Proper dehooking of fish is critical. This is when the fisherman becomes a surgeon. “Nurse, hand me the forceps, stat!”
Guiding means handling a lot of fish. Demonstrating proper Catch and Release is part of a Guides presentation. Back in the day when I guided on the Bighorn River, the browns were much bigger, stronger, and toothier! Once the fish was in the net, I would use my finger to slide down the line until my fingernail hit the fly. Then I could push and quickly remove the hook. This was fine if the fish didn’t move. Rarely did that happen.
Holding the fish upside down was recommended, keeping the fish in the net, keeping the fish in the water… this all was important but when the fish moved, their teeth would draw blood on me! My right index finger looked like a dog had chewed on it. It constantly was sore, bleeding, and looked bad.
The secret was having the right tool for the right job. On one trip to the Urgent Care, A nurse friend provided me with several pairs of Forceps that were 7 inches long and had curved ends. She said that she heard that this would easily grab the hook and keep my fingers out of the jaws of death.
I clamped a pair onto my fishing vest where they have stayed ever since. There should be a law requiring forceps for dehooking fish. Simply use the tips of the forceps to grab the bend of the hook. Twist, push, or pull and the hook will follow. With practice, and a lot of fish, you too will become a great fish “unhooker”!
The other trick to releasing fish is the initial Triage. Look at where the hook is. If the hook on the fly has been “analized”, simply cut the line. Bait fishermen can save many small fish lives by simply cutting the line on their baited rigs that have been completely swallowed.
Hey, it only costs a hook to set the fish free for another day. You will only kill the fish if you shove tools, fat fingers, and dehooking tools down the fish’s throat. A hook will dissolve or be passed in a few days. The fish’s digestive juices will dissolve a bronze hook.
Save a fish’s life!
For more Montana Grant. Hook up at www.montanagrantfishing.com.