top of page

Proper Fish Handling Practices - Catch and Release!

If you are planning on catching and releasing your prized catch; we hope so for our future generations, and for them to get bigger.


On average our trophy fish in the Pacific Northwest prefer to swim in cool water 40’s to 50's degree F. With that said Winter, early Spring, and mid to late Fall are ideal to release your catch on or close to the surface under most conditions. For warmer water it is best to weight down your catch for awhile to get them in that cooler water so they can recover before being released.

By the time these bigger fish make it to the net and are hoisted onto your deck they are spent, pooped out, and need to be revived properly before releasing to get bigger! So after working to get the fish in the boat for anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour we cannot just plop this fish on the deck, break out the camera for bragging right pictures, and the worst; hang them from their gill plate or lips just to get a weight.  If you think you can just plop them back in the water and hope they swim away they can't, they will die; need to be revived properly before releasing!


Hear are the tools needed before venturing out:

  1. A big deep preferably a conservation knot-less net so your catch will lay flat when hoisting them in the boat.

  2. Preferably a good live well with fresh moving water.

  3. Rapala or a Boga grip clamp on gripper,  to clamp on lower gum line tight and under the tongue to help manage the crazy fish. This should also have a 10’ bungee leash with a carabineer, so you can hook it to the side or transom on the boat and drag slowly to help resuscitate while moving.

  4. Nylon sewing tape to get a quick fattest part of the fish “ girth” measurement; this is used for an accurate weight calculation without using a scale.

  5. L shape metal measuring ruler to be able to quickly lay your fish on to it nose up the end and able to squeeze the tail for a length measurement.

That’s it !


Here is my routine after boating a big rainbow:

  1. While fighting this fish have your supplies ready or close by, turn on your live well and start filling it.

  2. Immediately after hitting the deck I always just cut my leader and try to carefully roll out my fish onto the deck to quickly remove the hooks, watch those gills!

  3. While the fish is tired, this is a good time to get a quick length and girth measurement while on the deck , also any pictures. Do not try and take pictures after reviving it, that will just stress it out more.

  4. Get your Rapala or Boga gripper and clamp down firm in the center lower jaw under the tongue and clamped on the thin skin to get a good grip, from there I will carefully, while holding her head and supporting her belly, lift her to the water and tie off my bungee with the carabineer  with the boat moving slowly. Remeber you need to slow down not drag the fish at 3 mph. If you are not feeling safe you can also place them in your live well using the gripper to help keep her upright. When that fish is ready to release and swimming upright you will know it! Just do not drag her too fast and be patient.. Now reach over, un-clamp the gripper and off she will go swimming down to get bigger ! Once you start practicing this method it will become routine and so rewarding watching a 20 # rainbow swimming behind your boat, then vibrantly swimming off to get bigger !


A good formula to determine weight, and pretty darn accurate, is LxGxG (Length x Girth X Girth) divided by 840. For Example: If a fish is 33” long and the biggest girth measurement is 23” , then 33x23x23 /840  = 20.79 ! nice fish !

bottom of page