Tips on Releasing Salmon

Sea-run Atlantic salmon are protected as endangered species under the Endangered Species Act in most of Maine. There is no angling for Atlantic salmon in Maine.

While fishing for other species, an angler may inadvertently hook an Atlantic salmon. In the event that this occurs, please keep the following tips in mind:

  1. Time is of the essence. Do not play the fish. Move the salmon to quieter water and release it as quickly and carefully as possible.
  2. Keep the salmon in water at all times. A salmon out of water is suffocating and may injure itself on the rocks or shore. Even a few inches of water under a thrashing salmon acts as a protective cushion.
  3. Be gentle when handling the salmon. Always handle the fish with wet hands and keep your fingers away from the gills. Don't squeeze the fish as it can be held securely by holding the tail and the bottom jaw area. If a net is used, be sure it is a large diameter net made of knotless materials to avoid injury to the gills and eyes. Do not use gaffs or tailers.
  4. Remove the hook by hand or with small pliers. If a hook cannot be easily removed, cut the leader close to the eye of the hook. If the fish is bleeding profusely or injured in any way it may not survive. Barbless or pinched-down hooks are recommended when fishing in Atlantic salmon waters.
  5. To release the salmon, gently support the fish in the water facing into the current giving it plenty of time to recover. If the salmon needs to be revived, hold the fish by the tail and move it back and forth to circulate water through the gills. Release it after it recovers.