In a recent study, a question that every fisherman asks is finally answered: what happens to fish that break you off?
A very common accident happens to a lot of fishermen in the form of a fish breaking the line with the hook (or hooks) still embedded in their mouth. In some species of fish, like pike or muskie, this is more common.
A recent study by Carleton University in Canada addressed the question of what happens to fish that break you off, and the answer has been found, at least in regards to northern pike.
For his study, graduate student Chris Pullen used four identical lures and embedded the hooks in different areas in the pike’s mouth. Trackers were also placed in the lures so they would know exactly when, or if, the baits came out. The results were pretty surprising.
All four baits came out of all four test study northerns fairly quickly. Pike were hooked in the lower jaw with both barbed and un-barbed hook as well as through both the upper and lower jaw. Finally, one was hooked deep in the mouth, as often is the case when a northern inhales a lure.
The baits with pinched barbs came out within 24 hours. Surprisingly, the deep set hooks actually came out quicker than the baits hooked in the jaws with barbs. The test assumed that the baits on the jaws didn’t affect the pike as much as the bait set farther back in the mouth, so it didn’t work as hard to get them out.
Overall, what this test shows is that it is probably better to just cut the hooks of lures that are set farther back in the fish’s mouth. If a northern does break you off, chances are it will kick that bait in short order and go on to, well, probably break somebody else off on another day.
More tests need to be done to confirm if this is the case for all fish, but at least for one of the main culprits of break offs, it’s good to know most survive the encounter, and even may come out a littler smarter for it in the long run.