In the day and age of Social Media and the pursuit of “likes” and followers/friends’ people have sometimes sacrificed the fish’s well-being for the perfect picture. Far too often I have seen fish that have injuries from improper handling or from not using a barbless hook for example fish with damage to the gill plate and sections of the maxilla(jaw) damaged or missing
It is still possible to capture a picture of that fish of a life time with not endangering the fish’s health.
It all starts with the flies that are being used and to have the mind-set that the fish will be released. Hook barbs should be barbless this can be done by either tying with barbless hooks or by crushing the barb down. I find that some hook companies barbs don’t crush down all the way and the barb will need to be removed by taking a file to the hook barb.
Fish should be landed in the quickest time frame possible.
Next make sure your hands are wet when handling any fish. Trout/All fish have a protective layer of slime that is used to protect them from infection if this is disturbed or removed it can cause illness or death so better to wet those hands every time. If you will be netting the fish make sure the bag is wet as well.
Secondly, keep them wet while removing the hook if you are not taking a picture you can slide you hand down the leader and remove the hook without touching the fish. If the hook is difficult to remove the fish can be turned on their back which calms them, so you can take the time to remove.
At this point I should say never ever touch the fish’s gills just a single touch can do irrevocable harm and can kill the fish.
Thirdly, if taking a picture think of the 2 second rule the fish should never be held out of the water for more than 2 seconds and never that high above the water in case there is a risk of dropping the fish. Think of taking a fish out of water it would be like you running a marathon then someone putting your head in a tub of water.
Fish should also never be gripped around the stomach they should be cradle with both hands and only with as much pressure that is needed.
When releasing the fish make sure it is held in the water and allow it time to recover when the fish is ready you will know. If the fish needs help to recover you can gently move the fish back and forth in the water to move water through the gills.
Hope these tips help out. The fish’s safety and health should never ever be sacrificed for the purpose of a picture or for a social media post.
We are all in this together and if we take care of our fisheries the fish will be there for generations to come.