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#12745661 - 05/06/18 08:12 PM Tips for reducing gut-hooking fish?
Rdubs Offline
Green Horn

Registered: 03/18/18
Posts: 7
Hi all,
Sorry for the noob question but a bit of a noob. I'm slowly improving my fishing skills and, thanks to the members of this forum, have started having some good luck with my kids catching bluegills/sunfish. At this early stage and with these small fish we want to throw everything back. We've had good luck using artificial minnows (Gulp Alive brand) with a smaller hook - I think about size #6. We already crimp all the barbs on the hooks. However, occasionally the fish really inhales the bait and the hook gets inserted way past the lip or somewhere that I can twist the hook out just by rotating it. One the hook was so far down the throat I only saw the tail of the bait and another time it was visible but there was no way to twist it out. I've seen a video showing sometimes you can remove a deep hook by going in through the gills, but I wasn't really able to try, never having done it, on such a small fish. Both of these times I'm pretty sure the fish died - the one where the hook was visible, the fish wiggled the hook out himself in exchange for massive internal bleeding, and the second time when I saw the internal bleeding starting to happen I just cut the line as far down as I could and threw him back.
Anyway I'm wondering since I am pretty much inept at removing a hook once caught like that, if there are any ways to reduce the ability for a fish to hook himself deep like that. Maybe using a bigger hook would make it harder to swallow and keep the hook point on the lip? I know that would reduce the bite frequency, but that's okay. Or maybe a smaller hook would do less damage if it were inhaled and the fish wiggled itself free. Or maybe a different kind of hook (we're using long-shank regular J hooks).

I know this is a bit of a weak question but my kids were getting pretty sad when they saw the couple fish get hurt, it kind of put a damper on things.
Appreciate any thoughts.

#12745713 - 05/06/18 08:57 PM Re: Tips for reducing gut-hooking fish? [Re: Rdubs]
Donald Harper Offline
TFF Guru

Registered: 01/25/08
Posts: 15111
Loc: Justin, TX.
welcome To the forum. There are a couple of things that will help. As your question about a larger hook. That will help. Fish with moving baits like Crappie jigs that they can cast and retrieve. If the pond has Bass I like using a darter head with weed guard bristles will also help to keep the Bass from swallowing the bait. I like to cast a small 3.5 inch swim bait on the Darter Head. Purchase the ones with the spur on the lead shank so the rubber baits stay up and in place. You have to strike a happy medium on the size so they can get hooked; but not swallow it. H&H spinners make small ones for Bluegill and are also super moving baits for smaller fish. Slow moving plastics fished on the bottom like a small worm give them too much of a chance to swallow it. Bluegill will also strike the smaller inline spinners.

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#12745732 - 05/06/18 09:11 PM Re: Tips for reducing gut-hooking fish? [Re: Rdubs]
pop r Offline

Registered: 09/25/17
Posts: 436
Loc: Dallas,& Freestone counties
welcome You could go with a larger long shank hook and that should help. But you will always have some that will swallow the hook and you will have to cut the line. After a while the hook will rust and dissolve. Good luck and best wishes to you and the kids.

#12745844 - 05/07/18 03:19 AM Re: Tips for reducing gut-hooking fish? [Re: Rdubs]
karstopo Offline
Pro Angler

Registered: 05/22/16
Posts: 609
Loc: Brazoria County
Hemostats are handy for removing deeply swallowed hooks on fish with small mouths like bluegill. Circle hooks are another option. They do make small circle hooks (for fly tying). Normally, circle hooks don’t get hooked deep in the fish, but I haven’t used them much on bluegills.

Fish with things like floating foam spiders or other surface flies. You really don’t need a fly rod to cast them. Put a clear bobber a few feet above the spider/ant/beetle and toss it out with your spincast or spinning rig. You will likely see the fish take (adding to the excitement) the pattern and then set the hook. The fish won’t have time to get deeply hooked.

You can also fish other flies/jigs besides surface flies under a bobber. Most fish will hold onto a fly for a little bit, but won’t treat it like bait as much as the gulp product. I fish with flies and bluegill seldom swallow the fly so deeply as they do with bait. The tiny silicone panfish jigs are good too at times.

#12746704 - 05/07/18 05:15 PM Re: Tips for reducing gut-hooking fish? [Re: Rdubs]
uncle_bagster Offline
TFF Team Angler

Registered: 01/12/07
Posts: 3033
I've always used long-shank hooks for bluegill, and it seems to make a world of difference. Also, the sooner you can set the hook, the less chance of the fish swallowing it. Then there's bullheads. They seem to always swallow the hook no matter what.

