Let me just say that it hurt like crazy when the topwater lure slammed into my mouth and chin. Like being punched in the face by a young Mike Tyson. Well, as least Evander Hollyfield.
But I never felt the stainless steel hook sink into the skin on my jaw line. When I felt the tug of pressure from the lure now hanging from my face, I looked over at buddy Clyde Pritchard and asked if he had hooked me.
Pritchard leaned forward to peer around my chin, and uttered one word before turning away and walking to the back of the boat.
Clyde and I have fished shoulder to shoulder numerous times, and never had a problem. On this day at the mouth of the Mississippi River the stars just aligned and my face and the lure connected on one of Clyde's back casts.
And without knowing he had inadvertantly struck me, Clyde snapped his rod forward for the cast — sinking the hook to the bend.
While Clyde beat himself up, Artie Cosby jumped to the front of the boat and announced we had to go to the hospital.
"The hospital?" I asked. "Are you crazy? We're an hour from the landing and at least an hour from there to the hospital. And the fish are biting."
Those might not have been the exact words I spoke, but it's pretty close. We had been catching some big reds in the fringe marshes of Redfish Bay, and I didn't want to leave.
Oh, and my wound didn't hurt at all. That helped me be brave.
Artie and Clyde insisted we had to go, but I refused to budge from the front deck. I even tried to push the hook through the skin so they could cut the barb off.
That hurt. So I stopped.
"Have y'all pulled a hook with the string trick?" I asked.
"No, but I've seen it done," Artie responded.
Clyde just stood on the back deck, refusing to look at me.
"Then let's do it," I said.
We first removed the hook from the lure, which was a little uncomfortable but not too bad.
Then I laid on the deck of the boat, and Artie wrapped some braid around the bend of the hook and pulled it snug.
"Wait," I said. "Clyde, get my camera and video it."
I thought he was going to hit me again. With his fists.
So I let it pass, settled back and closed my eyes.
"Do it," I said.
Artie pulled the line tout, and placed his thumb on the eye of the hook — a process that made the hook bend stand up from the skin.
And he snatched as hard as he could. That hook popped out without more pain than a mosquito bite.
I sat up, we put a little antibiotic ointment on it and covered it with a small Band-Aid to stop the bleeding.
We then went back to fishing.
I remained at Clyde's shoulder as we fished, but I admit I kept an eye out for his lure from that point on.
Be sure to watch the accompanying video to see how the string technique of hook removal works.