|Whoops! Now what? John Andrews photo|
At camp I've probably removed hooks from a hundred people over the years and I don't believe anyone, including onlookers, thought to film the procedure. In just about every case the hook can be removed using what is called the string method. This takes about one second and is so non-invasive that the next day most people aren't sure where the hook even had been.
So let's look at what you should do once you find a hook stuck in you. There are three main things to remember.
1. DO NOT CUT THE HOOK OFF THE TREBLE!
2. DO NOT CUT THE HOOK OFF THE TREBLE!!
3. DO NOT CUT THE HOOK OFF THE TREBLE!!!
Any questions so far? If you are wondering if you should cut the offending hook off the treble the answer is no, don't do that. But only one hook is caught in you so shouldn't you cut that one loose from the other two. NO!
Why am I being such a stickler on this point? Because if you do cut the single offending hook off the treble than what I said above about painlessly and instantly removing the hook goes right out the window. Now you have created a situation that is going to be difficult at best and possibly an expensive trip to the surgeon in some distant city at worst.
Even though it's redundant, let me make sure we are crystal clear about what I am talking about.
A treble is the entire piece of metal that has three individual hooks attached to it. In 99.99 per cent of the times that you are accidentally hooked, only one of those three hooks is stuck in you. The other two hooks are just sticking harmlessly up in the air. Whatever you do, don't cut that one hook off the stem holding the other two hooks.
Instead cut the split ring that holds the entire treble to the lure or if there is no split ring, cut the eye of the treble itself. You can then come back to camp to get the hook taken out. If you know how to do the string method you can get one of your buddies to help and do it right there in the boat.
Here's how the string-method works: A loop of strong string is placed around the offending hook. The loop is crossed and the other end is around the helper's wrist. This just lets him get a good grip on the string. The shank of the treble is pressed down to the skin. The helper gives a sharp tug parallel to the skin. This motion makes the rounded outside portion of the hook stretch the little hole in the skin made by the hook and the barb comes through that opening before the hole closes. The hook comes out with almost no resistance. It's all over in a split-second and all that's left is a tiny hole that you can patch with a Band-Aid and some ointment. Doctors advise that if you haven't had a recent tetanus shot to get one as soon as you return home from your trip.
The alternative scenario: you cut the single hook off the treble. Without the stem of the treble it is impossible to use the easy string method. In most instances the best thing to do is try and imitate the same motion as when using the string but instead using needle nose pliers. In other words, roll the remaining portion of the hook as if you were pushing down on the stem and then make a quick tug parallel to the skin. The hook comes out, just not as cleanly as with the string.
Finally, and this is a last resort, the piece of a hook can be rotated to push the point back through the skin. Skin is about as elastic as rubber and what will happen when you try pushing the point through is the skin just stretches. A little trick here is to hold down the skin with a bottle cork and turn the hook into it. The push-through technique is twice as invasive as pulling the hook back out through the single hole that it entered. It also means pushing the hook through more flesh.
There is a big danger when pushing-through a hook and that is you might lose the little bit of hook gripped by the needle nose pliers and the hook simply disappears into the flesh. The exact same thing will happen if you cut the single hook off the treble very close to the skin. Once the hook has disappeared there is nothing to do but seek medical help. If the hook is in the fingers or palm side of the hand, which is usually the case, a normal MD won't cut it out for fear of damaging nerves. That means a trip to a surgeon and you might need to travel to a larger city to find one.
Therefore, the number one rule when you get hooked: DO NOT CUT THE HOOK OFF THE TREBLE!
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