On deeply-hooked (aka gut-hooked) fish. 🧐
I’ve heard lots of arguments for both sides, so tried to do a little digging. Not a lot of hard info out there, but did come across some….
Little disclaimer: This is an older fisheries research study from 2009 – and they specifically used bluegills in the study – but it has some pretty interesting info that I thought others might be curious to hear. Few excerpts below:
> “Research on a wide range of fish species has revealed that deep hooking is perhaps the single most important determinant of injury and post-release mortality in recreational fisheries. However, there is little information on the best option for dealing with deeply hooked fish that are to be released: should the line be cut or should the hook be removed?
> “…the highest mortality levels in fish for which the hook was removed (33% after 48 h and 44% after 10 days).
> “…for the line-cut treatment (8% after 48 h and 12.5% after 10 days).
> “After 48 h, 45.5% of the fish from the line-cut treatment group were able to expel the hook originally embedded in their esophagus, and at the end of the 10 day study, 71.4% had expelled the hook.
> “Even with the hook left in the esophagus, fish were able to feed although at lower rates than controls during the first 48 h of holding. By 10 days post-capture, there were no differences in feeding rates as evidenced by growth patterns among the treatment groups, nor were there differences in the hepatosomatic index.
> “Collectively, the findings from this study demonstrate that cutting the line is a more effective release method than removing the hook when fish are deeply hooked.
> “As such, angler education efforts should focus on disseminating this message to anglers as well as encouraging the use of gear and techniques that minimize incidences of deep hooking (e.g., circle hooks, non-organic bait).
Interesting stuff – full scoop here. As with anything, I’m sure there are other studies out there, somewhere, that could say the opposite of the one above.