Addressing Hook Mortality IS Important [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Addressing Hook Mortality IS Important

05-05-2000, 07:49 AM
I am surprised that no comments have been given here regarding my previous post about the adressing of hook mortality. It is either because no readers believe the numbers or that it is percieved as a non issue. Either reason means that the kill of unused fish will continue at the current rate. The amount of rec bykill is equal to the total commercial TAC ! The commercial bykill is unknown because of the lack of an observer program.
I was hoping to seek support to start some letter writing to the fishery managers to ask for both a start to reducing the hooking mortalities and to try and get better commercial bycatch numbers.
If any of you care enough to address this, please write:

Robert Beal FMP Coordinator
1444 Eye street NW, 6th Floor
Washington, DC 20005


Comment must be in before May 31, 2000

i'm so outta here
05-05-2000, 10:06 AM

Forgive our seeming apathy, but I think in this case, part of the blame lies in the way you presented this issue to us. In looking over your posts on this board I had to rummage through no less than 6 threads to get a sense of what you're after, and I'm still not sure what it is you're asking us to do. Try presenting the issue in a manner we can easily understand and close with a call to action.

My immediate reaction to your claims was, "this is bogus data." I was under the impression that mortality rates for released fish was somewhere in the neighborhood of 8%. If it's really more like 50%, then there is a compelling reason to persuade us to do something about it.

I'm VERY wary of stats thrown around with no documented proof of origin. Any bozo can come up with a study that finds this or that. The proof is in the procedure. A lot of bad science goes on for the sake of politics, and everybody has an angle to play.

In short, I'm hesitant to blindly follow whomsoever raises the flag of protest. I think you'll find many of us on this board are of like mind. We care about conservation and will do anything to preserve the sport we love. But we are independent minded and like to make intelligent, informed decisions.

So before you go accusing us of inattention to your cause, perhaps you should take a closer look at your role in the communication exchange.

"A fool seeks to persuade me with his reasons, a wise man with mine own."

05-05-2000, 11:04 AM
Bruce, I've got to agree with Al. not flaming at you, just remember the post as being confusing, so i didn't respond. is there any sloution for the motality? type of hooks? bait vs fly vs lures? weight rods? we all care about the fishery, so we would be willing to change to benefit the fish. I doubt there are many on this board that bemoan the fact that keepers are now 30 inches, or would complain much about 23 or 34. Tom

05-05-2000, 11:05 AM
lol :) that should read 32 or 34

05-05-2000, 05:40 PM
I think most people would agree hook mortality is an issue, so don't dispair. This is just a tough time of the year to get people to take the time to deal with such issues when they are eager to take their first bass of the year.

I wish I was fishing right now (and i was supposed to be) but I am stuck at work. I will say I have a hard time accepting the numbers presented to me for hook mortality. i will not go so far as to say they are wrong--part of it may be denial, part of it may be my methods. I do all types of fishing: mostly fly (sometimes barbless, depends), but I also spin fish a little, troll, liveline, and yes, will chunck now and then. I am confident that I can count on my fingers the number of fish I killed last year inadvertantly out of the many hundreds landed (I fished a lot last year).

Even without circle hooks, by tending to my rod I probably only gut hooked one or two fish.

This issue is one of the hardest to address because it is based upon education and methodology, not allocation or minimum length. It is difficult to require someone to properly release a fish. it is also going to be difficult to mandate the use of circle hooks or ban treble hooks. i am not sure what the solution is other than attempting to instill a conservation-minded ethic into anglers.

I am curious what you might propose to address the issue?

Finally, I am wary of statistics myself, but I have been trying to figure this out for years--do you know what the natural mortality rate is for school-sized bass? The reason I ask is that I am curious what the overall pecentage of the bass population lost to hook mortality is compared with the natural mortality rate. I have been interested ever since reading on the natural mortality rates of school bluefin tuna, which are apparently quite high, and are used as a justification for allowing the harvest of unmature bft (rationale being many of the fish won't reach maturity anyway so it is ok to harvest a certain percentage within that percentage). I would be intersted in knowing how much catch and release mortality exceeds the natural mortality.

Tight lines,


05-05-2000, 07:02 PM
Speaking as a member (only), I am urged to defend Bruce's views on the topic. I don't see or feel any criticisms from his call to action and am kind of surprised that we haven't dug into this a little more. Getting excited about angling is the key to stewardship, no doubt. But I believe we need to find ways to effect results on the causes that preserve our angling resource.

I'm curious how many to this point (not only on this board but across all communities from North Carolina to Nova Scotia) have printed this document and discussed it half as much as a clouser or a deceiver?

I've printed the document out and have been carrying it around while on business trips out of the country feeling guilty that I have not spent as much time as I should have in understanding the views of the commision such that I might make some good judgements and contribute to this discussion more than my introduction of the topic of hook styles a few days back.

