Topside2

Circle Hooks - Can't Figure Them Out?

Rate this topic

31 posts in this topic

I am gut hooking about 60-70% of the stripers I catch using circle hooks on live mackerel.   I have tried different size hooks and that doesn’t seem to make any difference.  I get on the rod as soon as the fish takes the bait. I hook the mackerel in front of the dorsal fin.  I use fluorocarbon leaders and the stripers seem to inhale the macks without hesitation.  My hook up rate is very good.  I always cut the line if the hook is not in the lip, but worry about survival rates. 

 

I would love to hear some strategies for fishing live bait with circle hooks which might decrease gut hooking. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
25 mins ago, Topside2 said:

 

 

I am gut hooking about 60-70% of the stripers I catch using circle hooks on live mackerel.   I have tried different size hooks and that doesn’t seem to make any difference.  I get on the rod as soon as the fish takes the bait. I hook the mackerel in front of the dorsal fin.  I use fluorocarbon leaders and the stripers seem to inhale the macks without hesitation.  My hook up rate is very good.  I always cut the line if the hook is not in the lip, but worry about survival rates. 

 

 

 

I would love to hear some strategies for fishing live bait with circle hooks which might decrease gut hooking. 

What size hook are you using? I’d imagine a larger size hook like an 8/0 or 10/0 would prevent most gut hooking. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited) · Report post

I've been using Circle hooks for 3 years now (by no means an expert) and to be honest still struggle with gut hooking. 

 

The one thing I have found helpful is to not put the rod down so that you can engage the reel right away when a fish inhales your bait and starts screaming line. I have found that more than hook size or placement, the time between when the fish takes the bait and when you engage your reel seems to have the most impact on gut hooking.  It is a balance for sure- wait longer and your hook up ratio goes up- but so do your gut hooks, engage earlier and your hook up rate and gut hook rate go down.  It is a bit of an art and is also dependent on how aggressively the take is- and if you are fishing with live or chunk.

 

The whole thing has honestly turned me off a bit from fishing with Mackerel-  I'll only do it if nothing else is working and engage my reel almost right away- do I lose fish? sure,  but badly gutting a mid 20's fish that you know wont make it is the worst feeling and can ruin a day. I error on the side of leaving the hook in as opposed to digging it out, but wonder about survival as well. 

 

Thanks for bringing this up-   looking forward to hearing what others say.

Edited by MB19565

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 mins ago, Nbourque said:

What size hook are you using? I’d imagine a larger size hook like an 8/0 or 10/0 would prevent most gut hooking. 

5/0,6/0,7/0  

 

Will try some larger hooks.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have to ask the proverbial "stupid question."  If circle hooks are prone to gut hooking, why is it that the State requires use of circle hooks when fishing stripers with bait?  I sort of assumed that the circle hooks had a better track record in reducing mortality?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Baby Magnum said:

I have to ask the proverbial "stupid question."  If circle hooks are prone to gut hooking, why is it that the State requires use of circle hooks when fishing stripers with bait?  I sort of assumed that the circle hooks had a better track record in reducing mortality?

I think it's a case of theory vs. practice.  Or, I am doing something drastically wrong.  None-the-less, it's a good question!

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Kind of odd, especially using circle hooks.Are you using inline circle hooks or offset? You should be using inline.

Very rare for me to get a gut hooked fish, usually only on chunk bait, never had one on live bait, and I would let them run with the Mac to ensure a hook set.

Also, are you tying your own snell, or are they store bought, pre-tied?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Baby Magnum said:

I have to ask the proverbial "stupid question."  If circle hooks are prone to gut hooking, why is it that the State requires use of circle hooks when fishing stripers with bait?  I sort of assumed that the circle hooks had a better track record in reducing mortality?

Inline circle hooks are not prone to gut hooking. Make sure they are in-line and not offset as required by law. The biggest mistake with using circles is using too small a size. I’ve never live lined macs but the smallest hook size I’d use is 8/0. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Use bigger hooks, and don't buy the offset ones. If you already have offset circles, just bend them straight with your pliers. 8/0 minimum, unless you are scupping

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
57 mins ago, StriperSurg said:

Kind of odd, especially using circle hooks.Are you using inline circle hooks or offset? You should be using inline.

Very rare for me to get a gut hooked fish, usually only on chunk bait, never had one on live bait, and I would let them run with the Mac to ensure a hook set.

Also, are you tying your own snell, or are they store bought, pre-tied?

I am using non-offset (inline) circle hooks only.  I do not use a snell knot as I haven't found one that works well with fluorocarbon.  I am using mostly 6/0 and 7/0 hooks.   I use baitrunner reels so when the striper takes the mac, there is no resistance.

 

I think MB19565 might be on to something...  Plus, maybe I should be using larger hooks?

 

4 hours ago, MB19565 said:

 

The one thing I have found helpful is to not put the rod down so that you can engage the reel right away when a fish inhales your bait and starts screaming line. I have found that more than hook size or placement, the time between when the fish takes the bait and when you engage your reel seems to have the most impact on gut hooking.  It is a balance for sure- wait longer and your hook up ratio goes up- but so do your gut hooks, engage earlier and your hook up rate and gut hook rate go down.  It is a bit of an art and is also dependent on how aggressively the take is- and if you are fishing with live or chunk.

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can only add my experience.   I am anything but an expert.    I use pre-snelled 7-0 Eagle Claw Circle Sea hooks.   I spike my rod and keep the drag fairly tight.  I have caught 182 fish so far this season and not one keeper (I did get one 27 inches and at least a dozen between 24 & 26 inches).    I'd say my gut catch percentage is around 5%.    When I do gut catch a fish and can't get it out right away I cut the leader as close to the fish's mouth as possible and release it quickly.   I do not spend a lot of time trying to get the hook out.    I have yet to see one of my gut caught fish this season float back to shore.   Just my personal $,02.   

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I tail hook my live lining mackerel, and set the hook IMMEDIATELY.  Macks are a large meal, so to speak; therefore the predator has to handle them a certain way-- and that is usually head first.  Tail hooking leaves the hook where the mouth is.  Not where the gullet is.

 

Also, I have discovered that setting the hook "immediately" is not really immediate at all.  The fish is on the bait a second or even seconds before you have any awareness of a hit.  Specific to live lining eels, I do not "Bow to the Cow"; I strike immediately.  I rarely deep hook a big fish; although, I am certain I have yanked the bait from many smalls with this method, which is more than OK with me.  I rarely deep hook a fish.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been having similar issues with circle hooks.  I have been using 8/0 inline circles with chunck mac.  I have found my hookup rate has dropped while the gut hook rate is either the same or higher as when I used the J hook.  Right now I have to conclude that circle hooks help conservation because you catch less fish.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, fishBAD said:

I've been having similar issues with circle hooks.  I have been using 8/0 inline circles with chunck mac.  I have found my hookup rate has dropped while the gut hook rate is either the same or higher as when I used the J hook.  Right now I have to conclude that circle hooks help conservation because you catch less fish.

I’ve personally never had any issues gut hooking fish with chunks or clams and I use 8/0 gammies. Everyone has their own experiences tho. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

if you fish the live mac on a bobber/balloon, you will see fewer gut hooks.  A lot of time with livelining the macs, they create some slack in the line or the bass will take the bait heading toward you.  I found that by eliminating their ability to fully swallow the bait by having the balloon as a strike indicator, it all but eliminates the guy hook.  Also, as someone else mentioned, hooking the mac further back will help as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.