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How to Remove a Hook Without Hurting the Fish

After successfully catching a fish many beginners panic and rush through unhooking the fish because they are worried the fish won’t survive. Fish can easily survive out of water for 10+ minutes. There is no need to panic and rush.

Stay calm and make slow deliberate actions to minimize damage to the fish. Remember the saying “slow is smooth and smooth is fast.” Slow, minimal action will ensure the least amount of damage possible and increase the survival rate after release. Below we will go over the best way to remove hooks without hurting the fish.

How to Quickly Remove Treble Hooks From Fish

  1. Firmly hold the fish with one hand to prevent the fish from flopping around.
  2. Use pliers or forcepts with your other hand to prevent getting your hand hooked if the fish moves.
  3. Using pliers or forcepts grab hold of the first treble hook and slowly turn it until the hook point is upside down and ready to pop out.
  4. Once you get the first hook point out move on to the next one.
  5. Continue removing each hook point one by one until all are removed.

Unfortunately, fish will sometimes swallow the bait and get hooked deep within their mouth. When this happens it can be more difficult to unhook due to limited space. You can overcome this challenge by using long pliers or forceps. In most cases, if you can see the hook then you can remove it without hurting the fish.

How to Remove a Deep Hook From a Fish’s Throat or Gut

  1. If you are using a soft plastic grab it with your pliers and pull it until it tears off the hook. By removing the soft plastic you will be able to see your hook much better.
  2. Carefully slide your pliers directelty under the fish’s gill plate and grab ahold of the hook.
  3. With a firm grip on the hook slowly turn the hook upside down. This will either pop the hook out completely or it will make the hook be in reverse with just the barb holding it in.
  4. Carefully let go of the hook and slide your pliers out of the gills.
  5. Next, use your pliers through the mouth of the fish and grab ahold of the now upside down hook and pop it out.

What to Do if Your Hook is Stuck and You Cant Get it Out

If you can’t remove the hook after following the above steps or if the hook is so deep into the fish’s throat that you can no longer see it then you need to move on to the next best option. If the hook must remain in the fish then the best option is to cut your line as close to the hook as possible and release the fish.

The fish will have a higher survival chance with the hook still in them than if you cause a lot of damage trying to remove a hook that won’t come out. A study conducted by Carleton University found that most fish are able to remove hooks on their own within 24 hours.

How Long Does it Take for a Hook to Dissolve in a Fish?

A cheap thin wired hook will dissolve in a few years. Thick stainless steel hooks will take much longer to break down.

Best Tools for Removing Hooks From Fish

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