Wardens enforcing new fishing regulations
A few weeks ago I wrote a piece about the new winter angling regulations taking affect on the Little Truckee and the Truckee rivers.
As you may recall, effective March 1, 2007, these waters were opening to a zero-kill season from the close of the regular season to the day before the regular season opener, Nov. 16, through the Friday preceding the last Saturday in April.
Only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used. On the Truckee River the winter angling section is from Trout Creek to the Nevada state line. In the section between Glenshire Bridge and the mouth of Prosser Creek, only artificial barbless flies are permitted. You cannot use lures in this section. The winter angling section of the Little Truckee is the section between Stampede Reservoir Dam to Boca Reservoir.
I had the opportunity to talk to Lieutenant Richard Vincent, whose squad of wardens handles enforcement in our area. During our discussion he indicated that his wardens had been extremely busy writing tickets on the Truckee and the Little Truckee rivers.
I asked him about the violations. The two main reasons were that anglers were caught fishing with bait, violating the artificial lure component of the new winter regulations, and fishing with barbed hooks, violating the barbless hook provision of the law.
The bait issue did not surprise him, but the violation of the barbless hook policy dumbfounded him, since it was fly fishermen who took such an active role in getting the regulations changed on these rivers in the first place. Apparently, it was fly fishermen who were caught most violating the barbless hook rule.
If you are fishing in these waters you must remove the barbs, smash the barbs down or use barbless hooks. Sometimes wardens can be particularly hard on the smashing of the barbs, so you must be aware that they must be pinched down all the way. Some wardens will use something such as a cotton ball or the sleeve of a shirt to test the barb that has been smashed completely closed. It had better go in and come out cleanly to pass the test of a barbless hook or you will be written for a violation.
Many anglers simply forget to pinch the barbs down because the majority of flies still have barbs on them. Many people ask me why more flies are not tied with barbless hooks. First of all, the cost for commercial tiers is greater for barbless hooks. The second reason is that it gives the fly tier a point of beginning to start the process of tying a fly.
Flies are tied with definite proportions in mind and the barb allows the tier to set the tail in the proper location. The setting of the tail is typically the first step in the tying process on the vast majority of trout flies.
The best thing to do is to tie on barbless hooks or buy flies that are tied with barbless hooks. If you do not tie your own flies, avoid the potential issue regarding smashing your barbs. Should you tie or buy barbed flies, be sure to do a good job in closing the barb so there is no way that you can be cited for fishing with a barbed hook.
I have not seen many lures with barbless hooks, so smashing them down or replacing them with a barbless hook is extremely important. Make sure you have a stout pair of needlenose pliers to do the job. I have one right on my tying bench so I pinch them down right as I tie my flies.
Please be aware of this issue regarding barbless hooks when you are fishing any special regulation area that requires you to go barbless, and make sure to take the steps necessary to comply with the law.
Bruce Ajari is a Truckee resident and regular fishing columnist for the Sierra Sun and other area newspapers.