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Fish board gets to the point

Barbless hooks required for catch and release on Kenai kings

Posted: February 13, 2014 - 9:41pm  |  Updated: February 14, 2014 - 12:32pm

King salmon will soon find it easier to slip a hook on the Kenai River.

During the 14th and final day of the Alaska Board of Fisheries meeting in Upper Cook Inlet, the seven-member board considered a suite of proposals to modify the Cook Inlet sport fisheries — including one that the group modified to apply specifically to king salmon fishing on the Kenai River when managers designate the fishery as catch-and-release.

A United Cook Inlet Drift Association proposal would have restricted all catch-and-release fishing to single, unbaited, barbless hooks. UCIDA president David Martin called catch-and-release fishing “playing with your food” during public testimony.

“I believe it’s the only time we’ve ever adopted a regulation that talks about barbless hooks in the state,” said Board of Fisheries chairman Karl Johnstone. “We’ve had barbless hook regulations proposed in other fisheries, particularly in Bristol Bay and we didn’t quite pass them. I favor them for fisheries that were non-retention species.”

Johnstone joined board members Tom Kluberton, Fritz Johnson and Sue Jeffrey in a split 4-3 vote after two amendments were introduced — one defining barbless hook and the other restricting the proposal to just catch-and-release king fishing on the Kenai river.

“In my opinion, it’s a conservation measure,” Johnstone said. “It reduces handling time.”

Alaska Department of Fish and Game, or ADFG, regional fisheries management coordinator Matt Miller told board members that using barbless hooks would not reduce mortality in the fishery from releases of hooked fish.

“It’s going to be in the inefficiency of the gear,” he said.

According to ADFG commentary on the issue, angler efficiency is estimated to be reduced by between 11 to 24 percent in barbless hook fisheries “with young and inexperienced anglers disproportionately affected.”

The measure was one of several discussed at the board’s Lower and Upper Cook Inlet meetings.

During the Lower Cook Inlet meeting Miller presented research calling barbless hooks an allocation not just among user groups, but among anglers.

Dwight Kramer, chairman of the Kenai Area Fishermen’s Coalition supported the proposal during the Lower Cook Inlet meeting.

“There’s a big difference when you’re trying to release a fish and just clipping the hook out or not, it comes out a lot easier when there’s not a barb on it,” Kramer said.

The board opted to define a barbless hook as one that was manufactured barbless with a smooth bump on the shank, or a hook with a barb filed completely off or one with the barb crimped to the point that it makes contact with the shank.

The definition was important, said Mike Crawford, chairman of the Kenai and Soldotna Fish Game Advisory during his testimony on the issue at the Lower Cook Inlet meeting.

“In the past, I’ve received a citation in a barbless area when I had my barb bent over, but it grabbed his sweater,” Crawford said of an encounter with law enforcement in another state. “I intended to bend down the barb, but it wasn’t adequate for that guy and it cost me $95.”

Reed Morisky, one of three board members who voted in opposition to the proposal, said there was not enough science to prove that barbless hooks would be effective at reducing the mortality of catch-and-release fishing.

“The research that I’ve read on catch-and-release is that time out of water is more critical than barbless even,” Morisky said. “We’ve heard that this has no conservation value, it would be punitive to thousands of Alaskans.”

Johnson, who amended the proposal to include a definition of a barbless hook, said he thought anglers could learn to be effective without barbs.

“It requires a greater level of skill and attention to what you’re doing,” he said. “It’s something that would require evolution of ability. ... It encourages more deliberate fishing.”

After the meeting adjourned, Kenai River Profesional Guide Association President Steve McClure said he was happy to see a barbless hook regulation go into effect.

“I think it’s good they finally got something on the record,” he said. “They finally defined it, that’s been the hold-up.”

Johnstone said he had voted in favor of barbless hook proposals, in other parts of the state, to no avail and was happy to see one finally pass.

“It was totally unexpected to me,” Johnstone said. “I didn’t think we’d ever get to this point. I thought that I’d fallen on my sword enough times in the past and we weren’t going to get there. I was pretty surprised.”

 

Reach Rashah McChesney at rashah.mcchesney@peninsulaclarion.com.

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Unglued
228
Points
Unglued 02/14/14 - 03:47 pm
0
0
It's about time

Going barbless during catch-and-release has needed doing for years. It's about time the board did this for Kenai River king salmon. They should do it for rainbow trout, as well.

leewaytooo
1867
Points
leewaytooo 02/15/14 - 03:00 am
2
0
if it going to be "catch and

if it going to be "catch and release" then make it a true
challenge ....

bare hands only....

that should increase the fun for the guides...

barehanders hanging over the side of their boats ...

butts in the air... mosquitoes biting bare butt skin.

a boat load of plumbers cracks up...

funny images to post online...

even salmon would enjoy the day......

give salmon a chance and they will take it and run with it..

they know how....just need a hand.....

akal
252
Points
akal 02/16/14 - 07:06 pm
2
0
kings

if you want to save the King Salmon just stop the King Salmon fishing for 5 years or so. this way they recover, otherwise say goodbye to the fish. of course this will never happen, too much money is being made on the rivers.

