Column: Hook in tongue not enough to end fishing trip

Guest Columnist

​It was a slow, hot July Saturday afternoon. Not much happening. Too hot for golf or fishing, and for me that means it was very hot. I hadn’t had a good laugh all day, so I popped in the Bill Dance Bloopers DVD.

​I’m not sure if this guy is really as klutzy as he seems on these videos, or if he’s milking it a little for the camera. But he gets into some hilarious scrapes along the treacherous paths of trying to catch a fish. If you want to get an outdoors person something he/she will enjoy, consider buying him/her one of the several volumes of goof-up videos Bill Dance has accumulated in his long, successful career.

​The DVD reminded me of some of the flubs I’ve had fishing. I had to go get a sheet of paper and jot some of them down. Hope you enjoy hearing about my less-than-stellar escapades while angling. Most events were fairly minor; some were pretty major.

​One minor incident occurred last month while I was fishing with my 11-year-old granddaughter, who is as nutty about catching fish as I am. We were out on a hot day, but she was loving catching small bluegill. I thought, “Hey, I’ll use one of her smallest bluegills as bait and see if Mr. Bass is interested.”

​I put on a large hook, sinker, large bobber, and then cast out. I watched her for awhile gleefully landing one bluegill after another. When I looked up, my bobber was nowhere to be seen.

​I waited just a few seconds, then put all I had into setting the hook. A very nice three-pound bass jumped, and I handed my bass rod to my granddaughter. She happily reeled it in. We took photos, then released the fish unharmed.

​All good so far, until I looked down at my reel. A backlash from Hades had fouled my line into a gigantic birdsnest. After picking at it awhile, I gave up and started cutting the line out. Next step: installing new line at home.

​The next day we were out again in even hotter environs and the bluegill queen pulled in another bait-size morsel. I repeated yesterday’s scenario, gave a big heave, and my brand new line broke in mid-cast. What the heck? About 20 yards of the line, bobber, sinker, and poor bluegill went sailing into the middle of the lake. Later on as were motoring around, I spotted the cork. As I neared and went to grab it, it disappeared into the depths.

​Oh, well. I hope no one’s motor prop gets fouled with my line. Maybe everything will eventually sink to the bottom.

​Incidents like this happen all the time to fishermen. You’ve got a perfect storm of possibilities: hooks, motors, batteries, lines, rods, electronics, weather, wind, and the list goes on.

​The first big catastrophe in my fishing career happened when I was in my teens, fishing at night in our small jon boat with my dad at Dale Lake. We were using Jitterbugs, a top-water lure that gurgles enticingly as it dances across the water. Since it was night, we couldn’t see our lures, so we relied on the sound of the strike to know it was time to set the hook.

​We had caught some nice bass that night, but the mosquitoes were really humming. We were covered with bug spray, but the pests still hovered right near our faces.

​I made a long cast toward the dam then started slowly winding. An explosion followed. I set the hook, but made no contact. The double-treble hook lure came flying back in the dark and hit me square in the mouth.

​“Ok. I’m alive,” I thought. “No concussion. Wait.” One of the treble hooks had lodged somewhere in my mouth. It wouldn’t come out.

​Dad eased over with his flashlight and took a look. One of the hook points was buried in the tip of my tongue.

​Now what to do? Head to Jasper to the ER? You have to realize that Dad was serious about fishing. At least an effort would be made to remove the hook.

​I can still see Dad with his flashlight in his mouth studying the situation. He first used snips to cut off the hook so that only a quarter inch or so protruded from my tongue. OK. Progress. Much more manageable.

​Now how to get it out. Barbs on hooks are there for a reason. They prevent a fish from shaking off. They also prevent hooks from being removed from tongues.

​So, to the Jasper ER? Wait. It won’t back out, so let’s try pushing it through the tongue. Sounds incredibly painful, but really not so much. The mosquitoes hovering around the flashlight in Dad’s mouth were more of a bother.

​Dad carefully and patiently pushed and pushed and voila, the hook point protruded through the bottom of my tongue. With pliers, Dad gently pulled the hook through.

​There was some blood, but not enough to quit fishing. After all, the bites were coming before all the drama started. I rinsed my mouth out with some water, and we carried on. It takes more than just a minor incident like a hook in the tongue to put an end to a fishing trip. Later some antiseptic at home was a wise precaution. The next day, my tongue was only slightly sore. Dad should’ve been an oral surgeon.

​That was not the only hook in the tongue incident I’ve been a part of. More later.

​Today’s trivia: The strongest muscle in the human body is in the tongue. It’s also the single muscle only attached at one end.

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