Medicine for the Outdoors
Medicine for the Outdoors

Dr. Paul Auerbach is the world's leading outdoor health expert. His blog offers tips on outdoor safety and advice on how to handle wilderness emergencies.

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Removing a Fishhook

Fishing is fun, but not when you catch yourself. If a fishhook enters the skin, gently wash the skin surrounding the entry point with soap and water, or at least give it a rinse to remove dirt, slime, or bait. Apply gentle pressure along the curve toward the point while pulling on the hook. If the hook is not easily removed, this means that the barb is caught in the tissue. There are then two ways to remove the hook.

The first method is to push the point through the skin. This is done by firmly gripping the shank of the hook with a pliers and pushing the hook until the barb is completely through the skin. Cut off the shaft or the barb, taking care to cover the area with a free hand to prevent the detached barb from flying into someone’s eye, and then pull the remainder of the hook out of the skin. Do not ever attempt this method if the hook is anywhere near the eye. In that case, try to keep the hook from moving, and seek immediate medical attention.

The second method of hook removal is the “string-pull” or “press and yank” technique. Tie a shoelace, thick fishing line, or other unbreakable string to the bend in the hook. Push the shank of the hook down (toward the embedded barb) in a direction that will disengage the barb. Then, use the string to yank the hook from the skin in a snapping motion. Take care that the flying hook does not impale anyone nearby – also wear eye protection or look away when you pull on the string to remove the hook. As above, do not attempt this method if the hook is anywhere near the eye.

Always wear eyeglasses when you are fishing, so that a flying line doesn’t throw a hook into your eye. If you are in a situation where you can fish with a barbless hook, that may make it more difficult to land a fish, but it will definitely make it very easy to remove the hook if you put it into someone.

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Tags: General Interest , In the Water

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About the Author

Dr. Paul S. Auerbach is the world’s leading authority on wilderness medicine.