We try and practicing catch and release so, here are a few tips while fishing St. Simons Island, Jekyll Island or anywhere on the Coast of Georgia. First try to remove the hook without exciting or harming the fish. If possible leave the fish in the water while removing the hook. The eyelet (small hole) of the hook is the best place to grab the hook. Back the hook out the same way it went in.
There are special tools designed for taking out hooks. But needle-nosed pliers work pretty well. If you need to, use a hook remover or pliers to flatten the barb. Depending on how the fish is hooked it is some time better to leave the hook in the fish and let the salt corrode the hook away until it falls out. This is something you would do if the hook was in the gills or deep in a fish’s throat. If you feel you will do more harm getting the hook out then leave it and just cut the line as close to the eyelet as possible. Professionals sometimes flatten the barbs on their hooks before they start fishing to cause less harm to the fish they catch. This is especially important on plugs with treble hooks. In some areas, you can only fish with barbless hooks.
Pull the fish close to you near your hands.
Reach out with one hand and grab the fish. Grab him around the fins that are below the gills, the pectoral fins. Be careful. If the fish jumps free he can cut you. NEVER put your fingers or hand into a fishes gills as this can cause serious damage to the fish resulting in death and most fish have sharp gill plates which can cut you.
You shouldn’t rip the hook out of the fish’s lip or mouth. Instead, grip the hook and pull it out as closely as you can to the way it hooked into the fish’s mouth. The best way to hold onto the hook is to hold it by the eyelet.
If the fish has completely swallowed the hook cut the line as close to the hook eye and place the fish back in the water.