By Eva B. Thorstad, Tor F. Naesje, Peder Fiske, Bengt Finstad
Fisheries Research, Volume 60, Issues 2-3, February 2003, Pages 293-307, ISSN 0165-7836, DOI: 10.1016/S0165-7836(02)00176-5.

The purpose of the study was to collect information on angling procedures and the effects of hook and release on Atlantic salmon in the River Alta, northern Norway, covering both grilse and multi-sea-winter salmon in a non-artificial setting with real anglers. Information on the angling procedure, handling of the fish and the condition of the fish at release was collected for individual salmon in catch logs (n=543, mean body length 82 cm), whereas physiological stress was studied in a sub-sample (n=15, mean body length 77 cm). To study post-release behaviour, survival and recapture rates, salmon were tagged with radio transmitters (n=30, mean body length 83 cm) and anchor T-tags (n=353, mean body length 79 cm). To evaluate the effects of the hook and release programme on the salmon population, number of spawning redds were recorded from a helicopter in 6 years during 1989-2000.
The results showed that at water temperatures 10.0-14.5 [degree sign]C, a high proportion of the radio tagged salmon (97%) survived hook and release and stayed in known spawning areas during the spawning period. However, the behaviour after release seemed to be affected by hook and release. Only a small proportion (4%) of the anchor T-tagged salmon was caught more than once within the same season. Increased playing time, increased number of runs during the angling event, hooking in the throat, bleeding at the hook wound, increased handling time, air exposure and water temperature were factors that affected hooked and released Atlantic salmon negatively, either indicated by a poor condition at release, increased stress levels or unnatural behaviour after release. Number of spawning redds were more than doubled after the introduction of compulsory release of all angled salmon in Sautso (the upper 16% of the watershed inhabited by salmon) in 1998, which indicates that hook and release can be an effective management tool to enhance declining Atlantic salmon populations.
Keywords: Salmo salar; Hook and release; Radio telemetry; Physiology; Survival; Behaviour; Catch and release

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