Handling & Releasing Fish
Many marine fish have a gas-filled organ called a swim bladder which controls buoyancy and depth maintenance. Rapid ascent can cause barotrauma, where the swim bladder over-expands, leading to potentially fatal issues for the fish if released. Here are techniques and tips to increase survival chances of released fish:
Techniques for Releasing Fish
- Recompression: Return the fish to the depth it was caught. Use tools like descender devices, release weights, or baskets. Aim for at least 60 to 100 feet if the original depth is unattainable.
- Venting: If recompression isn't possible, venting can help the fish descend by allowing the trapped gas to escape. Use a venting tool like a modified dowel with a sharpened needle to gently release gas from the fish's body.
Tips for Successful Catch and Release
- Plan Ahead: Prepare necessary equipment for releasing fish before the trip.
- Avoid Encounter: Change depth, location, or bait to avoid catching unwanted or illegal fish.
- Use Appropriate Gear: Non-stainless steel, non-offset circle hooks, and flattened barbs reduce harm.
- Don't Exhaust Fish: Minimize fight time with appropriate gear and line strength.
- Handling the Fish: Use wet hands, gloves, or nets to avoid damaging the slime layer. Support the body and avoid lifting by the jaw.
- Time is of the Essence: Release fish promptly and don't keep them out of water for long.
- Assist if Necessary: Gently move the fish back and forth in the water until it swims away.
Wildlife Violator Compact
The Wildlife Violator Compact (WVC) is an agreement among 49 states, including Georgia, which enhances the ability to enforce wildlife law violations across state lines. Here's how it works:
- Member States: Allows Wildlife Officers to treat non-residents hunting in WVC member states as if they were residents regarding wildlife violations.
- Increased Accountability: Illegal activities in one member state can affect hunting privileges in all WVC member states. This means that a violation in one state could lead to consequences in the violator's home state and others.