Winter Anglers: Release Your Fish Responsibly

Remember to practice responsible catch and release when you’re fishing open streams or on the ice this winter.

Fish are very fragile in cold air temperatures (particularly their eyes and gills), so they should not be exposed to the elements for long periods of time. Release them gently as soon as possible. Do not let them lay on the ice. By releasing your fish responsibly, you are helping the fishery and providing other anglers the opportunity to catch the same fish.

If you are fishing an open stream, try:

  • Reducing the time spent fighting the fish.
  • Keeping the fish in the water as much as possible.
  • Using a rubber net and wet hands or gloves.
  • Keeping the handling time to 60 seconds or less. Keep unhooking tools nearby.
  • Cutting the line and letting the fish go if the fish is deeply hooked.
  • Treating the fish gently throughout the release. Support the fish with both hands and place the recovering fish in the water. Gently move the fish from side to side.

For tips on how to release different fish species, visit this DNR webpage.

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