I am writing in regards to the proposed rule that we sports fishermen begin using barbless hooks for salmon and steelhead on the Columbia River beginning Jan. 1. After doing some research on the topic, I have found no evidence that the use of barbless hooks will improve our fisheries.
Essentially, a mouth-hooked fish, when it is properly handled, has a minuscule chance of dying whether the hook is barbed or barbless. Mortality issues arise based on three factors: if the fish swallows the hook, the location of the hook, or if the fish is improperly handled and left out of the water for too long.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife commission has lost its focus. Rather than creating illogical rules that target sports fishermen, the department should be focusing on managing the gillnetters and sea lions instead.