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“Revive and Release” – 6 Tips for Releasing Stripers

Striped bass are tough creatures, but the strain put on a fish while being caught is intense.

Imagine you just ran a marathon, and then suddenly someone covered your mouth and you couldn't breathe. That might be what it's like for a striper.

That's why I feel it's really important to do everything in our power to catch and release stripers in the least harmful way possible - especially if fishing at the Cape Cod Canal.

By following the six tips outlined below, you will help ensure that the striper you just caught swims away alive and healthy.

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These tips were adapted from information available on keepemwet.org and was originally published here on MFCC during August of 2018. "Keep Em Wet Fishing" is doing great work and I highly recommend you visit and share their website with your fishing friends!

1) Reduce Angling Duration

By landing a fish quickly and without playing it to exhaustion, you can dramatically reduce stress the fish incurs.

This can be achieved by ensuring you are using a 10-11ft rod rated for at least 5 ounces, paired with a reel that can hold at least 300 yards of 50lb braid.

Tighten your drag and get the bass in quick. 

2) Hold Stripers Over The Water

In the photo above, MFCC Derby winner Dane Wetmore did a good job holding the striper over the water (and not over land).

Stripers are slippery creatures and can easily be dropped. 

So when holding a fish, keep it in or slightly above the water - not over the rocks.

That way if dropped, it falls back into the water unharmed.

3) Fish Barbless Hooks

Crimp the barbs on hooks.

Not only do barbless hooks cause less damage to a stripers’s mouth, but they are also much easier and quicker to remove - especially important when one ends up in your ear or finger!

4) Carry Hook Removal Devices

A fish grip tool (like the one MFCC member Chris Kline is using in this photo) is great for quick and safe hook removal.

Make sure to carry easily accessible pliers and fish grip tools, so you can release fish as fast as possible.

5) Photo Wet Stripers & Hold Horizontally

Photograph wet stripers.

If a fish is momentarily taken out of the water, keep it as close to the water as possible and fully submerge it between pictures to give the fish a quick breather.

Ideally, let the photographer call the shots – 1, 2, 3...raise the fish....and click.

Hold the fish horizontally and support the belly.

Do not hold the fish vertically by the gills.

6) Carefully Revive Stripers

Photo by @andrewburkepv

If a striper can not swim away on it's own it may need reviving.

This can be done by submerging the fish and holding its head facing upcurrent so that the water runs in the mouth and through the gills. 

In stillwater situations, move the fish in a figure 8 pattern to simulate this effect.

The striper will bite down on your thumb when its ready to swim away. 

Tight lines 🎣

What do you think?

Let me know by commenting below.

  1. Ryan – I’m really happy you are emphasizing good catch and release practices. Perhaps you could do a video on replacing treble hooks with single hooks for a variety of lure classes. I am currently struggling with some of my poppers, stick baits, and spoons to find appropriate single hooks that don’t change the action of the lure.

    Scott

    Reply
    1. That would be a great topic for a video Scott. I will certainly keep that in mind. Thank you for the idea!

      In the meantime, we have two threads inside our forum about this which you might be interested in:

      Replacing trebles with in-line hooks
      Swapping trebles for in-line single hooks – sizes?

      Tight lines and good luck out there this week! 🎣

      Reply
  2. I generally don’t use treble hooks. Lures with a single hook like bucktail jigs and soft plastics are effective and do less damage to the fish. I also try not remove the fish from the water before releasing.

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    1. Great trips Jim. Thank you for the comment! 👍

      Reply
  3. Let a 45 inch go today in the canal. Had to revive. Seen so many not make it because anglers not following your tips. Great job need to get this out to the masses especially fishing canal. TR

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    1. Nice job with that 45 incher 👍 As you mention, it would be terrific if these tips circulated to the masses. Thank you for the comment Tom!

      Reply
  4. Thanks Ryan, good info! I watched a guy yesterday scoop and chuck each fish onto the sandbar like he was afraid of the fish. I felt like it was a teachable moment but didn’t want him to take it the wrong way so I didn’t say anything. If your afraid of the fish your catching maybe find a new hobby? Any suggestions when landing fish in waste deep water, I know I struggle trying to keep my reel dry while releasing a fish. I already practice the things above but maybe I am missing something.

