Remember to Catch, Photo and Release (CPR) your fish. Howard’s Creek is Fly Fishing Only and Catch & Release.
Here are some helpful tips to reduce stress on the fish:
1. Keep the fish in the water as much as possible. Use a net with a rubber bag. If you must take the fish out of the water for a photo, keep the time short, about as long as you can hold your breath.
2. Use a barbless hook.
3. Use strong enough tippet. Fish the heaviest tippet you can get away with; you’ll land the fish faster.
4. Put the screws to the fish. Use your entire rod when fighting the fish, keep the whole rod bent and get them into the net fast. The longer the fight, the greater your chances of losing the fish.
5. Keep your fingers away from its gills. Don’t touch the gills; they are super delicate and easily damaged.
6. Keep the fish over water at least knee deep. When you drop the fish (and we all do), it won’t hit the rocks.
7. Take off your gloves and get your hands wet. Do not hold the fish with gloves on or use a towel to handle the fish. This removes the slime coat and makes them susceptible to an infection by the aquatic mold Saprolengia.
8. Don’t put the fish on dry land to take a picture.
9. Don’t squeeze them like a tube of toothpaste. Hold the fish with one hand around its tail and one hand cradling the belly and head. Never hold a fish vertically by its gills or mouth.
10. Don’t dig out a deeply taken fly. If the hook is anywhere near the gills or tongue, leave it there. Flies are cheap; cut the leader and hope for the best. Trying to remove the hook causes more damage.