Hook, Line and...Bolt Cutters?
By Dink Murphey
Normally the conditions along this stretch of Florida emerald coast are ideal for kayak fishing. On this particular vacation however,Tropical Storm Bonnie had stirred things up a bit so we put the kayaks aside most days. By day four of this annual family trip Kevin and I had our fill of family fun and decided to rig up a couple of rods and do a little surf fishing. Before battling the breakers, we headed down to see our friends at Yellowfin Ocean Sports for a couple of custom made spoons.
As expected, the surf was relentless. We ventured out to about chest deep water...going under some of the waves and over others trying to settle into a good spot. It was early July, but the infamous “June grass” was in full play. Somewhere in between navigating the breakers and cleaning our spoons of the annoying grass, the unexpected happened. I was wearing sunglasses, but somehow the new silver spoon I had tied on managed to do a little dance on my face, but I never saw it again. It had decided to snag my skin just below my left eye. More than a snag I soon realized. After blindly feeling around for the little guy I realized that it’s new sharp hook was deeply embedded. I calmly communicated to my buddy Kevin who was fishing close by. "Hey Bud...this is NOT good," I said. Kevin continued on with his next cast responding "Yea, I know...this June grass is a pain in the ass," not even turning around to look. Finally Kevin looked over his shoulder for a look. "Ohhh crap,” he said...“we better head in and take care of that."
We made the long walk back to the cottage we had rented. Walking past bikers, beach goers and finally highway 30-A traffic. The big and heavy silver spoon was just hanging from my face. Periodically I would hold the spoon to relieve the pressure of the pull on my eye to a minimum. As we made our way back, I was devising a strategy. I wasn't sure what exactly but I knew we had to get this thing out on our own and avoid a trip to the hospital. Kevin and I agreed that we would not alert the wives or kids to this predicament, rather we would go to work on it quietly on the side of the cottage. I instructed Kevin to go in and retrieve a few items, stressing to him to be sure and do so without drawing any attention. Bolt cutters we had traveled with for shark fishing, a bottle of Patron tequila from the kitchen counter...and his phone to document the procedure.
We started with the bolt cutters. That was the easiest part, cutting the spoon away from the hook, relieving pressure from the spoon and giving us a little more room to work. As far as I knew, there were basically three options for hook removal. One involves a trip to the emergency room to have it removed. One small problem with that option though. We had dinner plans at a premium restaurant with our wives in less than an hour. Unless we wanted to hear about this the rest of the trip...and jeopardize future fishing time, that was not an option. The other two options involved removing the hook yourself. While I have read about a quick-jerk method using fishing line and strategic pressure on the embedded barb, I was not prepared to execute that method. That particular procedure seemed more suitable for ahook embedded in the thumb or hand...any area less sensitive than the flesh around the eye! Reminding myself that the hook was new, and very sharp...I elected to push the barb along the path it had started. I gritted my teeth and gave it a steady push. It wasn't so painful, but the sounds I heard as the barb made it’s way through were not pleasant. The plan was successful however, and Kevin used the bolt cutters again to clip off the barb before I removed the shank of the hook. Out the way it came in. I would later make my way to a local clinic for a tetanus shot, but not before a good cleansing with the premium Tequila...or our dinner date with our unsuspecting wives.