From a crankbait treble hook piercing an earlobe, to a number 3 worm hook buried deeply in the palm of your hand, most anglers have at least one recollection of the pain and suffering brought forth by a barbed hook embedded deeply in one’s flesh.

But the tale of Cookeville, Tenn. angler Bob Hargis is guaranteed to make even the most hook-hardened angler wince in agony.

A devoted fisherman and retired school administrator, Hargis loves to trout fish in the spring at Cane Creek Lake. And he had a dandy rainbow on his line the morning of April 16.

As he reeled the feisty, 11-inch trout toward the shoreline, he kept his line tight with one hand, as he reached down with the other, preparing to release it.

“I was just saying, ‘Boy, that’s a good fish,” he later told The Cookeville Citizen News.


Just as he spoke those words of admiration, the fish made a flip, and the small treble hook shot off its lip and rocketed (you guessed it) straight into the open mouth of the lifelong educator, lodging in the back of his throat!

When he tugged on the line and realized he was well-hooked, he cut the line, held onto it, concentrated on not swallowing–and walked over to another angler who was fishing nearby.

“That was Joe Akers, and he and I had been acquainted before this because he goes down there to fish a lot the way I do,” Hargis told the newspaper. “Thank goodness he was there that day.”

Akers drove Hargis straight to the Cookeville Hospital Emergency Room, where, after initial treatment, a pair of ear, nose and throat specialists were summoned to perform hook-removal surgery.

“At the emergency room, they took me in immediately,” Hargis recalled. “They’d never seen anything like it. I was drawing a crowd, and I think there was a former student or two among them.”

Hargis told the newspaper he was extremely grateful to his fishing acquaintance Akers, the ER personnel and to the surgeons for all their help and treatment.

And he says he’ll never forget the day that he got hooked by a trout.