Pat Connell

Lawmaker pushes social views with barbless hook bill

Helena – Republican Senator Pat Connell (R-Hamilton) introduced Senate Bill 74 last week which would allow the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks to ban the use of barbed fishing hooks on catch and release only designated waters.  The bill was heard in the Montana Senate Fish and Game committee on January 12, but no additional action has been taken on the bill.

Connell told the Helena Independent Record that research into fish mortality has not concluded that barbed hooks are more dangerous to fish than barbless hooks, but said he believes barbless hooks push a greater conservation message.

Senator Connell also testified to the committee that this bill isn’t about biology or fish population control, but rather a social issue.

Walleyes Unlimited and the Montana Wildlife Federation came out against the bill saying it was ‘code clutter’ and was unnecessary to put into law.  Critics have long argued against giving the commission additional power when many of their previous decisions that affect hunting, fishing, and trapping have not been based on scientific fact, but on politics or personal preferences.

While opponents stopped short of calling the bill frivolous or ridiculous, Pat Connell presented a similar bill during the 2013 legislative session, that bill died in a House committee.  This session, Connell also has a bill to relax transparency laws for meetings of county commissioners.

By Big Sky Headlines Staff