There are many schools of thought out there. They range from not taking the trout out of the water to laying it on the ground or net. Then there are no photos at all to consider. I have struggled with this through the years. Fishing solo creates lots of problems also.
A trout has a protective slim coat that can be wiped off by many ways. Some of the more common ways are laying on the ground or snow for a photo. This is really bad on the trout. You are trying focusing your camera with a wet slippery hand while your photo subject is flopping around and dying from lack of oxygen. It most certainly is rubbing off its slime coat on the net or ground.
You really have a dilemma here. I have eliminated the ground and net on the ground from my standard operating procedures.
The fish is going to die if you wait with this method. Better ways exist to take a good photos and not place your recently caught trout in peril.
First thing I do is unhook the trout in the net on the edge of the stream. Your net choice becomes a huge factor then. The trend today is going with the ghost type bags. I have found them not deep enough for my liking.
I have a knotted type net with a very deep non-tapered bag. The non-taper is the key. The trout can feel secure in the big bag and not thrash around causing the slime layer to be effected. My net has a sizable opening and a good long handle.
I have two ways I use my net to my advantage. After I net the fish and unhook it I leave the trout in the water. The long handle can be handy at this time. One way is to place the net handle between your knees and leave the trout submerged in your deep bag. You reach in your pocket and focus your camera to the hold you want without the trout in hand. You reach in the net bag and wet your hand as you do so and lift the trout out of the water for one quick photo and off they go.
The handle on your deep non-tapered net works great for sticking into the muddy bank as you prepare your camera. You can leave the trout in the water and try to do the trout selfie that typically doesn’t work well and most time you over handle the trout and keep it out of the water too long.
Your hand placement is key during these situations. The trout can easily die if you place a death grip on them near their front fins. This is where most of their vital organs are. It is best to hold back farther on the body back by their anal fins. If it thrashes while holding it gently let it go. If you are lucky you snap one photo and then revive it and set it free.
When you are fishing with someone it is much easier. You still should unhook the trout and leave it in the net until you are ready for a picture. Fight that temptation to take scads of glory shots. Keep your fingers away from the gills because they are easily injured. Wet hands only please. The fishing regulations say 10-15 seconds is maximum time they should be out of the water. Winter is a concern due to the cold effecting the skin, eyes and gills of trout. Winter it is much more important to be quick. A good angler with the proper net and camera can take a photo in less than 5 seconds.
I am not from the school of thought you should not take fish out of the water for a photo. Handle them properly and quickly and there should not be a problem. Some of you are disagreeing with me but think about it….You just tricked a trout into eating your spinner or fly and each of them has sharp hooks. Trout are not made of glass. Respect your trout and prepare before you take that photo.