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The best way to release all fish, in my view, is with a pair of forcepts (Cabelas or any fly shop). Like a doctor, stick these in the mouth and grap and lock onto the fly. Your hook should be barbless and the fish will just fall off if you hold the fly with the point down. Now you have not touched the fish in any way, his innards are not crunched, and his slime is intact. If you brought the fish to the forcepts as quickly as possible, there shouold be little or no mortality. Clamp the forcepts back on to your vest and put on a big smile, knowing that you did it right.
Also, if you keep getting little guys, you are probably taking smolt. Not a good idea. Don't target smolt if you can help it. Whether there are bigger fish around or not is anybodies guess. But please respect the smolt, knowing that one day, hopefully, they will return as some sort of giant fish.
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