Fish Fabulous Costa Rica archive story

Circle hooks deemed less effective

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Circle hooks deemed less effective
for non-billfish species like tuna

By the North Carolina State University news staff

Anglers are required to use circle hooks in some fishing tournaments because they are less likely to cause
lethal injuries in billfish, such as marlin. However, research from North Carolina State University shows that broadening circle hook requirements could adversely impact charter and recreational fishing, since they make it more difficult to catch non-billfish.

“We wanted to know whether circle hooks are effective as conventional J hooks when angling for non-billfish – such as yellowfin tuna. . . ,” said Paul Rudershausen, a research assistant in North Carolina State’s biology department and lead author of a paper describing the research. The team worked with charter boat captains and mates who were experienced with use of circle hooks to look at the efficacy of circle hooks versus J hooks when trolling offshore with
circle hooks
 Circle hooks (bottom) are less likely to
 mortally wound bill fish than J hooks
rod and reel. The findings are relevant for similar fishing efforts in other waters where these same species occur.

A circle hook is defined as a circular hook in which the point of the hook is perpendicular to – and aligned with – the shank of the hook. This differs from a J hook, which is shaped like the letter J.

Studies have found that circle hooks are less likely to mortally wound billfish during recreational or charter fishing. As a result, the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service instituted regulations requiring anglers in Atlantic billfish tournaments to use circle hooks when using natural baits. J hooks are still permitted if an angler is using purely artificial bait.

Anglers and fishing industry observers have speculated about the possibility that circle hook regulations may be expanded to fishing outside of billfish tournaments – even when anglers are not fishing for billfish – to protect billfish species that may be caught inadvertently.

This speculation led researchers to determine whether circle hooks would be as effective as J hooks when fishing for non-billfish species. The answer is no.

The researchers looked at the relative effectiveness of circle and J hooks for three popular sporting fish: dolphinfish (often called mahi mahi in the Pacific), yellowfin tuna and wahoo. “Circle hooks were roughly 60 to 70 percent as effective at catching these three species as J hooks,” Rudershausen says.

The researchers found that the fish would still strike at the bait, but that the hook was significantly less likely to set in the mouth of the fish. However, when the hook did set, anglers were just as likely to be able to get the fish to the boat.

The researchers hope to work with economists to better capture the potential economic impact of any expansion of circle hook regulations.
— April 2, 2012

Sports fishing contest in Papagayo June 6 to 9
For Fish Fabulous Costa Rica

Serious sports fishing fans will be at the Presidential Papagayo Cup June 6 to 9, sponsored by the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo.

The cup contest is one of the Presidential Challenge series dedicated to the conservation and protection of billfish and inshore gamefish.

The tournament format provides for cash prizes based on the number of participating teams, plus an optional jackpot to  further increase the amount that can be
 won by the top three, said Presidential Challenge Charitable Foundation, Inc.

Proceeds from such events will benefit The Billfish Foundation Central America Billfish Management Project, the Adopt-A-Billfish Satellite Tagging Program and the Take Marlin Off The Menu program of the International Game Fish Association.

The Papagayo Cup event is being hosted by Marina Papagayo. The location is in northwest Costa Rica, which organizers say is in the heart of the country's summer marlin and sailfish grounds.
— 1 May 2012

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