June 23, 2014 Share

Video—Save the Life of Deep-Hooked Fish

Originally Published on Nov 1, 2011 “From the Docks” NBC Sports

I never really bought into the theory that the best way to save deep-hooked fish was to cut the line and release the fish with the hook still buried. Yet, when I tied to remove the hook with a needle-nosed pliers shoved down the fishes’ mouth, it was clear that I was inflicting additional harm to the fish…enough in some cases that the fish did not survive the encounter.

When legal to keep these fish I’d throw them on ice and have them for dinner. The others eventually became turtle food.

A friend of mine from Texas was the first to suggest trying to reach the hook not from the mouth, but from the side through the gills. I’d assumed the gills are too fragile to do so, but my first few attempts to remove deep hooks in this manner were surprisingly easy and clearly the best alternative. For one, removing the hook eliminated the possibility of the hook continuing to injure the fish or blocking its ability to feed. Secondly, when the hook was removed from the side there was a surprising lack of blood which I take to mean it that the method doesn’t appear to cause greater injury.

Recently I came across a video from the great folks who run the Texas Freshwater Fishery Center in Athens, Texas, not only highlighting the same three-step process I was taught, but also endorsing its effectiveness. Click here to link to a short video they’ve produced on the subject.

It’s always exciting to learn new and better ways to do things, and this is one of those times. I never did believe hooks rusted out after a few days in the water…