Thursday, 2 May 2013

Deep hooking of Pike!

Photo - Saturday on St Mary's

Deep hooking of Pike!
Most anglers have had one even though some are reluctant to admit it for fear of ridicule by their peers. The following discourse is merely my view on the subject with some limited research to support those views written with the purpose of stimulating thought and discussion on the matter. It is thankfully something that most anglers take great care to avoid. Very little research appears to have been carried out on this subject and the prevailing view of anglers is that removal of the offending trace is of paramount importance and if this cannot be removed then pulling up of the trace and cutting it as far down as possible is the preferred option to give the hooked Pike a fighting chance.
The use of barbed hooks would appear to compound the problem making removal of the hooks only possible by tearing the walls of the digestive tract leaving several larger holes (and the increased likelihood of further complications) than would have been the case had barbless hooks been used. Deep hooking where the offending trace has been left in the GI tract obviously causes a physical obstruction to the passage of food and whilst such a Pike will attempt to feed it will not be able to absorb nutrients, or do so in a very limited fashion compared to normal feeding, this will be dependent on the position of the hooks and the number of the hook points that perforate the GI tract. Hooking of a Pike in the mouth does not lead to the various conditions mentioned below; the most common condition arising from mouth hooking is that of localised infection such as when we suffer trauma in which the skin is broken. I have only once come across mouth infection and speaking to other anglers it does not appear to be a common occurrence in hard mouthed species! There are difficulties in cross species comparisons but our scientific adviser has informed us that in this case the conditions are comparable.
If we look at humans and compare the anatomy of a Pike we can see similarities in that there is a stomach in which food is mixed with Hydrochloric acid and a length of intestine for the absorption of nutrients and expelling of waste. All these organs are cloaked by a protective membrane called the peritoneum which envelopes and supports the internal organs. Many other organs are shared by Pike and humans but for the purposes of this treatise they will not be considered as they offer nothing to the discourse.
Peritonitis is the inflammation of the membrane called the peritoneum and has a number of causes such as infection and rupture of an organ such as the stomach or intestine allowing the leakage of the organs contents into the peritoneal cavity. Since the contents of the organs are not sterile there is a possibility of infection occurring in the peritoneal cavity.This can lead to multi organ failure if urgent treatment is not initiated since the peritoneum has no capacity to combat infection. Even in case of a sterile object puncturing the internal organ the juices produced by that organ (hydrochloric acid in the case of the stomach and digestive enzymes in the intestine) can frequently become infected when leaving that organ transferring into the peritoneal cavity. Many cases have been documented of fish suffering from peritonitis under laboratory and real life conditions. Invariably with the inflammation of an organ comes loss of function of that organ, so if the intestine becomes inflamed it will lose the ability to squeeze food down the tract (peristalsis) and absorb nutrients. Excessively large barbed hooks found on some large lures have the capacity in addition to the above to pierce actual organs such as the liver and heart due to their sheer size and can cause almost immediate death if organ penetration occurs!
Fishing hooks are unlikely to be sterile and the same would apply to dead baits used to entice the Pike. In humans peritonitis is an extremely serious condition that carries with it a very high mortality rate if the condition itself and underlying cause is not treated typically by emergency surgery, correction of the ensuing electrolyte imbalance and the use of powerful antibiotics. Obviously such interventions are not available to deep hooked Pike therefore I would suggest the outlook for a deep hooked Pike is grave, irrespective of whether or not the hooks have been removed!
I would postulate however that removal of the hooks leads to a better prognosis due to the fact that the physical obstruction barring the passage of food is removed. Also the irritation caused by retained hooks with resultant fibrosis and necrosis and if held in situ may give rise to neoplastic growths in time. A number of debilitating chronic conditions can also develop following deep hooking only detectable by necropsy. There remains however a number of perforations of the gastro intestinal tract that is a prime cause of peritonitis!
Many documented cases of people swallowing rigid fish bones have shown that severe peritonitis develops if and when the GI tract is perforated requiring immediate surgery and treatment of subsequent complications to avoid death! Many cases have also occurred due to iatrogenic injury whereby an instrument such as an endoscope has caused a perforation of the GI tract. Therefore even when the offending instrument is removed the resulting perforation results in peritonitis, might this also be the case when deep seated hooks are removed? I suspect the evidence points to this situation developing.
From our Pike tagging study which has been running since 2006, out of eight deep hooked Pike, that is Pike caught with a deep seated trace already in situ only one ever appeared again and in her case she was caught two hours later! I would suggest that her desire to feed was intense but due to the obstruction caused by the trace she was unable to digest any food. I cut the trace as is accepted practice (the hooks were not visible in spite of significant intestinal traction) but she was never recorded again and scale readings determined her age at nine years so under normal circumstances she had a good few years of life left. Three of the deep hooked Pike caught by me were found to be emaciated and lethargic compared to hook free Pike of similar stature. One Pike (5lbs) from which I was able to remove the deep seated hooks was given half a Mackerel and tagged. This Pike has not been recorded since this event three years ago!
That none of these fish were recorded again would tend to suggest the outlook for such deep hooked Pike where the trace is left in situ is grave! The rationale for most anglers (and I until only recently included myself in this group) is that the stomach acid would eat away the hooks and the Pike would flourish. Indeed it might but if follows that if the acid is able to dissolve the hooks it is equally able to pass through the fibrosed hook perforations in the wall of the GI tract causing severe peritonitis, septicaemia and ultimately death!
Studies in sharks (mammals) have shown that subsequent infection leading to the development of septicaemia following penetrative injury is commonplace. The researchers in this report were unable to establish a time vs. clinical change forecast due to the random nature of catches and the huge area of water that the sharks patrol. However what was clearly demonstrated by necropsy of the six sharks with retained hooks in situ was that retained hooks in all cases lead to the development of life threatening conditions from this focal point but what could not be established was the time taken for development of the ensuing debilitating conditions.
Note the following quote from the researchers “We previously described a case of severe gastritis, peritonitis and pericarditis with cachexia associated with a retained fishing hook in a blue shark“The researchers have called for further study as “the high morbidity and mortality of sharks with retained hooks casts serious doubts on the efficacy of catch and release in shark management and conservation”. An Australian government sponsored study concluded that “A hooked shark, upon release, may swim away seemingly unharmed, only to die several days later from internal bleeding or peritonitis’ (DEH, 2002a)”.

