Florida Sea Grant Extension in Collier County

Welcome to the Collier County Sea Grant Extension Blog

This blog is an opportunity for me to share with you my extension outreach efforts and useful information to make you a more informed coastal citizen. If you have any questions about what you see, feel free to contact me at fluech@ufl.edu.

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Use and Benefit of Dehooking Tools

These days, because of regulations, it's almost a guarantee that if you catch fish, you will most likely have to release some of them because of a closed season, size limit, or bag limit restriction. Although catch and release fishing has proven to be a valuable conservation tool, simply releasing a fish back in the water does not guarantee its survival. Anglers must consider how their actions will affect the health and well-being of their catch if they cannot keep it. Where a fish is hooked, how it is handled before and during hook removal, and how long it is kept out of the water all play significant roles in its post-release survival.

A dehooking tool is a simple device that anglers of all ages can use to greatly increase the chances that their released fish survive. The use of a dehooking tool to remove embedded hooks can help alleviate some of the stresses and physical damage associated with catching and handling a fish. In addition, they help protect anglers from sharp hooks, spines, and teeth.
There are several types, styles and manufacturers of dehooking tools available on the market. Although costs vary, an angler can expect to pay on average between $8 and $20. Some tools have been more extensively field tested by researchers and industry than others and meet National Marine Fisheries Service’s minimal design standards.
Many anglers use pliers to remove hooks from fish, but long-shafted dehooking tools that can grab the fishing line, slide down it, and remove the hook quickly and safely are recommended because they require minimal to no handling of the fish. Furthermore, with long-shafted dehooking tools, a fish can generally be dehooked without removing it from the water, thus minimizing air exposure and further stress to the fish.
Some dehooking tools are specifically designed to remove deeply swallowed hooks in addition to external lip or foul hooks. Instructions for removing deeply swallowed hooks may differ slightly from tools that only remove external hooks. Consult with the manufacturer and/or salesperson for instructions. If you gut hook a fish and do not have a dehooking tool that can properly remove deeply swallowed hooks or are not comfortable using one, cut the leader as close to the hook as possible. The hook will eventually rust out and/or the fish will be able to expel it.
Using a dehooking tool is a relatively simple process even for novice anglers, but may require some practice to ensure it is done correctly. If you are not comfortable with using a dehooking tool, you can practice on a fish model or corrugated cardboard box before using it on a real fish. Always dehook a fish over water and never in the boat or on land as this can increase the likelihood of injury when the fish falls. In either situation, the less time the fish is kept out of the water, the less stress it will endure.
As a reminder, anglers targeting reef fish in state and federal waters of the Gulf and Atlantic are now required to use dehooking tools. To find out more about these regulations, and learn more about proper fish handling practices visit http://catchandrelease.org/

To see a video of me using a dehooking tool visit:

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