Perhaps if all anglers in MA read it we would all know that Massachusetts is credited with the highest Recreational Mortality of the ENTIRE SEABOARD. I have a hard time doubting this from what I witness each year (although it makes me wonder what other states are doing right). In MA I have to ask - why are people cutting tinker mackerel into bitty chunk baits for schoolies on standard hooks all over Plum Island? Why are there three sets of barbed trebles on many plugs? With the average skill level per angler abyssmally low (with all due respect to the low percentage of really skilled guys out there), how many of these schoolies survive removal from one of these plugs from the rocks of any jetty?

The issue is not about gut hooking what you eat, it's about controlling the impact we humans have on sublegal striped bass that make MA their summer home. I am EMBARRASED that MA is the highest rec / mortality rate on the seaboard.

BTW - in other fisheries across the country, even in remote fisheries of the world, the regulation of mesh sizes and hook sizes, numbers of points, use of barbs, and other restrictions have made a profound difference in the survival of juvenile fish. I find it hard to believe that the sport C&R mortality would not be reduced to a tiny fraction of it's current numbers with such regulation.

I don't think Bruce wanted anyone to accept his phrasing or tactics in this issue - but I know he genuinely sought a more spirited response from those who get so much from the fishery. How many of us have printed and read the document?

On the other side of the coin, what does anyone else suggest? I'll be dedicating some time to completing this review and will be taking whatever actions I can to try to make a difference.

I'll fish the salt for the first time for the year this weekend, and I will indulge fully in it - and the following week I will spend time thinking about the views of the comission and what anglers might do to affect positive changes in the observed status of the fishery. I think that's what Bruce is trying to achieve.

05-06-2000, 10:13 AM
Here are some helpful hints to decrease post-release fish mortality - gleaned from peer-reviewed research manuscripts.

Use barbless hooks since they reduce the time needed to remove a hook before releasing the fish.
Use stainless steel hooks because stainless steel hooks left in fish will not rust and will likely be thrown, while hooks that rust may cause a toxic shock response in some saltwater fishes.
Use flies or artificial lures since natural baits are more likely to be swallowed.
Reduce fight time because energetic fish recover faster.
Keep the fish in the water. If you want a picture of your catch before releasing it, get the camera ready prior to removing the fish from the water to minimize the time the fish spends out of the water.
Use a dehooking device to reduce handling.
Be gentle if you handle the fish. Wet your hands first to minimize the amount of protective coating of slime handling removes from the fish.
Help a tired fish when releasing it. Hold the fish in the water in an upright (swimming) position. Hold the fish loosely by the base of the tail and under the stomach until it is strong enough to swim away

05-06-2000, 10:29 AM
Text below from 'Al_d' Bruce,

>My immediate reaction to your claims was, "this is bogus data." I was under the impression that mortality rates for released fish was somewhere in the neighborhood of 8%. If it's really more like 50%, then there is a compelling reason to persuade us to do something about it.
Actually, a Mass Marine Fisheries study showed that post-release mortality of striped bass (in the absence of predators!) ranged from around 5% to as high as 30 percent. For unknown reasons (my guess political) the FMP uses 8% for CandR mortality. If for no other reason than to error on the side of caution (and the history of striped bass on the Atlantic Coast BEGS for a cautionary approach), we should be using the 30% figure.

>I'm VERY wary of stats thrown around with no documented proof of origin. Any bozo can come up with a study that finds this or that. The proof is in the procedure. A lot of bad science goes on for the sake of politics, and everybody has an angle to play.
And any half-bozo can question the validity of data. In my experience, the bilogists who are conducting the research are very qualified, and produce valid data. How the data are applied, or even if those data are incorporated into the FMP is beyond the control of the biologists. They conduct the studies and make recommendations via their reports. I think you may be confusing the biological and political parts of the process.

>In short, I'm hesitant to blindly follow whomsoever raises the flag of protest. I think you'll find many of us on this board are of like mind. We care about conservation and will
do anything to preserve the sport we love. But we are inpendent minded and like to make intelligent, informed decisions.
Blindly following only at your own convenience. It would not take a lot of time for anyone interested in this to find out more. Go to the library and conduct a literature search on catch and release mortality, on striped bass life history, and on fisheries management. You will find plenty of information with which to make an informed decision. Get and read the most recent FMP, and even past FMPs to get an idea of the history of the problem.
The talk one generally hears in the fishing shops and on the beaches is often opinion and little of it informed. Conservation is easy until it hits home.

The pendulum swings both ways - it wasn't long ago that the commercial fishery was the easy scapegoat. It's not a long shot to see the finger point at the recreational fishery soon.

05-06-2000, 08:32 PM
Its taken me a couple days to post a reply as I was feeling quite defensive. There is no hidden agenda other than to present ideas to discuss. I feel the managers of this fishery are managing for maximum generated profits and not for the sake of the fish.
We are "commercial" all. Every time you purchase something that exploits the striper fishery, you contribute. I know of fly line companies that are changing the name of their lines to sell more of them. Fishing mags sell info, I sell charters. We are loving the bass to death.
My original post was title the ASMFC, in which I describe amendment 6 and its 7 "issues" and invited some to check it out. I have also done this on other sites and got exactly the same reaction. I was even accused of being a "Commercial Fishing Interest" intentionally skewing information on hook mortalities to distact from commercial bycatch numbers.
All I'm trying to do is promote discussion, something I think will help to change veiwpoints.


