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Arctic char

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If you're fortunate enough to get the opportunity to angle for Arctic char, do your part to conserve this amazing species by using the following best-practices for catch and release:
Section #1


When fishing from shore, anglers should have good waders that allow them to be in the water when catching and landing char so the fish can stay submerged during unhooking without coming into contact with the shoreline.

Use new, sharp, barbless hooks to increase hooking efficiency, decrease unhooking time, and minimize damage to sensitive soft tissue.

Appropriately weighted rods and line are essential to bringing in fish quickly and safely. Medium weight spinning gear with 20lb test line or 9 foot fly rods from 6-8 weight with 30lb test backing are appropriate for most sea run char.

As with all catch-and-release fishing, good pliers and fish-friendly, rubberized nets can minimize handling time and air exposure (Brownscombe et al. 2017).

Section #2


Do not ‘play’ the char when reeling in. Exhaustive exercise can lead to delayed mortality or unsuccessful migration. Bring the fish in steadily when possible, keeping even tension on the line.

Keep handling to a minimum to ensure limited mucus removal. Salmonids such as char can be sensitive to bacterial infections after handling (Barnes and Brown 2011).

Do not hold any fish out of water for extended periods. Air exposure after exercise can lead to decreased swim performance (Schreer et al. 2005). Ensure its head is under water for as much of the handling process as possible (Ferguson et al. 1992; Cook et al. 2015).

If the char is unable to swim away after unhooking, hold it steady in flowing water until it regains enough strength to swim against the current on its own.

By following these guidelines to the best of your ability you can directly help our fisheries by returning more char to their environment and providing more opportunity for other anglers.
Section #3

The Science Behind the Story

The information presented is based on a years of research by experts in the field. Here you can find a list of the references relevant to Arctic char and we encourage you to read them to learn more.

Best practices for catch-and-release fisheries - angling tools and tactics

Catch-and-release angling is an increasingly popular conservation strategy employed by anglers voluntarily or to comply with management regulations, but associated injuries, stress and behavioural impairment can cause post-release mortality or fitness impairments. Because the fate of released fish is primarily determined by angler behaviour, employing ‘best angling practices’ is critical for sustainable recreational fisheries.

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A review of Flavobacterium psychrophilum biology, clinical signs, and bacterial cold water disease prevention and treatment

This review summarizes the biology and characteristics
of this important pathogen, as well as the techniques required for isolation and identification. In addition, the epidemiology, clinical signs, treatment, and possible preventative measures of bacterial coldwater disease are discussed.

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Physiological effects of brief air exposure in exhaustively exercised rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss): Implications for "catch and release" fisheries

Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) which were air exposed for 60 s after exhaustive exercise initially had a much larger extracellular acidosis than trout which were only exercised... Survival after 12 h was 10% in control fish and 88% in the exercised fish but fell to 62 and 28% in fish which were air exposed for 30 and 60 s, respectively, after exercise. These results indicate that the brief period of air exposure which occurs in many "catch and release" fisheries is a significant additional stress which may ultimately influence whether a released fish survives.

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Swimming Performance of Brook Trout after Simulated Catch-and-Release Angling: Looking for Air Exposure Thresholds

Here, we evaluated the short-term, sublethal effects of exercise (to simulate angling) and air exposure on the swimming performance of hatchery brook trout Salvelinus fontinalis at 10°C. The duration of the angling event (i.e., chasing the fish by hand) was held constant at 30 s, while air exposure duration was systematically varied between 0, 30, 60, and 120 s. The results showed that air exposures of 60 s or less did not affect swimming performance. However, air exposure of 120 s resulted in a dramatic (∼75%) reduction in swimming performance. In fact, nearly half of the fish held out of the water for 120 s were unwilling or unable to swim at all.

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