Catch and Release – With Respect

We all love fishing and more and more of us are enjoying it. It is a passion and brings us closer to the nature, beside demanding from us a good mix of patience, perseverance and respect. Why do I say this? Well, it should be obvious, that the creatures we are after, should be treated with respect. Unfortunately, what I did notice more often as a fishing guide in the last months is an increasing unawareness of the basic rules who are vital to the survival of the fish caught.

Most of us are practising catch and release and where I am fishing it is a must to release my main target fish, the pike back to the water. Most of us enjoy the feeling to have mastered this great fish after so many attempts.


Finally, it is hooked. But what happens then?

Well, then it’s too late to start thinking about. It is all about your preparation. Only with the correct preparation and material set-up you will be successful and only then you can treat the fish respectfully. What is needed? Start to select your fishing tackle adequately. Use a suitable, strong enough braid, use a leader who is able to withstand the sharp teethes of this predator. The rod must have a strong blank, so that you can exercise pressure during the drill. All the hooks, swivels, accessories must be of good quality. Do not save few bucks in accepting low quality! Get your material ready on the boat. The landing net, big enough for your personal best record fish, must be ready and at hand. Are pliers and hook cutter ready? And the camera or the smartphone prepared to get your picture of the fish?

Finally, it is hooked. Drill the fish fast, do not play around with him. It’s not about maximising the drilling time – try to minimise it. Once it is close to the boat, use your landing net. Keep the fish in the water, never lift him out of the water with the net. That is strongly damaging the sensitive pike skin and fins. Unhook the fish in the net and let him rest for a while in the net in the water. If it is impossible to loosen the hook immediately or the hook is badly seated. do not hesitate to cut the hooks with a good hook cutter. cutting hooks is often the gentlest way to loosen a fish, especially if the hooks are stuck close to or in the gills. Be sure to remove any parts that have been cut off.

Is the unhooking mat ready and wet? Then lift the fish out of the water with a correctly applied gill grip and measure him. Then take your pictures fastly. Once done, the great moment of releasing the beauty back to its habitat is there. Do not hesitate. Place the fish smoothly in the water and hold him gently at the tail fin without moving forward and backward. Once the fish is ready, release him. Enjoy this moment! Respect, well done!


As full time fishing guides, both myself and Pierre Monjarret are offering guidings in Ireland and in the Netherlands through our company Predatorguiding. We enjoy sharing the beautiful moments with our guests out in the nature and are always extremely happy when we can transfer this passion of predator fishing and the concept of Catch and Release!


Luca Nardin

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