Many anglers across Canada and the northern US take advantage of cold winter temperatures to enjoy excellent ice fishing opportunities. Some keep & enjoy their fish on the table, others enjoy catching their fish just for the sport-experience.
Here are some valuable catch & release tips that will ensure fish have the highest chance of survival even in the coldest conditions. If your fish is hooked in deeper water (more than 1-atmosphere in depth/33′, like lake trout & whitefish), make sure to reel them in slower so their air bladder has time to adjust to the change in pressure. That way their air bladder will be deflated and they will be able to swim back down to their desired depth.
Once a fish is brought up through the ice hole try and handle your fish as little as possible, don’t let it get scraped on hard ice surface and minimize how long they are in the cold open air.
Gently make sure it is revived before it swims away on it’s own. This may mean getting your hands cold by holding it in the water until it is ready.