My second lesson goes hand in hand with the first lesson. Again, it means doing whatever you have to do. Don’t worry about who is around or looking at how you bring in a fish. The objective is to get the fish off of the hook. I also had a hard time with this because the fish is flopping around like crazy, the fins have spines that poke (and is part of the fish’s defense mechanism) and it’s just really hard, ok? If you don’t have a hard time with this… again… You are amazing! However, some of us need some help. But if you are wanting to stop depending on others for help in life… You have to figure out how to do this on your own… (Sound like some life lessons, right?) So, again like with the worm, I use a hand towel to hold the fish, except it needs to be wet. It keeps my hands safe from getting spines in it and the fish isn’t as slippery, so I can grip and get the hook out. You need to wet the hand towel or cloth you are using as the fish has a slime coat that keeps their skin healthy. Using your hands or a towel that is dry removes this slime coat and can cause illness to the fish, if you are worried about releasing the fish safely.
I do have a few tips for hooks, however. If you are bringing home your fish to eat, it doesn’t matter too much. You can push the hook through the gills, or just cut the line (like I often do. I just get the hook out when I clean the fish later) but I found, later as I fished more, that some fish I needed to release. When you catch and release there are some rules you have to follow to do it responsibly. You never want to release an injured fish that is just going to die. One really good way to keep from gut hooking a fish is to use a circle hook. A circle hook is just a hook that has the pointed end turned back in toward itself so that if the fish swallows the hook, when you begin reeling the fish in it can come up without hooking the fish in the stomach and hooks it in the mouth. Then you can easily remove the fish and if it is small or a kind of fish you can’t keep for whatever reason (every state has their own regulations) you can safely remove the fish and release him back into the water.
I decided to start using circle hooks to safely catch and release fish, but I came across a problem. I couldn’t find circle hooks at any of the stores in my area. I was really frustrated by this. Fishing is common here, but it isn’t as big as some other states that have lots of big natural lakes. So some of our supplies are limited. So I went online and again, couldn’t find smaller circle hooks like I wanted. Out of frustration I decided to just do whatever I have to do! Right? Do whatever I have to do to get it done. So I already had been using Aberdeen hooks. I started using plyers to bend the barb back in so that it made a make-shift circle hook… and it worked!!! I hook all my fish right in the lip and can easily remove the hook without injuring the fish and can set them free safely. This reinforced for me that “Do whatever it takes” lesson, but also when you come across a problem… Create your own solution. Who cares if it is what everyone else does. You know what you need to do… If there is a block… Create a solution. When it works, you figured it out for yourself. You have all the tools you need inside of you.