#12746899 - 05/07/18 08:02 PM Re: Tips for reducing gut-hooking fish? [Re: Rdubs]
butch sanders Offline
TFF Guru

Registered: 03/17/05
Posts: 27821
Loc: Arlington, Texas
i always keep the ones i know will die

circle hooks are an option

#12747141 - 05/07/18 10:20 PM Re: Tips for reducing gut-hooking fish? [Re: Rdubs]
Rdubs Offline
Green Horn

Registered: 03/18/18
Posts: 7
Hey everyone wanted to say thanks for the input here. I was aware circle hooks existed but never really looked into them. Based on the suggestions in the responses I started researching them and apparently one of their virtues is the hook works when the fish turns to swim away with the bait, that turning action is what causes the hook to pierce the side of the fish's mouth. As opposed to a regular J hook where it will dig in to whatever happens to be going against the direction of the hook. So I just ordered a bunch of circle hooks (a little bit bigger size as well, to make them less likely to be inhaled) and will try them out. I also ordered a set of forceps, a small one of those split-circle hook removers and a set of plastic "disgorgers" which look like pencils but designed to push the hook deeper into the fish so as to clear the hook from the flesh. A bit overkill maybe and will need to practice using those tools. But hopefully this will reduce the instances of hooks which won't come out.

Again thanks.

#12747768 - 05/08/18 01:36 PM Re: Tips for reducing gut-hooking fish? [Re: Rdubs]
Blues Offline
Extreme Angler

Registered: 01/23/12
Posts: 2152
If it's really deep don't mess with it too much, much better for the fish to cut the line. The hooks will work themselves out without causing damage to the fish.

#12747894 - 05/08/18 03:21 PM Re: Tips for reducing gut-hooking fish? [Re: Rdubs]
Capt Craig Offline
Extreme Angler

Registered: 08/25/09
Posts: 1628
Loc: Richland-Chambers
Circle hooks are excellent.
Capt. Craig Copeland
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#12748505 - 05/08/18 10:15 PM Re: Tips for reducing gut-hooking fish? [Re: Rdubs]
Bass Junkie Offline
Extreme Angler

Registered: 07/29/09
Posts: 1291
Loc: Houston
Smaller hooks are easier to get out if swallowed. Fished with a guy who was using a #5 that the hook went through the belly of the fish. I use a small forceps that I can easily go through the gills and carefully twist. A big plier would be hard to go through the gills and a bigger plier can do a lot of damage.

#12750019 - 05/10/18 12:15 AM Re: Tips for reducing gut-hooking fish? [Re: butch sanders]
crapicat Offline
TFF Celebrity

Registered: 01/23/13
Posts: 6615
Loc: Grandview, TX
[quote=butch sanders]i always keep the ones i know will die

Of course, you can take that guthooked fish and put out a catfish line, maybe get a nice catfish with it!

#12756926 - 05/15/18 07:36 PM Re: Tips for reducing gut-hooking fish? [Re: Rdubs]
Bigdavehunting Offline
Green Horn

Registered: 04/01/18
Posts: 13
Loc: Abilene Tx
lots of good info here.

#12757862 - 05/16/18 01:48 PM Re: Tips for reducing gut-hooking fish? [Re: crapicat]
elbandito78 Offline
Pro Angler

Registered: 06/22/02
Posts: 932
Loc: Richardson, Texas, USA
Originally Posted By: crapicat
[quote=butch sanders]i always keep the ones i know will die

Of course, you can take that guthooked fish and put out a catfish line, maybe get a nice catfish with it!

I'll second this. I've used circle hooks with bluegills with success. If they are really active, it helps the hookset to have a bit of a slow retrieve too.

#12758548 - 05/16/18 11:34 PM Re: Tips for reducing gut-hooking fish? [Re: Rdubs]
doctorxring Offline
Pro Angler

Registered: 11/04/03
Posts: 899
Loc: The Republic of Texas
I picked up a tip this past year that has helped a LOT to prevent
deep hooking bluegill when fishing with bait.

I use 1/64 oz jigs instead of plain hooks. I use them on down shot
rig and also on a quill.

Having this bit of weight on the hook slows down the inhalation
of the bait enough to where it reduces deep hooking. Again,
it has made a big difference. I still get a deep hooked fish now
and then but nothing like I used to.

This is a pic of the jigs I use. I use a #6 or a #4 size hook
on the 1/64 oz jig. I use the #4 most often. I buy them off of Ebay.

Edited by doctorxring (05/16/18 11:39 PM)


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