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Catch and Release Techniques

At Guiding Light Fishing Charters, we do quite a bit of catch and release while fishing. The below techniques came from the Maine Department of Marine Resources in relation to striped bass. We don't have striped bass in Lake Winnipesaukee but these tips apply to all species.


"In collaboration with our friends at Keep Fish Wet, the Maine Department of Marine Resources is recommending the use of the following science-based best practices:


  • Go barbless for smooth hook-ups and clean hook removals. If you’re using bait, use circle hooks.

  • Limit Fight Time: every second on our line adds stress and takes energy from the fish, leaving them with less for recovery.  

  • Using a net can bring fish in fast and is especially helpful when fishing from a boat. Rubberized nets are best, as they do less damage to fins and slime. Nets also help keep the fish submerged while removing the hook safely.

  • Hold Fish with 2 Wet Hands to support their weight out of the water, and to keep the fish secure while not removing too much protective slime.

  • One of the most important things we can do is to Minimize Air Exposure to 10 seconds out of the water in total; just enough time to remove that hook, snap a quick photo, and prepare for release.

  • Remove Hooks Gently.  Barbless hooks are the fastest and easiest to remove. If needed use pliers or a hook removal tool.  Cut the line if the fish is deeply hooked.

  • How you hold a fish matters.  Avoid dry surfaces, wet your hands, and hold fish horizontally to help avoid external damage as well as any to the skeletal and organ systems.

  • Release with care! Holding a fish in the water by their lip or tail is best, making gripping tools irrelevant.  Only revive fish that cannot swim on their own."


Artwork by Bri Dostie


Many thanks to the Maine Department of Marine Resources for this reminder on proper fish handling. Let's make sure that the ones we release, live to fight another day.


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