05-07-2000, 06:12 PM
Bruce -

You'll be glad to know that some of us appreciate your efforts to open these important issues for scrutiny and discussion. In fact it's made me more aware of the overall situation and you can bet I plan to go through the document and it's underlying issues in detail over the next few nights. Your requests for discussion on this topic are just the type of thing the web is good for. People may not all agree on things, but if they did there would be no passion nor point in discussion anyway. There is fire in all of us, and I hope it leads us to act on the things we believe rather than vent on each other.

Please do not feel defensive, and by all means continue to solicit our views on these important matters. It's a common thing that people's voicings are not as they appear when you read their writing.

Those who know you would never make such assumtions as you mentioned above. In fact I am real glad there are guys who care enough to take these things by the horns.

Thanks Bruce! Full speed ahead.


i'm so outta here
05-07-2000, 07:48 PM
I'll argue with the Devil himself. Anyone who knows me, knows I push for truth. Yes, any "half-bozo" can question data..... but why is it so few do?

None of this is meant as a personal attack. I respect what Bruce is doing. Just give me the benefit of the doubt that I have a brain and can use it and don't be so quick to shake your virtual finger at me because I haven't leapt on the band wagon du jour. Communications is a two way street. If it fails, all parties share in the blame.

I'm not disagreeing with anything that Bruce or Juro or anyone else has to say about the impact we have on coastal fisheries. We impact it heavily. I don't need statistical proof of this. All I'm saying is my BS meter went off the dial in reading the figures Bruce had quoted. I remain suspicious. Thank you, Aaron, for corroborating this.

You're preaching to the quire if you're trying to convince fly fisherman of the need for responsible handling of fish. What I'm trying to push Bruce (or anyone else who is interested) to do is present this issue clearly and to provide sources. Any effective grass roots campaign (in itself a politcal phenomenon) starts with a clear statement of what needs to be done and the details of how it can be accomplished. The constituents will not be taken seriously unless they have the facts straight. Quote your sources and remove all doubt. If the orginal post had these things, then all you need to do is repost. I, for one, never saw it. (I tend to skim Web sites and only stop and read when I've found what I was looking for. I was NOT looking for a fight, but one found me.

Perhaps posting to this board was not the most effective communcation choice. In the future, you might try email. It's more personal and "high profile" (people tend to check email more often than forum boards and the number of posts makes for a long culling process).

Juro can swing the distribution lists through his ISP. Talk to him. I'd be willing to help draft the message.

tight lines (but not too tight


05-08-2000, 10:59 AM

Been a while since I've been around, however, I seem to remember posting about this issue a couple of months ago - specifically the paper by Diodati and Richards, which is what I believe was used to set the recreational figure at 8%. I would imagine that the statistical analysis performed was some sort of logistic regression and that is why you may have skewed confidence intervals (3-26%), while the mean may be closer to the lower boundary. The 50% figure was from a study in Maryland if I remember correctly - and that was strongly influenced by water temperature. Additionally, they moved the fish from a saline environment to a more freshwater system to hold them for mortality - stripers don't do as well mortality wise in the freshwater as compared to saltwater - which may have artificially inflated those figures. Massachusetts has the highest recreational mortality because more people fish for them here - and as a result more are landed - I think it is proportional to the pressure. Here are some papers that people may want to dig up at the local university or try a few search engines like Web of Science on the web - <a href="" target="_blank"><!--auto--></a><!--auto-->
Here is the paper I was referring to (got this off Web of Science - search topic-striped and bass and mortality):

Mortality of striped bass hooked and released in salt water
Diodati PJ, Richards RA
125: (2) 300-307 MAR 1996

Document type: Article Language: English Cited References: 22 Times Cited: 1

Despite the importance of the recreational fishery for striped bass Morone saxatilis along the eastern coast of the United States, little is known about the survival rates of caught and released striped bass. We predicted long-term (58-d) hooking mortality of striped bass after catch and release in saltwater using a logistic regression model. Experimental fishing was conducted on fish (27-57 cm) in a 2-ha saltwater impoundment in Salem, Massachusetts. Depth of hook pen etration in the oral cavity, anatomical site of hooking, gear type (treble or single hooks), and angler experience were significantly related to mortality (P &lt; 0.05). The logistic regression model was developed with backwards stepwise selection to predict probability of death from hooking. The final model included depth of hook penetration, gear type, and angler experience as predictor variables. Predicted mortality ranged from 3% under the most favorable conditions to 26% for the worst set of conditions. Predicted as well as observed mortality for the entire experimental group was 9% which is generally much lower than reported in striped bass hooking mortality studies conducted in freshwater. At the end of the experiment, condition factors were significantly lower for surviving hooked fish than for fish that had not been hooked.


