Recreational fishing is a popular sport amongst Malaysians. With the vast body of water surrounding Malaysia, anglers will travel around the country to experience the various kind of fishing that is offered, especially since fishing is not a ‘one size fits all’ kind of sport, anglers are keen to try out and master as many techniques as they can. With this, it is crucial for anglers to practice ethical behaviour and be knowledgeable about how to handle and release the fish once it has been caught.

It is a common to catch a fish in the open sea and keep it. But nowadays, more and more anglers are practicing the behaviour of catch-and-release. There are many ponds in Malaysia that make it mandatory for the anglers to release the fish after catching because this can help sustain and grow their aquatic habitat. It also promotes the culture of catch & release for the younger generation.

Did you know that releasing the fish back into the water after catching them does not necessarily mean they will survive? It is not just important to release a fish once you have caught it, it is also important that you handle the fish with care before releasing it. There are many reasons as to why this happens and there are also ways to avoid unintentionally killing a fish.

HOW TO HANDLE YOUR CATCH?

Avoid removing the fish from the water

  • Removing fish from the water can cause suffocation and/ or internal injury but it is common practice for anglers to take the fish out of the water to capture their shining moment, therefore, do so with caution.
  • Avoid allowing the fish to move around on solid surface as it can cause the body to bruise. If the fish is moving around once on land, place a hand on the fish to help it calm down.
  • Try to limit the duration the fish is out of the water. If you are keen to take photos and measure the fish, please get the camera and measuring tool ready ahead of time.

Use wet hands or wet towels when handling the fish

  • It is best for the angler to have wet hands when handling the fish as it will help sustain the slim on the fish’s body. Dry hands can reduce the fish’s protective mucus which helps the fish fight fungal growth and other skin diseases. You can also place the fish on a wet towel to maintain its mucus on the body.
  • When lifting, cradle the fish gently with one hand under the belly and the other hand near its tail. Try to avoid touching the gills and squeezing the fish as it can cause damage to their muscle tissue.

HOW TO RELEASE YOUR CATCH?

Revive your fish before releasing it!

  • You should always avoid throwing the fish in the water as it can be quite shocking to their body. It is best that you gently place the fish head first into the water. If your fish has been out of the water for a long duration, you should resuscitate it before letting it go. There are two ways of resuscitating a fish:
  • At a lake or pond that does not have water current or the water is flat, you can place the fish in the water but slowly move it forward to let the water run through the gills to allow him to recover faster.

  • For places with water current, you can just place the fish in the water facing the current, without moving it and let the water enter its mouth and gill. It will swim away by itself when it has regained its energy.

Bare in mind that the longer you keep the fish out of the water, the longer the recovery period will be, therefore observe the movement of the fish in the water before letting it go, and if you know that you kept the fish out of water for too long, be kind and revive it until it is ready to swim away by itself. Remember, the better care you take of these fishes, the more catches you and other anglers can enjoy!