It is puzzling that when anglers do catch something, some don’t always treat the object of their affection with more care.
Anglers need to avoid fighting trout for too long on light line, dragging them onto hot rocks and extracting hooks with little care or delicacy.
The fish may well be returned to the water, allowing the angler to congratulate themselves on their angling ethics because they let the fish go “to grow bigger”.
But the sad reality is that the fish could die as a result of the rough handling they endured and this has an impact on the long term survival of the trout fishery. This is just simple maths. If an angler keeps their limit of say three trout and releases the other six they also land but treat badly, then the real impact on the fishery could well be nine fish killed, not three.
It doesn’t take long before the compounding toll has a real affect and soon those same anglers are shaking their heads and blaming everyone but themselves for the falling trout numbers.
We also have a more in-depth video produced by Hawke's Bay Fish & Game on how to handle your fish here.
Looking after the trout you catch begins with your equipment.
Trout make good eating so if you are keeping them for the table, make the decision and kill them quickly. A sharp blow to the head with a rock or priest does the trick nicely or iki them. Finish it off with a trip to the smoker, a squeeze of lemon and a slice of bread – you don’t have to apologise for selectively taking fish for the table.
If you are going to release the trout, handle it gently and ideally keep it in the water while you gently unhook it. Make sure it is upright and hold it into the current so the water can flow over its gills. Once the fish has recovered, it will kick out of your hands and swim away.
New Zealand is famous around the world for the quality of its trout fishing, the size of the rainbows and browns that live here and the magnificent country they thrive in.
The desire to catch a trophy trout is a passion for many anglers, while for others, fishing is a more practical venture, combining a day’s recreation with the chance to put a meal on the table.
Whatever the motive, all anglers need to take care to look after the fish they catch so they are either despatched humanely for eating or released to grow bigger and breed.
For all their hard-fighting capabilities, trout are vulnerable to poor treatment by anglers. It makes no sense to handle a fish so badly that it will be poor eating or die when it is released.
Looking after the fish we catch is not only better for the health of our trout populations and the future of the fishery, but also your reputation as a provider of good quality food for family and friends.