IDS Number:


Here are a few more citations that people find interesting:
Bettoli, P. W. and R. S. Osborne. 1998. Hooking mortality and behavior of striped bass following catch and release angling. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 18: 609-615.

Dorazio, R. M. 1995. Mortality estimates of striped bass caught in Albemarle Sound and Roanoke River, North Carolina. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 15: 290-299.

Henderson-Arzapalo, A., P. Rago, J. Skjeveland, M. Mangold, P. Washington, J. Howe and T. King. 1999. An evaluation of six internal anchor tags for tagging juvenile striped bass. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 19: 482-493.

Nelson, K. L. 1998. Catch-and-release mortality of striped bass in the Roanoke River, North Carolina. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 18: 25-30.

Tomasso, A. O. and J. J. Isely. 1996. Physiological responses and mortality of striped bass angled in freshwater. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 125: 321-325.

The tagging one is a little off the topic, however the mortality rates are eye-opening and leads me to really discourage recreational angler tagging operations, such as those run by the American Littoral Society (ALS). On the topic of angler tagging info - American Fisheries Society publishes Fisheries a magazine with some good scientific content and they had several articles on this topic in the last issue, specifically looking at the attitude of states in allowing or discouraging the practice.

If you guys want to really know what is going on - then I cannot stress how much a SW license would benefit the agencies that deal with these issues. We have IMO weak data on angler participation and pressure on the resource - a license would bring in the needed revenue stream to carry out some projects - until then it is pretty much a caretaker role.


05-08-2000, 11:32 AM
<font size="1"><font color="0000ff">Depth of hook penetration in the oral cavity, anatomical site of hooking, gear type (treble or single hooks), and angler experience were significantly related to mortality (P &lt; 0.05). The logistic regression model was developed with backwards stepwise selection to predict probability of death from hooking. The final model included depth of hook penetration, gear type, and angler experience as predictor variables. Predicted mortality ranged from 3% under the most favorable conditions to 26% for the worst set of conditions.</font><!--1--></font><!--color-->

Pete - it's ALWAYS great to hear from you!

I think (without having gone through the material thoroughly yet) that it's somewhat obvious that the methods of angling, gear, and thus regulations are directly related to recreational mortality. Therefore it indeed makes perfect sense that regulations could impact the rate of mortality profoundly. This, in my mind, is a clearly defined opportunity to make a difference on the adverse effect we anglers have on striped bass in Massachusetts.

Does anyone agree?

05-08-2000, 12:47 PM
I'm coming down on the "preaching to the choir" side on this. Most of us here support the CCA, fish barbless flies, and kill extremely few fish. We must have caught and carefully released over 200 fish at our clave last weekend.
Yes, we can always improve and strive for zero mortality. But would it not be 100 times more prudent to take this discussion to the CHUNKER COMMUNITY And to the TACKLE DEALERS that stand to loose millions if the stocks crash?

On my way to the boat ramp to pull my boat out of Bass River sunday, I witnessed a guy land a 20" striper and kill it by not knowing what to do, it was gut hooked bad on bait. It sucked. How do we educate our brother bait fishermen? Is that Bruce's intention? I would not waste one ounce of time on the SWFF community other than ask for monetary support or help in getting legislation passed
On Plugs: I remember fishing at Grand Lake Stream in Maine in the year 1974. All lures could only have one hook. I remember with my dad snipping the other 2 off of treble hooks. Now if the enviromentaly conservative state of Maine (1974 ) could do that why can't we accomplish that in liberal Mass. in the year 2000? This is the real battle.


05-08-2000, 04:10 PM
First, I agree that it is important to know the source of cited data. However, in a topic as broad as post-release mortality the available data are overwhelming in amount (although representing a wide variety of findings). Just as a 'for example' - there have been two mulitiple-day, national conferences on recreational catch and release mortality of marine fishes (both sponsored by Virginia Institute of Marine Science). The amount of information available at those conferences was amazing, not to mention all of the published literature.

Second, some of the findings of the MassFisheries study (e.g., type and placement of hook) only added to data already available for so many other species.

Third, as is so often the case in CandR studies, the MassFisheries study was conducted in an impoundment, so mortality most likely resulted from only physiological or direct physical causes. This is not a knock on the MassFisheries study -- it is almost impossible to conduct a study that accounts for natural predation. However, this is just another reason for using caution in selecting a CandR mortality rate for use in fisheries models.

Fourth, although it is a commonly used predictive method, one must be very careful in applying the results of any regression outside the exact conditions for which it was used. I think this is especially prudent when it comes to situations such as this.

Fifth, realize that, regardless of type of gear, there are millions(!) of recreational anglers along the east coast, so although an individual's impact might be 'low' the impact must be considered on the whole of the fishery.

