When fishing Wyoming, leave the beads at home

The use of plastic beads as a method to fish for trout, a technique from Alaska, has been adopted by anglers looking for another advantage when trout are hard to catch.

Anglers headed to Wyoming this summer might want to check their beads at the border.

A popular fishing technique that originated in Alaska and now is used in many Western states is coming under scrutiny from Wyoming’s Department of Game and Fish.

In recent years, the use of plastic beads as a method to fish for trout has been adopted by anglers looking for another advantage when trout are hard to catch.

Usually, a small plastic bead resembling a fish egg is affixed to the line a few inches above a bare hook. When the trout mouths the bead, the angler reacts by setting the line, pulling the hook and snagging the fish, usually on the outer part of the mouth.

Now, it appears that method might be illegal under certain regulations forbidding snagging, and the Wyoming Department of Game and Fish is taking another look at the practice.

Depending on how the bead is rigged on the line, such a setup may or may not be legal under Wyoming statutes.

Wyoming law prohibits the snagging of fish, and the definition of “snag” under Wyoming laws is: “Attempting to take a fish in such a manner that the fish does not take the hook voluntarily into its mouth.”

Currently, the rule in Wyoming is that attaching the bead to the leader above a bare hook is an illegal fishing method.

Several states, including Montana, California and Pennsylvania, already prohibit using a bead above a bare hook.

The technique is legal in Colorado, where regulations do not address the issue specifically.

A fish caught by this technique does not take the hook into its mouth, but bites the bead and in turn is snagged by the bare hook.

Because the fish is not voluntarily taking the hook into its mouth, this method of rigging the bead is considered snagging and is illegal under Wyoming law.

However, a trout bead used as an attractor in combination with a fly is a legal method.

When used as an attractor, Wyoming regulations say the bead should be fixed on the leader two inches or less above the fly to minimize injury to the fish.

So, who’s to tell when an angler is using the bead as an attractor or as the main “bait?”

In response to the growing interest in bead fishing, Wyoming Game and Fish biologists this summer will collect data and poll anglers about possible changes to Wyoming fishing regulations.


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