    Reply
    1. Hey Giles! Thanks for commenting!

      When landing a fish in waist deep water, I try to grab the leader and keep the fish an arm’s length away from me, while I tuck my rod and reel under my right arm pit. It’s a bit of a balancing act but it’s the best solution I’ve come up with. A fish grip can help a lot too, especially if you are using treble hooks.

      Reply
  5. Thank you for this information, Ryan.
    I live in the Northwest, and do most of my fishing for salmon and steelhead. The wild strains of these fish are endangered, so there are a lot of regulations to protect them. Barbless hooks are the rule. Though at times you can keep wild fish, often you can only keep fin-clipped hatchery fish, and you have to let wild ones go.
    All of your tips are great. In Oregon, when you see that the fish you’re landing is not fin-clipped, meaning it’s a wild fish, you’re not even supposed to take the fish out of the water while you remove the hook to release it. At worst, you should remove the fish from the water as little as possible. You can help a stunned or exhausted fish by grasping it by the tail and gently waving it back and forth in the water to help it get a little more water turbulence around it’s gills.
    Like wild salmon and steelhead, stripers are beautiful fish. I like to think that I owe them respect for the challenge and pleasure they give me in catching them, and I want them to be around for a long time for others to enjoy.
    Thanks again, Ryan.

    Reply
    1. Very well said Rob. Thank you for taking the time to write such a great comment. 👍🏻

      Reply
  6. Very well said !

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    1. Thanks for reading Naran

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  7. Don’t take them out of the water, unless you intend to keep them. If removed from the water for a photo, support the stomach.

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    1. Good tip Jeff 👍🏻

      Reply
  8. Good advice for freshwater as well. Most of these tips should be observed when fishing catch and release for any species.

    Reply
    1. Absolutely. Thanks for reading Art.

      Reply
  9. Great reminders and for some new and important info, if we don’t work to preserve the species our kids won’t have the opportunity to enjoy fishing

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    1. Very true. Thanks for commenting and reading Bob.

      Reply
  10. Great info and comments – Thanks!

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    1. No prob! Thanks for reading 👍🏻

      Reply
  11. Some tips we all need to follow and pass along. So many fisherman don’t know how to care for bass and preserve this precious resource.

    Reply
    1. It’s definitely surprising how many folks don’t know how to revive and release a fish. Hopefully this post will help a bit. Thanks for reading Ron!

      Reply
  12. Really important info and a wake up call for striper fishermen

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    1. Very true. Thank you for reading and commenting Art ✌🏻

      Reply
  13. Great info Ryan and well timed with all the fishing pressure at the Canal. I have always held the fish by the lip as well when reviving them prior to release. This is a great way when doing so from a boat or beach as you can completely submerge the fish as you are swishing them back and forth. I have recently discovered that When releasing from the edge of the Canal I prefer holding the fish just in front of the tail fin. This way the fish’s head and gills are in the deeper water and when the fish is ready you can just let them go and they are facing the right way to swim off. They will let you know they are ready with a big swish of their tail.
    The danger with this method is if the fish is not able to stay upright or ready to swim by themselves. Then you may release a fish from your grasp that turns over and floats away. Not good!!! Also you have to make sure that you have a secure hold on the fish until you are sure they are ready. I fish while wearing gloves which makes them less slippery.

    Reply
    1. Great tips Dex. Thank you!

      Reply
  14. You hit the nail on the head.
    I watch, way to many people in the ditch, crank em in, and just huck them back. All so they can possibly hook up again.
    Just takes an extra minute.
    Well said bro.

    Reply
    1. Very true Eddie. It really does just take a few extra minutes. We owe it to the fish to do everything we can to ensure they swim away in reasonable shape.

      Thanks for commenting and tight lines out there!

      Reply
  15. Really good info Ryan.
    Thanks much

    Reply
    1. No problem Paul. Thank you for reading.

      Reply

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