First and foremost, minimize the time a fish is played, thereby reducing overall stress. This is especialy true for larger fish. Use barbless hooks or hooks that have had the barbs pinched.
When you hook a fish, keep it in the water as long as possible. Do not remove the slimy protective coating on the fish. Use a long-nose pliers to remove the hook quickly without tearing or injuring the fish. When releasing a fish that is hooked deeply, cut the line and leave the hook in. Never touch the gills or eyes.
When you release a fish, hold it upright in a swimming position in the water, moving the fish slowly forward so that water runs through the gills. Release the fish when it begins to swim in an upright position.
Following these release techniques improves fish survival and helps to maintain a healthy fishery.
To take pictures, grasp the fish just behind the gill covers taking care to avoid the gills and eyes. Take pictures quickly, minimizing the length of time the fish is out of the water. Always hold a fish in a horizontal position. Holding it vertically can damage the internal organs.