RE:Addressing Hook Mortality IS Important
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.