Finally, the status quo is that the burden of proof falls on the biologist to prove that an activity has an impact, and then from his/her data recommend action. I think given the results under the status quo, it is now prudent to shift the burden of proof to the user-groups to prove there is no impact. It is easy to argue with the devil when it is the devil that has to design and conduct the studies, provide the data, conduct the appropriate statistical tests, and make recommendations. One side is always on the defensive, the other has the constant advantage of critic. My guess is that if places were switched the tone of the argument would change considerably.


i'm so outta here
05-08-2000, 06:36 PM
It seems to me we pretty much agree on a lot of fronts. If we want to do anything about it, we need clarity and some honest work.

What I'm hearing is a need to extend the ethos of the SWFF community to other groups of anglers. So what CAN we do to help our bait brethren ascend the maturity ladder and begin looking at fishing in a different way?

-- education (funds from gov. grants money)
-- outreach (Bring-a-Bait-Guy Clave, 2000)
-- awareness (building the ethos)

We walk a tricky path here. If we come off preachy it will just feed the already ripe perception of fly rodders as elitist.

What really amazes me is that this board and others like it have already done work in this area. There are pieces of the puzzle already assembled. What else can we do? I'm just hurling out ideas. Anyone want to take it from here?

05-08-2000, 07:57 PM
ASMFC will be holding a public comment meeting on the Amendment 6 "issues' (including hooking mortality) at the Needham High School, on May 23 at 7:00 PM.
If you can't make it a letter or email may be sent to :

Robert Beal FMP coordinator
1444 Eye Street NW 6 th Floor
Washington, DC 20005


PS : Thank you Pete - for the best compilation of hook mortality related info I have ever seen on one page.

05-09-2000, 05:59 AM
This is a frustrating topic for me. It seems clear that alot of fish are dying because many folks just don't care or don't know better. Single hooks on plugs and quick hooksets with bait would help perhaps circle hooks would help also. But we are about a million light years away from regulations like these being implemented. As an example the last issue of the CCA magazine had a cover photo of a fish with a face full of barbed trebele hooks. If an outstanding organization like this isn't practicing it than how do you get Charlie the chunker to do it?

05-09-2000, 07:34 AM
See, I knew the responses would pile up AFTER the spring clave.

To be purely utilitarian here, I think the two most effective ways to reduce hook mortality are:

1) lobby the plug industry to go to single hooks rather than trebles,

2) institute a saltwater license and require the fishing/c&r equivilent of the hunter safety course one needs for a hunting license.

Yes it sounds ridiculous, but I said I was being utilitarian and forced education would be the most productive learning tool.

Food for thought...

05-09-2000, 09:18 AM

I'd like to first respond to some of Aaron's last post -
<font size="1"><font color="0000ff">Third, as is so often the case in CandR studies, the MassFisheries study was conducted in an impoundment, so mortality most likely resulted from only physiological or direct physical causes. This is not a knock on the MassFisheries study -- it is almost impossible to conduct a study that accounts for natural predation. However, this is just another reason for using caution in selecting a CandR mortality rate for use in fisheries models.</font><!--1--></font><!--color-->

While I agree that the study didn't mimic the natural conditions (e.g., predation, etc.), it is one of the better study designs I have read about. As I'm sure you know already, it would be very hard to design a study that could incorporate all the different variables influencing mortality and still be able to say anything with the results. The fish were allowed to use the impoundment instead of being confined to a net-pen which, I would assume, would reduce an individual's stress - stress that could contribute to mortality and inflate the mortality estimates. Using control fish would enable you to determine the effect of confinement, but I do not believe many other studies do this (at least with striped bass). I also agree that we should be conservative in choosing a mortality figure, but the 50% figure that was initially mentioned is IMO derived from a poorly designed study. When people hear those figures they tend to run with it - without knowing how they were derived. This can be a problem, as people see biologists as not even being able to agree amongst themselves, so how can they know what to believe. A couple of other problems also occur. Commercial interests see these figures and use them to campaign for the opening or increase in quotas - claiming that the recreational anglers are having a much bigger negative impact than commercial interests. When these figures make it into popular literature (e.g., Fly Fisherman, National Fisherman, FFSW, SWFF, etc.) the public takes it as gospel - in large part because if it is in print it must be true and the fact that the authors take the info at face value and cannot recognize the studies limitations.

<font size="1"><font color="0000ff">Fourth, although it is a commonly used predictive method, one must be very careful in applying the results of any regression outside the exact conditions for which it was used. I think this is especially prudent when it comes to situations such as this.</font><!--1--></font><!--color-->

Well, I think this is another limitation of science - we sometimes tend to study things to death and fail to make decisions. I would feel pretty comfortable in using the information from the Diodati and Richards paper as an estimate of recreational mortality. However, it would not be the only piece of information that I would like to have, but we have to start somewhere. IMO the results of the study are generalizable enough to use in setting coastal mortality estimates. I would like to have a better estimate of recreational angling pressure - to further refine the numbers lost due to post-release mortality. The Diodati and Richards paper had an interesting result that many may overlook - and that is the reduction in condition factor (K = weight/length^3)of fish that have been caught and released and survived as compared to fish never captured. Maybe, all the C&R and increase in anglers are resulting in a downward trend in weight for a given length of fish that some people suspect is occurring.

