Catch & Release
Why this is important!

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Many of us like to fish. Sometimes we go fishing to catch fish for eating. Sometimes we just want to fish for fun. Sometimes the fish that we catch are too small or too big to keep.

Some lakes only allow Catch and Release Fishing. For instance, this past summer there were very few walleye in Mille Lacs. The DNR forbid keeping any walleye. People had to use Catch-and-Release Fishing. Catch-and-Release Fishing plays an increasingly important role in fish management. It helps in maintaining healthy fish populations.

However, many fish die as a result of Catch-and-Release Fishing, even when people have the best intentions. For instance, during an Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation study, up to 43 percent of fish released after being caught died within six days as a result of inadequate holding and weigh-in procedures during tournaments.

For our project, we wanted to have better cooperation between humans and fish. We wanted fewer fish to die as a result of Catch-and-Release fishing. Our goal was to educate people on the benefits of Catch-and-Release Fishing.

We drew on our personal experiences with fishing. We knew how difficult it is to remove the hook from the fish before releasing it. We looked at available hooks and decided to make an inflatable hook or a fish magneti. Then we talked with Michelle Kelly from the DNR and she told us that a better hook already existed, Circle Hooks. She also told us that circle hooks alone would not be enough. She taught us about cutting the line when the hook is too deep and using forceps rather than pliers to remove hooks. And she told us to make sure that the weight of the fish is evenly distributed when holding it.

Then we did online research and found many articles that talked about artificial lures being better in Catch-and Release Fishing. Some other considerations are listed here on our poster. Thus, during our research we learnt that many factors contribute to fish dieing in Catch-and-Release Fishing.

Fish die when using regular hooks.

Fish die when the temperature of the water is greater than 70 °F.

Very young and old fish are more likely to die.

Fish caught with live bait are more likely to die.

Fish caught in depth of more than 30 meters are more likely to die. Nate holds up Andrew.

Fish held vertically like me are more likely to die.

Fish handled with dry hands are more likely to die.

Throwing fish back into the water as if it was a diving competition increases the likelihood of mortality. Nate places gravestone and falls over.

Our solution addresses these issues. We created a public service announcement which we uploaded to YouTube that introduces the correct equipment to use in Catch-and-Release Fishing and motivates people to improve their technique by visiting our website. We kids wrote the script, we kids acted it out and we think other kids will want to see it. Our school offers a class on fishing for 3-5th graders and we talked with the teacher to show the PSA to them.

We developed a website that teaches people the proper technique for Catch-and-Release Fishing through a self-scoring, fun quiz. We used information learnt from DNR publications in our quiz. People review their actions and learn the right way to do Catch-and-Release Fishing. On our website we also have links to additional resources and research studies and a list of equipment that is useful in Catch-and-Release Fishing.

Michelle Kelly from the DNR told us that the right equipment, including circle hooks, exists but is not necessarily available at small bait shops or gas stations. She thought it would be great if they were more widely available. We developed a kit that contains all the equipment that is needed for fish to survive Catch-and-Release Fishing. Here is an example.

We first wanted to manufacture the kits and sell them at bait shops and gas stations in fishing areas. But we thought that this would be too costly right now. Instead, we want to work with DNR to have kits at all State Parks that lend fishing equipment and at all “I can Fish” programs. That way people would learn about the proper equipment and its proper use before they invest in their own equipment.

Now you also know why we are the Friendly Eagles. Eagles are good fishers but mostly kill and eat their catch. We are also good fishers but we want the fish to survive. We are friendly, the Friendly Eagles.