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Fish Care In Norway – Catch & Release

Fish Care In Norway – Catch & Release

Many more people are now practising catch and release when away on their fishing holidays, although it is always nice to maybe take a fish or 2 for the pot it is also nice to see them swimming away. This is a great way to keep many fish stocks up where they should be, with the Halibut the very big girls have a reputation for being territorial and will return to the same area year after year. The Cod also are taking a hammering in stock size over recent years and the big fat piggies that are caught are all breeding stock and by returning the majority of these fish you are keeping the possibility of hundreds of thousands more fish being created through spawning. Here we will take you through the methods I would suggest that are the best ways to ensure that your prize captures can be returned fit and well from the boats to swim again and maybe even be caught at a much larger size in the future.

Release of a Monster Halibut

What a fish!

A gaffed Halibut beside a boat

Another great Halibut


Halibut is, of course, one of the travelling anglers favourite fish to catch, these flat musclebound leviathans really do give a fight unlike no other and once you think they are giving up they will always have that one last drag screaming run left in them to keep you on your toes. We here at Sportquest like our customers to return any fish under 80 cm (these are juveniles without much meat on them) and any fish over 140cm (these are the large fish that are not too great to eat), and of course Norwegian law stipulates any fish over 2 metres has to be returned as well.

But just how do you ensure one of these stunning specimens heads back to fight again, with the smaller fish it is all about respect and handling, if these fish are unhooked as efficiently as possible and after a quick photo slid back into the water you will see them disappear with a flick of the tail and they will be gone.

The much larger fish though will need a totally different way to keep them from coming to harm once caught, on nearly all of our boats in Norway you will find a flying gaff hook with a long piece of rope attached to it. Once your Halibut has come to the side of the boat and appears to be subdued you must pass the Halibut hook confidently through the bottom jaw of this fish and in one movement pull it through the other side until the fish is secured by the long rope through the bottom jaw. The fish will inevitably start thrashing so hold on tight as this will soon subdue the fish, then using the other end of the rope you will see a loop in the rope, pass the rope through the loop and then head over the head and won the body until you reach the tail, pulling the loop tight around the wrist of the fish.

You can now take photographs with a safe secure monster of a fish that has not had to be lifted out of the water at all, once you are ready to release the fish ensure the rope is pulled all the way through the jaw just leaving the tail loop attached, the fish should now be fully fighting fit after resting in the water beside the boat as it drifts. When you are ready, remove the tail rope and watch your prize capture disappear in a splash of water as she kicks her tail and heads straight back down to the bottom ready for the next angler to enjoy the thrill of such a beautiful fish.

Realise of an Atlantic Halibut


A large skrei cod

Big Cod = Smiles!


Hundreds, if not thousands of anglers head to Norway each year to do battle with the amazing Cod the are found around these shores. Of course, Cod and chips will always be on the menu at some point during the week but with more and more anglers practising catch and release no, there are certain ways to ensure you are not blowing the swim bladder of every fish you are catching. Sometimes the fishing can be frantic and reeling these fish up at speed from the depths can and will mean that they blow their bladders, this can be disastrous as the fish will then just be left floating around on the surface slowly dying as they cannot make their way back down which is never a nice sight for any angler.

The trick here is that every fish you catch, on the retrieve, should be stopped once you see colour in the water. This is normally around 6 metres down when you stop winding at this depth the fish will equalize itself by releasing a vast amount of bubbles which you will see rising up and fizzing on the surface. Once these bubbles stop the fish will start to kick and fight again, it is at this point that you can finally bring the fish to the boat without any harm coming to the fish. Once you have taken your photographs slide the fish back into the water and you should see your Cod swim straight back down to the bottom.

If your fish still floats however then you will need to get it back on the boat as leaving a fish flapping about on the surface is a big no-no in Norway and is extremely frowned upon by local anglers. When you get this fish back on the boat the only way to get this fish down again is by launching the fish headfirst into the water with force, the sudden pressure change will force the bubbles out and your fish will swim back down to the depths.

Paul Stevens with a Skrei cod

What a big beast!

A Happy angler with a Cod

That face says it all

Hopefully, this will help you when out in Norway to ensure that any fish you do not want to take for the table manages to swim back down to the depths, ensuring that unnecessary amounts of fish are being killed. This is imperative to keep the Norwegian fish stocks as large as they have been in recent years, you may think that it does not matter as the stocks are fairly large but it really is down to us, the anglers, to ensure the fishing in Norway stays as fantastic as we all know it to be.

Tight lines

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