Aaron - do you have any literature or citations from those conferences? - I would appreciate them, so please email me if you have them - Thanks!

I would also like to study the mortality associated with the use of circle hooks vs. standard hooks when bait is used. I believe that MADMF is already looking at this, but I could be mistaken. If circle hooks have a significantly lower mortality then regulations requiring their use with bait would probably go a long way in reducing mortality - there are many anglers that think cutting the hook is good for gut-hooked fish (and it is better than ripping it out), but the damage is done in many cases.

As an example - I removed the stomachs of a 3 fish that had been kept by 3 guys last year. two out of three had been perforated by bait hooks, even when the leader had been cut. The anglers had heard of circle hooks, but believed that they were ineffective in hooking bass so never used them. They claimed that they cut the leaders on all deeply hooked fish, and released them carefully ensuring that they would all live.

If we had better angler education, specifically a well done and informative web-site, and pamphlet handed out when getting a SW license we may educate the casual angler enough to have them change their fish handling and angling practices. I briefly lived in Idaho and their wildlife and fisheries booklets handed out with license purchases were exceptional - informing anglers about fishing or hunting regulations, fish and wildlife ID and handling techniques whether releasing fish, or dressing big game. The biologists out there could not believe the Massachusetts regulations booklet (the old fold out sheet - since replaced). Go check out the Idaho F&G page and then go to MassWildlife's page - see for yourself. They even provide research findings of IDF&G fisheries. We really could be doing a lot better job of informing the angling public - which would also go a long way towards educating the public and hopefully reduce the bad practices we all witness.

Sorry for the ramblings - 4 cups of coffee and my mind is flying.


steve moore
05-09-2000, 03:22 PM
Juro: I think you have to understand the impact of the recreational fishery in Massachusetts is (on a per person basis) lower than it is in most states where the bag limit is two fish per day. The reason the aggregate number is so high is simply due to the participation which is much higher than any other state. On a per capita basis we take only half of what many of the other states do with their two fish bag limit. The only way to reduce the skew of the recreational impact in Massachusetts would be to either keep the bass from entering our waters or limiting the number of anglers allowed to catch them.

05-10-2000, 07:26 AM
First - great conversation going here.

As part of a solution to the problem, I think MA should institute a recreational salt water fishing license. The license program should be modelled after the one in Chesapeake Bay (VA), which uses the majority of the money from the purchase of licenses to fund research. For example, a multiple year study on the CandR mortality, seasonal movement, and other aspects of the biology of tautog was just completed. This study was almost entirely funded by license money. With this approach, the budget for the state fisheries agency is not directly tied to the license revenues, more money goes into research (money is dispersed via a competitive grant proposal process) -- which allows the state fisheries agency to put more money into enforcement -- and the additional research aids in management decisions.
If for no other reason, money from the saltwater license could be used to create the educational programs that are needed.

Pete - again, I'm not knocking the cited study. However, I think a failing of fisheries management has been the general ignoring of the 'precautionary principle'. Since we know there is no way to control for all variables, we should add a safety margin to estimates such as the one derived from the study under discussion. Regardless of what the confidence intervals on the model might be, it is only a model -- with limitations, as every model has. I think that based on our failings at fisheries management (a universal 'our' and a universal 'fisheries management'), we really need to force a paradigm shift and institute a precaautionary approach.
Regarding the regression model - I agree that to a certain extent my comment was carping. As I'm sure you know, that's as much a part of science and the peer review process as the research itself. It is this professional discoures that allows science to improve over time. That said, I think a major problem arises when the 'public' interprets this academic debate as a serious problem. In general, it is not. I think most of us agree on the general findings and principles of much of the research in our respective fields, but have been trained over the years to think critically. This discourse and critical thinking should not be interpreted as genuine disagreement. Believe me folks, you will know when there is true disagreement.

Circle hooks - I'm not aware of any research on striped bass and circle hooks, but in the past few years there have been a number of research projects on the use of circle hooks in recreational fisheries. Results were good (i.e., less gut hookings, etc).

Education - again key. This is something that Sea Grant should be tackling. I know that in VA the Sea Grant program is very involved in this aspect of the recreational fishery. This would be in teh same vein as Pete's Idaho example. Maryland's fisherman's booklet is also reasonably well done. As I mentioned above, funds from salt water recreational licenses would be perfect for this type of thing.
I think CCA should be leading the way on this - they should be proactive. The picture of a fish with a mouth full of treble hooks is inexcusable.

For those of us on the list -- how about we come up with a list of Catch and Release Tips, put the tips into an easy to read format (like a bulleted list on one page), and then lobby our local fishing shops to post the lists in their shops? As a starter on this, I'll be the first one to throw out a rough draft -- look back into this thread and find my CandR tips. Anything to add?


05-10-2000, 07:29 AM
Hey Juro - any chance of the Forum picking up on this as a sponsor? - good cause and good PR.

