Bait Tailer

Gut hooked 2 schoolies

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Tonight and I feel pretty sheti about it.  The excuses half of my brain blames all the slack from a fast sink head, tip and floating running line.  Also the silicone mullet fly and jacked up fish, but I know it probably wasn’t the best night to attempt a deeper swing in 4’ surf, big wind and inlet current. 


Would love any advice because I love these conditions.  I did my best to keep mends tight and hope to figure out how to stay in touch with the fly while letting it get down.  The last fish I gut hooked choked an eel on an octopus hook in the same rip 4 years ago so maybe go to circle hook flies here as well?

 

 

 

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It happens sometimes. Not intentional, nothing to lose sleep over. 
 

of all the different types of fishing that I’ve done, fly is the safest for the fish by far. 

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I agree that it was unintentional, that being said If I find small fish I usually leave them alone and move.  I have also had an unwanted deep hooking and felt bad about it. We all know these will be the fish of future quality fishing if we protect them.

We also know the larger bass population is in serious danger of crashing. C/R when possible please. 

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I understand the feelings being a CnR fisherman! When catching hundreds and hundreds of fish per year its bound to happen unintentionally.... keep moving forward!

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Posted (edited) · Report post

I caught several that were not gut hooked before trying to get deeper.  Honestly I started fly fishing to have more fun with the schoolies as our big striper season gets shorter and shorter.  Now I have the bug and find it becoming the go to all season.  
 

54 mins ago, titleguy said:

All my flies are tied on circles.

I will definitely look into and try this.  Is there any difference to setting a circle with fly vs conventional gear?  Assuming you just get tight and let the hook do its thing.

Edited by Bait Tailer

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8 mins ago, Bait Tailer said:

I caught several that were not gut hooked before trying to get deeper.  Honestly I started fly fishing to have more fun with the schoolies as our big striper season gets shorter and shorter.  Now I have the bug and find it becoming the go to all season.  
 

I will definitely look into and try this.  Is there any difference to setting a circle with fly vs conventional gear?  Assuming you just get tight and let the hook do it’s thing.

absolutely correct- strip set, if at all.  DO NOT LIFT THE ROD  ( costs $5.00 if you trout set on my buddy's boat).

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5 mins ago, titleguy said:

absolutely correct- strip set, if at all.  DO NOT LIFT THE ROD  ( costs $5.00 if you trout set on my buddy's boat).

 

Thanks was wondering about the rod lift. Steady strip pull makes sense.  

 

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"GUT HOOKED"?

 

Do you mean that the fly was completely swallowed, not visible in the mouth at all, the leader coming out of the esophagus??  Or do you mean deeply hooked, but still anatomically in the mouth cavity, so that the fly/hook is entangled in the gills.

 

In 62 years of serious fly fishing that has happened so infrequently that I cannot remember a specific incident.......maybe 2 times.....TOTAL.....in 62 years, all over the world, so many species.

 

Everyone has had fish with hook-gill entanglement.  I have had fish with the fly expelled through the normal gill slit, the fish tried to get rid of it that way instead of spitting it out the front of the mouth.  Of course, the hook caught on the edge when pulled back with tension.  Sometimes the hook, depending on the hook size and the fishes size, penetrates into sensitive/vulnerable head structures, like the eye or the brain.  But actually SWALLOWED into the stomach?  That is, to my experience extraordinarily rare and unusual.

 

Some fly types by some fish are prone to be taken deeper, such as crab flies by stripers, since the fish expects that prey to be hard and prickly and must be crushed deep in the throat.  Some species, such as bonefish and redfish have special crusher plates deep in there specifically for that purpose.  But again.....NOT SWALLOWED.

 

I once caught a fish with a section of leader trailing out if its anus.....firmly connected internally.  Presumably there was a hook....I presumed a bait hook.....lodged somewhere in there and the angler had cut the line and released the fish (or the line broke), and the fish eventually swallowed all of the attached leader.....which eventually worked its way through and out the bottom end of the G-I tract.  The line looked like it had been trailing like that for a long time.  The fish looked and acted healthy.

 

But if truly 2 fish completely swallowed your fly......in one fishing session......that is so extraordinary as to need some investigation (which I presume is why you posted it here in the first place.

 

You said "schoolie".  How big??  "Silicone mullet fly"  A solid fly.....something like a Gummy minnow?  Please post a picture of the fly.

 

All those issues you mentioned, weighted head, fast sinking line, deep swing in an outlet current......NONE of those issues specifically tend (again, in my considerable experience) to produce SWALLOWED flies.

 

One issue I can think of is that a fish must take some time to swallow a real baitfish.  In most cases they grab it or inhale it however they can (again.....size of fly and fish cause variations) but in most cases the fish must turn the baitfish to swallow it head first.  99.999999% of the time they detect that the fly is not solid or otherwise a fake but get hooked before they can expell it.  A less experienced angler swinging flies deep (and smallish fish) may not detect the take since the fish floow from behind and inhale the fly into the mouth and then often keep swimming in the direction the fly was moving.  No earth-shaking changes to the feeling of the swing.  Newbies often don't realize they have a fish one for a VERY LONG time.....during which who knows what the fish might do with the fly.

