water flowing over the gills. Most fish recover in a minute or so and readily swim away.

  10. If you are on a stream or river, try to release the fish in calm water. It might not be up to the challenge of fighting fast flowing water.


Untitled Document

[ Home | Plan Your Visit| IMAX Theater | Contributions l Membership | Events & Travel l Meet Our Animals l Conservation ]
[ Education | Get Involved | Online Gift Shop | NewsRoom | Links | Privacy Policy | ]

The Tennessee Aquarium is a non-profit institution. See how you can help support
our many education, conservation and research programs.

One Broad Street • Chattanooga • TN • 37402 • 800-262-0695