BernardtheGurnard

Circle hooks for eel rigging

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26 posts in this topic

I think traditional rigged eels technically would fall into the circle hook category. The real gray area begins when you start rigging your eel on a tin squid or a jighead. There no clear answers offered by the DMF.

My issue is purely with the regulation and its wording. According to Mass.gov

recreational anglers fishing from shore or a private vessel are required to use inline circle hooks when fishing for striped bass with whole or cut natural baits, except when fishing with a natural bait attached to an artificial lure that is designed to be cast and retrieved, trolled, or jigged.

Specifically what is defined as an “artificial lure” is in question. Tube and worm is the only actual mention I could find as an example of an approved lure/bait combination. I would assume that a bucktail tipped with an eel would be completely acceptable but I don’t know if a bare jighead like my canal riggies are on would be considered a lure or a hook. If it is not in fact a lure then the hair on that bucktail is the only determining factor. In that case exactly how much hair do I have to have on my jighead to make it a lure and not a hook?
What about tins and tin wobble heads. Can I rig an eel, live or dead on a wobblehead, if not then can I rig it on a different style of tin, one that could also absolutely be fished without bait? Where is the line drawn?
I would assume again that an eelskin plug is absolutely ok but what about an eelskin jig without any body and with two hooks, is that a yay or nay?
These are actually kind of important differences in my opinion. Because of the big differences in fishing rigged eels and live eels I can’t imagine riggies being nearly as effective with circles and I know that we would not be able to legally fish a canal riggie if a jighead is counted as a hook and not a lure. If tin squids and jigheads are ok then great, nothing really changes, if not then that really removes rigged eels altogether from the legal menu.
And for the record if these regulations were actually taken seriously by the state then for hire and charter services wouldn’t be completely exempt from the circle hook requirements.

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If you understand the whole point of the regulation, it should be academic:   Reduce gut / gill hooked fish.  


Fishing a rigged eel, on a jighead or otherwise is not a bait'n wait activity.   It's cast' and retrieve like a lure:  ergo it should not require a circle hook.

Whereas someone drifting a live or dead eel, mack, pogie, worm is going to likely let that fish swallow the bait before setting the hook.  (on purpose or not)     Hence the circle hook.

 

Apart from new legislation, you aren't going to get any more clarification on the rule itself.   And knowing the level of knowlege many EPOs have regarding fishing techniques, they may simply see it as live or dead bait and have issue with the lack of a circle hook.   

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Considering the slaps on the wrist guys get for legitimate laws being purposely broken like coolers full of undersized sea bass and stringers full of micro striper; I am willing to take the risk and will continue using J hooks on rigged eels. If ever questioned or approached by an EPO I would just fight it. 

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On 9/14/2019 at 1:27 PM, MakoMike said:

I don't think that circle hooks would work with rigged eels. 

They work fine on live eels

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3 hours ago, Sudsy said:

They work fine on live eels

That I know. But I have serious doubts whether or not they would work on a rigged eel.

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Just now, Sudsy said:

Front hook should work fine, back hook I have doubts

Obviously rigging on a tin squid make it a moot point

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7 hours ago, pogie_boy said:

 

Apart from new legislation, you aren't going to get any more clarification on the rule itself.   And knowing the level of knowlege many EPOs have regarding fishing techniques, they may simply see it as live or dead bait and have issue with the lack of a circle hook.   

Exactly and this is why guy's take issue with this kind of legislation it's too broad and leaves a lot up to an individual EPO's discretion.

 

4 hours ago, CcCstriper89 said:

Considering the slaps on the wrist guys get for legitimate laws being purposely broken like coolers full of undersized sea bass and stringers full of micro striper; I am willing to take the risk and will continue using J hooks on rigged eels. If ever questioned or approached by an EPO I would just fight it. 

I won't stop fishing my riggies either. I've never gut hooked a fish and will continue using them with a clear conspicuous. I doubt I'll ever run into an EPO where and when I fish anyways.

