Ketchum Release Tools
by Elliott Wynne
"One of the most important rules in releasing fish is to do so with a minimum of handling. I have released hundreds of fish, including salmon and steelhead, without ever taking them out of the water, simply by reaching down, gripping the shank of the hook and twisting it out."

Roderick L. Haig-Brown
One thing that really makes me upset when I am out on the river is when I see someone mishandling a fish. Proper release techniques are the cornerstone of catch and release fishing. If we practice methods of squeeze and release we'll find ourselves fishing for stockers. I for one find this a most distasteful possibility.

Recently, I began using the Ketchum Release Tools from Waterworks-Lamson. These tools take a little getting used to but work really well in releasing fish. I haven't taken a fish out of the water since I started using them last year. From my research and observation the best way to release fish is to not touch them and take them out of water. The Ketchum Release tools fit this criterion allowing the angler to release fish in a healthy condition.

These tools come in different sizes. I carry the midge and standard one depending on what kind of flies I am using. The midge size is used on hook sizes 18-28 and standard sizes 8-18. The tools are made of a high grade plastic that is not easy to break but are backed with a lifetime guarantee. We have only had to send in one and it was replaced free of charge. Some people complain about the cost ($20) but my rebuttal is that they don't tear apart flies like forceps do so you might save $20 after a season of fishing. Also they force you to use a proper release technique when out on the water saving us all from stockers.

Whether or not you use these tools, it is the duty of every angler to release fish with a minimum of impact on the fish's health. It sounds stupid, but if every angler who claims to have caught 25 fish in a day kills 3 it adds up to stockers for us all. So educate yourself on proper release techniques and don't be afraid to pass it along when you're on the stream. The future of fishing is in your hands.