A number of anglers fish for the thrill of the catch, and release their fish to allow them to be caught again. Wood Lake has undertaken a voluntary Catch and Release program. If you decide not to keep a particular fish, here are some tips to safely return the fish to the water:
- Time is essential, so quickly play and release the fish. A fish played for too long will be too exhausted to recover. A fish hooked in deep water should be brought up slowly to prevent stress due to pressure and temperature changes.
- Keep the fish in the water as much as possible, since fish out of water will suffocate. Do not allow the fish to drop on the ground or on the rocks. Just a few centimetres of water under a thrashing fish will act as a protective cushion.
- Gentle handling of the fish is essential and hands should be kept wet at all times while handling any fish. Do not put your fingers in the gills or in the eye sockets. Small fish should not be squeezed but should only be lifted by the lower lip. A net is helpful while handling fish, but keep it in the water.
- Remove hooks quickly using needle-nosed pliers. If the fish is deeply hooked, cut the line and leave the hook in, as it will dissolve and will not harm the fish. Do not try to tear out hooks.
- To revive an unconscious fish, hold it upright in the water. If there is a current, hold it heading upstream. Apply artificial respiration by moving the fish forward and backward so that water runs through the gills. It may take a few minutes for the fish to revive. When the fish does begin to struggle, release it.