Today, we are going to talk about how to properly, and safely, remove a hook from a fish. Recently, I have received a lot of emails from readers wanting to know, how to remove a hook from a fish and release it back into the water, without hurting the fish. This is a important for those who practice catch and release, and especially important for fish that are smaller than the legal size limit for possession!
Handling fish should be kept to a minimum and it should be done with a gentle hand! Where the fish is hooked is important, and should be observed and considered, before hook removal is attempted! Below is a list of tips for handling and releasing fish! The list I am sure, is not all the tips for all species, but works well for most species of fish! The order of these tips are in random order and does not reflect order of importance, or procedure, so use a little common sense and successful release will result in the survival of a healthy fish, for future fishing adventures!
1 Always wet your hands before handling a fish, as this helps to prevent damaging the fishes mucous or slime covering that protects them from disease and sickness!
2 Use caution, and grasp the fish firmly, but gently, to avoid dropping and damaging the fish, as this can hurt the fish and cause injury, and makes for a healthy release and the fishes survival! Be careful not to squeeze the fish too hard as to cause internal damage!
3 Always carry and use hemostats, needle nose pliers, etc, to remove hooks, using a twist and pull motion. Using your fingers can result in damage to the fish, and possibly hooking yourself in the process! Then you will be emailing me and asking me how to safely remove a hook from your hand, without causing you, too much stress!
4 Never, and I repeat, NEVER, pull a hook from a fishes gills or throat as this almost always results in death of the fish. Just cut the line, or cut the hook if possible, to retrieve your lure, and leave the hook, as most hooks will rust or dissolve in a fairly short time, thus insuring the survival of the fish!
5 Never stick your fingers into the eyes or gills of fish, this too, results in damaging the fish and more times than not will cause death to the fish!
6 When ever possible, grasp larger fish by the lower lip, and smaller fish around the mid section, after wetting your hands of course! Lipping a fish with teeth is not recommended for obvious reasons, so handle these fish by grasping them across the gill plates!
7 Fish too small to legally keep and fish that you don't intend to keep should always be handled with extreme caution and should be released immediately, to increase their chances of survival!
Handling fish and removing hooks from them causes a lot of stress on the fish, so be gentle, and quick and this will help reduce the amount of stress on the fish. Quickly release the fish back into the water, making sure the fish has the best possible chances of survival! You can not always remove a hook from a fish without damaging it but , if you use caution, you can greatly increase the odds of the fishes survival, without inflicting too much discomfort or damage to the fish!
I hope this answers your questions about how to remove a hook from a fish to ensure the release of healthy fish and greatly increase the chances of a healthy recovery, and increase your chances to catch a bigger fish the next time you go!
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So until next time, practice catch and release, and see ya out there I hope! Good luck on your next "Great Outdoor" adventure!
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