Owing to concerns about the high incidence of past hooking injuries in Alagnak River rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss, fish were captured with spin- and fly-fishing gear with barbed and barbless circle and "J" hooks to determine gear types contributing to injury. Landing and hook removal times were measured for a portion of fish captured, and the anatomical hooking location, hooking scar locations, bleeding intensity, angler experience, and fish size were recorded for all captured fish. Approximately 62% of fish captured experienced at least one new hooking injury, and 29% of fish had at least one past hooking injury. Small fish sustained higher new injury and bleeding rates, but large fish had higher past injury rates. Injury rates were higher for barbed J hooks, barbed J hooks took longer to remove, and fish caught by spin-fishing were injured more frequently than fish caught by fly-fishing. Fewer fly-fishing-caught fish were injured using circle hooks, and circle hooks tended to hook fish in only one location, generally in the jaw. Barbed J hooks were more efficient at landing fish, and J hooks were more efficient at landing fish than circle hooks. Novice anglers injured proportionally more fish than experienced anglers, primarily during hook removal. Landing time was positively correlated with fish size, and experienced anglers took longer to land fish than novices because they captured larger fish. These results suggest that a reduction in hooking injuries may be achieved by using circle hooks as an alternative to J hooks and barbless J hooks to reduce injury and handling time, yet catch efficiency for both methods would be reduced. Although fish captured with barbless J hooks and circle hooks had fewer injuries, it is important to note that each hook type also caused significant injury, and angler education is recommended to promote proper hook removal techniques.
Additional publication details
The influence of hook type, angler experience, and fish size on injury rates and the duration of capture in an Alaskan catch-and-release rainbow trout fishery