 

In my mind, what you seem to be reporting, I agree with you that this is so unusual as to warrant more examination.  Please provide more specific details.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

9 hours ago, Peter Patricelli said:

"GUT HOOKED"?

 

The first fish was maybe barely 20" and the hook stuck in the softer tissue around the sphincter looking esophagus opening.  A picture would be helpful but fortunately the hook was barbless.  The second was 24"ish and the last of 6 fish for the night.  It was hooked a bit deeper but I could see most of the fly without pulling the leader.  After gently wiggling the tail section of the fly it came out easier than expected. 

 

I was on a jetty tip with a long arcing rip and big back eddy, casting far up current and trying to get the fly down before the front seam between the two - trying to recreate a bucktail presentation ive used many times before here.

 

20200915_184800.jpg.74096d8094cec5a92abbe2a0bf910828.jpg

 

Here's the fly. I started with a bucktail deceiver then surf candy and there were nothing but bluefish on top and further back in the rip.  I switched to a S6 line to see if there were any stripers underneath.  I tried a few other flies but 5 out of 6 really liked this fly.  Maybe too much for my newbie experience level. 

 

I just searched the interweb for a while and found out its an EP floating finger mullet.  silicone or flex epoxy head and some sort of stiff foam on the inside running from in front of the eyes to behind the hook.  I got it in a mixed lot and didn't know it had the foam.  Assumed it was just a pop style silicone and guess I learned another lesson on trying unknown flies at night.  

 

 

 

Edited by Bait Tailer

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10 hours ago, Peter Patricelli said:

Newbies often don't realize they have a fish one for a VERY LONG time.....during which who knows what the fish might do with the fly.


In that situation even very experienced anglers may not know when a small fish has hooked itself, even anglers with 52 years of experience. **** happens, not a big deal. 

 

Crush the barb and remove the fly with a pair of needle nose pliers and the fish will likely swim away with nothing more than a belly ache. 

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Posted (edited) · Report post

Bait Tailer,

 

OK, thanks for the details.  I think the issue is just semantics.  If you could see the fly, and reach it to manipulate it, then in my vocabulary neither of those qualifies as a "gut hook" problem.  The fish may have been trying to swallow the fly, but didn't actually.  Again, understanding that predator fish usually turn baitfish to swallow them head first.....because many/most have spines/fins/scales that expand and poke when rubbed tail to head....the good old J hook WILL stop the fly at that outer ring of the esophagus.  Then you pull on the line and the fly spins 180 degrees and the hook penetrates the outer ring of that esophagus.  Deep in the mouth for sure, but not "gut" swallowed where you would see nothing at all but the leader disappearing into that sphincter.  THAT is a problem almost exclusively related to using bait.

 

BTW, in the model I propose above, a circle hook just might NOT prevent a true attempt at head-first swallowing.  But then, it also might spin around and slip right back out without catching since there is no sharp, well-defined lip edge for it to catch on.

 

Bottom line, your technique was and will be into the long future of your fly fishing career just fine.  We all want to protect the fish and prevent as little lasting damage as possible.  In general I like to keep my hooks on the smaller size, especially for species like trout.  Years ago when I began fishing the salmon fly hatch on the Deschutes using store bought standard flies (the real flies are fully 2" long) I repeatedly caught fish with one eye opaque and blind.  I didn't appreciate what was happening until I caught one with my hook penetrating out the eye.  These were 14-18" wild Redband trout and all were released.  The standard hook for those large imitations was just too large for the anatomy of the trout.  I ditched all those large-hook flies and tied up a slightly smaller profile pattern with a hook half that length (and gap) with an extended abdomen.  I caught many hundreds of fish after that with never an eye hook and significantly less damage overall.  Soo.....as a general principle I like to keep my patterns,,,,when possible.....and more to the point, my hooks.....when possible.....on the smaller side just because they tend to hook closer to the mouth and less deeply into delicate structures.

 

But with stripers, that is a problem.  Fishing for striped bass, the reality is that big honking 50# brood fish can and will be found just about anywhere that 10" schoolies and all sizes up from there might be found.  I might be catching schoolies in Pleasant Bay and keeping my hook options on the constrained side and then suddenly all hell breaks loose and I get a fly back with the hook, even a big strong hook, all bent to  hell and straightened, and I am left wondering, "what the HELL was THAT?"

 

What you experienced was fine.  Nothing at all wrong with your technique.  Don't change a thing. These things happen sometimes, in spite of your best efforts to avoid it.  There is and will always be a small C&R mortality rate, even with flies and our best efforts.  But that rate will always be MUCH lower than the big gear/treble hook gang, and even lower-er than the bait fishermen.  The pay-off for the fish is that there are so many of us out there working so hard to protect them and their habitat because catching (and releasing most) of them is so much fun.

 

Carry on.  All is good.  Have fun.

Edited by Peter Patricelli

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Let me know how the circle hooks treat ya if you go that route. If they lessen the chance of a deep hook or foul hook even, why the hell not?

We could all do each other a favor and go the less apathetic route. 
The short shank Eagle Claws will look pretty good as a candy. 
 

 

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