How To Properly Land, Handle, Revive & Release Fish

By: Tony Acevedo on July 31, 2019
Found In:

how to revive and release fish

Do you want to catch fish for the rest of your life?

Do you want future generations to have the same fishing opportunities you do?

If you do, then this might be the most important article you’ll read all year…

If we want there to be fish in the future, then we need to take care of the fish we have today.

Of course, we can’t keep all the fish that we catch, so safely releasing the fish we don’t keep is incredibly important.

This video will show you the proper way to land, handle, revive and release fish so that they can live to reproduce and fight and another day.

And this is especially important for larger fish because they fight longer, and the longer they fight, the longer they’ll need to be revived.

There’s a lot of useful tips in here, and most people actually don’t handle fish correctly, so be sure to watch the entire video.


P.S. There’s some pretty gnarly bull redfish action in here that you’re not going to want to miss.

How To Properly Land & Release Fish [VIDEO]

Sign up for FREE to receive the latest saltwater fishing videos, tutorials, product reviews, and fishing product discounts!

➡ Download the FREE Inshore Manifesto Here

Note: That monster redfish was caught using a Slam Shady paddletail. Get yours here.

When we catch fish and bring them aboard our boat or kayak, we’re literally taking the fish out of their element.

There are several things that could go wrong when we do this, as well as several things we need to keep in mind.

Keep reading to see what you should never do, and what you should always do when handling and releasing fish.

What To Never Do When Handling Fish

how to not revive and release fish

Fish are usually laying horizontal in the water, with the water supporting their bodies.

What you should never do is hang a fish vertically (either tail up, or head up).

When you do this, their internal organs are being pulled down by gravity, which is not natural and could cause damage.

And if you hang a fish up by their tail, that’s putting pressure on the tails’ bones, joints and muscles that’s not normally there.

If you damage their tail, it could be lethal for the fish.

If you hang a fish vertically by their jaw or gill plate, you could hurt their ability to eat or breathe, which is also possibly lethal for the fish.

What To Always Do When Handling Fish

fish reviving technique

When you’re handling a fish, make sure to always do these four things:

  1. Support the fish’s body by placing a hand under their body.
  2. Have a way to secure the fish so if it wiggles you don’t drop it on the deck of the boat.
  3. When reviving them, you need water to flow through a fish’s gills. Here’s how you can do that:
    1. Move them in a figure eight to get water flowing through their gills
    2. Position the fish into the current so water is flowing through their gills
    3. Motor or paddle your boat or kayak and keep the fish in the water next to you
  4. When releasing them, you can move the fish’s tail to help get rid of the lactic acid buildup and entice them to start swimming.

Also remember this: warmer water has little dissolved oxygen so it will take more time to revive a tired fish in the summer.

Be patient and give them time.


best tarpon tips

Whether a fish is too big, out of season, or you’re just having some catch and release fun, it’s important to know how to properly land, handle, revive and release a fish.

Keep these things in mind:

  1. Never hold a fish vertically
  2. Support the fish’s body when they’re out of the water
  3. Secure the fish so they don’t flop around and hurt themselves (I use these fish grips)
  4. Revive them by having water flow through their gills
  5. Move the fish’s tail to get rid of the lactic acid buildup and entice them to start swimming

Have any more questions about proper catch and release tactics?

Let us know in the comments below.

Most people don’t properly handle fish, so please share this around so that we can have higher survival rates and more fish for future generations.

P.S. Want to catch more fish, get the best local spots, and get discounts on fishing gear? Join us in the Insider Club!

Do You Want To Quickly Find New Fishing Spots In Your Area?

Then you’ve got to see this private fishing club!

Here’s what you’ll receive today:

  • Weekly fishing reports and TRENDS revealing where the inshore fish are feeding all year long
  • Weekly “spot dissection” videos that walk you through all the best spots in certain areas
  • Exclusive fishing tips from the PROS you can’t find anywhere else
  • Everything you need to start catching fish more consistently (regardless if you fish out of a boat, kayak, or land).

Click here to join today.

