The importance of proper trout handling

Trout: handle it properly and it will taste better. Supplied photo.

Proper handling of trout is a good way to ensure a trout is fit for the table and for anglers to ‘play their part’ in sustaining fish stocks, says Fish & Game Communications Manager Don Rood.

All anglers, not just the less experienced, need to be aware that how they handle any trout they catch is critical if the fish is to thrive after release back into the stream or river, says Don.

“We want anglers to look after the trout they catch while they decide to keep them for dinner or release the prime breeding stock,” Don Rood says.

“It doesn’t matter if you are selectively harvesting one for a feed or releasing good fish so they can breed, you want them to be in the best possible condition.

“We’re not of course urging anglers to release every trout, but encouraging them to look after them all.”

Practices to avoid are fighting a trout for too long, using too light gear, dragging trout onto the rocks or boat deck and not taking enough care removing hooks.

Trout make excellent eating so if you are keeping them for the table, make the decision and kill them quickly and humanely.

“Trout are a great source of wild food and for many anglers, hunting and gathering for their families is a key part of the fishing experience,” says Don.

“You don’t have to apologise for selectively taking fish for the table and our publicity material advises on the most humane way to despatch a trout.”

Fish & Game has produced videos, along with a new brochure and pages on its website to inform anglers on the best way to handle trout they have caught.

“Looking after the fish we catch is not only better for the health of our trout populations and the future of the fishery, but also your reputation as a provider of good quality food for family and friends.”

For advice on handling and netting fish, have a look at the Fish & Game website.

There’s also a ‘looking after your trout’ instructional video on Fish & Game’s Youtube pages.

Key messages:

• Use the heaviest line you can get away with. Too light a line means you will have to fight the fish for longer and that takes a toll – a tired fish has much less chance of surviving.

• Use a single hook and consider trying barbless hooks.

• Aim to land your fish quickly. Modern reels have great drags, so make the most of these and the rod’s leverage to get the trout close enough to net.

• Use a net to land your fish, preferably a knotless one.

• Keep the trout in the net and in the water while releasing it.

• Unhook the fish gently, preferably with long nosed pliers.

• Work quickly and if at all possible avoid touching the fish at all.

• If you want a photo, make it quick and get the fish back into the water without delay.

• Wet and cool your hands before handling the fish and consider using gloves.

• Ideally, take the photo of the fish still in the water.

• If you have to hold the fish, do it gently with one hand around the tail and the other carefully cradling the fish.

• Keep your hands, hooks and anything else away from the trout’s gills.


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