Nasty Hook Photos: How to Remove a Fish Hook and Treat the Injury

Graphic image warning

hook in hand


Few things can end a good fishing day faster than an errant cast and a deeply-embedded hook. But if you spend enough time on the water, it's probably going to happen to you or one of your buddies. In this gallery, I explain the steps you need to take after a hook gets buried into you or one of your fishing partners.OL
fishing hook

Cut the Line

Cutting the fishing line is the next step in dealing with these injuries. Cut the line to prevent a good-intentioned helper from stumbling over the line and ripping the hook out or plunging it in further. Cut the line ASAP and cut it close to the hook.Wikimedia
fish hook in hand

Assess the Injury

Most fishhook injuries puncture the skin on the face, scalp, fingers, back, or ears. These injuries are bad enough, but a fishhook can cause more serious problems if it enters the eye, muscles, tendons, ligaments, or bones.Wikimedia
fishing injury

Self-Treat or Go to the Hospital?

Do you fix it yourself or go to the doctor? That choice depends on the severity of the hook injury, and your ability to get to the doctor. If the wound isn't too bad and you are in a remote area where it would take days to hike out, it looks like you are the doc on call. But if you can get to the doctor that day or the wound is near an eye, tendon, vein or similar tricky spot, then let the pros do what they do best. Also, hook size should play a factor. A crappie jig is a lot easier to self-treat than two thirds of a muskie treble hook.Wikimedia
treat your own hook injury


If the hook is just stuck in your skin, in an area that you can reach, then you may decide to remove it yourself. The worst parts of the operation are getting out the barb now and dealing with the possible infection later.Wikimedia
fish hook wound illustration

Backout Technique

If forcing the barb through and then clipping it is too grisly for you, try the "backout technique" which can work with small fishing hooks… 1) Loop a 12-inch length of string or fishing line around the bend of the hook, and wrap the ends around the index finger of your other hand.
2) Push down on the hook shank to disengage the barb from the flesh.
3) Maintain pressure on the hook and align the loop with the shank.
4) Pull on the string and the hook will pop out through the entrance wound.
5) Treat with antiseptic.
bleeding fish hook wound

Stop the Bleeding

Stop the bleeding by putting pressure on the wound for 15 minutes with a clean bandage or dressing. Once the bleeding has stopped, wash the wound with a disinfectant like Betadine; then apply an antibiotic cream and bandage the wound.Wikimedia
fishhook in eye

When It's More Serious

A fishhook injury is more serious when the fishhook is in or near an eye, the barb can't be removed by self-treatment, the bleeding is severe or can't be stopped, or the wound is big enough that it needs stitches.Wikimedia
fish hook x-ray

When It's At Its Worst

Some of the worst case scenarios from a simple hook injury can occur when blood vessels, nerves, tendons, ligaments, joints, or bones are injured. Injuries to these areas may cause numbness, tingling, pale, white, blue, or cold skin, or decreased ability to move that part of the body.Wikimedia
fish hook in hand

Get A Tetanus Booster

If your tetanus immunization is not current, you'll want to get a booster after a hook injury due to the bacteria deep under your skin.Wikimedia
fish hook on face

Resume Fishing

Get back on the horse! Don't let something like an unplanned ear piercing stop you from enjoying your time on the water.Wikimedia
fishhook in foot


Hooked in the footWikimedia
fish hook injury


An impromptu piercing.Wikimedia
fishhook on leg


Hooked in the legWikimedia