Reader's Casts
October 5th, 1998
The Case for Special Regulations

by Ron Whiteley


Special regulations are those that differ considerably from the statewide general fishing regulations. Special regulations should be considered when angling harvest or other factors prevent attainment of specific fishery management goals. The goal of special regulations should be to maintain or improve the quality of a fishery expressed in catch rate and or percent larger fish in an anglers catch. They are designed for specific waters and are a useful and effective tools for fishery management when applied on the basis of sound fishery science.

Special fishing regulations are not new in Connecticut. They have been in use for a long time. The sea-run brown trout fishery in Latimers Brook had an artificial lures, single hook only requirement. The Quinebaug Valley Hatchery ponds have a single, barbless hook requirement. Trout Management areas have special regulations and the state has implemented slot limits on many fisheries.

Recently, fishery science consultant Patrick Trotter reviewed most of the studies on hooking mortality of trout. He provided an excellent summary of his findings in the March 1995 issue of Fly Fishermen. Much of his data comes from a 1992 scientific review published by Taylor and White in the North American Journal of Fisheries Management. Here are some of their conclusions:
  • Fish caught on bait suffer a much higher rate of hooking mortality than those caught on either lures or flies. Comparing all studies of stream and lake dwelling salmonids, the information looks like this:

HOOKING METHOD MORTALITY RATE %

Bait 31.4

Lures 4.9

Flies 3.8

  • Hooking mortality results favor the use of flies over lures, but only slightly. In fact the differences are only one percent and justify both fly fishing only and artificial lures only regulations when attempting to keep hooking mortality at an absolute minimum.
  • Fish caught on barbless hooks suffer lower hooking mortality than fish caught on barbed hooks. This one has been hotly debated for years, but recent analyses show mortality rates of 2.6 percent for barbless flies and lures and 4.8 percent for those with barbs. The difference is perhaps too small for management decisions, but it does offer an individual a choice.

The current regulations for the domestic salmon fishery allow the use of bait, as well as multi-treble hooked lures for Atlantic salmon. The message that fishermen get from these regulations is indeed the one that the DEP Fisheries wants to send, catch and keep all of the salmon to remove them from the river. The current regulations foster a lack of respect for the species. More protective regulations are needed NOW!!

The sea run salmon will disappear faster than the alwives did from Roaring Brook in Glastonbury and Salmon Brook in East Hartford. Once premier alewife streams, they were devoid of fish in 1995 because people with dip nets, seines and any other device to get the fish, took every fish from the streams. It is imperative that the areas containing sea run salmon be made"Fly Fishing Only" areas to limit the numbers of people and aid in enforcement.

There is more information here on this subject. ~ Ron Whiteley


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