Circle hooks, when properly used, ease out of a fish's gullet and lodge themselves against the jaw, usually in the corner of the mouth. A fish stands a better chance of surviving if you hook it in the jaw. This is important consideration especially if you going to practice catch and release. You want that fish to survive, thrive, grow, and reproduce. Since circle hooks usually hit home in the corner of a fish's mouth, they can help you to increase the odds of a fish's survival.

BoatUS ANGLER: RecycledFish Stewardship Tips

Circle Hooks to Preserve Tradition

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Circle hooks, when properly used, ease out of a fish's gullet and lodge themselves against the jaw, usually in the corner of the mouth.

A fish stands a better chance of surviving if you hook it in the jaw. This is important consideration especially if you going to practice catch and release. You want that fish to survive, thrive, grow, and reproduce. Since circle hooks usually hit home in the corner of a fish's mouth, they can help you to increase the odds of a fish's survival.

Circle hooks offer other advantages too. According to circle hook evangelist Kurt Kawamoto, anglers in the Hawaiian Islands often come into close contact with turtles and monk seals. These protected species are, now and again, accidentally hooked. “The occasional interaction with a seal or turtle could potentially pose large impacts on our island fishing activities, traditions, lifestyle, and culture." Kawamoto, the manager of the NOAA Barbless Circle Hook project, notes. "Modifying the standard circle hooks by crimping down the barbs to help out any accidentally hooked seals and turtles could potentially help them to help themselves."

Kawamoto had speculated that barbless circle hooks were self-shedding and his theory was confirmed in the summer of 2007. A team of volunteers were attempting to capture a monk seal that had been accidentally hooked. Just prior to capture, the seal shook its head and popped the hook out. That hook turned out to be a barbless circle hook.

Kawamoto realized, though, that anglers interact with fish more often than protected species. “It was definitely a ‘duuuh’ moment," he noted. "Using a barbless circle hook would help many, many more fish than seals or turtles. After all, fishermen target fish and are good at doing that. Helping more fish is just helping our own goals get realized. Helping the turtles and seals is also helping our goal of sustainable fishing. Here was a way to help our kids continue to have what we so easily take for granted.”

What we do as anglers, including using barbless circle hooks, can have a tremendous and positive affect on fish. Using barbless circle hooks also has a positive impact on wildlife; it is not only an act of conservation, it is also an act that helps preserve and steward our cultural heritage.

There are very few anglers who leave the Islands without one of Kurt Kawamoto's sample packs of circle hooks. There are few anglers on the Islands who have not felt the effects of Kawamoto's stewardship of the fisheries and of Hawaii's rich, fishing heritage.

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