Ken Estes: Releasing your catch is a good way to ensure we maintain a robust population of fish today and for future generations. Here are some tips on how to properly catch and release.
First start by pinching down the barb, this makes it easier to get the hook out and causes less damage to the fish. The barb is the protruding piece of metal on the hook that helps keep the fish on the hook, but as long as you keep a nice tight line to the fish you really should need a barb.
Next, make sure you are using tackle and gear that's matched to the fish. For instance, you wouldn't want to use a really light rod in real if you are targeting larger fish like bass.
When the fish is ready to be landed it's always a good idea to use a wet catch and release net. Wetting the net helps to ensure that you do not strip the fish's protective slime off its body which is the fish's defense mechanism protecting it from disease and bacteria.
It's always a good idea to also wet your hands before handling a fish. Once you have unhooked the fish, gently cradle up your hands and move it gently back and forth in the water to push water through its gills.
Once the fish is thoroughly revived slide it out of your hands and release it. Properly releasing your catch is a great way to ensure we have plenty of fish to catch today and in the future.