A study involving landlocked salmon found that {of 106 salmon purposely allowed to swallow worm baits, 73% died. Of 56 fish in which the hook was left in place and the leader cut at the mouth, 57% died during the 14-day holding period. A significantly greater mortality (90%) was experienced for 50 deeply hooked salmon from which hooks were removed}.
Anecdotal evidence from anglers tend to suggest that some Pike from which the hooks have been removed are caught at a later date indicating that such Pike recover and thrive. The problem with this is that these observations are subjective and operate without the rigid parameters required by a scientific study. What is not clear from such observation is how the longevity of a Pike is affected by such trauma; do they live for a few days, weeks or years after the event? To answer this much further research is required. That the odd Pike does recover from such an event is entirely possible but unless prospective cohort studies are carried out under controlled conditions we cannot be assured of a definitive conclusion.

For every assertion made here I could find another study that would suggest the opposite! What has become clear is that much more species specific research is required before any definite conclusions can be reached. There appears to be a move towards the use of circle hooks as the evidence would seem to suggest these to be much less injurious to fish that are hooked. Certainly many government agencies appear to now be advocating the use of barbless Iron hooks (as opposed to stainless in which the content of Nickel and Chromium is high) as a means of reducing morbidity and mortality but these are other discussions for another time. A number of studies now advocate leaving deep hooks in situ as a means of prolonging longevity, this of course does not apply to deep seated treble hooks.

What can be taken with certainty is that the deep hooking of a Pike is a significant life event, possibly a disaster for that fish irrespective of whether the trace is removed or not. The old get out clause that the stomach acids will dissolve the hooks and all will be well looks increasingly flimsy with regard to morbidity and possibly mortality!

In my own view I would always try to remove the hooks with the aim of removing the physical obstruction, but clearly a point is reached when the trauma to the internal organs makes any further action futile. In the absence of firm evidence the angler must use his or her own judgement as to what action is taken, but be under no illusions a deep hooked Pike is a Pike in a perilous condition, it may be that more often than not it is a death sentence (sooner or later) for that fish with or without hooks in situ!