For those of us on the list -- how about we come up with a list of Catch and Release Tips, put the tips into an easy to read format (like a bulleted list on one page), and then
lobby our local fishing shops to post the lists in their shops? As a starter on this, I'll be the first one to throw out a rough draft -- look back into this thread and find my suggested CandR tips. Anything to add/subtract?


05-10-2000, 08:05 AM
Steve - great to hear from you, I agree that your observation looks more into the reality of the matter and not the hype. Your points are definitely reflected in the ASMFC stats on page 13 of the Public Information Document...

to be specific when looking at that chart, the real issue is percentage of mortality to discards - and one factor is the number of discards. In MA alone, the stats indicate 7 million recreational discards (releases) in 1998 with a death rate (mortality) of 574,749 fish.

As the numbers go up and down along the seaboard, the ratio of discard to mortality remains relatively streamlined, largely because the limit size allows fish to be kept at a higher ratios to those caught in other states and the discard mortality is absorbed into the non-discard mortality (those eaten). This supports your point - but... if we are the state, whether by population, seasonal availability, or whatever, that kills the most fish that should be released then IMHO we have the highest responsibility to practice optimum survival methods for the discards and to the point of other members - practice education, outreach, and whatever activities we can engage in to promote awareness and a sense of ownership for what we get to enjoy for free.

In the end, if we resign to the mortality rates because we are so many and so good it won't help reduce the number of fish being killed for no reason in the Bay State. In 1639, the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony passed an act that ordered that striped bass would no longer be used as fertilizer for farm crops. I think if nothing else we can promote awareness of the ratio we hold in our hands everytime we release a fish here in MA.

Look forward to seeing you the water this year!


05-10-2000, 08:09 AM
Aaron -

That's a hot idea... let's work on this together (anyone else who wants to chip in - we could use you!)

We will launch a C&R / release awareness program (details discussed later). I've got all the software for promotional material development (brochures, etc)

I also have some contacts who would help distribute the materials throughout the area.

Aaron - I'll email you a rough program plan tonight.



05-10-2000, 09:20 AM
I'm willing to help. How about starting here. Within our own SWFF community there are still a few guys using spinning gear. Some use barbless single hooks on sluggos, that's great. There are those who use the occasional plug with treble hooks too. Can we influence them or kindly ask them, if they are willing, to take off the treble and replace it with a 2/0 single, barbless evan? IT might be a good bell weather to see if we can effect change in our own backyard where conservation awareness runs highest.
Then there is the alienation issue. Web fishing boards want success and to exhibit tolerance. Fine. But are the web board owners willing to risk alienation of a few by asking their membership to practice these things?
Someone has to take a chance sooner or later.
And how about taking the posting on all 3 boards with a plee for all of us to change our habits? Anyone can do this, anytime.
The research can go on, but the funding to paper to legislation cycle is slow track. The AFMSC should not need this cycle completion to protect a fishery that may or may not be in decline. Treble hooks got to go.

steve moore
05-10-2000, 09:24 AM
CCA-massachusetts, with funds from a grant from the MA-DMF made a catch and release video which shows proper techniques and speaks to many of the issues mentioned in this thread. The video is available by calling Dave Rimmer at CCA MA and can be used at club meetings, etc.

As for the cover shot of the CCA Tide Magazine: I don't disagree that treble hooks are unnecessary and can damage both fish and anglers, but If that fish was legal (I assume it was caught in Texas) and was going to be kept by the angler anyway, I really don't see anything wrong with the photo. The fact is, not everyone (myself included) is purely a C&R angler, and placing value judgements on those who choose to keep a legal fish every now and then (or the mthods they choose to do it with) is divisive and does no one any good. You and I may not fish with treble hooks, but the fact is many people do. Many also use bait and other angling methods. It is not CCA's mission to eliminate all keeping of fish, or to turn everyone into C&R fly fishers.

05-10-2000, 11:38 AM
Steve - good to hear about the CandR video.

Regarding the treble hook picture - great if he kept the fish, but how many fish that were too small were also caught with those treble hooks?

05-10-2000, 11:47 AM
Sorry Steve to question your logic. With all due respect:
You're assuming it's all right to damage a fish you're going to kill anyway. Ok, but what about the 5 schoolies you tear up with your treble hooks before you land the keeper. How often do you go plugging and catch only keepers?
CCA'a mission is to protect the stocks I believe. Schoolies with faces full of treble hooks, or gut hooked with bait fall under that area don't they? It's simple to me. You don't need a PhD in marine biology to go out on the jetty and see who and what are killing schoolies.

&gt;<b>The fact is, not everyone (myself included) is purely a C&R angler.., </b>

You are C+R weather you like it or not if it's under 30" in this state.

&gt;<b>and placing value judgements on those who choose to keep a legal fish every now and then (or the mthods they choose to do it with) is divisive and does no one anyfishers.</b>

Who's doing that? No really, who is? This shows the typical fear of looking "elitist" people have. Well I guess I'm and elitist, Who cares? Chunking is allright if you can not kill 10 times(not sure how many but definately a lot) as many undersize fish as SWFF. I eat striper. I just don't catch many if any keepers. I'd like 1 this year maybe, maybe not. The point is to reduce mortality of undersize fish. Don't let the chunking group off the hook because you are afraid to sound elitist. Screw elitism, it's a straw argument. Do you want the stocks to stay strong or return to the old days again?


