Catch and Release Best Practice for Fisherman's Reference

The fish’s health and survival depend upon how it has been handled. If every step is taken to release the fish with the least possible damage, then the fish will have the greatest chance of surviving to spawn.

1. Use appropriately weighted tackle allowing you to play the fish quickly and carefully.

2. Always use a knotless landing net and avoid beaching or tailing the fish.

3. Keep the fish in the water during unhooking.

4. The use of treble hooks is not recommended to avoid excess damage to the fish.

5. Use barbless or pinched barb hooks always.

6. Self-locking surgical forceps are essential to minimize damage to the fish during unhooking.

7. Handle the fish as carefully as possible with wet hands taking care to avoid touching the gills.

8. Support the fish in the water with its head facing into the current and wait until the fish swims away.

If best practice techniques are followed when both catching and releasing fish, then most fish will survive to spawning.

If you are likely to do more damage removing the hook, simply cut the line and release the fish with the hook still inside the fish. Although it may take some time for the hook to rust fish have a remarkable ability of getting hooks out when there is no pressure on the line.

Wild Trust Partnership

AFT have worked in partnership with Wild Trout Trust to deliver a habitat improvement workshops (2015) and have provided habitat survey training courses on behalf of the Scottish Fisheries Coordination Centre (SFCC)¹ in 2008, 2015 and 2019.


Rivers in the Classroom

Our main educational work is centered around our constantly evolving RIVERS IN THE CLASSROOM project.  Presently the project is delivered to P4-7 children at six primary schools per year throughout Argyll and the Islands. Initially the children are introduced to the aquatic environment through class based presentations by an AFT biologist. The children are taught about various subjects including the trout and salmon life cycle, and the importance of conserving their habitats. They also get to see and learn about the bugs that live in their local waters, whether it is a school pond or nearby river.

As well as being taught about various topics the participating children also get to rear some wild trout or salmon from eggs within special egg incubation units which the trust provides. They look after the eggs until they hatch into alevins and develop into fry in early spring. The children then get to go on a field trip to release the fry into the water of their origin. During the field trip they get to see firsthand many of the topics they covered in class. They also get to have a go at kick sampling for invertebrates and try and identify them. Finally, the children are introduced to electrofishing, a technique used to survey juvenile fish populations. The children really enjoy this as they get to see the different developmental stages of fish firsthand!

Many thanks go to all our volunteers and funders that have and continue to support this project.

For further information contact us at or phone our office on 01499 302322.