Keep Fish in the Water
The hosts of our favorite shows are famous for holding up a bruiser fish during their opening monologues. Many anglers imitate the “pros” when they're out on the water--but in this case, the result is increased mortality among released fish. What a shame.
We give a fish its best chance to thrive if we land it quickly, handle it carefully, resuscitate it carefully, and release it shortly after landing it--and that means keeping it in the water as much as possible! Study after study has shown that minimizing the time a fish is kept out of water, minimizes the risk of mortality.
When we keep the fish in the water, we keep oxygen running across its gills. With oxygen running across its gills, a fish recovers quickly and will not suffer ill-effects of oxygen deprivation. According to Steven Cooke, an Assistant Professor of Environmental Science and Biology at Carleton University, air exposure, if limited to less than 30 seconds, may not be detrimental to largemouth bass. He adds, however, that, if possible, air exposure should be “avoided completely.”
So, will you let the fish just survive, or will you let them thrive? Keep that fish in the water, let it soak up the oxygen and then let it go. You may catch that fish again, or you may catch its offspring. You can increase the chance that a fish will thrive by keeping it in the water.