Alaskaborn
49
Points
Alaskaborn 02/16/14 - 09:57 pm
0
0
Pull your head out of the Kenai

Pull your head out of the Kenai River and take a look around the state and you'll see that kings runs are down almost everywhere in Alaska. Fish are returning at a younger age all over the state, even with hatchery fish and areas with little to no inriver fishing pressure. Last summer saw a big run of jacks all over Cook Inlet, Kodiak, Copper River, and even hatchery stocked fish. What is happening on the Kenai isn't unique to the Kenai. So all this speculation about selective harvest, over harvest, too many boats, fishing on the spawning beds, etc fails to take into account any marine conditions that are affecting king salmon stocks throughout the state. Focusing only on the Kenai and not looking at the bigger picture will lead to wrong assumptions on what is causing poor production and incorrect solutions like barbless hooks, more drift days, slot limits for mainstem fish, etc. Kasilof is drift only and stocked, how's that run doing? Anchor, Deep, Ninlichik have no boats and Ninilchik is stocked, how are they doing? Ship Creek and Eklutna Tailrace are stocked, no boats, no selective harvest, how are they doing? Streams in Kodiak have no boats, little effort, how are they doing? They are all experiencing the same things as the Kenai under very different conditions. Take a look around people.

borninak
657
Points
borninak 02/16/14 - 10:00 pm
0
0
How's the Nushagak Doing?

How's the Nushagak Doing?

Alaskaborn
49
Points
Alaskaborn 02/16/14 - 10:40 pm
0
0
Nushagak Sonar

Have you ever looked into the Nushagak sonar project on how they count kings? That project has flown under the radar for years. They use similar gear to the Kenai but it doesn't have the resolution that the Kenai gear does out at longer ranges where the kings are running. That project was designed to count sockeye and they are stretching it to try and count kings. Yet no one questions those counts. I wonder if the fact that Commercial Fisheries Division running it and commercial fishing dominating the area has anything to do with the lack of over site on that project. By the way, the Nush is below average as well and commercial fishin was limited this year due to a compressed sockeye run.

borninak
657
Points
borninak 02/17/14 - 09:52 am
1
0
Nushagak

I don't think that 113,700 kings in 2013 is much below average for the Nushagak. I can't say I know anything about how ADF&G counts king salmon over there, but I don't share Alaskaborn's leap to questioning the ADF&G integrity on counting because it is "commercial" run. At any rate, I think it warrants looking into because it seems to be one of only a couple of rivers in Alaska doing ok, along with some systems in California, Oregon and Washington. I only bring this up because the consensus seems to be an "ocean problem" yet we seem to have some exceptions to the theory and it begs the question: why?

Unglued
228
Points
Unglued 02/17/14 - 11:22 am
1
0
jumping to conclusions

Alaskaborn: My comment about going barbless for kings during catch-and-release periods on the Kenai wasn't meant to imply that it would restore the Kenai's king salmon runs, let alone statewide king runs. It will simply make releasing kings a lot easier, thereby sparing the fish a lot of trauma and reducing mortality of released fish to some degree. Anyone who has wrestled a thrashing king in a net while drifting downstream in traffic, and trying to keep his balance in a boat rocking from wakes knows how difficult it can be to get a hook out of a king's jaw, especially a large, barbed siwash hook. Many of these fish, the "biters," are hooked and released more than once, which increases their vulnerability. Personally, I'm against catch-and-release, period, but the sport-fishing industry, along with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, demands it. The reason why has little to do with the fish or the fish. It's mostly about money. Sadly, it took a disastrous return to get even this small change in the regulations past the fish board. What will it take to get significant change?

beaverlooper
2982
Points
beaverlooper 02/17/14 - 11:32 am
3
0
money

It's ALL about money.

Raoulduke
3055
Points
Raoulduke 02/17/14 - 07:33 pm
4
0
Conservation of a Resource

Does not catch,and release cause a severe stress to the fish?Could not this stress be a cause of the fish not making it back to the spawning beds? If the answer is yes to either of these questions.Why have any fishing for the kings?You can not conserve by a catch,and release approach.The playing of the fish will kill it more times than not.What is the BoF thinking?
CLOSE the fishery completely

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