Catch & Release - and landing a fish

Catch & Release - and landing a fish

Viking Lars | Saturday, 9 July 2016

In Denmark, catch & release turns up as a subject every once in a while, and more often during summer and autumn than in the spring. The reason is that Danish salmon fishing is governed by a set of rules, where each river is assigned a certain number of salmon under and over 70cm to kill. Once these two quoatas have been reached, they're closed and any salmon within the sizerange of a given quato must be released. On a side note, it's a little discomforting to see how few fishermen there on the banks after the "large quota" has been closed. Obviously, the majority of the fishermen are still doing it to catch and kill a big one.

I personally welcome these rules - they help protect the salmon populations, which are still unable to naturally reproduce. But then critics would say that fishing should be closed off entirely until the salmon *can* reproduce naturally and the population is big enough to sustain some fishing. That's a standpoint, I accept that, but the reality is that the rivers aren't physically in a condition where that is likely to happen - and the government isn't doing anything about it.

The fact is that river restoration is mainly a product of volunteers, who are interested and for the most part, fishermen! To be fair, a lot of restoration is also done by some municipalities. So they just do it so they can catch more fish, some say. Well, some of them might - and that's fine by me. 95% of them do it becasue they love doing it. Period! And a river without fish has no friends, a river with no friends enjoys no protection and restoration, and rivers without protection and restoration become ditches... So we need them so that at some point in the future, our salmon rivers *can* be totally and naturally reproducing. It's certainly possible - more and more sea trout rivers are on the east coast of Jutland have have become self-reproducing and no trout are stocked. And the fishing is fanstastic in many of them.

Others will object that fishing, even if you know you don't want to or can't kill a fish is playing with them and cruel. Well, even if most research shows that fish don't feel pain, I agree with that sentiment as well at some level. But the fact is - catching a fish is catching a fish. The only difference between C&R and killing is - well, just that. Everything that happens unitil the moment you decide to kill or relase is exactly the same.

In Denmark we have a body called DTU Aqua (it's a institution under Denmark Technical University), a research institution where they do research in fresh- and saltwater ecology, fish, marine life and much, much water. They are the ones who do the research that helps establish the above mentioned quotas. And thankfully, they have issued quidelines on how to handle fish, how to best land them, how to best release them and so on. Even on what kind of tackle to use in order to prevent deep hookings. One thing they advocate is using rubber nets and they also ask you to observe water temeprature.

But ths front page is really about landing fish, because I saw a video on YT showing a brooktrout that had been tailed using a glove and then observed for a long time. As you can see in the video, it developed a bad fungus.

A fresh salmon or sea trout (it's shiny!), is really something to handle with care. Don't use a glove, don't put it in the grass, keep it in the water as you unhook and if you need a picture, lift it out carefully and put it back quickly. The video clearly shows that even if it looks just fine when released, that might not be the case. If I decide to kill a fish, I'll use a landing glove and dispense with the fish quickly.

If I tail a salmon I do with bare, wet hands or use a net. Rubber nets are becoming more and more common in the shops and I hope that they will soon have loose rubber nets available, so I can swap out the old ones on some of my old, favourite nets.

Have a great weekend!