Aquaculture, Fish and Fisheries (Aug 2022)

Restrictions on leader length in an in‐river sport fishery reduce catch of threatened wild chinook salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha and increase harvest of hatchery origin chinook

  • James P. Losee

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 2, no. 4
pp. 296 – 305


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Abstract To achieve conservation and harvest objectives associated with Chinook Salmon, fisheries managers have relied on mark‐selective and anti‐snagging rules in freshwater whereby anglers are required to release wild Chinook and fish hooked in anatomical locations other than the head and mouth. However, in some cases these regulations have resulted in increased mortalities due to the number of fish (hatchery and wild) that require release. Regulations effective at increasing the number of fish hooked in the mouth have the potential to decrease total encounters (number of fish caught) of both hatchery and wild fish while increasing the total number of fish harvested; however, this has not been tested. A roving creel survey and a test fishery were used to describe the effect leader length and bait under a bobber has on catch rate and hooking location and simulate how a variety of restrictions on gear type would affect catch and harvest on wild and hatchery origin Chinook salmon. Results indicate that a 6‐foot leader length restriction would result in the highest catch of hatchery fish harvested and reduce exploitation rate on wild fish by greater than 20%. Regulations limiting leader length to 3 feet are expected to result in the greatest reduction (75.7%) to total encounters on wild fish; however, this method was unpopular and resulted in few hatchery fish harvested. The use of bait suspended under a bobber resulted in intermediate results with a reduction of 60.0% to catch of wild Chinook and the smallest number hooked outside the mouth (0/30). These results provide the first evaluation of the effect of leader length in a mark‐selective hook and line fishery and suggest that a 6‐foot leader length restriction would be expected to reduce encounters on wild Chinook, increase harvest of hatchery fish and extend the fishing season.