Catch and Release


As part of our ‘Give Fish A Chance’ initiative we recommend anglers wishing to do their bit to help ensure the future of a species adopt our GFAC sizes and release any fish which will not have had a chance to breed.

The survival rate of released fish can be greatly improved providing anglers follow a few simple guidelines, SSACN would like to recommend the following :

Be prepared

Time is the vital factor – have all necessary equipment to hand in order to catch, land, photograph and release the fish. It sounds obvious, but the time taken to find forceps, T bars, cameras etc  buried in tackle boxes or under piles of clothing creates an unnecessary delay.

Terminal Tackle

Do NOT use stainless steel hooks – use bronzed barbless hooks, or bronzed barbed hooks which have had the barb pinched with pliers. As lip hooking significantly reduces the likelihood of a hook being left in the fish the use of circle hooks should also be considered.

Use hooks and lines of appropriate sizes and strengths to handle the fish you hope to catch and attach them to traces suitable to the fishing conditions – occasionally check the last few yards of your mainline and all elements of your terminal tackle for damage.

Playing the Fish

Avoid over exhausting the fish by bringing it firmly to the side of the boat or on to the beach. If fishing from a pier or high stance use a dropnet to raise the fish out of the water.

Handle carefully

A wet cloth or towel soaked in sea water should be placed over the fish’s head ensuring the eyes are fully covered. This not only helps protect the fish form exposure or skin damage but it generally pacifies it and makes the removal of the hook an easier and safer procedure.

Unhooking the fish

Do not squeeze the fish or hold it by the gills, support it from beneath and remove the hook by hand or with the use of a ‘T’ bar or long-nosed forceps.

If the hook has become deeply embedded but the fish is unharmed in any other way, cut the line as close to the hook as possible and return the fish – released this way they do survive.

Weighing the fish

If the fish is to be weighed it should be placed evenly in a weighing sling immediately it is unhooked to ensure that unsupported movement is restricted.

Releasing and Reviving the Fish

Wherever possible, gently support the fish in the water facing it into the current and allow it sufficient time to recover, if fishing from piers or rock platforms use a dropnet or similar to lower the fish back into the sea.

To conclude

Enjoy your fishing but please remember to respect your catch – by following this code, you will  help preserve fish stocks for generations to come.

The SSACN ( Scottish Sea Angling Conservation Network www.ssacn.org ) catch and release guidelines may be freely distributed with the normal acknowledgements including our web address.