Safe Hook Removal


Catch and Release Tips

  • Land fish quickly
  • Handle fish as little as possible and avoid holding with dry hands to prevent removal of protective slime coating.
  • Don't let fish bounce on the boat deck, carpet or on shoreline rocks and gravel.
  • When using a landing net, soft knotless nylon or rubber nets are better that hard, knotted nylon.
  • Grasp most species of fish by the lower jaw and keep fish in the water if possible. Hold them vertically and support
    large fish with a hand under the belly.
  • Grasp toothy fish across the back of the head, with fingers and thumb holding gill plates closed. Watch out for
    sharp edges.
  • If you must hold a fish by putting your hand through the gill opening, avoid touching delicate gill filaments.


  • Don't keep a fish out of water longer than you can hold your breath.
  • Use long-nosed pliers or a de-hooking tool to remove deeply embedded hooks. If this fails, cut the line a few inches above the hook and leave it in the fish.
  • If you are using bait or lures that are frequently swallowed and deep hooking is likely to be a problem, use barbless hooks. Unhooking your catch with barbless hooks is faster, easier and healthier for the fish.
  • Make your own hook remover


  • In cool weather, keep fish on a stringer, in a fish basket or in a livewell.
  • When water temperatures are above 70 degrees, put fish directly on ice to keep them fresh.
  • If you use a livewell, fill it early in the day.
  • Turn on the recirculating aerator to begin building oxygen levels before you put fish in.
  • Run aerators continuously. Fish in livewells use oxygen faster than a timer-operated aerator can provide. If your
    aerator must run on a timer, set it to run as frequently as possible. Distribute fish between live well compartments.
  • When water temperatures are above 80 degrees, recirculate water continuously instead of pumping in hot lake
    water. Add ice and salt. One eight-pound block of ice cools a 25-30 gallon livewell for about three hours. Adjust
    the amount of ice according to the size of your livewell. Block ice is preferred because it melts slower. Store extra
    ice to use later in the day. Water frozen in plastic milk jugs make this convenient.
  • Add 1/3 cup of non-iodized salt for every five gallons of water. Measure your livewell volume then pre-measure
    salt. Keep it in zip-lock bags for use during the day.
  • Twice a day, drain half of the livewell, refill with fresh water and add half the required amount of ice and salt with
    each water change.
  • If your boat cannot recirculate water in the livewell, run the flow-through aeration continuously.