National Holocaust Day
Thursday saw the annual commemoration of all who suffered terribly under the iron jackboot of the Nazis, innocent men, women and worst of all children degraded, dehumanised, tortured then exterminated like rats! We must never forget the unimaginable terror and suffering endured these people! R.I.P
Dangerman has been barred from fishing at our lochs for an indefinite period of time; the decision by the club committee was unanimous! His fish killing days are over, thank god I hear you say! We did not take this decision lightly as it is clear he has no understanding of what has taken place and the wrongs against angling he has committed, and it may be that the pc brigade will take a dim view of our actions for rounding on one who is perpetually bewildered! However we are resolute and stand by our actions, even an imbecile must be taught right from wrong and that is quite simply what we have done!
Dangerman – you may apply for permission to fish in the future, however you will have to undergo a practical assessment of Pike unhooking and the criteria for a pass will be the avoidance of putting the Pike in mortal danger (something which you are unable to do at present), and an IQ test (the average score is about 100 but we would give you a pass at 15) which probably means you will never fish at our lochs for the rest of your life!
Have another look at his video; he now has ONE supporter (LOL) another simpleton type Muppet called BECKYGRIFFIN2003! This half wit has seen “a lot worse in the way of Pike handling” than that demonstrated by Dangerman - quite clearly then Becks you need to reappraise your standards because the consensus is that Dangermans Pike would not have made it! If anyone knows the identity of this moron please get in touch as Pike fishing would undoubtedly benefit by his or her removal, one butcher in this neck of the woods is more than enough, I can envisage Pike stocks being wiped out on a colossal scale if two Dangerman types were on the loose!
Were you in the same remedial class as Dangerman? The reason I ask is that you also are completely bereft of knowledge about Pike, read the article above you moron! If it was his first time unhooking a Pike then he should have had someone with at least a small degree of knowledge supervising him that’s what most anglers of average intelligence seek to do! Anglers of average intelligence also do not post videos of themselves mistreating defenceless fish!
It’s really difficult trying to decipher the jumble of letters you lump together on You Tube, but I think you are saying (is it English?) all was well because the Pike swims away! Yet another statement from a country bumpkin, if you had any knowledge at all about Pike (which you clearly have not) you would know that swimming away from the Dangerman induced ordeal means nothing and that the risk for morbidity and mortality lasts for a significant length of time after being tortured in the manner demonstrated by Dangerman!
Clearly Dangerman’s Pike would be at severe risk because the protective layer on the scales and indeed the scales themselves has been abraded off by sharp stones in numerous places allowing subsequent infection to develop; the fish is out of the water for an extraordinary length of time leading to stress hypoxia and acidosis with possible subsequent multi organ failure and eventual death. The fish has been handled like a sack of potatoes probably causing unseen damage, numerous vital organs have been put at risk by weighing her from the chin for around 15 seconds (try hanging yourself from the chin for 15 seconds and see how it feels), the deeply seated trace which no doubt arose as Dangerman was contemplating Einstein’s theory of relativity and finishing off a pie before he finished off that fine specimen of a Pike!
Yes there is no doubt about it Becks; you are also an imbecile of the highest order equal in calibre to Dangerman! I didn’t think it was possible to encounter another retard of similar standing but yet again I have had my horizons broadened, I think you with your uninformed outlandish comment and the dullard Dangerman, will make a fine couple irrespective of whether you are man woman or indeterminate!
Anyone who knows the identity of the knucklehead Dangerman assistant please do let us know and we will expose them on here in order to protect the future of Pike stocks everywhere! Apologies to all who have left comments and not had a response, the volume of negative comments on Dangerman has been immense! I will try and respond over the coming week.

Photo – Dangerman (Kevin Austin) proud to be a mutilator of Pike!
Click the above link to find out how NOT to handle Pike; the perpetrator of the shocking handling in the video has been barred from fishing at our lochs! Have a look at the video and the dopey comments below, he has removed 23 comments from the video all 100% negative (mail us if you would like to view them).
Please download his photo and pass it on to your venue and ask them to visit our news pages to read about a disgrace to angling and a Pike mutilator.
Would you really want this fool with his appalling handling skills fishing at your loch?

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