Geoff Thomas
Geoff Thomas on fishing

Geoff Thomas: It's the catch we all fear

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The lure caught him right in the backside. Photo / Geoff Thomas
The lure caught him right in the backside. Photo / Geoff Thomas

It happens all too often. A super keen angler wielding a rod powers up a massive cast and throws his whole body into it, only to have somebody else scream: "You've got me!"

It is a situation we all dread, but it often does have its humorous side. Like when (names shall be withheld for the sake of personal pride) Al let rip with a beaut while throwing poppers for giant trevally in the tropics, and his son - who inherited the name Jackass for reasons which shall become obvious - jumped up from his perch on the side of the boat and let out a fearsome squawk.

It seems the lure dangling from the tip of the rod had drifted over until it was directly behind the young fellow's backside and it whipped straight into the said part as Al leaned into his cast. Enough said.

After the panic died down and Jackass was lying spreadeagled across the top of a bin with a towel wrapped around the lure to prevent it wobbling around, the fizz boat sped back to the mothership where a fellow angler who happened to be an orthopaedic surgeon was waiting with his medical kit.

It might have been a case of medical overkill, but the hook was successfully removed from the numbed section of anatomy and Jackass was soon smiling with a beer in hand and basking in all the attention.

The father was suitably contrite and offered to keep opening the beers. The patient recovered remarkably quickly and was soon fishing again.

Another incident involved a bunch of mates who were fly fishing at a stream mouth on a Rotorua lake many years ago. It was late at night at the small stream mouth, and the casters were lined up shoulder to shoulder to ensure their lines went down the current to where the trout were waiting.

The inevitable happened and Wally let out a screech as Pat leaned into his cast. "You got me, you got me," was the anguished cry. When a torch revealed a large, black trout fly with the hook securely embedded in the point of Wally's nose and the feathers lying back along the top of his nose it took a few minutes for the laughter to settle down.

"Hang on, won't be a minute mate," was the comforting message as a pair of scissors was produced and the monofilament trace quickly snipped. Pat started casting again and was building up a good head of steam when Wally started screeching again, his head jerking back and forth in time with the power casts. The torch appeared again and the light showed the hook still stuck in the end of the nose with the trace trailing off to Pat's rod. They had cut the wrong line.

This time Pat didn't waste any time messing around with scissors. He simply grabbed the trace and heaved straight down with all his might.

The hook popped out of the nose alright, but it took with it a sizeable chunk of meat on the barb and Wally uttered another screech which cannot be repeated, but it referred to Pat's ancestry. With blood pouring from the tip of his nose and tears streaming down his face, Wally stumbled off to recover his wits by the campfire.

So what do you do when a hook accidentally enters human skin rather than the intended quarry?

If it is a small, sharp hook like a tiny trout fly, it can be popped out by running a piece of line inside the bend of the hook, pressing down on the shank which clears the barb on the inside, and jerking on the line so the hook is pulled out at the same angle it went in. This works very well, and simply pops out the hook without the patient feeling a thing. It should be done quickly before any pain sets in and before the patient has time to think about it.

If it involves a large hook, the line should be cut at once and the hook or lure wrapped in a towel or with tape to keep it still, and the patient taken to the nearest doctor.

The standard procedure is to anaesthetise the area, disinfect it and then either nick the skin holding the barb or push the hook right through so it can be cut. It depends on where the hook is placed in the body and how deeply it is embedded. But that is a matter for the medical professionals. If the party happens to be stuck in a remote area with no prospect of rescue for some time, then it is a good idea to include somebody in the trip at the outset who has some medical experience, or at least knows how to use a medical kit.

The old bowie knife sterilised in a camp fire, a belt between the teeth and a bottle of spirits for comfort should be left for the movies.

- Herald on Sunday

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