How to Revive Fish for Safe Release
Tough battles and long fights, especially with the older and bigger fish, can really wear them down. You may have also kept them out of the water for too long. In some cases, fish can suffer trauma (deeply embedded hooks, etc) that leads to significant bleeding. So before simply throwing your fish back into the water, make sure it has enough energy to swim away. If the fish starts to flip and roll upside down, it's important to take your time to revive it.
Step 1: Hold the fish by the tail. Place a second hand just behind its front fins for extra support.
Step 2: Slowly and steadily push and pull the fish back and forth through the water. This gets the oxygen in the water flowing through the fish’s gills, replenishing their energy. (The first few pushes and pulls should be long and smooth.)
Step 3: After about 10-20 seconds, stop and loosen up your grip on the fish so you can see whether or not it’s regaining its strength.
Step 4: Repeat steps two and three until you're certain the fish has enough strength and energy to make a full recovery. If the fish is balanced, upright, and starting to kick and move its tail, then it’s ready to go.
Sometimes fish take off out of nowhere and other times they need a bit of a push. What you do is lift the fish about a foot out of the water and drop it head first. If you do this, make absolutely sure the fish is fully recovered and ready for release.
Note: There may be a time when you have taken all the right steps to revive a fish, but it’s just too late. If this is the case and the fish is in season, keep it, take it home or give it to someone who will eat it. If you have no other choice but to put it back into the water, know that nature will take its course. The fish can still be a source of food for another fish or animal that lives near the water. Nothing in nature goes to waste.
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