Only artificial lures are allowed in some lakes and rivers because they kill fewer fish. This article will explore why this is the case.
Fish Tend to Not Let Go of Live Bait
As you might guess, real or live bait is going to look, smell, feel, and taste like the real thing, because, well, it is! For this reason, when fish hit live bait, they tend to hold onto it longer and “suck it down” without spitting it out. In pressured areas, educated fish might “feel the hook” and spit it out, but in most cases, fish ignore “the other stuff” and just eat it.
Live Bait Methods Encourage Letting the Fish “Take the Bait”
Live bait methods of fishing tend to promote the “let it take it!” train of thought. You get a bite, but the fish is just nibbling…hasn’t really taken it well yet. Hooks tend to get buried in the live bait to disguise it until it’s too late. So, you let him get more comfortable, until finally the fish realizes it’s real food and sucks it in good. The hook is now probably past the jaw and well down into the throat or esophagus. You set the hook, and wah-lah… you’ve caught it! But wait, what if you don’t want to keep and eat the fish, or what if it’s too small or the wrong kind to keep?
Safe Release is Difficult with Live Bait Fishing
Suppose your limit is 5 walleyes. You have 4 nice keepers in the live well already, and would really like to keep trying for a big one to end the day on. Your next fish in the boat is a 16″ walleye that has swallowed the hook because you’re using live bait. It can be almost impossible to remove the hook/bait without hurting the fish, so your day is now over because you chose to use live bait. A bit unlucky, sure, but the odds of fish swallowing artificial baits is much lower than with live bait. Consequently, more fish die needlessly when live bait is used. Quite often, you’ll see small dead fish floating in lakes because they were too small to keep but the angler used live bait, and the fish swallowed the hook and was killed when it was removed. Here’s a tip: The acidity in lakes and streams is adequate enough to rust and disintegrate hooks within a couple days or so. If you do catch a fish that swallows the hook and you want or need to release it, just cut the line in front of the hook and leave the hook in. If you treat the fish delicately and just cut the line, the fish should be fine within a couple days.
Fish Tend to Let Go of Artificial Lures Shortly After Striking
When artificial baits are used in fishing, fish can pretty quickly realize they’ve been duped once the bait is in their mouth. It might have looked real at first, but it’s not going to taste, smell, or feel like the real thing (in most cases). So, you don’t have long after the bite before the fish realizes it’s not what he thought and tries to spit it out. This holds true whether you are fly fishing, trolling, spincast fishing, or almost any other fishing technique.
Artificial Lure Fishing Methods Require a Quicker Hook Set
Methods of fishing with artificial lures tend to discourage the “let it take it!” train of thought because if you let it have it in its mouth too long without setting the hook, it will discover the fraud and spit it out. Hooks need to be set rather quickly upon getting a strike on an artificial. Tip: if you want to increase your ability to detect bites, give a look at putting a Cushit on your rod.
Artificial Lure Caught Fish are Easier to Release Safely
This means that the lake fish or river fish you do catch with artificial lures/bait tend to be hooked in the jaw instead of deep in the throat or worse. It’s easier to safely release them.
Control Fish Kill to Improve the Quality of Fishing
I think we’d all agree that a good goal is to have quality fishing wherever we go. The definition of quality fishing, however, will vary from person to person. For some, it means catching lots of fish. For others, catching big fish is what they seek. Some like a variety of fish, and others tend to target only a specific species. Regardless of your definition of quality fishing, the only way to achieve any of these goals is to be able to control the species, quantity, and size of fish that are killed.
Improve Fishing on Lakes and Rivers by Allowing Only Artificial Lures to be Used
If a good place to fish is to remain good, or if a poor place to fish is to improve, it stands to reason that control is needed over which and how many fish die, right? So, why do some lakes only allow artificial fishing lures? Fishing with only artificial lures allows fishermen to more easily control which fish die and which don’t. Therefore, wildlife officials designate certain lakes and rivers as “artificial lures only” because they have better control over the fish kill on the lake/stream, so numbers and species can be more easily regulated.