- Keep the fish in the water as much as possible and handle the fish gently.
- Reduce handling that removes the slimy protective coating on fish.
- Do not squeeze or touch the gills. Grasp the fish just behind the gill covers. For panfish and bass, it is best to grasp the fish by the lower lip.
- Use long-nose pliers to remove the hook quickly without tearing or injuring the fish. If the fish is hooked deeply, cut the line and leave the hook in when the fish is released.
- Never put a fish that you may release on a stringer, use a functional livewell or release the fish immediately. Remember that all fish kept (in a livewell, on a stringer, etc.) and not immediately released count toward your daily catch and retain or possession limit.
- Be ready ahead of time! Take pictures quickly, minimizing the amount of time the fish is out of the water.
- Hold the fish in a horizontal position, supporting its weight with your arm and hands. Do not hold large fish in a vertical position.