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Author Topic: Getting a handle on deeply hooked Bass  (Read 2291 times)

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Getting a handle on deeply hooked Bass
« on: December 14, 2013, 09:48:09 PM »

Hi Folks,
 I'm a newbee here but not to the world of bass fishing. I have been a bass fisherman now for going on 50 years and have been inventing lures and such for the last 20 years. I invented the Fish-N-Fool Knot that won the Knot Wars TV show Grand Championship back in 09 and it is still the strongest knot in the line to lure class with braid or mono that they EVER tested. I am a featured outdoors writer for many fishing E-magazines (EZangler and Bassnman to name a few) and I do articles on Bass, Pike and Muskie fishing. I also own a small bass lure manufacturing company that makes quality heavy salt Fish on the fall stickbaits. I post on you tube with regular Features as well on lure ideas knot tying demos and such.   Here is an article I wrote for my regular column, but I wanted to share it with you folks as well because it is important I think to get the word out on the latest methods for handling bass.

Getting a handle on deeply hooked bass

By Rick Lawrence
AKA the Fish-N-Fool

Too many anglers have been told for years that the best way to handle a deep hooked bass was to cut the line at the hook eye and let it rust out. I have for about the last 20 years never left a hook in a bass. I believe in that whole time I have only have killed one bass and that was because it got hooked in the gills and it tore the gills completely in two. Here are some of the latest scientific findings on hook removal.

Professional and TV anglers aren't the only ones to be slow in learning and applying the latest "word" from scientists, but they continue to advise anglers to handle fish using outdated procedures.

The recommendation that anglers cut the leader close to the hook when bass are "deep-hooked" is a good example. It is hard to find a publication on catch-and-release (C&R) techniques that doesn't pass on this poor advice. Yet, recent research on release techniques strongly suggests there is a better way.

Food coming down a bass' throat can get blocked if the hook shank doesn’t lie tightly against the side of the throat where the barb is lodged. Deep-hooked bass may even feel pain as the food rotates the barb and regurgitate the food. Recently these observations have been scientifically verified. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources recently did a study on striped bass at Chesapeake Bay. Their research used deep throat-hooked stripers between 16- and 28-inches long for observation in half-strength seawater so that hooks had ample opportunity to rust away. Size 1/0 and 2/0 stainless steel, bronzed, nickel, tin and tin-cadmium hooks were hooked in the top of each fish's esophagus, with an 18-inch length of line connected to the hook.

After four months, 78 percent of the hooks were still imbedded. Cadmium coated hooks poisoned 20 percent of the fish, and production of these hooks has been stopped. Bronzed hooks were less likely (70%) to be retained than tin-cadmium (80%), nickel (83%), or stainless steel (100%) hooks.

In a second test, the line was clipped at the eye of the hook, as advised by most existing C&R guides. One-hundred percent of the stainless hooks were again retained, while 56 percent of tin, 76 percent of bronze, 84 percent of tin-cadmium, and 88 percent of nickel hooks remained. Fish mortality was greater when all line was trimmed.

Unfortunately they didn’t do a study to see how the removal of the hook fared with the survival rate on the fish, but this does show that the hooks do not rust out quickly like many anglers think they do. I firmly believe that the best method for treating deep hooked fish is to always remove the hook. I have developed my own hook removal technique that has proven to be very successful over the past 20 years. The basic principle is to turn the hook around so it can be popped out with little or no damage to the fish. All you need for this method is a stiff wire on a handle with a small hook bent on the end and a pair of needle nose pliers or forceps. Since this requires 2 hands to perform this task I hold the fish gently between my knees while I work on them. You carefully go in through the gill plate on whichever side the hook eye is on and grab the line with the hook tool pulling it down through the gill plate and rotating the hook 180 deg. Then you simply pop the hook out with the pliers while holding the line tight with the hook tool so the hook stays pointing down. It is really quick and simple and far better than leaving the hook in the fish. This works best with the longer shanked worm style hooks but I have used it with great success on all types of hooks as well.

This is a video on the same basic idea, but not as good as they cut the line and you don't have to with my method.

You can also use a old crochet hook if you don't want to make a copy of my tool. I hope you will try my method on any bass you hook deep from now on and save more fish for us all to catch in the future.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2013, 09:53:55 PM by Fish-N-Fool »

PineLk 49

Re: Getting a handle on deeply hooked Bass
« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2013, 06:21:29 AM »

Welcome aboard Rick!! I have caught many bass over the years with line coming out the rectum. The fish are actually starving to death.

Enjoyed the video. Always looking for new ways to save or put less stress on a fish. Thanks for the tip and again welcome.



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Re: Getting a handle on deeply hooked Bass
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2013, 07:28:08 AM »

Thank you.  I will share this with my club.

So much water.  So many lures.  So little time.

