Hooked Up

By Capt. Cefus McRae, Nuts & Bolts of Fishing Series

It’s been a long time since I got a hook stuck in me.  I try to be careful when tying on a lure, when landing fish, and when removing hooks from fish.   But if you do enough fishing, at some point, you’re probably going to get stuck.  

Now, probably 99% of the times I’ve felt the pointy end of the hook piercing my skin, I was able to react quickly enough to prevent it from doing much more than a simple prick of the skin.   That other 1% of the time is when the hook becomes embedded beyond the barb.   And that’s what happened last week.

In this particular case, I wasn’t even fishing.  I was just cleaning up some tackle in my man-cave.  As you can imagine, I’ve got waaaaaay too much fishing gear.  At least my wife tells me that on a regular basis.

I’ve got a wire rack where I hang lures to dry after I’ve fished with them, or when I wash everything down after a trip to the ocean.  I like to let my WhoopAss Bucktails dry in the air, versus drying in the tackle box.  It keeps the filaments of the bucktail nice and straight, and it also keeps the hooks from rusting.  Same goes for my hard plastic lures, spinnerbaits and trolling plugs. 

On this particular occasion, I had just hung up a spinnerbait, and as I was taking my hand away, my finger got a little too close to a MirrOlure Top Dog….and in a split second, I was having a tug of war with the wire rack.  The bottom treble hook of the Top Dog had completely buried itself into the tip of my middle finger. 

In reality, I really didn’t even feel the hook go in.   The hooks are super-sharp, and this was a freshly cleaned and hardly-used plug.  Now I’ve got a huge plug dangling off the end of my finger, and each time I moved my hand the plug also moved, which caused the hook to move, which caused me to wince in pain. 

After determining I wasn’t going to pass out from shock, the next step was to get the hook off the plug.  Fortunately, I’ve got some great Cuda Cable Cutters, and after four snips the hook eye had a gap big enough to fall free from the eye screw on the plug. 

You might say “Why not just cut the hook at the shank?”.   If you do, then you have nothing to grab securely during the removal procedure.  Better to keep the entire hook intact. 

For the 1% of the time I’ve had an embedded hook in me…probably 95% of the time, I’ve been able to remove it myself.  Either by pushing it on through enough to expose the barb…cut the barb off and then back the shank out.   Or by doing the ‘piece of monofilament wrapped around the shank and jerking it out the way it came in’ method.  Google both of these methods and you’ll never want to get near a fishing hook again.  Neither of them are fun for the hook-ee.  I tried both of these methods this time too.  And neither of them proved fruitful.  The net result was a lot of pain, and no success.

So, it’s off to the doctor we go.

I live on the lake.  Our local doctors have seen plenty of hooks in anglers.   The procedure was pretty simple.  A little Novocain, and some surgical skills to expose the barb, then the sterilized bolt cutters.  Doc closed the small incision with SuperGlue; and one Bugs Bunny bandaid later, I was walking out of the office.  Oh, and I got a tetanus booster shot too. 

Lessons learned.  Now my wire lure drying rack has fewer lures, so it’s darn near impossible to touch two lures at the same time.  And I’ve gained a new respect for just how sharp MirrOlure hooks are.

Wishing all of you many days of only putting your hooks in fish…

Tight lines and calm seas.

Capt. Cefus McRae

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