Years ago I caught a beautiful rainbow trout, 20 inches, all by myself. Alone. After the adrenaline wore off, a new stint of it set in when I realized I couldn’t figure out how to get the hook out because the beautiful fish had swallowed my fly in a hunger stricken gulp. My moment turned lonely and sad when minutes later I returned the fish to the river and it didn’t swim away. I cried. Here is what I learned: I now use barbless hooks, but my hook was in the gullet or gills and what I should have done was cut it still inside the fish and let the fish go. Yes, with the fly still in him. Many times it dissolves and also will work its way out over time. Avoid wiggling the hook and use a pair of pliers. Keep the fish in the water. Stress kills and the longer the fish is out of water, the less the chance of survival. Wet your hands before picking her up. This prevents hurting the protective mucous coating that protects the fish from disease. Grab the fly with pliers and while holding the fish in the water, twist your wrist and simultaneously release the fish. Retrieve the fish as quickly as possible rather than “playing her out” to prevent lactic acid fatigue that develops from the ‘fight’. Use a wet towel or something wet and soft on both sides of the fish to hold her while you get your camera ready. After your picture, point your fish up stream and move her back and forth to increase oxygen to her gills. Note: if you catch a fish 30 feet down or greater it’s best to keep them. Coming up that fast is almost always fatal. Catch and release fishing preserves the sport. When you take the time to handle a fish properly and quickly, have your camera and pliers ready, you are prepared for your photo op, and you release her unharmed – you are ensuring that others will enjoy the sport in the future. Happy fishing gals.