NOAA in the USA has a very nice list of what to think of when you practice Catch & Release (don’t forget to bring your Spydro along to capture the moment!
- Never play a fish to exhaustion.
- Use tackle of sufficient strength for the size of your quarry.
- If possible, dehook the fish in the water. If a hook is swallowed and you can’t easily remove it, cut the line as close to the hook as possible and leave the hook in the fish.
- Circle hooks, barbless hooks or hooks with crimped barbs can increase survival and make removal easier.
- Lost stainless steel hooks may stay in the ecosystem for a long time; consider using other metal hooks that will corrode faster and cause less damage to wildlife.
- If you must remove a fish from the water, keep air exposure to a minimum. Less than 60 seconds is ideal.
- Handle the fish as little as possible and only use wet hands. Use an appropriate release tool.
- If you remove a fish from the water, try to support its weight along the length of its body. If sluggish, resuscitate a fish by facing it into the current or moving it back and forth until it regains strength before releasing it.
- Use a soft knotless mesh or a rubber landing net which is less damaging to eyes, fins, scales and the protective mucous membrane.
- Many fish, when reeled in from depth, suffer from barotrauma (bloating) and can no longer regulate their buoyancy. Without assistance to get back to depth of capture, these fish may die. Use descending devices such as weighted upside down milk crates, inverted barbless hooks and weights, or commercial fish descenders to return fish to depth and increase survival.
Link to the full NOAA catch and release article – https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/resources-fishing/catch-and-release-best-practices, titled Catch & Release Best Practices.