Use a Fish-friendly Hook
Marine wildlife researchers have found that the most important factor in a fish's survival is the location of the hook in the fish's body. Hook a fish in the gills or gullet, and it has about a 65 percent chance of surviving because of the risk of fatal internal injuries. In contrast, a hook in the lip or jaw area misses vital organs, which means the fish has between a 95 and 99 percent chance of surviving. For that reason, you should use a barbless circle hook, which has a point that's turned perpendicular to the shank to form a circular shape. Unlike a "J" hook, this design isn't as likely to catch a fish in the gut. One study showed that striped bass hooked with a circle hook were 11 times as likely to survive than those that were caught with "J" hooks.