How to Remove a Fishing Hook

How to Remove a Fishing Hook
Removing a fishhook quickly and correctly increases the chances of being able to release the fish and have it survive. Those that keep their catch have as much time as they need to remove a hook. Those that practice catch and release do not. The difference between a fish living and dying during the procedure depends on your knowledge, speed and skill.
 

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

How to Remove a Fishing Hook

Things You’ll Need:
  • pliers, forceps or fishhook remover tool nail clippers damp cloth, towel or gloves
  • pliers, forceps or fishhook remover tool
  • nail clippers
  • damp cloth, towel or gloves
 
Step 1
Wet your hands or use a wet cloth if you have to grip the fish. Wet gloves will also suffice.
Step 2
Try to remove the hook with any large fish while it is still in the water. If this isn't possible, then use a wide mesh landing net composed of soft material. Don't scrape away any of the fish's scales or slime. These are its natural protection against disease and parasites.
Step 3
Avoid holding a large fish such as a trout, catfish, pike, bass or sucker by its belly. This can easily damage its internal organs and lead to death. Lay the fish down on a damp towel if it is large before trying to remove the hook. Never handle a fish by its gills. This can also kill it quickly.
Step 4
Remove the hook by hand if the fish is a smaller species such as a bluegill or crappie. Grip these fish by holding them in your palm and keeping their spiny top fins from extending. Take the top of the hook in your fingers. Push down on the hook to make it exit the jaw or lip of the fish to remove it. Hold the fish still while doing so.
Step 5
Use a pair of needle nosed pliers, forceps or a long-handled fishhook removing tool to remove hooks from larger fish. Fish like suckers, carp, bass and trout have tough jaws or thick lips which make it necessary to use a tool. Pike, muskellunge and pickerel have a mouth full of very sharp teeth. Grab the hook where it begins to bend with the tool and force it down quickly. Push it away from where it is lodged and then carefully bring it out of the fish's mouth.
Step 6
Cut any hooks as close to the line as possible if the fish has swallowed the hook. Do not attempt to remove it as this will typically result in death for the fish. Carry a pair of nail clippers with you for this occasion.
 

Tips & Warnings

 
Using barbless hooks will make removing a hook much easier for catch and release fishermen.
 
Realize that fish of the catfish family have sharp barbs at the base of their top and side fins. Position your hand on the top of the fish to avoid these barbs before closing your hand onto the fish. Always put the fish back in the water gently to keep it from going into shock. Hold it between your hands until it can swim away under its own power.
 
Realize that fish of the catfish family have sharp barbs at the base of their top and side fins. Position your hand on the top of the fish to avoid these barbs before closing your hand onto the fish.
 
Always put the fish back in the water gently to keep it from going into shock. Hold it between your hands until it can swim away under its own power.

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