Catch & Release – How to do it!

As we all know the Kelvin has recovered from serious industrial pollution in the past. The river is still going through the process of recovery and has only recently been classified as a Salmonid water. Did you know that it’s compulsory to release early-running Salmon before 16 June in England & Wales? A growing proportion of fish caught in the Kelvin are now being released throughout the season. The reasoning is simple – if carefully handled, the prospects for survival and spawning are very high, and the increased numbers of fish who reach the redds make a valuable contribution at a time when there are so many threats to the maintenance of Salmon and Sea Trout stocks in UK rivers. In the case of early-running stocks, it is important to release males as well as females.

reuturning salmon

Below are some tips for River Kelvin anglers who are keen to play their part in preserving our stocks of Brown Trout, Sea trout and Salmon:


• Use small barbless hooks (or flatten the barbs with pliers)

• Single hooks are best, and the use of flies is preferable

• If bait fishing is your tactic then try using circle hooks to avoid deep hooking


• If your choose to spin, then try using de-barbed double hooks or better still use de-barbed single hooks

• For catch and release fishing – thigh or chest waders should be worn to allow the angler to enter the water at a safe location to unhook it and release the fish

Playing the fish

• Bring the fish in firmly and quickly to reduce the likelihood of severe exhaustion

• Use a breaking strain of line or cast that will permit this

• Move the fish out of fast currents if possible

Handling the fish

• Keep the fish in the water. Fish should not be brought out of the water on to the bank

• If a landing net is used, it must be knotless. Avoid abrasion of the scales – do not beach the fish


• Wet your hands before touching the fish

• Be gentle, do not grip the fish tightly – and take extra care with fish early in the season or during warm weather, when they are most vulnerable

• Remove the hook gently – forceps can help (always take a pair of long nosed forceps with you when you go salmon or trout fishing)

• If the fish is deep hooked, cut the line as close to the hook as possible

Kissing the fish

• This is down to personal preference and may be frowned upon by passing dog walkers

rex hunt
Kissing Fish is frowned upon

Reviving and releasing the fish

• Do not weigh the fish – estimate the weight (the weight of a fish can be calculated from an estimate of the length of the fish: tip of nose to centre of tail. Details of length/weight relationships are available from SEPA, SANA etc

• For photography – stand in the water – gently cradle the fish using both hands – and just lift the fish above the water surface for a few seconds


• Support the fish gently and steadily in a current, facing upstream. Do not hold the fish too firmly

• Be patient, and wait for the fish to recover

• If it’s having trouble recovering GENTLY move the fish back and forwards to encourage a flow through the gills.

• Only release the fish when you feel a strong kick from the tail.

• Let it swim away on its own when it is ready

Will the fish live?

• Radio tracking of released fish has shown that over 80% of salmon, if carefully handled, survive to spawn successfully

Sometimes it all goes wrong

• The fish may be bleeding heavily

• It won’t swim and goes belly up no matter how hard you try to help


The hard graft for this article was submitted by Grant