Jul 8, 2003

What's the Best Way to Unhook a Fish?

Dear Trollaxor:

Hi, I am new to fishing and I'm not skilled in removing the hooks after a catch. Sometimes the hooks go very deep and I don't know how to remove them at all. How do I handle this? Thanks!

Dear Gentle Sir:

Unhooking a fish can be a great challenge. Fish swallow food by opening their mouths quickly, creating a vacuum that sucks water, and whatever else they are after, into their stomach. This often buries the hook deep within their digestive track. You have two courses of action in unhooking a fish.

  1. Cut the line, leaving the hook embedded in the fish. The hook will eventually disintegrate, probably before it causes infection in the fish. This is your only option if the line snaps at any point. Most game fish are hearty beasts and likely won't even notice a piece of barbed metal embedded in their throat.

  2. Step on the fish's head and back and yank as hard as possible. You will slice the fish open laterally as the hook slides inside its gullet. Keep tugging, as there is plenty for it to latch onto in there. If you used a weaker hook, it may straighten out, easing circumstances considerably for both you and the fish. Otherwise, don't give up. With enough force, the hook will rip its way out of the fish, leaving it unhooked to return to the water. (This is called "catch-and-release" philosophy.)

Happy angling!

Jul 7, 2003

What's the Best Bait for Catfish?

Dear Trollaxor:

Hi, I'm interested in catching large catfish, I live in the Great Lakes region and wonder what kind of bait is best for catching the real monsters. Can you make any recommendations?

Dear Gentle Sir:

Like you, I have sought after the large, ancient cats that swim silently in the black, murky depths of our nation's beautiful Great Lakes. After spending years using liver, cheeseballs, nightcrawlers, mealworms, chicken heads, and fox urine, I can suggest a bait superior to all of these to aid in catching giant monster catfish. I have produced some record specimens using my home-grown technique and I now pass my secret on to you:


Yes sir, that's right. Baby cats. I find it most effective to use 1-5 day old kittens. They won't survive away from their mother at this point in their development anyway, so why not hook them on a weighted line and sink then to the bottom of Lake Superior in hopes of catching that 2-meter beast you dream of in your sleep?

I find that soaking the kitty in blood before hooking works best. Other scents to use are fox urine, hydrated bloodmeal (a blood substitute), rotted chicken liver, curdled milk, or rotten eggs. They can be doused in the scent material but keeping them flailing around in a cooler of the liquid around an hour before hooking them yields the best results. Don't fill the cooler up too high, however, or you'll drown the kitten. We need live bait so that the little kitty's struggles will attract our quarry.

Another trick I've found to make your kitten bait last longer is to take a plastic bag and a rubber band, placing the bag over the kitten's head. Use the rubber band to seal the bag around its neck. This simple trick increases the time the kitten lives after being hooked, weighted, and cast. Typically a kitten will drown before three or four minutes. Using a bag, I've reeled in live kittens after over 30 minutes crawling around blindly at the bottom of a lake! If you're lucky and your prey doesn't inhale the kitten entirely, you can release the bag and let the kitten have a breather before recasting him in. You get at least four times the mileage bagging your kittens' heads!

I hope you enjoy this technique. It will give you an edge up on competitions and will yield fantastic results. How ironic would it be to land the monster of your dreams using the animal it was named after for bait!

Happy angling!