Best Practices For Catch & Release Fishing For Bonefish

Although catch & release fishing is a valuable conservation tool that can lead to more and bigger fish in the fishery, just because a fish swims away doesn’t mean that it lives to be caught another day. The tips below for increasing the chances that a released fish survives are based on scientific research focused on experimental angling for bonefish. Be a responsible angler – use Best Practices for Bonefish Catch & Release.


Hooking location and time to remove hooks affects survival rates.


Minimize handling all fish; slime and scales can be easily damaged and removed with excessive handling, thereby greatly increasing risks of infection. In addition, Recent research has shown that mechanical lip gripping devices can cause damage to mouth tissue if the bonefish struggles, so their use is best avoided.

  • If you have to handle a bonefish, use clean, wet hands and gently support the bonefish from beneath the head and belly; nets, mechanical lip gripping devices, and wet cloths can cause injury to the fish, use only with great care
  • Use hemostats or pliers to quickly remove hooks while keeping the fish in the water, and have your pliers ready and available to facilitate a quick release.
  • Avoid exposing bonefish to air, even when taking a photo; if they must be held out of the water, limit it to a maximum of 15 seconds.
  • Touching the gills can cause damage and impair the ability of a bonefish to breathe
  • If lip gripping devices are used, it’s best to use them only to restrain a calm fish in the water while removing the hook; if a fish’s weight is desired, cradle the bonefish in a sling and suspend the sling from the device.