Anglers asked to go barbless

Photo of a man fishing in a lakeAlberta has been barbless since April 2004 – and our fishing community has been a strong supporter of the barbed hook ban on provincial waters.  Albertans understand the benefit of barbless hooks to maintaining healthy fish stocks for current and future anglers.

That’s why we are asking Alberta’s anglers to keep barbed hooks out of our waters as we work with our federal counterparts to fix an unfortunate oversight.

Last fall, a federal amendment to the Alberta Fishery Regulations inadvertently removed the barbed hook ban.  The omission was not immediately noted and has affected about 600 Albertans who were ticketed for using barbed hooks.

Officials from ESRD and Justice and Solicitor General are working to rectify the problem by withdrawing charges and reversing wrongful convictions and fines for those individuals affected since September 2011.

It’s unfortunate that this situation has occurred, but we’re working with the Government of Canada to determine the appropriate next steps as we consider the current lack of a barbed hook ban.

We propose to consult with Alberta’s sportfishing community to review the need for a barbed book ban before we make a decision to request that it be re-introduced in the regulations.  This will take some time.

In the meantime, we encourage Alberta’s anglers to continue to use barbless hooks and remember that we are promoting proper handling techniques for all fish to best ensure their survival once released.

We are blessed to live in a province with abundant natural beauty with immense recreational value, and we want to ensure we sustain that for the future.

For more information on angling in Alberta, visit

Edited on December 20 to properly reflect the regulation affected.

9 thoughts on “Anglers asked to go barbless

  1. Barbed single hooks are nastey. Barbed treble hooks are terrible. Especially when one practices catch and release. Most bass fishermen practice catch and release, but see no problem ripping half their mouths off removing the hook. I’ve caught smallmouth whose mouth looked as if they had been run through a brush wacker. And usually it’s treble hooks on crankbaits that are the biggest culpret. Kudos to you and your effort.

  2. In BC they have a single hook rule. Never had a problem removing a single barbed hook. My six year old lost a trout last year after many hours of patience, I couldn’t help but wonder if he’d have landed it it with a single barb. Seems silly that a kid can’t use a barb, but oil companies are free to do major damage.

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  7. I think barbless should be a choice. The bigger issue should be first caught first kept. I have seen people catch and release dozens of fish just to find a legal size one to take home or to the derby. Where they were fishing there were about a half dozen dead or dying fish. Barbless still takes out their gills occasionly, If it was changed to- “you caught it you keep it”. people could accept that. You really could get the smallest fish award at the derby. This would save more fish than the barbless debate.

  8. it’s a slippery slope, i have caught fish with both barb and barbless, it comes down to a few factors regarding the fatality rate of C & R fishing or other. First, people are generally stupid…most people are ill prepared for fishing and a number of things are absent/missing from their tackle box, but the numero-uno item is either the short or long needle-nose pliers. The second most important thing they’re missing is “handling” knowledge, how to hold the fish & how long you have during hook removal. The 3rd and final most important thing is they’re missing the knowledge on how to safely remove the hook from their catch doing as little damage to the fish as possible. I’ve seen guys just grab the hook head and tear it straight out…they receive an earful from me followed by “no you dummy, this is how you do it”. I’ve seen fish take the hook right past their tongue, swallowed so far that their sphincter only reveals the top of the hook…in this event your hooped for hook removal, barbed or barbless and you’d better hope it was a keeper, if it wasn’t be honest & report it. I would also like to say what plays a major role in mortality is the technique of “setting the hook”, I’ve seen quite a few people improperly or not at all setting the hook, fortunately for those I have seen I was able to teach them another vital step to ensuring the fish can be returned to the waters unharmed by teaching them how to properly set the hook.

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