Catch-and-release is the most humane way to angle fishes and keep fishing full of fun. If it’s not your livelihood, neither will you eat the fish or want a trophy fish; it is better to release the fish back in the water after catching it and clicking images showing it off to the fellow anglers.
However, the question is, when the fish has taken the bait and is hooked deeply, has struggled to get free, was out of the water, how exactly is it going to survive? No worries, it will. Most fishes caught by the hook do, but only if you tackle them gently. Gently tackling them implies two things: one, you have to remove the fishing hook without hurting the fish much, and secondly, you will have to release it in the water in no time.
Even that, you need to do very carefully. Chances are quite high that the fish you caught will survive and thrive in the water within hours. Here, we will talk about how to remove a fishing hook, ensuring that you do not severely harm the catch.
How To Remove A Fishing Hook Step by Step
Step #1 – Be Gentle With The Catch
Let the fish fight for its life; it will have a fit because it’s a life-and-death situation. Not for you, so you need to be gentle, knowing that the fish will continuously move intensely, without even realizing that it will hurt itself. So, when you notice the fish has taken the bait, start your gentle action then and there. In the case of the gamefish, being gentle will be tough, but behave as much as you can. Do not drag the fish with too much force. If it’s moving, let it by offering a slightly loose fishing line. Once it’s exhausted, the vehement movement will stop. Pull it towards you only then. Also, keep in mind that being gentle doesn’t mean you will take care of a hooked fish for hours. None has that much time to waste.
Step #2 – Keep The Fish In The Water
Fish don’t survive without water. For a minute or two, it might survive, but even that’s a stretch. So, when you have caught the fish, please keep it in the water. Even if you bring it to the shore, make sure to do it, keeping it deep in the water. For that, use a net after you have hooked the fish. It will flip flop, wriggle, move in that net but will remain in the water.
Step #3 – Hold It The Right Way
The moment it’s out of the water, start counting seconds. Do whatever you want to do, like looking at it closely, clicking pictures of it, everything within a couple of minutes. For that, you will have to hold the fish the right way. Please don’t grab it through its jaw, dangling it as a lifeless being. Know that all that weight on the jaw will hurt. So, hold it the way it would swim in the water. Not flat, nor dangling. Use one hand in cupping its neck and the other cupping the portion around the anal fin. It will be at ease and will not wriggle or flop.
Step #4 – The Hook Type
You can remove the hook before taking the fish off from the water and clicking pictures, or you can do it right in this step. The best is to try removing the hook keeping the fish in the water. So, after you are done enjoying the beauty of the fish and gloating enough about your angling capabilities, time to remove the hook from the fish as you can simply keep it in the water, remove the fishing hook and then release it back in the water. Here is the thing, make sure you avoid angling fishes with both the J hooks and treble hooks if you are attempting to catch-and-release the fish. These hooks are fatal for the fish and might kill the catch immediately, hooking on to sensitive organs. Use a circle hook every time you angle a fish caught to land back in the water.
Step #5 – Removing The Hook
While removing the hook, you have to be gentle. The fish must not move vehemently, wriggle and all that sort to harm itself and injure you as well. So, let it relax a bit. Now inspect where the hook is in the fish.
If it is hooked in sensitive organs like the gut or the throat, make sure to cut the hook closer to the fish body. It sounds deadly but let the rest of the fishing hook remain in the fish flesh as it is. Ensure not to pull it out because your one wrong pull will kill the fish. But if you only cut the hook that is sticking out and is not inside the fish and release the fish, the hook will come out of the fish eventually, in an organic way, or it might blurt it out. In any case, the fish will survive. Ensure you are holding the fish gently, not squeezing its gill or other body parts while cutting the hook. Do not try to put extra force while cutting the circle hook too. Treat the fish in a way that it survives. When you keep that in mind that you need to save the fish, you will automatically treat it the right way.
If it is hooked near the lip, then you can be a little relaxed. In that case, you need pliers to slide it out. If you are skilled enough in removing hooks around the fish’s mouth, you can do it with bare hands. The trick is to pull it out following the path it entered. You might have to put a little force to loosen the bard and point. But after that, all you need to do is to pull it out slowly and carefully. This gentle movement will make the removal of the hook absolutely painless. Reminder, you are holding your fish in the water even now. If you do that, only then can you take time to treat the fish gently.
After you have removed the hook, it’s time to land the fish in the water. Throwing it in the water is not how you release a fish; let us say it loud and clear. The fish is exhausted, injured, so throwing it in the water with full force is a bad idea altogether. The right process is to take it a little deeper in the water, holding the jaw or the belly depending on which fish you have caught and is now releasing, gently placing it in the water, drowning it entirely, and then letting it go. No throwing, tossing, and all, all right.