I come from a fish biology background so proper catch and release practices are important to me. During my time with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, I worked at a fish ladder on the North Santiam river. My job was to enumerate and ID salmonids that passed through the main ladder near Stayton, Oregon. This required me to capture and handle all spring chinook and summer steelhead that passed through the ladder. During the several years that I worked this ladder, I handled many thousands of large salmon and steelhead. This experience with “catch and release” gave me an appreciation for the proper handling of large salmonids.
I also went through a 7 year “fly fishing only” phase. Much to the chagrin of my two “gut slinging” brothers, I adopted the stereotypical elitist attitude of many fly fisherman. But there were some important lessons learned during this time. One of the positive things gleaned was an appreciation for how to hold and handle a trout during the photograph and release session. These lessons would cross over into my new “trophy trout” phase.
I am going to break everything down step by step from hooking to release in this article. These are my opinions based upon much research and experience. This article is geared specifically for the trophy trout angler. Trout are more sensitive than we think. Just because a fish swims off doesn’t mean that it is going to make it.