While we promote Catch and Release or (C&R) in abbreviation, we also have to promote safe unhooking handling and other measures to ensure the best possible outcome for a stressed fish.
When fly fishing for Trout, Pike and Perch we will do our utmost to ensure fish welfare, on the odd occasion this can prove to be testing for both the fisher and the fish as not all techniques will run according to the “Rule Book”. There are no such rules when practising catch and release as every fisher will have his own tested methods that suit him or her. Some fishers will go the absolute mile to make sure their fish is as safe as it can be but others feel that just unhooking a fish and putting it back without any care is just called catch and release.
Because you have released the fish doesn’t mean it will survive and the chances are that it will not. Water temperature has a high casualty rate and some fisheries will not allow catch and release when water is above a certain temperature as the lack of oxygen in the water will seriously reflect on the fishes health once released as the fish will have exerted as much energy as it can try to escape the recovery rate will be lower due to the fish not receiving the proper amount of oxygen.
Handling fish incorrectly with dry hands and without a landing matt for Pike will again have severe effects ob the welfare of the fish.
Barbed and barbless hooks can make a difference, bringing a fish onto a rocky surface by sliding it through the stones, crabbing and throwing it up the bank, putting pressure on its organs, ripping hooks out without due care and attention will all seriously have a dramatic effect on the welfare of fish.
Catch and Release is a skill that has to be learnt over many years, having the correct equipment, such as long-nose pliers, snips, wire cutters, landing mats, antiseptic spray, keep nets and knotless rubber landing nets will certainly help fish with a great recovery rate.
Bringing fish from depths can damage bladders, not giving the fish line but again giving it to much line again will have effects on the fish recovery time and potential problems for the fish.
Handling fish with dry hands for that shot of a lifetime is a death warrant for a fish, actually, any amphibian will have a protective layer over its body to stop any potential disease entering its system.
If you look around there are plenty of websites promoting all of the above to include Sean at ontrackfishing.com who has recently written an article that covers all of above to include saltwater species.
His link is here:https://www.ontrackfishing.com/catch-and-release-fishing/