Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Barbed Hook Removal - Lip Edition. Guest Blooger Mollie S.

The following is a blog post by guest reporter Mollie S. You may know Mollie from the Tidal Potomac Fly Rodders (a frequent attendee of the Beer Ties) or from seeing her in one of Maryland's streams fly fishing.You may remember Mollie from the torrential rain stories from the Virginia Fly Fishing Festival.

@gsfeder and I were talking about his recent hook to the finger episode at the most recent beer tie. As we were telling the story and looking for pictures on my phone, Mollie took out her Crackberry and showed a picture of a midge fly through her lip. She had a great story to go with it. And thus I asked her to share the story with you.

This should be further incentive for you to debarb your hooks. Not just for the fish's sake, but for yours, the people you are with, and the gear you use. A big barbed hook through Gortex or a fleece will do a lot of damage to your expensive gear. A barb through your flesh can not only be physically damaging, but costly. It costs me $100 to get a hook removed at the hospital.

Ok, here is her story:

On Saturday August 27th, as hurricane Irene was making her way up the east coast and many of my fellow Marylanders were frantically worrying about the impending storm; watching wall-to-wall coverage on the local TV stations, I thought I might spend the morning fishing the Gunpowder.  Let me say that I take hurricanes quite seriously, but after spending 23 years in South Florida, Irene was not one that caused me any pause. So on with my life!

I decided to head out out a piece of the river I had only fished once..Bunker Hill. Wasn't successful that time, but was going to be that day.  I started about 8:30 and made my way up river. I didn't see any rises, but kept fishing and changing out my flies. Finally, I got to a very active piece of water.  Thought I would change things up and tie on an ant with a Zebra Midge dropper...fun!    

So there I am, knee deep in the Gunpowder, tying on the midge, fish rising like crazy.  Of course, to tie an effective knot, it needs to be moistened before tightened so I put the knot in my mouth, moisten it up and pull the knot.  In hindsight, it might have actually been a good idea to pull the midge out of my mouth before trying to tighten the knot for there I stood with the midge stuck in my lip. Not just in my lip, on the inside of my upper lip.  Trust me when I tell you this, it did not hurt, not in the least.

Now what should I do?  The fish are rising and I'm standing there connected to my rod.  I literally stood there for 15 minutes trying to get that tiny hook out of my lip because I wanted to get my rod in that pool..it wasn't budging. See..it was a new fly and I had not  yet punched down the barb.  I do that after I tie it on the line..or I used to!  During that 15 minutes I took a picture of the lip to see if there was any real possibility of self-removal.  Not a chance.

At that point I figured I had better get off the river and figure out how the heck I'm going to get this fly removed.   I cut the line between the midge and the ant and stepped out of the river.  Grumbling and mumbling to myself, I walked back to my car..what a dope!  I broke the rod down to two pieces, put it in my trunk and started on the road.  First call..to a family where the husband happens to be a doctor..with children who have had Kitchen Surgery. Mind you, I thought about heading to Backwater Angler to see if they could be of assistance, but thought better of that!  Anyway, I called the wife's cell phone and asked if her hub was taking house calls.  "What did you do?"  I told her..she laughed and put him on to which I asked the same question.  Ha..he too asked 'What did you do?'  There was more laughter and he said to come on over.

I arrive to the kids running over to see the horror 'Ew..that's gross' ..then losing interest quickly and going away.  Dad surveyed the situation and I sat at the table.  Mrs. Doctor was totally icked out and didn't want to see anymore. I objected and insisted that she document this particular Kitchen Surgery for no one would certainly believe this.  Well..actually..yeah they would..it is me after all..always an adventure!

As I was sitting at the kitchen table, down goes a pair of rusty needle nose pliers...alrighty.  The Good Doctor instructed us not to touch them as they have been heat sterilized..on the stove.  He then took a closer look at the fly and noticed that the barb was indeed still intact.  Good thing I didn't try Stream Side Surgery!  Off he goes to dig thru his toolbox again, this time coming out with wire cutters.  Again, this wasn't painful, but to say I was concerned about the impending pain is an understatement. Imagine my glee when I saw the syringe of Lidocaine appear. It was like a choir of angels singing!

Being a good patient, I sit very still for the injection 'You're  gonna feel a little pinch' he says to me. What is it about that line?  Whenever someone is sticking you that is the line. Is that part of the job? Like an airline pilot who can't get out a sentence without one 'uhhhhhhhhhhh'.  Anyway, that is the last thing I felt in or on my lip for a few hours. 

In just a matter of minutes, he had pushed the hook thru my lip, cut off the barb, and pulled it out..voila! Meanwhile, Mrs. Doctor is taking photos and the Good Doctor and I are laughing so hard we can hardly press on.  It was the hardest I have laughed in a very long time

What happened next is really inconsequential..went to get a tetanus shot.  Frankly, the soreness of my arm after that shot was the worst of everything.

Of course, everyone (including me) has taken a great deal of delight in this adventure of mine for it's all par for the course in my life.  While telling my Dad, he did inform me, thru the laughter, that many years ago, he, my Uncle Frank, and both of my grandfathers were on a fishing trip in Canada.  It was a fly-in trip so when either my uncle or maternal grandfather got a lure stuck in his head, he had to keep it in until they flew out.

Hey..at least I come by it honestly!
Thanks for sharing Mollie. 

If you have an interesting story you want to share, please send me an e-mail to rob@robsnowhite.com


Great story and pictures, Mollie! If it didn't hurt, I'm a little surprised that you didn't just cut the tippet off at the midge, tie on a new one (more carefully), and keep fishing.

It's a good look on you -- maybe you should try a Monroe (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monroe_piercing).

Thanks, Greg! Trust me..the last thing I wanted to do was leave the river. But..with the the heavy rain not that far off, I thought better of it. I did return to the river this past Sunday..was more careful..and had quite a successful day.

As far as the Monroe..I shall pass!

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