Catch and release was first introduced in Michigan in 1952, as a way to reduce the cost of stocking hatchery-raised trout. Since then, conservationists and sport fisherman alike have promoted catch and release to ensure sustainability and avoid over fishing. Proper catch and release fishing techniques also reduce fish fighting and handling times and help avoid damage to fish skin, scales and slime layers— damage that can leave fish vulnerable to fungal skin infections.
Use barbless hooks or crush the barbs down on regular hooks. This technique will cause as little damage to the fish as possible.
Use an artificial lure instead of live bait. This decreases the likelihood of the hook being swallowed by the fish. Your catch should be easy to release.
Use heavy line and reel the fish in using a brisk but steady motion. This way, the fish will not expend too much energy fighting and can more easily recover after the release.
Avoid netting the fish.
If possible, use needle-nosed pliers or a dehooking device to pry the hook from the fish while it is still in the water.