Fishing enthusiasts who enjoy catching salmon and steelhead from the Columbia River will be getting a polite request from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife next year: “Please stop using barbs.”
According to WDFW Director Phil Anderson, using barbless hooks is a great way for anglers to contribute to the recovery of wild salmon and steelhead runs in the Columbia Rivers.
“Going barbless only makes sense in these fisheries where we’re trying to maximize survival rates for released wild fish,” Anderson said in a WDFW press release earlier this month. “Anglers can play an important role in that effort by using barbless hooks.”
The request to go barbless comes after the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission did not approve a rule that would require anglers to use barbless hooks in salmon and steelhead fishing from the mouth of the Columbia to McNary Dam. Since an enforceable policy is out of the question, WDFW biologists are hoping fishing enthusiasts will simply do the right thing.
“The two states have worked together for nearly a hundred years to avoid conflicting fishing regulations that would create confusion for anglers on the Columbia River,” Anderson said. “Delaying the barbless rule is disappointing, but we’re going to continue to pursue it.”
Barbless hooks aren’t the only fishing equipment that can help wild salmon and steelhead populations. Anderson said that knotless nets are also a great way to contribute to the recovery efforts. And, of course, careful handling of released fish is key.
For more information on barbless hooks, knotless nets, and other fishing equipment that help protect wild salmon and steelhead, contact WDFW representative Guy Norman at 360-696-6211.