Painful to Watch
Rick Schroeder, a well known writer did a piece on the proper care of fish after they are caught. It was a great read that pointed out that almost everyone was doing something small wrong. Many fish swim as a result of his article.
One problem I have is the practice of fish being baited with power baits and then the rods are leaned against a tree and watched. Fisherperson walks back two steps and watches for the rod tip to dance.
A myriad of things went wrong in the situation above. If their intent was to stay until they caught their limit of fish and leave then they were doing the right thing. This is where it gets tricky in Colorado laws.
First off, power bait is some great stuff to give to kids to use. It is the closest thing they make to guarantee fish. The misuse of it however results in damaged or dead fish. This can also result in broken regulations.
To be a strictly catch and release type person, using power bait, this is what you have to do. First, use a line with little stretch. This will allow you to feel the bits as they come. Second, take the barbs off of your hooks. I promise you will not loose every other fish, Lastly, keep the rod in your hands at all times. The rod and the line should be perpendicular and have about a 90 degrees between the line and rod. You will feel the initial strike quickly, set the hook almost always in the mouth and the hook will just glide out. Congratulations, you can fish with your friends all day long without killing fish.
To catch a few and keep a few, the only difference from above would be nothing. Perhaps you would keep the barbs and trout who were lucky enough to catch a barb to the gill would also become dinner.
Be careful though, once your limit is full, fishing and killing more fish constitutes a violation on how many you took for that day.
To catch everything that swims, keep your barbed hooks, use a nice piece of power-bait, lay your rod on a stand and drink a beer. The first four trout you catch will have swallowed the hook. Pack it up and go home. Since the fish were biting nicely you only had 30 minutes on the water before you had to call it a day.
It is up to you! If you use bait, artificial, catch and release or keep your fish. As long as you stay within the legal means of take, you are fine!
It is painful to watch people drag fish onto shore, pull a deeply set hook and then release the fish belly up. It can be avoided even when fishing with powerbait!