Anglers are asked not to use 'catch-and-release' in deep water

Jul 24, 2018

The North Dakota Game and Fish department is encouraging anglers to keep fish caught in depths over 25 feet, instead of practicing “catch-and-release.”

"When you catch fish from deeper water, as you bring them up, it's like when a diver gets the bends," said Fisheries Management section leader Scott Gangl. "The change in air pressure could really affect those fish."

Gangl said while some fish could survive, many fish won't.

"Anglers need to be aware of that," Gangl said.

The change in pressure will cause a fish’s swim bladder to expand.

"The fish have a hard time regaining their balance," Gangl said. "The bladder expands so much that they just kind of float there, and they can't control it."

Gangl said this is especially true this time of year in Lake Sakakawea. He said anglers should keep what they catch in the deeper water, and stop fishing once they reach the limit.

"Or, if you catch smaller fish, you may consider keeping the fish you normally think is too small to keep," Gangl said. "It's probably going to die anyway."

Gangl said if anglers want to keep practicing “catch-and-release,” they should move to shallower waters.