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Connor Bass - August 2019 - Highland Giants Estate
Matt at Highland Giants

info courtesy of ~


Basics for safely catching and releasing Rainbow Trout:

  1. Use single barbless hooks

  2. Keep the fish in the water as much as possible.

  3. Trout have a protective slime. Protect that slime by keeping hands and net wet.

  4. Use a rubber net. Large mesh allows for quicker removal of hooks.

  5. Avoid unnecessarily long landing battles.

  6. Trout gills are particularly susceptible to poison, infection, and puncture. Never allow anything, especially fingers inside the gill plate.

  7. If the hook cannot be retrieved easily, cut the line.

  8. Trout are lot more fragile than warm water or salt-water fish.

  9. Large trout are less resilient than small trout, be extra careful with them.

  10. Adverse conditions such as water temperature greater than 21 degrees, require extra care in handling fish. 

Taking Photos (Grip and Grin vs Grip and Kill):

Keep the fish in the water as much as possible (considered by nearly everyone the most important fish handling technique.) The fish need only be out of the water for less than 5 seconds for a photo.

  1. Do not “lip” the fish (bass photo), do not put them on the ground, grass or sand..

  2. Keep the fish (especially the large ones) near the water. If a large fish is dropped it risks bursting its air bladder.

  3. When holding the fish, keep fingers out of gills. The join between the tail fin and the body (caudal peduncle) can be held firmly as it all bone.

  4. However the area around the pectoral fins must be cradled … not squeezed (aka, Death Grip), as it can do damage to the heart and/or liver. 



  1. Find some slow moving water to release fish (not as necessary for small fish.)

  2. Start with one hand under the belly and the other on the caudal peduncle.

  3. Face fish into slow current and remove hand from belly. Observe to see if fish is stable (stays upright.)

  4. Move tail from side to side. Fish should swim out of your hand, upright.

  5. Stay with fish until first four steps are accomplished successfully.

  6. If fish goes to bottom and sits, it is not a bad thing, but don’t leave it. Let it recover some more and then gently move the tail. A surviving fish will eventually swim away from you.

  7. In a lake add a back and forth motion to the side to side tail motion.


Hands versus Net:


Hands only: The basic idea is that a well-handled fish can be released with less contact and more quickly than with a net. In fact, there are tools that can de-hook the fish with no contact at all.


Using a net: The negative is that the even wet rubber can remove the trout body slime and if the fish is bound it the net, it may not be breathing properly when underwater.


Additional photo/fish handling techniques

  1. Have a good camera and know how it works.

  2. Before fishing with client or buddy, go over proper catch and release techniques detailed above.

  3. When the fish is caught, get in the water if you are not already there and stabilize the fish in the net, so it can start its recovery.

  4. Move to the release area, in case the fish is dropped.

  5. Set up camera, angles, positions, etc.

  6. When the photographer is ready the “gripper” wets his hands holds the fish in the net.

  7. The gripper then says, “Ready … 1, 2, 3.”

  8. On 3, the gripper lifts the fish from the water to the pre agreed upon pose. Stay close to the water in case the fish drops.

  9. Photographer takes picture and says, “Got it.”

  10. Fish is back in water in net.

  11. If you follow this procedure, you can take another couple of shots without harming the fish, provided the fish is out of the water less than 5 seconds.

  12. Follow the release procedures above making sure you stay with the fish until it swims away on its own

Handling Bass & safely returning them to the water:

Handling Bass Safely
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