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On 9/14/2019 at 7:51 PM, BernardtheGurnard said:

This circle hook mandate will not apply to natural baits attached to an artificial lure to be trolled, jigged, or casted and retrieved (e.g., tube and worm).”

Am I the only one here who recognizes that getting the answer to the "must I use circle hooks when using riggies?" question will be IMPOSSIBLE until DMF defines "artificial lure" and specifies the constraints (if any) for how the natural bait is attached to the clearly-defined "artificial lure"?

One can pose the question until blue in the face, only to receive conjecture, anecdotes, and (perhaps by definition?) misinformation.  For example, I recently read here that one of us recently asked that very question of an EPO and was told that "If you're using dead bait, it has to be a circle hook.  Period." I'm quoting from memory, but that's pretty darned close I think.

 

The EPO's statement strikes me as patently incorrect.  In order to avoid a discussion of the nuanced differences between say a wobblehead tin and a bucktail jig when either is attached to this natural bait, let's assess my hypothetical (and facetious, I know) example of surfcasting with a dead eel hooked onto a 7" Redfin, according to the criteria spelled out by DMF:

 

This circle hook mandate will not apply to natural baits (check.  the dead eel is a natural bait.)

 

attached (check.  One end of the RF hook through the eel's head and the other end of the hook connected to the device via a split ring is the "attachment".)

 

to an artificial (check.  Made of plastic.)

 

lure (check.  This type of device--a slender piece of plastic with a wiggle-causing front lip and metal hooks hanging from the bottom of the plastic body has been referred to as a "lure" for over 100 years.)

 

to be trolled, jigged, or casted  (check, check and check.  All three are self evident, but the last one is the only applicable behavior for my specific example.)

 

and retrieved (check, turning the reel handle retrieves the lure.)

 

At this point, it seems clear that our angler has indeed met ALL of the criteria, as described by DMF, for a situation in which This circle hook mandate will not apply. 

 

"Here we go, Mr. EPO, for all the marbles.  The survey says ... 'BUZZZZZZZZ'.  Oh, I'm so sorry, but you missed it."

 

(e.g., tube and worm). (N/A for my hypothetical example.)

 

BUT, this "tube and worm" example indicates that a weighted or unweighted device with colored rubber that surrounds a line with an attachment loop on one end and a hook on the other end constitutes ONE EXAMPLE of "an artificial lure".  

 

Replace the worm with an eel (alive or dead, it would appear) impaled on a jig (weightedhook that's tied to the distal end your leader (the line), the proximal end of which is tied to a swivel (attachment loop) which is covered by a 3/8" long piece of tubing (colored rubber) and--other than the affectation of the 3/8" long piece of tubing--what do you have?  Instead of a jig, use a bare (unweightedhook, or a wobblehead/squid tin (weighted + hook).

 

Looks to me like we could be tossin' riggies, legally, by adding 1/2 a cent's worth of tubing.

 

Returning to my to my initial premise, not only is a clear definition of "artificial lure" required, but that defintion and how it is to be applied by EPOs in the field should be clearly communicated to all of the stakeholders, especially and initially EPOs (Initial and ongoing training programs?) followed by anglers of all ilks (ongoing marcomm program with advertising, PR, virtual events, etc. etc., in several languages?) and other groups that might include communities like science, conservation, etc.  I doubt that the latter two will occur to any great extent due to both cost and the requirement for sound thinking. 

 

 

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19 hours ago, Sudsy said:

Front hook should work fine, back hook I have doubts

 

19 hours ago, Sudsy said:

Obviously rigging on a tin squid make it a moot point

Do you understand how circle hooks work? To be effective the fish has to almost swallow the bait, so the hook has enough time and distance to turn while still inside the fish and then hook the corner of the fish's mouth as it slides back out of the fish. Do you really thing that a rigged eel with stay in the fish's mouth long enough to turn and hook the fish on its way out?

 

Why not a circle hook on a tin squid?

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I've been fishing circles on live eels for 20 years, yes, I have an idea how they work

As for the back hook on a rigged eel I'm not sure if there would be enough hook showing, enough gap, to catch the jawline

I guess if you went with a much larger circle it would work

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