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Catch & Release Tips for the Bighorn River

Updated: 6 days ago

To support the Bighorn wild trout fishery BHRA asks all anglers to adopt quick Catch

and Release protocol to improve the survivability of wild trout during periods of low water and high pressure. To help, BHRA has teamed up with our friends at LAMSON to offer a Ketchum Release tool to the first 100 anglers who renew their membership, make a donation or become new members, during the Summer Appeal. This tool helps anglers release trout without the need to remove the fish from the water, and when used in conjunction with the below Catch and Release

recommendations, can improve the survival of Bighorn wild trout. Watch below video to see how BHRA board chair John Sindland uses his when out on the river.


Check the BHRA River dashboard before going out on the water to make sure river temperatures are trout friendly. Ideal trout friendly temperatures are below 65 degrees, with trout starting to feel stressed at temperatures above 68 degrees.

Limit row around boat behavior during the heat of the day, or during times of high pressure, to reduce the same fish from being caught multiple times during a day.

Minimize Fight Time: Try to land the fish quickly to reduce exhaustion. Use heavier tippet and appropriate tackle and techniques to avoid overexerting the fish.

Use Barbless hooks and Rubber Nets: Barbless hooks are easier to remove and cause less damage to the fish during the removal process. Rubber nets help prevent injuries to a trout's mouth, gills and fins.

Handle Gently: Try to keep the fish in the water at all times, especially during the heat of the day. If you must handle the fish, wet your hands before touching, hold it over the water (not the boat) with two hands and a loose grip, avoiding its eyes and gills.

Rethink the Photo: Consider snapping a picture of your catch while keeping the trout submerged. If a grip and grin is needed, have the camera ready, gently lift the fish out of water with two hands (keeping it positioned above the water's surface) and take the picture. Limit the trout's time out of water to 3 seconds and refrain from holding above surfaces that could damage the trout if it wiggles out of your grip.

Remove Hook Carefully: Keeping fish partially submerged in water, use a Ketchum Release tool, needle nose pliers or another form of hook remover to gently remove the hook. If you must use your hands, wet your hands before touching the fish. If the hook is deeply embedded, leave it in place and cut the line as close to the hook's eye as safely possible.

Revive the Fish: After removing the hook, time should be taken to help a trout recover. To do this, gently position the fish upright in your net, or with a gentle grip, in cold, flowing water. Your grip should be firm enough to keep the fish upright, but loose enough to let the fish swim away on its own accord. Use care to not touch its gills and avoid reviving it in stagnant, turbid water.

Release with Care: Once the fish is revived, let it swim out of your hands or net in flowing water (not backwaters). Do not throw the fish or rush its recovery. It will let you know when it is ready to swim away.

Feel Good about your Actions: After release, take a second to commend yourself for helping the wild trout life cycle continue!


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