Outdoors

Barbless hook rule set to expand on Columbia

An angler holds a chinook salmon caught while fishing on the Klickitat River. (Rich Landers)
An angler holds a chinook salmon caught while fishing on the Klickitat River. (Rich Landers)

FISHING —  Starting May 1, anglers fishing for salmon or steelhead on the Columbia River and most of its tributaries downstream from Chief Joseph Dam will be required to use barbless hooks.

This is just one of several new fishing rules adopted for 2013 by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission.

The new barbless regulations expand a similar rule in effect on the stretch of the Columbia River that constitutes the border between Washington and Oregon.

The new rules extend the ban on barbed hooks another 250 miles upriver on the Columbia River and to dozens of its tributaries, including the Cowlitz, White Salmon, Klickitat, Snake, Yakima and Okanogan rivers. 

Anglers fishing those waters will still be allowed to use single, double-point or treble hooks, so long as the barbs have been filed off or pinched down.

Jim Scott, assistant director of the WDFW Fish Program, said the new rule will contribute to ongoing efforts to minimize impacts on wild stocks while maintaining opportunities for anglers to harvest abundant hatchery fish.

“Anyone who’s ever fished with barbless hooks knows they are easier to remove from a fish’s mouth than a barbed hook,” Scott said. “That’s important in fisheries where anglers are required to release wild fish unharmed.”

Fishing regulations requiring the release of wild salmon and steelhead are common in the Columbia River Basin and other Washington waters, especially in areas wild salmon and steelhead are protected by state and federal laws. In those cases, only hatchery fish marked with a clipped adipose fin and a healed scar may be retained.

“Anglers fishing for salmon and steelhead in Puget Sound and ocean waters have been required to use barbless hooks for years,” Scott said. “The new rule on the Columbia River is consistent with our state’s longstanding commitment to sustainable fisheries.”

Waters where the new rules apply are marked in WDFW’s 2013-14 Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet, now posted online.

The paper version of the pamphlet will be distributed to recreational license dealers around the state by early May.




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Rich Landers

Rich Landers’ Outdoors blog


Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.


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