Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion A sign for Health North Family Medicine in Soldotna, Alaska, pictured June 29, 2016, offers 24/7 fish hook removal. The clinic probably sees eight to 10 cases of embedded fish hooks per week, said Dr. Rod Hall.

Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion A sign for Health North Family Medicine in Soldotna, Alaska, pictured June 29, 2016, offers 24/7 fish hook removal. The clinic probably sees eight to 10 cases of embedded fish hooks per week, said Dr. Rod Hall.

Fishermen can prepare for hooking injuries

Many fishermen are familiar with the feeling of getting a fishhook stuck in their hand, arm or elsewhere.

Usually, it’s a quick fix if the fisherman can jump in a car and head to an emergency room or to a clinic. However, if they are out in a boat on Cook Inlet or nine miles out on a remote river, professional medical help may not be so immediately available.

Being up to date on tetanus shots is a good preventative measure, said Dr. Rod Hall, a physician at Health North Family Medicine. Based on the kind of injury, the person will need a tetanus booster in the future — if it’s a clean cut, 10 years is fine, but if it’s not, five years is better, he said. Tetanus shots are available, but there is no antitoxin and the disease can be deadly.

“Basically, if you’re washing dishes in hot soapy water and you cut yourself on a knife in the water, that’s a clean cut,” Hall said. “Everything else is a dirty cut.”

Health North Family Medicine on the Kenai Spur Highway in Soldotna offers 24/7 fish hook removal service, ranging from $450–$1,000, based on the level of severity, and accepts various insurance plans. Hall said he uses a method to withdraw embedded fish hooks that does not involve cutting the hook or bending the barb and can remove it in about a minute. He estimated that the clinic might see eight to 10 cases per week.

He inserts a larger needle following the hook and covers the barb, then withdrawing both together. That way, the barb doesn’t have a chance to damage anything else on its way out, like nerves, veins or other structures. That’s one of the biggest risks in yanking out the hook, he said.

“Nerves don’t regenerate,” Hall said. “They’ll grow (a little bit), but that’s it.”

If fishermen want to take it out themselves, they should push the hook through the skin and flatten the barb against the hook with pliers before withdrawing it back the way it came out. The downside to that method is that it produces a second puncture, he said.

Some guides who have clients with a fishhook injury will just tell them to finish fishing with the hook in, bring them into town and have a medical professional address it, he said.

There’s always the risk of infection, so carrying gauze and hydrogen peroxide or antibacterial ointment may head off a bigger problem if the wound festers. It doesn’t take up much space, isn’t heavy and can prevent an infection.

One of the biggest preventative measures, though, is to wear shatterproof safety glasses or goggles, he said. A hook in the eye can be benign if it only snags the eyelid, but it can blind someone if it pierces the anterior structure of the eyeball. Some surgeries can fix it, but others may lose an eye, he said.

In some areas on the Kenai, where fishing is crowded, the risk isn’t always from the fisherman — some times it’s from the angler ten feet down the river. Hall estimated that about half the cases of fishhook removals the clinic sees are when someone else hooked his or her neighbor.

“Some people wear sunglasses, but the other part of it is that there’s a weight (on the line),” Hall said. “They make a shatterproof plastic, and it’s best if they go all the way around (the eye).”

Reach Elizabeth Earl at elizabeth.earl@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

Sockeye salmon are gathered together at a test site for selective harvest setnet gear in Kenai, Alaska, on Tuesday, July 25, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Dipnets for commercial setnet fishers given emergency approval by CFEC

Up to three 12-hour periods of commercial dipnetting “may” be allowed each week from June 20 to July 31

Council member Dave Carey speaks during a meeting of the Soldotna City Council in Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, June 12, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna explores increases to its water and sewer expansion fees

The fees are a single charge to people who are newly or differently demanding or utilizing the services of the city’s water and sewer system

Vice President Tyson Cox speaks during a meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly in Soldotna, Alaska, on Tuesday, June 4, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Assembly to discuss short-term rental tax on Tuesday

The resolution describes a proposed tax of up to 12%

Photo provided by Special Olympics Alaska Central Peninsula
The Special Olympics Alaska Central Peninsula team stands together for a photo during the Summer State Games in Anchorage.
Area athletes claim 45 medals at Special Olympics Alaska Summer Games

The Central Peninsula team fielded 17 local athletes in the competition

Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion
Rep. Justin Ruffridge, R-Soldotna, speaks in support of debating an omnibus education bill in the Alaska House Chambers on Monday, Feb. 19 in Juneau.
Ruffridge talks successes, unfinished business after freshman session in Juneau

Ruffridge is up for election this year, facing a challenger in former-Rep. Ron Gillham

tease
Homer, Seldovia to celebrate summer solstice

Events will be held starting June 20

A freshly stocked rainbow trout swims in Johnson Lake during Salmon Celebration on Wednesday, May 10, 2023, at Johnson Lake in Kasilof, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Slow sockeye fishing at Russian River, good rainbow trout at Kenai Lake

A Northern Kenai Fishing Report published by the State Department of Fish… Continue reading

Council member James Baisden speaks in favor of an amendment to the City of Kenai’s budget that would add funds for construction of a veteran’s memorial column in the Kenai Cemetery during a meeting of the Kenai City Council in Kenai, Alaska, on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai budget amendment allocates funds for veterans’ columbarium in cemetery expansion

A columbarium is an aboveground structure that houses cremated remains

Council member Alex Douthit speaks in favor of an amendment to the CIty of Kenai’s budget that would reduce funds allocated to the Storefront and Streetscape Improvement Program during a meeting of the Kenai City Council in Kenai, Alaska, on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Funding reduced for City of Kenai’s storefront improvement grant program

Just over a year after the City of Kenai established its Storefront… Continue reading

Most Read