Outdoor First Aid

Fish Hook Wounds: Catch And Release

Fish hooks can be painful and dangerous -- here's how to get 'em out.

The Tools: String or fishing line,

or multitool pliers. Rubber gloves for body-fluid protection.

The Remedy: Fishhook wounds are highly prone to infection, and a hook left in the skin can catch on clothing and cause further skin damage.

The “string jerk” removal technique never fails to impress onlookers. Loop a length of fishing line or string, at least 12 inches long, around the curve of the hook, then wrap the other end around either your index finger or hand. Have a friend push down on the eye and shank to disengage the barb. Jerk the string while keeping it against the skin and aligned with the long axis of the fishhook. The hook will come out easily and, almost always, painlessly.

Another method, the “push through and snip off” technique, is short on elegance and long on pain. Wash

the area around the wound with an antiseptic, then numb with snow, ice,

or cold creek water. Using the pliers on your multitool, push the point of the hook through the skin. Quickly snip off the exposed barb or flatten it against the shank of the hook. Back the hook out the way it went in. Clean and dress the wound. You can do this one yourself if the wound is in your hand, whereas with “the jerk,” you need someone to help.