Proper Catch and Release Tips For Striped Bass

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Fishermen catch and release millions of striped bass every year. By following these tips, you can ensure more of the striped bass you release survive to be caught again and contribute to striped bass conservation.

  1. Consider Your Tackle

    • Use single, barbless hooks whenever possible for easier hook removal.
    • When using lures, consider removing one set of treble hooks, or swap out the trebles for single hooks.
    • When fishing with bait, use non-offset circle hooks to minimize gut-hooking.
    • When snagging live bait on treble hooks, transfer the bait to a single circle hook rig.
  2. Minimize the Fight

    • Use appropriate tackle that allows stripers to be brought in quickly.
    • Once a fish is hooked, land it quickly rather than playing it to exhaustion.
  3. Handle Stripers with Care

    • Handle a striped bass as little as possible and release it quickly.
    • Once a striper is landed, keep it from thrashing around and injuring itself.
    • To lift a striped bass, hold it horizontally by gripping the lower jaw and supporting its weight. Avoid touching the eyes and gills.
    • If a fish is hooked deep, cut the leader as close as you can to the hook and leave it in the fish.
  4. Release them Right

    • Return large stripers to the water gently in an upright, horizontal position.
    • Revive fish by holding them headfirst into the current.
    • Gently move fish forward to get water flowing through the mouth and over the gills.
    • Do not let the fish go until it is able to swim strongly and freely out of your grasp.

12 on “Proper Catch and Release Tips For Striped Bass

  1. GregW

    Good article. Fish landing and handeling are important. Last year I stole and implemented an idea from the internet. I use a orange plastic fish grip with a 4ft (your boats freeboard will determine length) large heavy duty bungee cord tied to the end. The other end tied off to a side rail on my boat.
    Just like normal I grip the fish then un hook him but I try to keep his head out of the water as little as possible. Onec griped and dehooked I can leave the fish in the water safely secure my lure or hook and store my gear. Then if pic is needed (stripper cup) I can quickly remove from water by fish grip measure way and take pic. Most of the time I release the fish never taking him out of the water in about 2 to 3 mins time starting when first gripped. You want enough slack that the fishes head is about 4 to 6 inches beneath the water but not able to swim freely. You’ll want to check bungee through out the season for ware.

    1. steve

      hey greg, thanks for sharing that idea. I am a big catch and release guy… the bungee cord idea.

    2. Mark

      Everyone focuses on the catch but what about landing and release! Ive learned so many different techniques for catching fish from other anglers, friends or Dad …but rarely do we talk about how important proper handling is to the health of our catch! A good angler cares about preservation! Thanks for the tip and spreading the word!

  2. Chuck

    Nice video actually tells people to keep hands out of gill plates …so people that fish from breachways that watch video that means stripers are not meant to do a triple back flip landing sideways…..

  3. ScottW

    Kudos to OTW for eliminating weigh-in (switching to pictures) for the Striper Cup and for the article on striper catch-release techniques (these apply to all species of angled fish). I am all for improving angled fish survivability, which leads me to two suggestions. First, I would like to see additional guidelines for safe and effective release techniques for beach-caught fish. For instance, dragging a fish up a sandy beach cannot be good for the protective slime layer and the sensitive eyes. Second, I think it would be an even more powerful example to incorporate the release guidelines into the Striper Cup rules. Specifically, consider disqualifying pictures of mishandled fish; the first week winner was holding his striper by just the lower jaw and not supporting the body.

  4. Morone s

    A simple solution vs changing hooks out it to simple flatten the barbs, works better than barbless but easy to unhook the fish. We’ve been doing this for over 20 years.

  5. mark w

    I hate a gut hooked fish, I haven’t had one in years due to the right gear and techniques they can mostly be prevented!

  6. JJ

    Great ideas on handling and release. One word of caution though: If you fish around seals, be careful holding fish in or near the water while dehooking. Seals will take the fish, even if you are holding it, and may not be too careful to avoid your fingers in the process. Some seals do this more than others, but some are large and quite aggressive (sneaking in, hiding under the boat, then darting out to grab a fish while it is being unhooked). Needless to say, you do not want a hand or finger to ever end up inside a seals mouth. The other safety issue is that if you fish with a strong leader, you should not wrap it around your hand to lift a fish if seals are nearby, because if a seal takes the fish it would have a good chance of dragging you over the rail, and you might not be able to easily release the wrapped leader from your hand while swimming or getting dragged in the water. The last issue is that some seals hit the fish hard enough to rip it from the angler’s hand, but also hard enough to jolt the lure and hooks and send them flipping about – if using a lure with multiple hooks, there is a chance of getting a hook in the hand, with the other hook still in the fish, which is in the mouth of a seal, which is swimming away with a lot of momentum . . . People who fish around seals often are aware of the risks (and learn how to avoid losing fish to them in the first place), but others might not be aware. It’s best to be prepared.

  7. Keith Greenlaw

    JJ, some really good points in your post. Definitely food for thought! Thank you.

  8. Frank Maniaci

    I landed a 36” deep with a deep hook 4” shade. I did get it out and managed to revive the fish were he swam away okay. Should I have left the hook by cutting the leader?

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