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Spring fishing season is the perfect time to think about how you can put effective catch and release techniques into practice. You may not be aware of it, but by taking just a few smart and simple steps, you can help preserve our fisheries for future generations.

1. Be sure to use tackle that is heavy enough to land the fish quickly so that it doesn’t get too tired or stressed.

2. Use non-offset (in-line) circle hooks when you are fishing with live or natural baits. These types of hooks greatly decrease the chances of a fish becoming gut hooked.

3. Use bare, wet hands when handling fish to prevent the removal of the fish’s protective slime coating. This slime coating helps to protect the fish from diseases and parasites. Don’t ever use a towel to handle a fish.

4. Revive an exhausted fish before releasing it by holding it horizontally beneath the surface so that water can flow over the gills. Continue to revive the fish until it can swim away under its own power.

5. Avoid removing large fish from the water unless absolutely necessary. If the fish must be lifted out of the water, be sure to hold the fish horizontally while supporting the underside of the fish to prevent injury.

6. Never put your fingers or any other objects into the eyes or gills of a fish.

7. Keep a de-hooking device on your boat so that you can release fish with minimal handing.

8. If a fish is hooked deeply, don’t try to perform surgery. Cut the line as close to the hook as possible and release the fish.

9. If you need to use a net, use a knotless landing net in order to preserve the fish’s slime coat.

10. Crimp the barbs on your hooks to make removal quick and easy. This can also be helpful in the event someone or something else is hooked. When barbs are crimped, the hooks are much easier to remove.

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