July 28th, 2003|
Q. From Wadedeep: While fishing a creek in WA state I was pleasantly surprised to find literally thousands of chinook in the stream. I purposefully did not target fish actively paired up and working on redds. I did however fish the deeper pools with some success. Is it logical to assume that fish holding in deeper (6'+) water are not yet actively spawning? Have there been any studies that document mortality rates of pre-spawn fish that are hooked, played and released? I would love to continue fishing this spot, but am hoping to avoid "fishing hell" when my time comes. Is this angling strategy the equivalent of a mortal sin against fish preparing to spawn? Thanks in advance for your scientific (and perhaps theological) opinion!
I called a fishery biologist whom I formerly
worked with in Washington State, who has more
experience with salmon biology than I. He said
that although the fish you were catching in the
deeper pools were probably not yet actively
spawning, it doesn't mean that they might not
be soon. Thus, it is a pretty fine ethical
line that you are treading if you don't want
to impact spawning. They might not be spawning
when you hook them, but who knows when they might.
As to hooking mortality of pre-spawn fish, there
is evidence that it can be as high as 40%. These
fish have accumulated a finite amount of energy
reserves to carry them through spawning, so any
energy exerted in activities not related to
spawning, such as being played by an angler, is
that much energy they won't have to carry them
through spawning. Thus, I'm afraid that I cannot
give you complete absolution; besides, I'm not
ordained for that kind of thing!
The 'Stream Doctor' is a retired professional stream ecologist and
author, now living in the West and spending way too much time
fly-fishing. You are invited to submit questions relating to
anything stream related directly to him for use in this Q & A Feature
The 'Stream Doctor' is a retired professional stream ecologist and author, now living in the West and spending way too much time fly-fishing. You are invited to submit questions relating to anything stream related directly to him for use in this Q & A Feature at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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