How to correctly handle salmonids

In this article we would like to „teach” you how to correctly handle Salmonids

Unfortunately we often see pictures of dangerous holding techniques which could harm or even kill the fish.


The absolutely most important thing is to have clean and wetted hands as dirt could bring parasites, bacteria, fungal infections or other diseases onto the fish’s skin, as the natural flora of the skin is very sensitive.

Every fish type has its own handling techniques , which depend on a variety of factors, which are the anatomy of the fishes, the type of skin and mucus the fish are covered. 


In the following picture you can have a look at the anatomy of a trout with its internal organs (the internal anatomy of fishes is always the same so almost every fish looks like this inside).

As in all fish type the belly area is very sensitive because it contains all the vital organs as you see in the picture, so this is a critic spot which you need to be careful with in order to prevent internal damages due to an exceed of pressure as they can be lethal.



Handling as in the picture below are absolutely to avoid as they cause often internal damages which  you can’t see from outside.

The same thing is also valid for the holding of a salmonid from its gill, , a harm in this area could lead to death, it is like a lung puncture for us, you can’t breathe and slowly suffocate .

Before telling you the correct ways of holding a salmonid we would like to tell you about the first step after the catch, the unhooking, this is another crucial moment as during this procedure a damage to the mouth part of the trout could happen if you do it wrong. The mouth part of a trout is pretty bony so the hook removal can be pretty difficult sometimes but remember always to take your time and hold the fish into water to allow breathing if it takes you longer. Also important is that the mouth has a limited opening excursion, a trout is not able to such big mouth movements like a bass or other fishes do so do not  open the mouth too wide as it could brig damages to the articulation, impeding the fish from feeding causing a slow and painful death.



The best way to hold a trout is to grab it from the tail, with the second hand building a “c” form you gently slide under the belly up to the belly fins to lift the fish gently from there, in that area the fish has muscles helping to not press onto the organs beneath, if the fish is bigger or maybe still shaking you can also add a little more force to hold him but remember not to exaggerate and to use always the lowest pressure possible as it will also keep the fishes calm.

 On small fishes you just lay them sideways onto your wet hand, and if they are not fitting on the entire hand you can help yourself sustaining the tail.

If these techniques are not possible to be used you should consider if it is necessary to take a picture risking to harm the fish while doing it.


By the end we would just remember you that fishes need water to breathe so the less you keep them out of it the better it is, the catch and fight are very stressful for them, in the muscles of the fishes you will find a lot of lactic acid, so while letting him back into water you should give the fish some support while regenerating himself to prevent the current from taking them away, giving him the time to be able to safely swim again


The finest gift you can give to any fisherman is to put a good fish back, and who knows if the fish that you caught isn't someone else's gift to you?


(Lee Wulff)