I guess we fishermen have it coming to us. Most of us set the hook like mad men. I know that I, for one, set the hook entirely too hard. I can’t help it; it’s second nature. Just like when you touch something hot, you jerk back. When I feel a bite, I jerk back with all my might.
But do we think about what the fish feel?
Are you kidding? Never even crosses our minds… but maybe it should.
Seven or eight years ago, my brother and I were fishing a team event on Norris Lake in Tennessee in early March, and the crankbait bite was on. Norris is a pretty deep lake and the majority of the banks we fish are steep, so we put the boat as close to the bank as possible and parallel the banks. Both of us had to fish out of the front which made for some close quarters.
It was around 10 o’clock in the morning, and Jordan had just caught a big 'un. We were geeked up! He was throwing a slightly different crankbait than I, so I sat down to look through my baits to see if I had any just like the one he was using. I found it and started to tie it on when I got blindsided with a crankbait to the neck. Jordan hooked me on his backcast. It was a very sharp pain followed by a tingling sensation (maybe that’s what fish feel).
All I could say is, “I’m hooked, I’m hooked! Seriously, I’m hooked!” Jordan turned around and said, “Eww, that’s not good.”
He tried to help but he kept pulling on the bait inflicting more pain on me, so I finally just told him to leave me alone. I tried everything: I pulled on it with pliers; I tried to push the hook point back threw my neck; nothing worked.
We couldn’t leave because we had just caught a big ol’ pig. I knew I had to go to the hospital but I also knew that Jordan needed to keep fishing. I called my mom and told her the situation; she picked me up at the nearest ramp. We got to the ER, and I was anxious to get the hook out of my neck partly because of the pain but mostly because I wanted to get back to the tournament.
It seemed like the doctor and the nurses were moving in slow motion. After two or three hours, the hook was out, and Mom took me back to the ramp to meet Jordan. When he picked me up, I don’t even think we talked about the huge bandage on my neck because he told me that he had caught our limit and was culling. I’m like, “That’s a way to redeem yourself!”
It’s a funny thing. After he told me that news, most of the pain in my neck went away. A few minutes later we were both on the front deck casting and slinging crankbaits around like it never happened.
We culled several more times and finished the day with a large bag of fish and a swollen neck. Not too bad of a day, really.
I will endure pain (and have many times) for a good day of fishing. Getting hooked is just part of what we do. You think the fish feel the same way about it?
Remember to chase your dreams!