Rob Kolakowski Photo


 With the inland catch & release trout season about to open for the year, I planned on picking up the new regulations and report here on what I read. Well I forgot to get them when I was in the store today. I tried finding the new regulations on the Wisconsin DNR website, but it has not been updated. I was able to find out that there is one significant change. We are still required to use artificial lures, but they no longer need to be barbless. The following proposed regulation change was voted on and approved during the Conservation Congress spring hearings in 2009.


Question 6 – Eliminate barbless hooks restriction during early trout season

Numerous scientific studies have been conducted showing that the use of barbed versus barbless hooks has little effect on trout mortality following release. In a 1997 study published in the North American Journal of Fisheries Management, for flies and lures combined, the average hook related mortality was 4.5% for barbed hooks and 4.2% for barbless hooks. Because natural mortality for wild trout range from 30-65% annually, the 0.3% difference in the two hook types is irrelevant at the population level, even when fish are subjected to repeated catch and release. Most biologists agree that how deeply a fish is hooked has more to do with mortality than what type of hook is used. Despite the scientific evidence, anglers are required to use barbless hooks only during the early catch-and-release trout season. Elimination of that restriction would simplify trout fishing regulations and eliminate law enforcement issues. The use of live bait will still be prohibited during the early catch-and-release trout fishing season. If adopted, this proposal will take effect on the first day of the month following publication in the Wisconsin Administrative Register. Do you support allowing the use of barbed hooks during the early catch-and-release trout season in Wisconsin?

6. YES_______ NO_______


Besides the barbless hook changes the DNR also classified 58 more streams as trout water. Most of which will be open during the early season.

If you plan on going out in March check out my tips on fishing the winter season. The blog post from January 6th was titled “Fly Fishing the Trout of Winter”. One thing to watch out for is the rising water from the snow melt. If the air temp gets warm enough there can be a large influx of cold water. The water can become clouded and the temp can drop significantly. This will shut the fishing down pretty quickly. Usually the change is more drawn out, but I have gone from good fishing to poor fishing in about 15 minutes. A lot depends on the watershed. Keep that in mind if the snow is melting fast.

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