Among fly fishing circles there is the ubiquitous admonition to catch and then release many/most of the fish you catch…be they trout, steelhead, bass, pike etc. Most that practice catch and release (C & R) realize that once the fish is hooked the clock is ticking on a balancing act, that the angler accepts, that you play the fish…feel the life on the other end of the line…get the fish in and carefully release the fish after admiring it or cautiously posing the fish.

Some advocate never hoisting big fish from the water, others advocate never inserting your fingers into the space between the gill plate and the gills, while some believe C & R is a devilish, tortuous practice to impose on creatures at our mercy. 

I believe in Catch & Release is acceptable and reasonable. I also think your gear and leaders should be balanced to allow for good tussles but not unreasonably long because you are afraid of losing the fish to a broken leader or cannot get the fish near because of an under powered rod.

Now here are some photographic examples of catch and release methods my wife and I want to share. Some are smooth and efficient while some are seemingly impromptu and sudden.

Now, sometimes the fish is unhooked and photographed in the net, then gently slid back into the water, to dive down to safety.
Often the fish is carefully presented just above the water and net for a quick photo before sliding easily into the water.
release1 swittersb
Here my wife demonstrates the ‘now you see it, now you don’t’ fish pose…the quick C & R. She prefers to call it the ‘safe at home’ pose.
release2 swittersb
Here there was a good effort to momentarily raise the fish from the net for a nice fish shot. The fish had other ideas and squirmed/propelled from her grasp and into the water. The arms move upward as one chases the elusive trout, now airborne.
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Yes, a definitive ‘touchdown’ as the trout quickly returns into the water, splashing its tail and spraying the hapless angler.
xRapid Release MJ SwittersB
Ah, a rare glimpse of the Trout headed back to the water.

All this posing of fish should be understood to pose a potential danger to the fish in your care. An exhausted fish should be taken care of first. If the fish is too tired, forget the photo op. Revive the fish and safely release the fish. If the fish is strong and eager to leave then care must be always taken with  a what if attitude…what if I drop this fish or it propels out of my grasp? Where will it land?

Slow and easy does it, always with the fish’s welfare in mind and fish porn a secondary outcome.

Bucky release SB
OK, she gets it right once in a while….