Catch and Release Bonefish Handling

Your Guide

Handling bonefish with the utmost care is essential for their survival post-release. These fish are sensitive and delicate, and improper handling can significantly impact their health and survival chances. Here’s an expanded view on the proper handling techniques for bonefish:

Preparation for Handling

  • Mental Preparation: Mentally prepare yourself for a quick and efficient handling process. This mindset helps reduce the stress on both the angler and the fish.
  • Use Appropriate Gear: Employ tackle that matches the size of the fish, ideally a fast 8WT for the flats fishing on North Caicos. This ensures a fair fight and reduces exhaustion for the bonefish.

Wet Hands and Gentle Grip

  • Always Wet Hands: Before touching the bonefish, ensure your hands are wet to protect its mucous layer, which is crucial for its immune system.
  • Gentle and Firm Grip: Secure the fish gently but firmly. Avoid squeezing, particularly around the midsection to prevent internal damage.

Correct Holding Technique

  • Horizontal Hold: Always support the bonefish horizontally. Vertical holding can damage its internal organs due to unnatural pressure.
  • Support Under the Belly: Place one hand under the belly and use the other hand to support near the tail. This helps distribute the weight evenly and reduces stress on the fish.

Careful Release

  • Revive if Necessary: If the bonefish appears lethargic or stressed, gently hold it upright in the water and move it back and forth to ensure water passes through its gills, aiding in oxygenation.
  • Awareness of Predators: Before releasing, check for predators. Releasing a bonefish in the presence of predators like sharks can result in its quick demise.

By adhering to these guidelines, anglers can ensure that they are not only enjoying the sport of fishing but also contributing to the conservation and sustainable management of bonefish populations.