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Caught a bunch of small smallmouth - Problem with getting hooks out

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So today's trip was problematic, Over 6 hours I caught 5 Smallmouth between 11 and 13 inches, I am posting the pic of the worst case but all are the same in regards to the issue.  I am using keitech and Zoom fake worms 3.5 - 4 inch hooked with an Eagle claw red bait-holder number 2 hook.  They attach to a swivel (for action) and I use a twist line weight 1/8 oz a foot from the hook.  I am using 10 pound test cajun red line.

 

Problem:  The river current is high, this causes the bait to drift, I try to set the hook quickly but the fish are nearly swallowing the bait and getting hooked deep in gills or stomach or too far down.  The fish pictured had to be left with hook in.. I suspect it died.

 

At this point I am thinking of quitting until next season or just fishing the ponds I have access to which are fed by Wallkill.  These ponds are hard to get to and typically ever more over-fished then the wallkill.

 

The river is much higher then last year so i have to deal with current more this year and that is why this is occurring.

 

These are small fish and I don't want to be part of the problem.

 

Any suggestions?  Has anyone run into this issue?

 

 

 

 

 

11inchbass2.jpg

11inchbass.jpg

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Use something other than a bait holder hook.

And flatten down the barb - the hook will easily back right out.

A pair of hemostat style pliers are helpful with small fish & small hooks.

https://www.amazon.com/Berkley-BTSTLP6-Hemostat-Pliers-6-InchSoft/dp/B005WIHPHQ/ref=sr_1_20?s=hunting-fishing&ie=UTF8&qid=1502673019&sr=1-20&keywords=fishing+pliers

591c63f5e4bca_BogaonSmallie.thumb.png.b388005da3ebd3bdd64d1675dac97523.png

A-Jay

 

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I second changing the hook and crushing the barb down. Ewg, round bend or straight shank, either way... Crushing the barb down will eliminate this problem . 

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I am not a fan of barbless hooks, but that is an ongoing topic for another thread.

 

When you are drifting your bait stay in contact with it. Don't cast upstream and let it be completely slack line and just forget about it until it's down stream. While it's drifting reel in some line, enough to keep a little tension but not to effect the bait.

 

I'm actually a little surprised to hear this about smallies. They are pretty aggressive and usually hammer baits, especially in rivers.

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IMG_0666.jpgI was having the same issue this weekend with the Ned Rig. The juvenile river Smallies were inhaling it.

 

Like A-Jay suggested hemostat pliers enabled me to get almost all unhooked. I did have what I believe to be one casualty. He swam off but I don't think he made it, really sad.

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My wife is the queen of deep hooking fish.  I'm not sure if she just doesn't feel the bite or what but I can be fishing right next to her using the same hooks and same soft plastic and I have to dig her throat hook out just about every fish where all of mine are hooked in the top of the mouth.  I can't remember the last time I gut hooked a fish.

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IMO, keeping a connection to your bait is the key.  Find a way to keep the line tight and you'll feel the hits.

 

Sunday, I fished all afternoon with a finesse bite...fish were hitting Senkos and flies...and not much else.  When this is happening, we need to increase our attention, and look for the slightest hint there is a fish on.

 

I had one smallie on Sunday that came up under my fly (a 2" Ol' Mr. Wiggly) and sucked it under with almost no disturbance on the surface other than the fly going down.  Had a been at a different angle and not been able to see into the water, it would have looked like a panfish messing with the fly.  I missed that hook set...but ten minutes later had a similar and managed to get the fish on. My line was pretty tight to the fly, my stripping hand was ready and I as focused on the fly...hook-sets are free, don't be afraid to set the hook.

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Learn the "through the gills" unhooking method.  Upsize your hooks and use an EWG style.  You will feel the bite sooner with an EWG.  The wide gap makes contact sooner than a traditional hook.  

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I have had the same issue with smaller smallmouths, they inhale a lure and their smaller mouths make it harder to get in there to get the hook out.  I now debarb all of my hooks for soft plastics and any hardbaits/jigheads small enough for a dink to swallow.  I have used the "through the gills" method to good effect, but my cheap gun-show hemostats were not up to it.  I upgraded to ones like A-Jay linked and they work great.  

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