Photo With Your Fish

A man holds a fish at Glacier National Park.

NPS Photo.


A colorful photograph of your catch can be a lasting reminder of memorable days fishing and is a great way of “keeping your catch while letting it go.”

Taking your photograph should be pre-planned and accomplished quickly. Keep your fish wet and calm, naturally supported in the water column, until you are ready for the photograph. Use a landing net if available.

Crouch down near the water surface to avoid lifting the fish far from the water. Have the photographer pre-position and focus the camera before lifting your fish. When all is ready, hold your fish firmly by the tail while placing the other hand under its belly. Wait for the fish to become accustomed to your touch. When the fish has calmed, lift it briefly out (or better yet, partly out) of the water and quickly capture the image.

Then carefully release the fish back in the water. Hold the fish underwater, in an upright position or secured in the landing net. Make sure it’s ventilating before release—you should see the gills opening and closing. If the fish has difficulty regaining its strength, then face the fish into the current. The fresh oxygenated water can pass gently over the gills helping the fish “catch its breath.” Let it swim forcefully away on its own.

In fast moving water, it might be best to move the fish to calmer water where it can recover and swim away on its own. Fast-moving or turbulent water can sweep away or injure a weakened fish. This is particularly important for fish released from a boat in midstream.

Last updated: May 8, 2017

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