It’s not happening overnight, but it is happening.
by Jack Stone
Summer is finally here and not just because we have passed the summer solstice. We are taking visitors out fishing at an incredible pace. James and Jake are spending more and more time out of the store and when they get worn out, we still have Jen and Mike in the wings. It is quite the team—not only are they fishing with guests, but on their days off they are going out as a group and performing “advanced recon” for future guided tours.
We are making a statement here at Stone Harbor. It is a rare occurrence that we take home any stream trout. More and more, we are a catch and release operation. If you go on a guided tour with us and want to keep your fish, we respect your wishes and accommodate as best we can. Inland lake fishing is a little different, but there too we encourage catch and release. Think of it not only as letting the fish grow to fight another day but also, it is hard to transport and cook your fish when you are staying at one of our hotels or campgrounds.
This brings up the problem of using barbed hooks. We are transitioning to more barbless hooks and the elimination of lead headed jigs and sinkers. Barbed hooks create problems not only for the fish that you want to release, but also for you when you sink one into your hand or other parts of your body. And as far as sinkers, remember that loons and other diving birds ingest the lead and die from lead poisoning. We all love watching the majestic eagles soaring above. It is sad to run into one that is dead or dying of lead poisoning.
The transition isn’t happening overnight. It takes time to work with our vendors and encourage them to produce fishing tackle that is more environmentally friendly. It’s our goal to give you, our guests, the best possible fishing experience and at the same time, preserve this beautiful area and all of its wildlife.
While we are at it, for those who are venturing into Canada, here are some of the regulations for fishing in Ontario’s Quetico Provincial Park:
- No barbed hooks. You can crimp the barb with a pliers, so the barb is flush with the hook.
- Limit of 4 hooks per line and you are limited to only one line in the summer. A treble hook counts as one hook.
- No lead tackle of any sort, meaning no lead jig heads or sinkers.
- Artificial bait only. This means you cannot bring anything organic—worms, leeches, or minnows—dead or alive.
Want to know more about catch and release? The Minnesota DNR has great information here.