Whether you're seasoned angler or you just bought your first pole, when you come to Fiji to fish, you better know how to unhook a fish – because you'll be catching a lot!
Once you've reeled in your catch and got in onboard your boat, you'll want to quickly take these steps to remove the hook – speed and accuracy are important if you're planning to release the fish.
Step 1 – If you plan to release the fish, be sure to use a barbless circle hook, not a J hook. In general short-shanked hooks are more difficult to remove than long-shanked hooks.
Step 2 – Reel the fish in as quickly as possible if you plan to release it. The more stress the fish is subjected to, the less likely it will survive once released.
Step 3 – Remove the hook using one of these methods:
- If the hook is in the fishes lip, it can be pulled out the same way it went in using your hands or a pair of pliers. Try not to tear the fish's flesh.
- If the fish swallows the hook either 1) remove it when you gut the fish if you plan to eat it, 2) cut the line as close to the fish's mouth as possible and leave the hook intact. Trying to rip the hook out is not humane and will inevitably kill the fish.
- If the hook is further back in the mouth, use a pair of long nose pliers to remove the hook and protect your fingers from potential teeth. You might also be able to straighten the hook or dull the hook's barb with the pliers, making it easier to remove.
- You can also try a disgorger, a tool that goes over the end of the line and into the fish's mouth. When you press down on the tool, it tightens the line and hook against the end of the disgorger and allows you to remove the hook.
Step 4 – Keep or release the fish. Remember, if you're releasing the fish, take a picture and get it back into the water as quickly as possible. If you are worried you have fatally harmed the fish, it's best to go ahead and kill it versus subjecting it to a slow death in the water. If you're keeping it, you can enjoy it grilled, blackened, fried or stuffed (on the wall, that is!).