Related articles:

Disclaimer: When you buy through links on our site, we sometimes earn affiliate commission from places like Amazon, Bass Pro, Tackle Warehouse, etc. It’s one more way we can help you quickly find the best deals on the web while making sure we’re still around to serve you for years to come (and you do want us to be around to help you catch fish for many more years, right)?

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Capt. Billy Bice
2 months ago

Tony, I used the reviving method you show in this video for years. However, I started just releasing the fish ASAP with good success. I wonder if continuing to keep the fish captive puts too much stress on the fish building up lactic acid. Are you aware of scientific studies which confirm “reviving” works? Gills of course do not function like lungs. If we are out of oxygen we just take a gulp of air. Water pushed over the gills eventually gets oxygen to the fish but not immediately…how long does it take? I would really appreciate reading a study confirming the best method of reviving our fish. Thanks and tight lines!

Robert Bigelow
8 months ago

oh man after listening to this video i realize how much im doing wrong when handling fish. i use the plastic fish grips for the fact that they don’t jack up the fishes mouth but i always take photos with one hand and hold the fish up with the grip, not realizing how bad that actually is. this video was very informative and so important. thanks tony!

Andrew Rollins
11 months ago

Half the battle of releasing a fish in good condition is fighting it on a proper rod reel combination, and finishing it off as quickly as possible. I also try to release my catches just above the water’s surface, using a dehooker without even touching the fish. I think it may give my inshore catches the best chance at surviving.

Lloyd Morgan
11 months ago

Great video! I thought I was doing a pretty good job handling my catches. Boy, was I wrong. When I am fishing with my kids, I use live bait and quite often they let the fish take the bait too long and get a deep hook set. If this happens, is it better to try to get the hook out and cause damage that way or just cut the line and leave the hook in the fishes mouth?

Frank Santana
11 months ago

Wish I knew this before my profile picture !!! Won’t happen again !!!

Mike McNeely
Mike McNeely
11 months ago

Genuinely enjoyed your video on properly handling caught fish. On returning a fish into the water after the catch, what is the minimum time for “fish out of the water”; allowing for photographing, etc.???
Mike McNeely

Gary Rankel
11 months ago

Really great tips, Tony……..I still can’t over the size of that red. If they got that big over here, I’d need to spend some time in the weight room to make sure I could lift it!

Bryan Slaughter
11 months ago

Hey Tony, what if you don’t have a peddle kayak? What would be the best way to release the fish? This video helped out a great deal for me.

Robert Curran
11 months ago

Tony, I notice you always wear gloves when fishing, can you tell me why?

Tim Broeseker
11 months ago

The more you handle the fish out of water (even properly) the less chance of survival. Taking pictures increases handling and time out of water, so I am asking myself whether I need to get so many pictures

Jared Delaney
11 months ago

How should you weigh the fish if you are going to release it?

Ray Brown
11 months ago

If you want to protect the fishery, fish with barbless hooks, never touch the fish, and if you do, do it with wet hands.

11 months ago

This is something they should be practicing on the bass tournaments, they always hold the fish by the mouth and pop it over to be sideways and it’s Gabby torture in the fishes mouth and body. Thanks again for letting us know this information, great job

Charles Roberds
11 months ago

Thanks Tony. There is A LOT of people that need to hear this

Greg Batchelor
11 months ago

Good Job Tony!

Pat Ogletree
11 months ago

Thanks for this video. I realized by watching this I’ve been doing some things wrong namely holding the fish vertically. Worse part is that I know better. I’ll be more conscious of this from now on.

Gary Brady
11 months ago

Great video on C&R, one other good thing to do is if you handle the fish, taking a picture etc. Wet your hands. Dry hands will remove the fish slime which protects it from skin bacteria.

11 months ago

A section about deep sea fishing and what to do with the ones that have bladders inflated, whether or not to puncture the bladder, etc. Also which species need their bladders punctured and where to do it would be great. Thanks

11 months ago

I went fishing with a charter capt. Who takes a lot of Vets out. I brought another guy with ne and we caught several Snook, every one about an inch short of a slot legal size. He took them off the hook with dry hands, and just threw them back. No care at all. Not good!