Catch & release

Danish inshore fishing

By Martin Joergensen

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Not endangered
The fish in the Danish sea are in no way endangered by rodfishers. Nets are another story, though, but still fish are abundant, and therefore we Danes almost always bring home fish. Small fish are illegal to catch, but many fishermen release a lot of their catch. But no-kill and pure C&R is not common on the Danish shores.

This is the way salmon fisher 'Backwater' Bob Boudreau looks at C&R:

"I relate an excellent analogy when I think of holding an Atlantic Salmon out of the water for a photo opportunity. It is like having your pregnant wife run a 6 minute mile and then immediatly sticking her head in the bathtub! (Don't try this at home.)"
What a great analogy. Remember this when you fight a fish you intend to release.
C&R for life
I've seen many fish caught and released on the Danish coasts. And they were not handled equally gentle every time. Let's recap a bit of good advice for C&R:

  1. If you positively intend to release the fish, fish single barbless hooks.
  2. If you intend to release the fish or it seems to be too small already at distance, get it in quickly to stress it as little as possible
  3. If you're in doubt about the size, it's too small
  4. Decide as early as possible if the fish will be released. Don't net it and judge it in there
  5. You might want to wade into shallow or less turbulent water to land the fish there under better control
  6. Try not to net fish that are going to be released. Take them with your hands if possible
  7. Don't squeeze the fish. Trout are especially voulnerable, and it's very easy to accidently squeeze the air out of its swim bladder
  8. Keep the fish as much as possible in the water, if possible unhooking it while it's still submerged
  9. Loosen the hook without grabbing the fish if possible. Let your hand slide down the line, grab the hook and try to loosen it
  10. Don't use tools unless it's absolutely necessary. Locking forceps can of great help, though
  11. Pictures should be taken instantly and with the fish as little out of the water as possible
  12. If the fish has to come out of the water, support it with one or two full hands to avoid unnecessary harm
  13. Never lift a fish by the tail or gills if it is to be released
  14. Let the fish swim away by itself. Don't throw it or splash it into the water. Hold it with a full hand or two and bring it gently under the surface
  15. If there's current, hold the fish until it revives. Don't let it tumble downstream
Kill it!
Some people actually kill their fish so let's also look at how a fish should be killed, cleaned and stored

  1. Fish that will be killed should be netted with a sufficiently large net
  2. When the fish is in the net, grab it through the net to secure it
  3. Kill the fish before you remove the hook or take it out of the net
  4. Don't wade ashore and bring out the fish before killing it
  5. Use a proper priest, not any stone or branch
  6. Strike the fish several hard blows on the skull just above the eyes while holding it firmly under the gills with the other hand
  7. Big fish don't die easy
  8. Smaller fish can be kept in a ring or piece of string by the side. In that way you don't need to wade ashore, but can keep fishing
  9. It's best to clean the fish immediately, but if it's kept cold, cleaning can wait some hours
  10. Cover the fish with wet sea weed, grass or leaves to keep it wet and cold
  11. Don't keep the fish in plastic bags (for too long at least). The lack of oxygen will make the fish a pretty sorry sight
  12. Do yourself, nature and the fish the honor of eating it if you kill it. Don't drop it in the garbage after showing it off.

The preist
The priest is not only the guy by the altar on sundays, but also an instrument devised to kill fish with. It normally consists of a handle and a heavy metal head. It's made for the purpose and very efficient. If you want to kill fish regularly, get hold of a priest.

If you whack your fish over the head, you'll want to know what to do with it.
Here we have some Danish recipes.

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