After a long line of email I got the answer from fish and Game on what they considered as a fish hooked in the mouth. The Reglaution states:
o It is unlawful to intentionally snag or attempt to snag any fish in fresh water. Fish unintentionally hooked elsewhere than the mouth must be released immediately. "Snag" means to hook a fish elsewhere than in the mouth.
So here is what fish and game had to say. Also this is the defination the state has been using for years against anglers who went to court ( funny how this is not in the reg.).
o The term “in the mouth” means inside the mouth. The term “hook” as used in the regulation (5AAC 75.022c) means to pierce or puncture the fish with the point of a fishing hook. Thus, the exact location on the body of the fish where the point of the hook first enters becomes the location where the fish is hooked. This would mean that a fish in fresh water must be hooked, or initially pierced, inside the mouth in order to be legal. A fish hooked, or pierced, from outside the mouth with the hook point coming to rest inside the mouth would not be legal because it was not hooked, or initially pierced, inside the mouth.
o A line drawn along the edges of the lips where a straight edge makes contact when held against the closed lips from the outside at a perpendicular angle to the mouth opening. Thus any hook pierce on the lip inside such a line toward the mouth opening would be considered inside the mouth and any hook pierce outside such a line would be considered elsewhere than in the mouth regardless of where the point of the hook comes to rest.
Please pass along to all anglers you know. No telling when this information will hit the regs. Also if you would like a copy of the email messages just drop me a line: email@example.com
I submitted the following question to ADF&G:
"I have a question that I hope you or someone you can refer the question to can answer. When the regulations say that a fish must be hooked "in the mouth" to be legal, what exactly does that mean? Does "in the mouth" mean that the hook must be from the "inside-out" to be legal, or is "outside-in" (barb ends up inside the mouth) also legal?"
This is the reply I received from ADF&G in response to my question:
“As you may have expected, this is not an easy question to answer.
Let's start with the legal definition of snag: means to hook a fish
elsewhere than in its mouth.
Merriam-Webster defines the mouth as "the natural opening through which food passes into the body of an animal and which in vertebrates is typically bounded externally by the lips and internally by the pharynx and encloses the tongue, gums, and teeth". Regulation (in my opinion) does not specify that a hook must first pierce the fish inside the mouth, what is says is "fish hooked elsewhere than in the mouth" must be released. So the propriety of retaining a fish hooked outside the mouth with the hook point protruding into the mouth goes unanswered.
There are other opinions that feel the most natural reading of the
regulation is that it prohibits the retention of a fish that was hooked from the outside rather than the inside of the mouth, even if the point of the hook ends up inside a fish's mouth. Otherwise, the legality of retention would depend on whether the point of the hook protruded all the way through, or got stuck on cartilage. In addition, there's the common-sense distinction between a fish that strikes a lure and a fish that never strikes at a lure but ends up hooked as a result of being "lined." The intent of the regulation appears to be to limit retention to fish that struck or otherwise took a lure.
However, it is possible a court would find the regulation is not sufficiently clear about what constitutes "hooked in the mouth." Accordingly, I cannot declare with certainty what the "correct" interpretation is. I expect in the right case with the right facts the State could prosecute a case of "lining" in good faith. Probably the most important thing is that ADF&G and Department of Public Safety settle upon a common interpretation and stick to it consistently.
I don't know if any of this helps as the Kenai is the place where the line must be held very strictly due to sheer numbers of sport fishermen."
MountainMan who at fish and game to you talk to. I would like to get the email traffic so I could add to me email that is pending at Fish and Game. My Email address is in the first message.