I have lived with this brutal streamside behavior for just over 25 years now here in NY. Over these years I have seen far too many acts to detail here that were flat out disgusting and incredibly aggravating. I have seen countless Chinook, Coho and Atlantic Salmon abused as well as Steelhead and our large Brown Trout. I used to speak up and ??talk?? to the . . . well they were not fit to be called anglers and let them know that what they were doing was either illegal, unethical or both. In this day and age though it really isn??t safe to confront these scum bags. I??m not interested in getting hit or shot or have my car vandalized. I do however carry a cell phone and have used it on many occasions.
The flat out snagging of these fish is common here. While the blatant ripping of fish is not once what it was, it still happens with far too much regularity. Then there are those who set of their drift so that they are ??flossing?? the fish. This is simply a kinder, gentler form of SNAGGING. Anglers of all types do this and yes, MANY who are ??fly-fishing?? are culprits as well. Slinky rigs or rigs with lots of split shot and sinking lines IS NOT fly-fishing. The IGFA definition of fly-fishing is that the rod and the line is what propels the fly, not the weight of the fly or the added weight to the leader. IF you go to the Fly-fishing Only Areas on the Salmon River near Altmar, NY, better than half of the ??anglers?? are nothing but SNAGGERS as they are set up to floss the fish, plain and simple.
Now, if you fish the waters enough, especially during the prime times, you simply cannot help but foul hook a fish occasionally. Any angler with some skill can quickly assess where the fish is hooked. If it??s foul-hooked, point the rod at the fish and break them off, plain and simple. I to have never understood why folks would be proud of a 12lb Steelhead that they hooked in the dorsal and had a picture taken.
Of course there is then the discussion of when to fish and when not to fish for . . . well . . . the fish ??
Here in our area the Steelhead and domestic Rainbows spawn sometime between October and late April. The bulk of the Steelhead spawning occurs between late Feb. and mid-April, depending on the weather and water temps. So, if I didn??t fish during the spawn I couldn??t fish at all. With the numbers of fish we have, you might have a bunch of fish on beds with an equal number that are done spawning. Those that are done spawning (drop-backs) really come to the fly well. On the West Coast, most consider targeting drop-backs a mortal sin. This is understood because in many cases, the runs are in tough shape, these fish often have a heck of a journey with the dams and all. Therefore, the drop-backs are in rough shape and targeting them when so weak could kill them. Things are MUCH different here in the Great Lakes. For starters, in much of their range, the rivers simply cannot support successful spawn. Also, most spawning runs are a few miles and the fish are in great shape before, during and after the spawn. So, our drop-backs are strong fish, in good condition that sure come to the fly well. Do I target them, sure I do when I have the time BUT I do not fish them when out in BC or other areas of the west because of reasons mentioned above.
It is sad to see fish treated as described Enemy_of_Carp. I have seen it too, too many times and it sickens me. Education is all when can do in hopes that these people will learn what they are doing is wrong and that the fish can be caught ethically and should be treated with respect. Granted this will never happen 100%, but I know that some angling buddies and myself have ??converted?? many over from the dark side. Then you have the stupid stuff like a person walking right through your pool or walking right out in the river too close to the fish. Or the person that does not remove their line from a pool as you pass by fighting a fish, they hook your line and break you off. If you spend time on the water these things happen.
The last thing you should do is hang up the gear and give up. Lead by example and for those slow learners I encourage your introducing them to the local conservation officers??
Jeff - AKA Dr. Fish
If it has fins and swims than I must chase it!
[This message has been edited by Dr. Fish (edited 03 April 2005).]