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body to keep the pectoral fins folded flat against the body. Use the heel of your hand to fold down the dorsal fin. Very small catfish should be held from underneath, again using your thumb and forefinger to fold the pectoral fins flat.

Out, Out Darn Hook

Hooks have barbs so they remain in fish. That's why removing one (or more) hooks can be difficult.

Lip-hooked fish that have no teeth on their jaws are the easiest to unhook, especially those that have the shank of the hook protruding from their mouths. Simply twist the hook shank while pushing it toward the bend.

But if the fish has a lot of teeth, or if the hook is deep in the fish's mouth, long-nose pliers make the job much easier. Grasp the hook with the pliers' jaws as close to the hook point as possible. Give a sideways twist and the hook should come free. If not, try twisting in a different direction to enlarge the hole.

Removing a treble-hooked lure from a fish is more problematic. Pull out the barbs one at a time, working from the front of the fish's mouth in, until all are free.

Fish that are hooked very deeply may require a de-hooker (a long plastic rod with a slot for the line). Insert the line into the slot, follow the line down to the fish's mouth, and place the end of the rod against the bend of the hook. Push down into the fish's mouth to remove the hook.

What to Do When the Fish Has Swallowed the Hook

It happens to every fisherman who uses bait: You bring in a fish and, when you go to unhook it, all you see is your fishing line disappearing down the fish's gullet. Maybe the fish swallowed the bait because you waited too long to set the hook, or the hook you are using is too small, or the fish took the bait without your even realizing it. What now?

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Fish Recipes

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