There has been lots of research via reading and discussions with my fly fishing friends lately on how to properly handle the fish that came to your fly photo or not Since I am a catch and release only fly girl the importance of proper handling of any size fish is important to me.
Here is an interesting article I read today in my Damsel Fly Newsletter by Katherine Paiva:
How to Photograph Your Catch
By Katherine Paiva
Photography has become a popular way to record a trophy fish or a memorable moment in catch and release fishing. (Though held in a dorky manner, the fish above was not harmed and was quickly returned to the water).
The following few tips will help you take better pictures the next time you go fishing.
1. Catch a fish, remove the hook, and leave the fish in the net.
2. Push back your hat and take off your sunglasses to remove the shadows hiding your face. Have your camera out and turned on/ready-to-shoot before lifting the fish out of the water. Make sure the sun is behind the photographer.
3. Wet your hands. Avoid touching the fish with dry hands or putting them down on dry surfaces (the boat bottom, docks, shoreline rocks, or sand). Dry hands and surfaces remove the fish’s scales and protective slime layer leaving it vulnerable to fungal skin infections.
4. Learn the proper hand placement for holding your fish – under the jawbone, not in the gills.
5. If you’ve never held a large fish have an experienced angler or fishing guide show you, or have the guide hold the fish.
6. Never hang a live fish from their jaws/mouth/gills vertically. Hold all fish horizontally and support as much of its body as possible to avoid injuring its internal organs, especially in larger fish.
7. Never grip a fish by the eye sockets if you intend to release it. By doing so you abrade its eyes, injure the surrounding tissue and may cause blindness
8. Don’t keep the fish out of water any longer than absolutely necessary if you’re going to release it. The longer it’s out of water, the less likely it is to survive. Dip the fish back under the water if there’s a pause between shots. Keep it wet and keep the gills in the water as much as possible. Keep “photo time” minimized to less than 25 seconds.
9. Releasing the fish:
Place the fish gently back upright in the water,holding the tail and supporting it’s weight by placing your hand under the belly. Don’t squeeze its stomach – be firm, but gentle. Gently roll the fish side to side allowing it to get its bearings and catch its breath until it is fully able to swim off under its own power. If current is present it is important to face the fish into the current thereby allowing fresh, oxygenated water through its gills.
Do not try to release or revive a fish using a thrusting forward/backward motion — the backward movement will suffocate the fish.