fbpx Skip to content

How long should you hold a Trout out of water?

We all love those classic “grip and grin” photos, our website and Instagram are full of them.  But, how long can you, or should you even hold a trout out of water?  After, guiding for 20+ years I’m going to say that it’s not realistic that anglers are going to stop taking photos of themselves holding a fish, that is after all what they came for.  So my answer to this question will be one second.  It really shouldn’t take more than one second having the fish out of water to get your photo if it’s done properly.


Here are some tips to getting a great photos and only keeping your trophy out of the water for one second.

head guide jaason pruett
Out of the boat with the net ready.
  1. You’re going to need a friend to help you, or be extremely good at setting up a camera for a photo.
  2. A good net with rubber mesh. This will make it easier to grab the fish.  Teeth, flies, fins etc. are less likely to get hung up on a rubber net when compared to nylon or mesh.
  3. Keep the fish in the net and in the water the entire time, including getting the fly out or any set up for the photo you have to do.  Your fishing partner can help hold the net with the fish in the water.  I’ve even held the net handle under my knee so I can use my hands to grab a camera, forceps, etc.
  4. Preparation is paramount.  When you’re still fighting and landing the fish you and your fishing buddy or guide should be looking for a good place to land the fish.  If you’re in a river this means maneuvering your boat to quiet water.  You should also steer clear of underwater hazards like logs, sticks, etc. as well as above water hazards like over hanging branches etc.  After you’ve netted the fish get out of the boat and get low to the water.
    justin hays sturgeon
    Really big fish don’t need to leave the water at all.
  5. When your camera and/or cameraman are ready, gently place both hands behind the fish so the fish is facing the camera, this should be done while the fish is still in the net and still in the water. Now you’re ready to count it down, on 3; 3 2 1. Lift the fish, smile, and the fish goes right back in the net.  If your camera man is good he or she can hold the net below your fish so if it flops you can catch it in the net, again here you can hold the net handle under you knee while you squat to take the photo.  If you’re in a driftboat, likely there are 3 of you so you’ll have all kinds of help in or out of the boat.

    Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout - South Fork of the Snake
    A great photo without removing the fish from the water at all.