July 22, 2008

A brief follow up to the snagging post:

I spoke with a local Conservation Officer yesterday at work, and discussed the whole lip and mouth issue. His interpretation of "in the mouth" was on par with my mine: the inside of the lip would be considered in the mouth; outside of the lip would be considered a foul-hook. He understood that the radial nature of the lips on many sucker species could present a gray area of interpretation, but if the hook was embedded on the "tip" of the lip there would likely not be an issue. If the fish was able to close its lips and the point of entry of the hook/fly would be concealed, it would be a fair catch. From a legal standpoint this would all be inconsequential if you are planning on releasing the fish.

The grim reality is that the general consensus of the public is these underutilized "rough" fish do not hold as high a regard as game fish species. A citation would likely not be as readily issued for "snagging" rough fish compared to game fish, and a judge would likely not hold the same gravity on the case. Technically, there is very little protection offered these fish under MN statute and rule so it is not the judicial branch's fault for treating cases as such.

Ultimately, it is up to each angler's own conscience to determine if a fish was fairly caught. For all us roughfishers' sake, let's not cheapen the sport and our accomplishments by counting a snagged fish as caught.


  1. My question is: Why is snagging even considered an issue with roughfish when you can legally shoot an arrow through it?

  2. As a observer of the whole debate, I have to ask. Was it based on inside the lips, or outside? What I thought was said is outside the lips (mouth) was a snag, and you just agreed with that statement. Therefore there should have been no debate. I'm confused and think this whole thing was messed up. Going to miss some of your insights on that board.

    I don't think anyone is going to argue that many of the redhorse, suckers, carp do take flies. I do, however, believe that some species are much tougher to entice into taking flies. The Carpsuckers species being one of them.

    Here are my observations of why I think "in the mouth/lips" is important for Carpsuckers. I've been chasing and observing these fish for a few years now, both with bait and flies. I have a location that allows me to see them in depths as shallow as 1ft, and up close. I've watched them feeding, even video taped it. IMO, there is no method to their movements and feeding style. I've heard grazing like cows used, and its true. They just move around and feed.

    On one day, I chummed corn to them, to see if that might interest them. Overall, no change in behavior, although some did feed on it. I had the corn scattered, so that mostly it was a single kernel in spots. I'd watch the carpsucker (mostly Quills) approach. Never did it steer toward it, instead it seemed almost by chance to run over it. It would be grazing, mouth extending down. Here's the interesting part to me. I did observe a few of the fish pick up the kernel, but I didn't see it happen. When it moved off, the corn was gone. BUT, some fish would do the same thing, go right over the kernel, looking as if it was going to take it, but when it swam off, the corn was still there. I would have sworn that it looked as if it fed, but obviously it didn't

    I have managed to catch some quillbacks and those that I have hooked I actually would notice a change in their behavior when they were picking up the bait. To me that was the tell tale sign that they were feeding.

    Given the scenario with the corn, I think most people would set the hook when they thought the fish was over the bait and eating it. And I think they would hook it most of those times, but outside the mouth (lips). Since I saw fish act as if they were going to take but did not, that is one reason "in the mouth" is important to me with this species. It's the only way to know it did take the bait.

    My other argument is that in the years I have been chasing these carpsuckes, I have never seen one move to bait or a fly. Actually, they seem to be aware of it moving and stay away. Stuff has had to be stationary on the bottom for me to have any luck.

    I've only caught a few carp on the fly, so I don't know how often an "outside the mouth" hooking occurs with them, but I'm going to guess it happens with the carpsuckers more. Mainly due to their unpredictable feeding habits.

    Just my observations, curious on yours.