The Atlantic salmon population in the UK has been in decline for decades, particularly the spring runs; accordingly anglers should give the highest priority to conservation.
For this reason OSFT no longer produces flies tied on treble hooks; single hooks in particular do far less damage to fish and therefore increase the survival rate of fish after they have been released.
Serious consideration should be given before and whilst playing a fish as to how you will complete the procedure. If you are unable to get down to the water’s edge, then it may be essential to use a landing net. By definition this will mean removing the fish from the water and every second that it is out of its natural environment reduces its chances of survival. It is infinitely better (and kinder to the fish) to keep it in the water at all times and remove the hook with a good pair of forceps or hook disgorger, preferably without touching any part of the fish with your hands, if you have to touch the fish remember to wet your hands first,
and never lift the whole fish by the tail, if you have to lift it clear of the water use both hands, one round the wrist of the tail and the other supporting the fish underneath the belly towards the front of the fish.
The use of a landing net may have the following consequences: scratched eye surfaces possibly leading to blindness, the loss of scales which can cause skin infection and secondary fungal growth (that may be fatal), split and damaged fins which can also lead to fatal infection. If a fish has to be removed from the water whilst in a net, its life expectancy is likely to be compromised. For these reasons the use of landing nets gives me much cause for concern.
Over the years experience has taught me that fish released back in to the water do not all survive, anglers need to appreciate this. Therefore I would urge anglers to take the utmost care over this procedure, because releasing a fish is no guarantee that it will live to spawn successfully.
George R Ross.
RegardsGeorge R Ross.