Wet your hands prior to touching fish
Dry hands can damage the slime coat, which helps protect the fish’s skin and makes it easier for the fish to move underwater. Believe it or not, removing some of a fish’s slime coat can be fatal.
Minimize fight time when possible
Decreasing fight time decreases the amount of time the fish needs to recover and will also mitigate oxygen deficiency.
Remove hooks gently with pliers
Using a dehooking tool minimizes the chance of damaging the jaws during hook removal and also speeds up the dehooking process helping you get the fish back in the water quickly.
Handle fish with lipping tool
Lipping tools allow anglers to easily restrain a slippery fish without causing bodily harm.
Support abdomen when lifting
Water normally supports a fish’s abdomen, be sure to support the abdomen when you lift fish out of the water to avoid organ damage.
Hold fish horizontally
Holding a fish vertically usually places all of the fish’s weight on their lip which can cause physical damage. In addition, fish rarely turn completely vertical on their own, as doing so can damage internal organs.
Return the fish to the water quickly
Fish exert a lot of energy and oxygen during a fight. Getting them back into the water quickly is key to their recovery.
Gently pull fish in a figure eight pattern prior to release
This allows oxygenated water to flow over its gills and helps fish recover, especially after a longer fight. Holding fish into a slight current is also a great way to accomplish this.