No more than one minute.
That’s how long it should take you to land 99 percent of the trout you hook. At least that’s a goal to strive toward.
Thing is, the length of the fight is one of the top factors in determining whether a trout will survive after being caught and released. The longer the fight, the longer the odds. (The other factors are water temperature, warmer is worse, and how the fish is hooked.)
I often hear people say, “I caught this fish… and it took me 15 minutes to land it.” That’s one thing when you’re talking about a tuna or a marlin in the ocean. On the river or the lake, that’s like saying to me, “I need to learn how to fight trout better.”
Size up on your tippet. Don’t be afraid to bend that rod. And here’s a tip: When that fish’s head comes up, especially when it breaks the water surface, it has no more leverage… be firm on fish when the head comes up, and you can skate them right into the net.
One minute. The fish will ultimately thank you for whipping them faster. And so will I and many other anglers who fish after you.