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I've been coming across some posts and articles about the best way to handle various fish that are intended to be released in order to minimize injury and maximize chances of survival.

What are your thoughts on fish handling etiquette prior to releasing fish? I imagine it varies by situation and species, but am curious about thoughts or general tips/tricks that anyone might have.
 

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What he said... /\...handling a fish in any way, bare handed, gloved, using a rag, etc, removes the slime from the fish which helps protect the fish from bacteria infections.
 

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Marine biologists have done studies that prove fish mortality rates are high if you practice fillet and release.
 

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I caught a flounder once with a shark bite out of his body that just about went to his backbone, it was completely healed. I released him. Figured if he can survive that he deserves to live on.
 

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Fish need slime to protect their scales from infection, so don't wipe that off. Their skeleton is designed to support them horizontally in the water, so try not to hold them vertically by the tail or the head. Larger fish will literally get crushed to death under their own weight so ideally keep them in the water, and limit the time the fish is out of water to the bare minimum. If it doesn't need to be measured I will only lift them high enough for the de hooker to work. If it's a bigger fish support their weight by supporting their stomach. And definitely don't grab their gills or eyes.

Also, if the tax man isn't a factor and you think you have an out of season snapper or grouper on, bring them up a little slower. If you don't have a descender ready to go leave them down 15-30' to get some pressure on their swim bladder, then when you're ready bring them on up to the surface. Every little bit helps and the less fish you kill out of season the longer season we will have.
 
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