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Release a throat-hooked Bass alive & healthy 99% of the time

Igor Drackenwolf

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This is always worth sharing for those who may not know it.

We've all had that sick feeling... We're catch-and-release Bass fishing, trying to be good stewards of our resources, but somehow we fail to set the hook before the Bass has inhaled it deep in it's throat.

Many guys (I used to be one) would have to choose between cutting off an expensive hook, and ripping a Bass' guts out to retrieve it.

Our daddies told us that the fish would dissolve the hook, so we should cut it. But the reality is that an 0/5 hook lodged behind the tongue of a Bass means near certain death to that fish. Cutting the line is little more than a way for us to justify and forget about a throat-hooked fish.

Well, there is a technique that will save the lives of most of these fish. The technique is this:

1. Have a hookout or needlenose at the ready.

2. Holding the Bass firmly by the bottom lip, make sure there is plenty of slack in your line.

3. If there is plastic (senko, etc) on your hook, remove it if need be to get a clear look at the position of the hook.

4. Reach into the mouth and position the hook so that the shank end and eyelet is toward a gill-plate. (The entry point of the hook into the flesh will make it obvious toward which gill-plate you should push the shank) The slack line is key here, because you want the hook to stay in this position, shank toward gill-plate, and tension on the line will pull the hook shank away from the gill-plate and back toward the fishes mouth.

5. NOW THE KEY MOMENT: Reach through the gill-plate from the outside, grab the shank, and pull it out the gill-plate, and down towards the fishes tail. This will direct the hook-point straight down the fishes throat.

6. Reach into the mouth with your needle-nose, give a quick stiff yank, and the hook pops right out with little to no damage to the fish.

If you haven't tried this, you'll be amazed at how easy it is - and how obvious - once you see it in action. It sounds like a lot of steps, but it takes about 10-20 seconds from start to finish.

A fish released in this way will have a quick recovery from being deep-hooked, and most importantly, it will live to repopulate the lake, and to be caught another day.

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Copied this onto a word document and printed out. Will laminate and keep in the boat so I can make sure in case this happens. Fish top-waters and lipless cranks most of the time but if it can save a bass, it's worth keeping handy.

Point-of-Information: With the slack in the line, do you want the hook to be "upside-down" in the fish (i.e. with the eye pointing toward the tail) or just so the shank is turned toward a gill plate? Thanks.

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...Point-of-Information: With the slack in the line, do you want the hook to be "upside-down" in the fish (i.e. with the eye pointing toward the tail) or just so the shank is turned toward a gill plate? Thanks.

Sorry, I could've made that more clear, so I've edited the original post to address your question.

That part is a two-step process. First step is to get the shank pointed toward the gill-plate. That allows you to reach in through the gill-plate from the outside, pulling the shank out the gill-plate, and THEN down towards the tail. Picture the hook-point in the fishes throat, with the hook shank out the gill-plate pointing towards that tail. THAT is the position the hook should be in for the final "yank".

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Yep. This also works extremely well for pike and muskies that seem to like to get hooked in between gill rakers. Just grab that hook through the gills and pull straight back. Depending on what you are using sometimes its easier just to pull the whole thing through the gills then cut the line.

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This is a great method for getting a deep hook out. If you can still see the hook you can get it out with minamal damage to the fish. In Fisherman did a little segment on this some years back.

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