Every year many trout die unnecessarily, victims of poor release techniques and rough handling.  Due to regulations such as the minimum size limit and maximum creel limit anglers must release some fish they catch.    Anglers may also choose to release a fish if it is not of sufficient quality to eat.  Often these fish if handled carefully have a good chance of surviving, regaining condition and becoming a worthwhile catch for another angler.

Our research indicates that trout anglers annually keep about 40% of caught trout.  The other 60% are caught and released back into the water.  If these fish are not released carefully they will swim away and die.

We urge anglers to follow the simple rules below to increase the survival chances of trout that are released.

  • squeeze a fish or rip the hook out.
  • throw a fish back into the water.
  • put your fingers in the gills.
  • let the fish thrash around on the ground.
  • if possible leave the fish in the water and unhook it without touching it.
  • if this isn't possible, use a soft knotless net and carefully lift the fish.
  • leave the fish in the net, and without touching it, remove the hook using a hook remover or long-nosed pliers.
  • if you must handle the fish, wet your hands first.
  • hold the fish gently upside down to remove the hook as trout lie more quietly in this position.
  • support the fish gently upright in the water until it swims away.


  • if your catch is exhausted from a long, drawn out fight it will enter a state of almost unconsciousness. In this condition the trout will not be able to swim off when you release it. Instead the trout will float belly up. If this occurs or if you suspect that your trout is to weak to swim away you will need to perform trout CPR.
    • place the trout in the water gently, supporting its mid-section.
    • moving the trout gently back and forth until you feel it start to swim away.