Catch & Release Fishing

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Before you Hit the Water

Catch and Release Fishing is a great way to help sustain Florida’s Fisheries. Practice Responsible Angling and Decide Before You hit the water to keep or release your catch.

Select appropriate gear. Choose the right size rod and reel and the best hooks to land and release your catch quickly.


  • De-hooking tools
  • Pliers
  • Landing nets
  • Holding tools.

Purchase a fishing license from The FWC. Bring the correct gear and lets pass on the legacy of great fishing.

Landing and Release Tools

Landing and Release Tools are essential when releasing fish responsibly.

Rubber Knotless landing nets are designed to land the fish quickly and protect the fish’s critical and protective slime-coat.

Dehooking tools allow you to release your fish without ever touching them!

Grip a fish with a Lip Gripping Device – Even with the sharpest of teeth, you can control the fish by the head without injury.

Have Venting and recompression tools available for fish caught in deep water.

Choose your gear before you hit the water. Release fish safely with minimal harm and Preserve Florida’s Fisheries.

Choosing the Right Hooks and Tackle

All Anglers have a responsibility to protect and preserve our natural resources.

The use of appropriate tackle will increase the chance of fish survival.

In-Line (or non-offset) Circle hooks almost always hook fish in the corner of the mouth and can be quickly removed. They allow fish to be easily released.

Barbless hooks make for effective hook-ups and easy releases. Purchase barbless hooks or simply pinch down the barbs using needle nose pliers.

Remove all but one treble hook from lures or replace them with single hooks.

Select the correct hook size and proper tackle for your target species and protect our Florida Fisheries.

Proper Handling

Every second you keep a fish out of water decreases its chance of survival.

Handle fish gently and as little as possible, returning them to the water quickly to minimize stress to the fish.

If you are going to lift the fish from the water, first wet your hands. Dry hands will remove the fish’s protective slime coat, making it susceptible to bacteria, infection and disease. Never use a dry towel to handle a fish.

Take a photo with your catch, but work quickly. Lift the fish horizontally, and support its weight with both hands. For toothy fish, you can use a lip gripping device.

Practice responsible catch and release fishing and help Preserve Florida fisheries.

Revive and Keep the Fish Alive

Don’t fight your fish any longer than necessary.

Keep the fish in the water. If you must handle the fish, do so gently. Never grab or hold a fish’s gill cover or eyes.

Don't squeeze the fish as you can damage its internal organs.

Remove hooks gently while supporting the fish– one hand under the belly and one holding the tail.

If the fish swallows the hook, cut the line closest to the hook eye.

Hold the fish in the water to allow water to flow from its mouth out its gills. Never pull a fish backwards by the tail as it will force water in the wrong direction of the gill.

Practice responsible catch and release fishing and show the fish the respect they deserve by learning more about Fish Handling and Gear.

Release the Fish

Fish destined for release should be handled carefully and quickly to provide the best chance for survival.

Large fish typically require more work than smaller fish.

Release your fish pointing into the current. If there is no current, put the boat in gear and move the fish facing into the current.

For land-based anglers, walk the fish side to side, and in a forward motion.

Never release the fish until he is ready - as the fish revives, its gills will work more energetically and will pull forward until it is ready to swim away.

Keep your battle with the fish to a minimum. Catch, land, revive and release your fish quickly, uninjured and alive.

Help preserve Florida fisheries.

The Online Fisherman

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