The advent of social media over the past decade or so has led to numerous discussions about the value of grip-‘n’-grin photos and the best way to take photos without harming the fish. First, it’s important to state the obvious: the best thing for the fish is to never take it out of the water. That said, anglers–and not only those trying to generate “likes”–enjoy commemorating their catches, so I don’t think photos of fish are going away.
So that leaves us with the question of what’s the best way to get that photo and do the least amount of harm? That is the whole raison d’être of Keep Fish Wet, an organization dedicated to teaching anglers the best way to handle trout and other species. Their Fish Photography Basics page is a great place to start.
Other anglers–including Orvis chairman Perk Perkins–have long advocated that you hold your breath while the fish is out of the water as a way to gauge how long is too long. When you run out of breath, it’s time to put the fish back in the water. New Zealand guide Alex Waller decided to really put this concept to the test, but he tried to make it even more realistic. Since the fish you’ve landed has spent at least a few minutes frantically fighting for its life, it’s worn out. So, Alex figures, that breath test should be based on a worn-out angler. I think you’ll find his experiment illuminated. It sure surprised Alex.