Handling you catch
Fish are living beings entitled to fair treatment and respect. Keep this in mind - both when you catch and take home fish.
Already during the struggle, you should ask yourself whether you want to keep the fish – provided that it keeps the minimum size limit. If you want to keep it, you should put it down as soon as possible after landing it.
If the fish is to be put back in the water, this should be done with the fish suffering the least possible harm. Make sure to hold the fish as little as possible out of water, un-hook the fish gently and touch it as little as possible. The scales and the outer layer of mucus is its defense against infections. If it wears thin, the fish will be extremely vulnerable and, potentially, may perish.
If you plan to release your catch, it is also a good idea to make the struggle as brief as possible. Too long a fight depletes the fish of energy and makes it subject to acidification. Of course, the struggle is a big part of the pleasure of inshore fishing. Nevertheless, a fish that hasn’t been exhausted in the fight will have significantly higher chances of surviving a release than a fish that has been caught with a fishing rod that has spent most of its time bent double during the struggle.
Post-spawning fish along the coast
If you meet schools of fish along the coast, which in any case have to be released - such as post-spawning fish in the closed season or small fish under the minimum size limit - then it is a good idea to find a different fishing spot. As an angler, this is not exactly the fish one dreams about catching and since they have to be released, one should consider sparing them from the hook and an exhausting struggle.
Concerning post-spawning fish and coloured trout caught outside the closed season, it is entirely up to the individual angler to assess whether the fish should be brought back home or not. This is a controversial subject which most people have an opinion about. Ultimately, a brown trout taken home is a fish taken out of the total population - whether it is silvery or coloured. On one hand, catching and bringing home a large spawning-mature sea trout, near the nursery streams just before the closed season, may be a greater crime against the sea trout stocks than bringing home a post-spawning fish.
Nevertheless, while the spawning-mature fish is likely to have spawned successfully and thus contributed to the species' continued survival, there is less chance that the ‘captured’ post-spawning fish will get to spawn again at a later date.
The decision is up to the individual angler. Just remember to use your common sense and help keeping fishing as sustainable as possible.
Bringing home your catch
To bring a fish home, cook it and enjoy the meal is for many an important part of being an angler. And, apart from being healthy, freshly prepared fish tastes heavenly. Do you plan to take home fish? Then remember a fillet knife, a plastic bag, a cooling bag and some ice packs with you when you go on your fishing trip. The fish keeps best if it is cleaned immediately after being caught and kept cool until cooked or frozen.
A basic rule is not to bring home more fish than you can eat. In Denmark there is also a sales ban, which means that it is illegal to sell your catch.
Pay regard to fellow anglers
It is worth noting that unwritten rules for anglers also include the consideration of other fishermen.
A part of the fun of fishing is to get away from everyday life and all the crowds and bustle.
Many anglers appreciate a little privacy when they go fishing, so if you meet other fishermen at the lake, in the stream or along the coast, show some consideration. Here, both personal and general factors are involved.
For example, on a pier or in a put-and-take-lake, you can often easily stand relatively close together without people feeling disturbed. But when fishing from the coast, most anglers would like to have plenty of space around them.
And while some fishermen in general do not mind some company, others might feel just the opposite. As a general rule, it is a good idea to keep a little distance when possible - and otherwise you should just contact your fellow angler and find out if fishing at close range is okay.
It goes without saying that you should clean up after your fishing trip and take rubbish and the like with you. But, there are additional rules for anglers. Remember to take hooks and line remains with you. If you leave hooks or lines, they can cause a serious danger to the fish.
As an angler you are dependent on the allowance to move around the waters, and in return one should not violate nature or the good will and confidence that landowners and fishing associations offer anglers. We need to work together in order to take care of nature, the waters and our common interest.