by David Johnson
Is going barbless on the Columbia saving any fish?
I don't think so.
This year we got handed this rule in a political compromise when the new rules were being handed out.
After putting in some days of steelhead fishing this summer on the Columbia and observing other anglers around me, I have seen barbless hooks hurt more fish than save.
There is no doubt that more fish are being lost on the barbless hooks. And to compensate for that anglers are doing things to make sure they are landing their fish. These things are not necessarily good for the fish.
They are netting the fish. Some days I have seen every boat out there net their fish. Some are even bringing them into the boat. In the past I would see anglers bring their fish along side the boat for inspection before netting and then not netting if they were wild. People aren't taking any chances to loose a fish.
Also, almost no boats are floating back off anchor when they hook fish. By staying on anchor it keeps the pressure tight on the fish so they don't shake the hook as easy. But since the fish have the river current for leverage it is taking longer to land the fish.
These steps to land more fish are not good in this warm water.
This new rule is nothing but a political, poke in the eye from the gill netters, feel good, fish hurting, bad idea.