STFA Guidelines for Catch and Release

Check The Rules

Always follow the fishery rules before attempting catch and release, and ask for advice from the fishery manager if you are not sure.

Some fisheries that allow catch and release the rest of the year may not allow it during very hot weather.

Use Barbless Hooks

Catch and release is made easier if you use commercially available barbless hooks, or de-barb your own.

These types of hooks can be quickly released with the minimum of trauma and stress to the fish.

If you are de-barbing your own hooks make sure you squash the barb sufficiently flat with a pair of flat-nose pliers.

Play it Quickly

Catch and release is not for light line enthusiasts.

Avoid using very light tippets and leaders as these allow you to play the fish in quickly without it become exhausted.

Light leaders are also more likely to break. If you know you are going to release the trout then play it quickly so it has enough energy to recover quickly and swim off once released. But be careful not too play the fish in so hard that you risk breaking the leader.


If you are fishing from the bank and can easily wade or reach down into the water then you shouldn't need to remove the fish from the water or handle it at all.

Use your fingers, forceps or a catch and release (disgorger) tool to free the hook and watch the fish swim away. Do not use the tip ring of your rod to dislodge the hook or you risk breaking the rod.

If you have to use a net opt for a soft mesh landing net as these reduce the risk of damage to the fish.

Catch and Release From a Boat

The best way to release a fish from a boat is to ensure it does not leave the water.

Use a shallow pan-shaped net that will allow you easy access to the fish, and make sure the net has a soft knotless mesh.
Guide the fish into the waiting net but don’t lift it into the boat. Keep the net in the water, but make sure the fish doesn’t bang against the side of the boat.

Lean over, taking care not to overbalance, release the hook using forceps or a catch and release tool, and tip the fish back into the water.


Never release a fish into or near weed as it could become entangled.

Try and release a fish into deeper water where there is more oxygen present. If the fish looks like it is in difficulty, cradle the fish in the water, hold it by the tail and gently move it back and forth until you can feel it gain strength.


If you want a picture of the fish then carefully lift it from the water for just seconds at a time and never more than a couple of feet from the water’s surface.

Hold it with one hand around the tail wrist and the other supporting the fish behind the gill area.

Always wet your hands before handling the fish.

STFA Guidelines for Despatching Your Catch

If you are killing a fish then again keep it in the net as it's much easier to grip the slimy critter through the net mesh.

Turn the fish so that it’s upright and then whack it hard on top of the head and a little behind the eyes with a decent weighty priest.

Do it quickly and use the priest like you are knocking in a four-inch nail.

Enroll Your Fishery into the STFA and Receive all The Member Benefits