Be careful when you use those hooks

Everyone has a tale about getting hooked while fishing.

It happens to us all sooner or later. After the fact, some stories are quite funny and make for great jokes. But if you handle hooks carelessly, the danger is real, and there is always the potential for serious injury to eye, body or limb.

Modern fish hooks are very sharp - so sharp that little, if any, effort is required to set the hook, penetrating the hard mouth of a fish, or any part of the angler's body. When a hooking accident occurs, it's a stressful and painful experience at best. To minimize the chances of getting hooked, consider the following:

Keep hooks, lures and tackle boxes out of the reach of everyone, especially children.

When casting, be sure the fishing area is clear, particularly behind you.

Do not allow hooks or lures to tangle or swing freely. Attach the hook securely to the hook holder near the fore-grip of the rod or to another convenient place on the rod or reel.

When they're not in use, place rigged fishing outfits in rod holders or storage compartments. Never leave them lying unattended.

Should a bad cast create a hang-up, do not yank or pull. That could cause the hook or lure to fly back toward you like a missile. It's best to work your way back to the problem and free the hook by hand.

When unhooking a fish, give yourself plenty of slack line while you try to gain control of the fish. Hold the fish tightly, either by the mouth (if it doesn't have teeth), or behind the gills. Then try to remove the hook.

The fish may wiggle and flip anytime, so keep a tight grip on your catch while unhooking.

You may need needle nose pliers to remove deeply set hooks.

If you hook yourself or someone else, remain calm. Cut the line so only the hook or lure is attached. Stop any bleeding. Even if the hook can easily be removed, a tetanus shot may be required.

Sometimes it's not only the hook that sticks you, but the fish's sharp fins, spines or teeth. Consult your doctor.

Coming events

Thursday, Light House Marine Services will offer a course titled "How to Safely Navigate Lake Norman" from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at Gander Mountain, off Interstate 77 Exit 36, in Mooresville. I will teach topics including "Understanding Lake Norman's Marker and Buoy System," "Identifying and Learning How to Avoid Dangerous Shoals" and "How to Use and Interpret Lake Maps." Registration fee is $25. To register or for information, call Lt. Scott Spivey, 704-587-0325, or visit

I will lead a free seminar, "How to Catch Summer Striped Bass on Lake Norman," from 6:30 to 8 p.m. June 24, also at Gander Mountain, off I-77 Exit 36, Mooresville. I'll cover day and night striper fishing while trolling, live baiting and deep jigging. Details: 704-658-0822.

Hot spots

Stripers are hitting baits being trolled 30 to 50 feet below the surface in Mountain Creek. Spotted bass are hitting topwater baits on points and coves at dawn and dusk. White perch are hitting small baits in water from 15 to 30 feet deep.