It's dreary and rainy here today and the rivers will blow out once again. I'm sitting at Starbucks drinking my over priced cup of coffee as my modem at home took a dump. While I wait for the tech who will most likely be 3 hours late, what a perfect time to get on the soap box and talk about a subject that is guaranteed to ruffle some feathers - fishing redds. It's a subject that has been furiously debated on social media and on the rivers.
Every spring, we witness the practice or depending on others opinions, the massacre of fishing redds. I've seen the circus on the rivers where people camp out in the wee hours of the morning to secure the prime spawning beds. It's elbows and assholes. Here in Ohio, there's little to no natural reproduction and for some that's a legitimate reason to fish redds. The sight of fish and in some cases, very large ones, are far too hard to pass up.
There's some who will say they can fish redds without foul hooking fish and that often gets a skeptical look from me. The reason why I'm skeptical is because most of the time, the rivers run low and clear, fish are visible from a distance. If I can see them, I'm pretty sure they can see me and they most certainly can see your fly or bait. These fish have seen it all. I've watch anglers repeatedly cast over and over. They're determined to get a take and most of the time the fish move away. They're not stupid, they know what's going on. Whenever a fish is hooked, 99% of the time, it got flossed - period.
I frown upon it because I don't consider it fair game. It's the equivalent of a canned hunt. Fish are packed tightly together and the urge to spawn is so great they're reluctant to move. The end result is they get foul hooked and I've caught fish that are adorned with flies in their tail, stomach, head and fins. It's really pathetic as I'm pulling out, in some cases about 10 flies out. What even angers me more are the losers that fight a foul hooked fish. They have no control over it and the fish is stressed to the point that might not survive if released. I've seen the casualties late in the spring of fish that probably died from repeatedly being caught as they spawn. It's heartbreaking because they died a needless death.
But currently the state doesn't really have any desire to stop the practice. I'm sure the excuse will be it's a put and take fishery and there's no natural reproduction. The metro park rangers generally won't do anything because its so hard to enforce. As for the game warden, good luck, as he has an entire county to cover. Policing it amongst ourselves? That will go over like a fart in church. Some guides would never go for it, because spring is when their the busiest. If I see blatant snagging, I'll say something, but it's not worth getting into a scrap over it.
I don't see it ever stopping and hopefully one day, we can agree that maybe it's better to leave them alone.