A common fishing practice in which unneeded fish are returned to their aquatic homes after being caught. Catch and release fishing is often practiced when the fish caught is too small or out of season and hence illegal to keep, or when the fisherman is fishing strictly for sport and doesn't wish to keep the fish and eat it.

The most difficult part of catch and release is removing the hook from the fish without doing too much damage. Fish hooked through the mouth can usually be unhooked safely. If the fish has swallowed the hook, however, removal will probably kill it. In these cases it's a better idea just to cut the line - many catfish and bass have survived for years in the wild and grown to huge sizes with fishhooks embedded in them.

Proper catch and release technique involves keeping the fish wet (out of the water for as short a time as possible) to avoid harming it further, and using pliers to remove the hook, both to accomplish the task quickly and to save the fisherman's fingers! Don't throw the fish back into the water - it's likely to already be fatigued to near exhaustion, and that might kill it. Instead, place the fish gently in the water and allow the water to run through its gills and revive it before letting it go.

Occasionally, a careless fisherman will hook something that is most definitely not a fish. Safe removal of a fishhook from an unfortunately snagged human involves pushing the barb out through the skin and cutting it off, then carefully retracting the wire remnant of the hook. If the hook looks rusty, a tetanus shot would probably be a good idea afterwards.

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