Does Fishing Hurt Fish? Can I Fish Without Hurting The Fish

Does Fishing Hurt Fish? Can I Fish Without Hurting The Fish

Does Fishing Hurt Fish? Can I Fish Without Hurting The Fish

Catch and release require proper understanding and knowledge about every fish species. You cannot throw the bait, take a picture of caught fish and then release; there are some specific rules and guidelines to follow. So do your part in reducing the cause of hurting the fish.

Catching and releasing fish is one way to conserve the fish species. Anglers also catch and release fish if they decide not to keep them. When the catch and release method has been done correctly, it increases the survival rates. But it takes practice for successful catch and release without hurting the fish. It will minimize stress and injury to the fish. This article provides you with a complete guide about fishing without harming them. 

Do Fish Hurt When Hooked?

Research shows that fish gets hurt when hooked. One study shows that finding the 22 receptors on the jaws, lips, and around the eyes associate with pain. In another study, researchers injected the fish lips with an acidic substance. Consequently swam slower, delayed eating, decreased social activities, and rubbed their lips against sand along the bottom and the glass walls of the tank. These and other similar experiments help to support fishing without any harm.

Evidence That Fish Experience Pain During Fishing

Usually, fish feels two forms of pain – physical and emotional. Researchers generally accepted increasing evidence that a fish can experience physiological pain from physical injury and emotional states. 

Once, scientists believed that higher-order animals like humans, primates, dolphins could experience emotional pain. The possession of the neocortex is a part of the brain associated with more sophisticated cognitive processes. In recent years, the emotional pain has been reported in many animals like fish, despite lacking a neocortex. For physical pain, the anatomical structure of fish leaves a doubt regarding the ability of fish to suffer.

1. Peripheral Nervous System

Fish has a nervous system having a complex network of nerves throughout the body. Transmitter call called Neurons delivers the signal throughout the body. This system requires all body functions like the electricity grid powering a city. Their nervous system consists of two parts: the spinal cord and brain, and the other are peripherally located in the different parts of the body. These two systems together work to generate responses for all sorts of stimuli, including pain. Fish have both of these systems. 

2. Receptors

Neurons are the pain receptors known as nociceptors present in the peripheral nervous system. They are sensitive to stimulations in both fish and humans. Nociceptors generate an intuitive and automatic response to pain. For example, when you contact the hot object causing your hand to pull back even before the pain feels. Nociceptors have been found across the bodies of certain fish, with a high concentration around the fins, nostrils, and eyes. 

3. Protective Responses

Protective responses are the behaviors that engage injured animals to self-soothe, promote healing and reduce pain. It observes that fish lose their appetite, rocking back and forth, becoming antisocial and withdrawn, hyperventilating, and changing their swimming activity. 

4. Nerve Fibers

Nerve fibers transmit neurons from pain receptors to other parts of the nervous system. As we are talking about fish, two kinds of nerve fibers transmit pain impulses. A-delta fibers signal acute pain, cold, and pressure stimulus. On the other hand, Group C fibers links with a severe injury. In humans, Group C fibers mostly signal pain from burns and toothaches. 

5. Brain

When we come across some injury or burn, our hand automatically withdraws. It is due to neural signals traveling along the nerves into the brain when the pain feels. The exact process happens in fish and other invertebrates. 

6. Central Nervous System

The central nervous system of fish is composed of the brain and the spinal cord from which signals into the peripheral nervous system deliver. Processes of painful stimulation happen in the brain, which triggers the opioid system and other protective responses. 

7. Opioid System 

Opioids produce by the body in humans and other mammals in response to pain. The fact is that the fish also make opioids, so it confirms that fish consciously experiences pain. Synthetic opioid drugs like morphine, heroin, and oxycodone will also imitate these natural pain killers. These drugs also work on fish.

Learn How To Fish Without Hurting Them – An Essential Guide

Catch and release fishing is the technique that causes countless hurt to fish species every year ( in both fresh water and saltwater). It would be best to catch the fish without hurting them, especially when you are planning to release them afterward. 

A responsible and proper way of fishing is the best way to catch fish without hurting them. It starts from choosing the best hook, removing it, then a correct way of handling and releasing the fish. Some anglers tightly hold the fish from gills which is the most sensitive area of the fish body, and that is the thing you should avoid the most. 

Basics Steps Of Fishing Without Hurting The Fish

Understanding the basic concept of catch and release fishing to hurt the fish least.

1. Selection Of Right Gear 

When we talked about gear, it means the hooks used in fishing. It will cause the most damage to the caught fish. Always go for the hook that promotes shallow hooking. Also, make sure that they are challenging but smooth to remove quickly without hurting the fish. 

2. Water Temperature 

The water temperature most often is 68°F, and temperatures above that can cause stress on fish. In summers, you may avoid fishing in streams because it is not ideal. 

3. Avoid Treble Hooks 

Avoid using the treble hooks. They have the most complex baits, but you can replace them with J-hooks. It will increase your bait’s performance in the water.

4. Choosing The Right Way Of Fishing 

Once the fish bite on your hook, you have to land it quickly as possible. Use fish-friendly rubber nets so fish will not hurt. When the fish get hooked, it is a stressful event. Consequently, lactate level increases through the blood, which is the same as intense physical exercise the human feels. It causes the mortality of the fish. 

5. Remove The Hooks Properly 

Hook removal is painful for fish but at least do it right. Use the right hook removal tool and avoid using the “through the gill” removal method as it is one of the most sensitive parts of the fish. The best way to remove it is to cut the line close to the hook. 


Fish is nothing more than streams of protein that mindlessly swims in the rivers and oceans, and their complex nervous system is not tough enough to experience pain as humans do. But scientific evidence suggests that, Yes, fish can feel pain. Now people change their thoughts on being used, raised, caught, and killed.