The Right Way To Release Redfish
A great number of northern residents moving south means that South Atlantic saltwater fishing resources are taking on more and more pressure. Included is our celebrated Redfish fishery. While the Reds are a strong species however, the anglers must make every effort and precaution to minimize the loss of the Redfish stocks. Increased catch limits in many southern states have gone far to keep the species viable. Making sure that released Reds are sent back to their environment both alive and healthy is key.
Most states have slot restrictions, meaning anglers are required to keep Redfish within a specified size range. The size restrictions are solely for protecting those Redfish that are not yet breeding size and those that are in prime breeding age. Redfish at least 27 inches and beyond have a higher number of eggs or sperm. Returning them provides maximum breading and spawning resulting in a healthy fishery. All this comes down to making sure that the Redfish you catch is first the correct size to keep, depending on your state’s regulations, and then making sure that you safely handle the fish while unhooking and releasing. Returning these fish safely plays a big role in future stocks.
Here are a few ways to ensure that you return your slot Redfish to breed and be caught another day.
- Try to keep the fish in the water to minimize the stress and avoid injury.
- Make sure your fishing line and tackle are large enough to bring the Redfish to the boat quickly to reduce the impact of exhaustion.
- Allow the fish to have a constant flow of water through the mouth and over the gills to revive it and better enable it to regain its strength to swim and survive.
- Never use a gaff unless you’re confident the fish is within slot limits.
- Try not to touch the gills.
- Try not to allow the Redfish to hit objects like the boat sides or deck or anything that can injure it.
- Use non-stainless steel circle hooks.
- Have a hook remover ready to avoid any delay in removing it from the newly caught fish.
- Have the other anglers on the boat embrace the same practices.
These are great tips that not only apply to Redfish but most every other inshore and nearshore species. It’s a practice that will save our precious fishing resource and keep it healthy.