05-10-2000, 02:11 PM
spend a few hours at a place like redriverbeach in harwich during the spring and you will know that there is probably something to what bruce is saying. watch the way the average guy tosses his fish back into the water.we are indeed fortunate that the mortality rate isn't even higher.
bruce is a great captain and fisherman as well as being super intelligent, rest assured he has really done his homework on this one.

05-10-2000, 02:31 PM
Guys this is a great thread - but if I may say one thing at this point in the discussion the point is not about imposing beliefs or passing judgement on anyone or any fishing method. It's really about increasing awareness of the situation we have, publishing and communicating the things people could do to reduce mortality regardless of the type of tackle chosen, and cultivating a more survival minded fishing community.

CCA is an honorable society of conservationists and anglers who spend a lot of time, effort and money to protect the interests of fishermen and fish. The average member in such an organization is a pretty advanced angler and is in the low-impact class. CCA has been very influential in promoting knowledge and solidarity for recreational interests (part of the solution, not the problem).

I personally feel we could take the lead of other regions worldwide and use gear restrictions as a way to minimize impact on gamefish. I do not feel this is an imposition but a necessity dictated by the impact on the fishery. We shouldn't let uproar stop what's right any more than people in those regions did when the rules were introduced. The wide-open unrestricted gear fishery does indeed damage fish, in fact that's why there are single-barbless &lt;1" gap no bait restrictions on certain west coast salmon / steelhead fisheries, just to name one example.

I think fly fishermen are lucky in that the mortality per discard is low by nature of the game. I'd be willing to bet those who only know how to chunk for schoolies don't enjoy the same degree of comfort with the impact on the fish they catch. The guys who killed that 29 1/2" striper (with the steel leader hanging out of it's gullet) we found during the clave couldn't have felt good when they drove home. I'll bet that if the community, and yes - even the regulations, pointed them in the right direction they could still have great success fishing and release such fish to spawn again.

I think awareness through things like pamphlets and clever distribution programs, articles published in magazines, and great moves like the CCA video are the first step.

Introducing ideas for regulations for the sake of the fish is the second step. Affecting such improvements by working with other organizations is the third step...

Reducing the mortality rate of stripers is the goal.

05-10-2000, 08:05 PM
First off great thread! Thanks Bruce for lighting the fire.

Maybe rename it "The trouble with trebles". I have a surf bag full of lures with those nasty buggers. They get less use every year. But last weekend in the excitement of fish busting all over the top I couldn't resist throwing a brand new Gibbs Polaris popper into the fray. With great success I might add. However to my dismay the new popper was still barbed. Fortunately only one hook on the back treble took hold and I was able to push it through and bend the barb back for a clean release. All other barbs were promptly crushed.

I continued to fish it for awhile until a schoolie inhaled the entire popper which resulted in me having to reach in with a hookout usually reserved for bluefish to remove the back treble without simultaneously impaling myself which happened anyway. I felt bad about the time it took me to get that fish back in the water.

I then used the lure to play a game. I would just pop it as a teaser and pull it away from the charging fish and Bob would cast out his crease fly into the pumped up fish. Very exciting, kinda like mini-marlin fishing. Then I put that rod away.

A couple of observations. People buy and use lures off the shelf with trebles because that's the way lure manufacturer's build them. Some high quality lures like Gibbs and Kastmasters can be modified to single hooks without serious detriment to the designed action and loss of hookup capability. Others like rebels and rapalas from my experience cannot. Most average Joe's that buy lures aren't considering the release before the catch. Some just don't care." border="0" align="middle">

Another observation from my experience is that schoolies thrash violently when landed while the bigger cows go limp when under control making release an easier proposition. Maybe they get smarter with age. <img src="

05-11-2000, 05:06 AM
For public education purposes rather than debating the accuracy of the c&r mortality figures or trying to justify and minimize them we should put them out there and beat em like a drum. Half a million dead bass gets folks attention and we shouldn't shy away from using it for that purpose. I would agree there is some question about the figures but spend some time around the canal and you can see to many fish are being wasted. In the short term awareness is the key. It would be so nice to walk into a tackle shop and see a fish freindly section with some educational pamphlets single hooked plugs and circle hooks. Some hardheads will never change but many others will especialy newer fisherman if provided with an introduction to fish freindly tackle and release procedures. Steve I am not trying to pass value judgements on others I to keep fish and love casting eels along the elizabeths as well as throwing pencil poppers into the boulders. I also agree with Juro about the CCA but as I said above we need to embrace the problem to fix it and I do believe it's a problem. Great idea Aaron.

05-23-2000, 09:01 AM
I'll post the draft... Thursday PM looks best. Please check for it and make comments.