I stumbled upon this article on Catch and release of fish that is practiced in the US. I kind of give us an idea on how we can treat our fish here. Its a good read and would be even better if we could practice it...thought I'd share it with my fellow anglers...
How Can I Maximize The Survival Rate Of The Fish I Release?
Fish should be released promptly and carefully to give them the best chance of survival. Here are some helpful tips.
Choosing The Proper Tackle
Fish that are played and landed quickly have better chances of survival than those that fight to exhaustion. During prolonged struggles, harmful waste products concentrate in a fish's blood and may increase the time it takes to recover after it is released. Proper gear selection will reduce the time fish are on the line. Selecting the right rod, reel and line is the first step. Your tackle should be matched to the kind of fishing you will be doing. For example, an ultra-light outfit with four pound test line might be fine for 6 - 10 inch (15 - 25.5 cm) brook trout, but not for pike or muskie. A long fight to bring in these big fish causes them enough stress to greatly reduce their chances of long-term survival. Next, consider what is on the end of your line. Generally, artificial lures are best if you intend to live release your catch. Fish caught on artificial lures are usually hooked in the mouth or lips -- not the gills or throat. This means the hook(s) is more easily removed, reducing both handling time and injury due to deeply swallowed hooks. On some artificial lures, treble hooks can be replaced with single hooks to make live release easier. By contrast, live bait rigs often mean fish swallow the bait, making quick hook removal more difficult. If you do use live bait, set the hook soon after the strike. Although you may miss hooking the fish more often, the likelihood of a deeply ingested hook is greatly reduced. In many catch and release situations, anglers commonly use barbless hooks. Hooks with little or no barbs cause less damage when penetrating and when removed. Under many circumstances, anglers can pinch down hook-barbs partially or completely with fishing pliers.
Handling the Fish
It is important that anglers learn how to hold fish and remove hooks properly. Handle all fish quickly and gently. Whenever possible, remove hooks without taking the fish from the water. A quick twist with a pair of fishing pliars is often all that it takes to remove a hook. A net can be used to keep the fish in the water while you remove the hook. Even a few inches of water under a fish can reduce injury. If you use a net to land a fish, consider buying one with a coated or rubberized mesh that helps reduce injury to gills, eyes and fins. If a fish must be removed from the water, be careful not to drop it. Don't let it thrash around on shore or inside the boat. This can injure the fish and remove the slime coating which helps protect it from disease. Don't keep a fish out of water too long - it needs water for its oxygen supply. (Try this -- hold your breath when you take a fish out of the water and return it to the water when you need to inhale again.) Never hold fish by the gills or eyes. This can result in serious damage and even death. If it is necessary to grab the body, use wet hands and don't squeeze the fish tightly. Most species of fish can be held by placing your wetted hand firmly over the top of the head and gill covers. Smallmouth and largemouth bass can be gripped by the lower jaw and lifted vertically, which immobilizes them temporarily. (Most panfish can also be held this way.) Larger bass should be supported under the stomach area to prevent internal injuries. Small to medium sized muskie, northern pike and walleye can be held behind the head with one hand and just before the tail with the other. With trophy fish this may not be possible. Very large fish need special handling techniques. You can secure large muskie, pike, walleye and most trout or salmon by holding them with one hand gripped around the area just in-front of their tail and the other hand cradled under the belly. Using a wet cotton glove or custom landing glove will help you retain your grip near the tail. During extremely cold days in the winter, no fish should be taken out of the water for more than a couple of seconds as their eyes and gills can freeze almost instantly, resulting in permanent damage.
Removing the Hook
When releasing fish, remove hooks while the fish is still in the water, if at all possible. Never attempt to tear out the hook. Hook removal devices such as long-nose pliers and surgical hemostats can greatly assist in unhooking fish and minimizing damage. Grasp the hook near the bend and apply pressure to back the hook-point out, opposite to its direction entry. Pliers with side cutters are useful for cutting line or hooks that are difficult to remove. Deeply hooked fish require special attention. The best procedure is to cut the line or the hook shank where possible. Attempting to dislodge a deeply imbedded hook will cause even greater damage. Most hooks that remain in fish will eventually rust away or be decomposed by digestive juices.
Releasing the Fish
A fish that is limp, listless, has cloudy eyes or whose bright red gills have faded will probably not survive. Examine your fish closely before releasing. Once the hook is removed, release the fish gently into the water. Don't drop or throw fish back into the water. They may be further stunned, and could sink to the bottom or become entrapped in vegetation and die before recovery. Not all fish will be able to swim away briskly when placed back into the water. Make sure the gill covers are moving and that the fish is able to maintain its balance before letting it go. If the fish is slow to respond, hold it upright in a swimming position, and move it slowly forward so water runs through the gills. This will ensure the fish gets needed oxygen. Release the fish when it begins to struggle. Be patient. It may take several minutes or longer to recover and swim away on its own. Never place fish you are intending to release on a stringer. Live baskets should not be used to hold fish unless you plan to eat them later. Wire baskets, when kept near the surface, expose fish to warm surface water that causes added stress. Although some anglers keep all fish in their live wells and release them at the end of their fishing trip, this practice is discouraged. Delaying the release may result in unnecessary stress to otherwise healthy fish, and could reduce their chances of survival. If livewells are used to temporarily hold fish, be sure to maintain proper aeration at all times. Try to maintain a water temperature about ten degrees colder than the surface temperature of the lake you are fishing. Add some ice - but don't overdo it. Keep livewells full of water. Consider using commercially available livewell products which mildly sedate fish and help prevent slime-coat loss.
Releasing Fish Caught From Deep Water
Releasing fish caught from deep water (more than 10 metres or 30 feet) can present special problems. Cold water species such as lake trout can rapidly equalize changes in water pressure. They can usually be released successfully regardless of the depth they came from, summer or winter. Warmwater species don't have this pressure-equalizing ability. Fish such as pike and walleye therefore should be brought to the surface slowly (to allow them to adjust to the change in pressure) and then be released immediately, if possible. Fish caught from deep water can be released by allowing them to slip out of your wetted hands head first into the water, while you are in a standing position. This not only heads the fish in the right direction, but also sends a blast of oxygen through its gills.