Chumming and Illegal Barbed Hooks

Last spring, I was at the Farmington and heard a lot of yelling. A fly angler was saying something to a centerpinner. The latter eventually walked away.

Later, I scooted over to the fly angler and got the download. He saw the centerpinner chumming, and he suspected the angler was fishing with a barbed hook, which is illegal in the TMA.

He said the angler was throwing egg sacks, and you need the barb to keep the bait on the hook.

Last week, I ran into an old friend, who said that fly fishermen, including one whom I know well and respect, have been landing TMA fish with barbed hooks and egg sacks stuck on them.

He also mentioned that there is a particular guide who brings clients to the TMA to centerpin with barbed hooks. The guide also chums. Unfortunately, I’ve heard this same name mentioned numerous times by many of the regular Farmington anglers.

Know that chumming is not fair to others, even if it is legal in some states. If you’re downstream of the chummer, whether you’re throwing flies or bait, you’re hosed. Fish will smell the bait and slide away from your area.

One time, I was fishing the Squannacook near a guide whom I know, who was taking out two rookies. In plain sight, he threw some trout pellets when the action was slow. A few minutes later, he did the same thing. Didn’t make me feel great.

Also, know that barbed hooks at the Farmington TMA are illegal. It is much easier to release a fish while using barbless hooks.

So, if you’re new to the Farmington and want to centerpin with bait, please know the regulations (here). If you see someone centerpinning with egg sacks at the TMA, ask politely if he/she is using a barbless hook.

And, if you observe any violations, call the Environmental Conservation (EnCon) Police at 800-842-4357. You can be anonymous. They’re very responsive.

I called that phone number once. I was at a fly-only freestone. A bait angler illegally parked near the river, amazingly. He had a worm on his rig. When I told him he was at a fly-fishing zone, he said he didn’t care.

Disgusted, I walked away to avoid a confrontation. Then, I realized I had an opportunity. I snapped a photo of the the car and license plate and called EnCon. Within 10 minutes, I got a call from an officer. The angler had left by then, but the officer said that they would visit the angler at his home, given they had the plate number.

So, let’s preserve our fisheries. If you’re a grown adult and want to fish with bait, hey, it’s legal. Just please observe the regulations. And, if you’re a guide knowingly breaking the law, you should know better.


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20 thoughts on “Chumming and Illegal Barbed Hooks

  1. It has always bothered me that bait fishing is allowed in C&R waters. I have never seen centerpin fishing and glad you pointed out the use of barbed hooks. Always see folks with mealworms or other bait and some are very sophisticated in their rigging and do less damage to released fish that a lot of flyanglers I have observed.
    Its up to us to police our ranks and all of us should have the contact number in our phones so we can easily make the call.

    1. Experienced spin-fishermen are very good with releases. I saw one such guy fishing with dough balls and racking up the numbers. He used hemostats to quickly release each fish and didn’t handle them at all. So, anglers of all types can learn from him.

  2. Today, perhaps more than ever, it’s imperative that we fish responsibly and promote responsible stewardship. Technological advancement puts additional strain on our fisheries, from the wealth of easy-access information at our fingertips on the World Wide Web to high tech innovations in tackle. It’s important we do our part to educate and maintain accountability because the fish are at an ever increasing disadvantage.
    Of course fly fishermen need to be kept in check too, walking on redds, beating up spawners, and pressuring fish in warm water among other “white collar” crimes.

    1. I agree. We all need to do our part. Last year, I did less tightlining and focused on wet flies. Tightlining was becoming a bit predictable and incredibly effective, and I was wondering if high-volume days were really necessary and likely not good for the fish. Euronymphing is deadly, figuratively and, maybe, literally, too?

  3. You may want to consult DEEP as to whether chumming is legal or not because I can’t for the life of me find anything on the books that says it is. It certainly isn’t illegal in all inland water or any marine water considering CT DEEP regularly encourages people to try it when fishing for certain species.
    There is no doubt in my mind though that chumming on a relatively small trout river with a lot of other anglers around isn’t a polite thing to do.

  4. If you’ve never seen centerpinning on the Farmington, head up to hitchcock chair in the week following opening day. NY plates are usually a good giveaway that centerpinning might be taking place 😉
    As far as illegal activity on the Farmington goes, I’d much prefer more effort go toward policing license enforcement, creel limits/size, and littering, rather than debating the nuance of questionable tactics in the dead of winter where there is always open water available if you head outside the TMA.
    Suggestion for another blog post: would you be willing to pay more for your fishing license if you knew that money would go toward more of a presence on the river from DEEP/Encon?
    Keep up the good work here guys.

  5. Caught and Released, a 30 Inch. Brown Trout Hen. On the Swift, this morning. Roll Casting and High Stick Nymphing, with a Crystal Scud Nymph. Took a Still Photograph, in addition to a release video. Biggest Brown I’ve ever seen. Let alone caught, sent the Release footage to Gary Metras. Loved his reaction. What a sacred morning, especially as I got a rare(deserved) day off work. #Catch and Release Fly Fishing #Roll Casting #High Stick Nymphing. Cheers!


    William D. Flack

    PS having the Release photograph framed. She’ll swim freely, for eternity??

  6. Yes. Have the Release Photograph and Video of her, swimming away on my phone. “A Diamond in the Mind.” Bent the living daylights, out of my new TFO. Lefty Kreh II. 8 WT. Fly Rod. Real, hand on heart?


    William D. Flack

    PS I hand-Tied the Scud, so I feel truly blessed and beyond fortunate.

  7. On my Instagram, William D. Flack. Ashu, already liked it. Amongst “others.” Enjoy it, posted the Fly too.


    1. Congrats on an amazing catch and release William! That’s a brown of a lifetime. Glad it happened in Massachusetts 😉

      1. Born and Raised, proudly so in Massachusetts. I’m just a mere fraction, in her life’s story. So grateful, for her and her sharpened survival skills. The Framers, supposed to be done. Mounting the Photograph and Fly. Bye Wednesday, or Next Friday at the latest. I never Fly Fish, with greedy or overzealous expectations. Just to relax and aide the Symptoms, of my Highly Functioning Autism. Helps, means that much more. When unexpectedly wonderful events, occur. Perhaps, she was waiting for the “deserving angler.” Who of Pure Heart and Soul. Would gently release Her, compelled bye the unbelievable sight. Of her Giant Spots, Deep Caramel Hues, and Looking Glass Eyes. Made me feel, something deeper and even transcendent?


        William D. Flack

        PS “keep your eyes open to the varied spectacles of Mother Nature.” My quote. #MA.SwiftR.Catch&ReleaseForeverBrownTrout.

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