Does a fish hook dissolve while in a fish, and how long does it take
“Phil, you are an outdoor writer. I’ve got a question. Maybe you can help settle a little argument,” said a fellow fishing friend while several of us were involved in a friendly game of cards.
People often think as an outdoor writer I know a lot about the outdoors. Well, I have some knowledge, but what I really have is lots of friends and sources who do know a lot about it.
So the friend relates that he and another friend were fishing when a bass became hooked in the stomach.
“I always release the bass I catch,” said my friend, Nook (his name), and I almost always can get the hook out without significantly injuring the bass. “I usually can go in through the gill plate and get the hook out.”
He said this time he couldn’t remove the hook, and the question was about how long it would take a hook to dissolve in the fish, and whether, if the hook wouldn’t dissolve quickly, the fish should be taken home, cleaned and eaten.
He said his fishing companion said he thought the hook would dissolve in the fish in about five days.
My response to Nook was that I am no expert, but that the answer probably is, “It depends.” I said i’d do some checking.
My friend T. J. Stallings is probably one of the best sources around. He is one of the world’s leading experts on fishing-tackle design, He acquired a deep interest in sport fishing while working as a youngster in Tim’s Tackle Box, a popular hangout for Florida anglers his father established in 1971 to sell jigs he designed and made himself.
Before he was a teenager, T.J. was tying jigs, building custom rods and studying fish behavior. His in-depth knowledge of fishing led to positions with big-name tackle companies such as Shimano, Bass-Assassin and Hildebrandt. He currently works as Director of Marketing for TTI Blakemore Fishing Group, which utilized his concepts for Daiichi Bleeding Bait, hooks. Stallings is also the co-founder of Crappie NOW Magazine.
According to T.J.,a fish swallowing a hook is a rate occurrence. “Most lost hooks are somewhere in the mouth.”
As to the rusting of dissolving of the hook, he says, “After the finish is scratched, the hook begins to rust quickly. This is the very reason we do not offer a stainless hook. We also refuse to sell a cadmium hook. (Cadmium is very poisonous.)
T.J. said five days to dissolve or rust out a hook was “pretty short. I recall a late nineties study that most hooks rust out in about 29 days”
He added that circle hooks and cam action hooks like the TruTurn reduce released fish mortality.
T.J. also referred the question of Eric Johnson with Florida Fish & Wildlife. “He is the expert I defer to in these matters,” added Stallings.
Eric has been on a hunting trip, and said when he returns he will check his files for any addition data from any recent studies.
However, said in an email, “ I can tell you that we fish biologists in Florida are now recommending that anglers remove hooks from deep-hooked freshwater fish because hooks have better coatings now and don't rust like they did years ago.”