June 5th, 2013

Anyone remember when we used to catch our winter supply of Red Salmon with the trusty ol’ Lu-John?  You could buy them at any hardware or tackle shop and snagging salmon was a very efficient way to catch your limit quickly.

It was in 1975 that snagging the fish you needed for the winter was outlawed and trusty ol’ Lu-John went away. The Alaska Board of Fish that year, perpetrated on the people of Alaska, the arguably most idiotic and sadistic regulation ever adopted in the history of the state. The regulation, still in effect today, demands that any fisherman hooking a Red Salmon, anywhere but inside the mouth, must immediately remove the hook and throw the wounded fish back into the river. It also outlawed the use of the treble hook. Only a single hook “Coho Fly” can be used.

The arguments they used to outlaw the snagging of reds ranged from “It’s un-sportsman like” to it is “not a gentleman’s way of fishing”. This in spite of the fact that commercial fishermen and subsistence users take millions of reds each year those “really sportsman like” gill nets, 150 fathoms long” and huge round dip nets that are beneath a real Alaskan’s dignity. Unbelievable!

What with so many people in Alaska now, this anti-snagging regulation causes extreme damage and waste to out Red Salmon fisheries. So called “sport fishermen” are allowed to catch salmon after salmon all day long if they like. Many times the fish, not hooked inside the mouth have the hook literally ripped out of their bodies and thrown back into the river. Their bodies after the ordeal are weakened first of all by battling fishermen with a rod. Then hooks left stabbed in their sides and bellies, often big gouges of missing flesh, eyes poked out and some returned to the water with bleeding gills. That means death for that salmon in just a very short time.

It is a total mystery to me why state fish regulators, whom one would think might have a least a small amount of common sense, would allow this devastating regulation to remain in effect. Many of us real Alaskans believe that snagging of Red Salmon should be allowed but with these rules:   1) Each fisherman must keep every fish they catch.  2)  When a fisherman limits out, he must leave the river and go home. No more fishing of any kind allowed that day.

Those regulations would mean fewer man hours on the river. River bank degradation would soon cease to be a problem. And best of all many more of our Red Salmon would be left in a healthy condition to spawn each year.

Think About It!        John Davis  6-5-2013

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