Rick Fike
Vice president & Program Director Downriver Bass Association 734.649.9390

Firefighter Jeff

Re: Getting a handle on deeply hooked Bass
« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2013, 06:32:53 PM »

  I thought most people had heard of this before.  Guess not.  Glad to see some are learning how to do it.  I've been doing it for some time.  Works well from what I've seen.  I will admit I've cut the line on a gut hooked fish, only because it was bleeding bad.  Not sure how that happens with a gut hooked one but I've seen it.  If the fish floats it gets thrown in the livewell for the freezer.  After I apologize to mother nature.  lololol


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Re: Getting a handle on deeply hooked Bass
« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2013, 01:38:17 AM »

Big, big difference between most hooks commonly used in saltwater verses hooks commonly used in freshwater. saltwater might eat away hooks faster than freshwater but saltwater anglers tend to use hooks that resist this too, so it's offset. About the only hooks I see rusting away in any reasonable time in freshwater are the really cheap, really bad ones. There may be hooks being made for this now though. Seems like I read about it somewhere? Another option besides barbless that haven't caught on in huge numbers yet.

Some studies and biologists have reported if you do cut the line of a deep hook, leave about 6 inches out of the mouth. For some reason this seems to work better for bass in freshwater. They seem to have better luck getting rid of the hook with a length of line outside their mouth. I've done it a few times in extreme cases where I thought the bass might survive. I imagine this is somewhat difference from species to species.

Bass, and many other fish, don't have much blood in them, so they can't lose very much before it's too much. It's probably better if legal fish are kept in those cases and eaten.

Haven't seen any studies that prove fish feel pain. I've seen studies that demonstrate some type of reaction but the reaction isn't necessarily pain (especially as humans understand pain). P E T  A and others have claimed some of these studies prove fish feel 'pain' but they are misrepresenting the results to serve their own preconceived conclusion - something I run into quite a bit during many public meetings. Just variations of reverse scientific method (or sometimes... just plain lying).

Lake Erie smallmouth bass and tournament angler Jeff Snyder demonstrated the line through the gills, pulling the hook out backwards method a long, long time ago in different magazines and books. I've always followed his method. I believe we have older videos on here somewhere that demonstrate the way I've always done it - leaving the line attached and pulling the line through the gills with needle-nosed pliers. I think cameraguy did an illustration or something awhile back too on the forum.

The method works great, and with both largemouth and smallmouth bass, we can do it with 1 hand holding the bass by the mouth and 1 hand on the pliers. I wouldn't recommend holding any fish I wanted to release between my knees. Guaranteed you'll remove a great deal of their protective slime layer, and in general, most biologists and fish care experts recommend against removing any slime coat if you want to release a fish.

It helps if you have needle nose pliers with a longer, thinner 'nose' so you can reach inside easier, farther and with less risk to the gills. This works the majority of the time. Sometimes the hook size compared to bass size makes it more difficult to do. I would just recommend in those cases you determine if the fish really will make it, or if you have a fishing buddy with you, get him or her to help you. Don't use your knees, arms, or any other dry part of your clothing or anything else that will scrub a large amount of slime away from the fish.

I've used this method successfully with other fish too but if you can't hold the mouth of the fish, it can be a little to a lot trickier. Small-mouthed fish make it hard to hold them and still have room to work with.

If they're small fish, I'd recommend you hold them with a wet hand. If they're bigger fish, say with teeth, you may need to grip them inside the bottom of the gill opening opposite the hook with a good, firm grip. It works better if the fish isn't still putting up a green fight.

Dogfish are by far the hardest fish on average to do this with. A few sharp, sharp teeth that are easy to find. They're very slippery, very thick and firm. Being tubular too it makes them very hard to hold. They're strong enough that they often can break your grip on them just about anywhere and you can't lip them (unless your name is Snag from my old bass club... but then you need a large clean towel for the blood... yours! ;D Snag: "I thought it was a big bass!"). Their gill plate openings are smaller, tighter with not much space to grab them on if you can even get in there before they jerk out of your hand.

Yes, even dogfish deserve to be released back into the water in good shape if you don't plan on keeping them (if you do, send me a message why??). They're always the hardest fish for me to get a hook out of. Even if you net them, they like to roll, or can go through some 'conservation' nets with ease. I try to set quick on dogfish (and all fish) because it's less embarrassing getting the hook out in front of witnesses.

Help stop invasive spcies. Don't move fish between unconnected bodies of water. Clean, drain and dry your boat before launching on another water body.
Unless clearly stated as such, opinions expressed by Dan Kimmel on this forum are not the opinions or policies of Michigan BASS Nation or TBF of Michigan.


Re: Getting a handle on deeply hooked Bass
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2014, 12:45:38 PM »

This method has saved me hundreds of fish. I always use the through the gill method when gut hooked. It works great!
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