Fishing pressure is intense in Florida. Florida waters are productive, but without fishing regulations, both the commercial and sports fishing industries would collapse. Most fishermen follow the rules, but they can’t control which fish hits their line. Fish are going to be caught out of season and out side the slot. This means a lot of fish will be released, but how many of these survive?
Both live and dead baits are infamous for damaging fish so severely that they die after being freed. Circle hooks dramatically increase the survival rate. They can do the same with soft baits.
Soft baits have become popular, replacing hard plastic lures in many cases. They can help a fisherman catch more fish, but in the long run, they’re reducing the catch. Fish swallow soft baits far more often than hard lures, resulting in the fish being hooked deep and dying shortly after being released. No fisherman wants that.
There are only a few soft bait manufactures producing lures incorporating a circle hook. D.O.A. is one. They’re located here in Florida. Their clacker rigs are deadly on sea trout, but will often catch a lot of shorts. It’s possible to catch forty of these shorts in a day. If the included hooks are used, half of them will be hooked deep and unlikely to survive. This can become a slaughter instead of a sport. Fortunately, D.O.A. offers a nine pack option for their plastic shrimp. A fisherman can rig these shrimp using a circle hook instead of the supplied hook. Far more released fish will survive, less time will be spent unhooking them, and when bought as a nine pack, the lures are cheaper. Instructions are illustrated on the back of the pack.
Hogy has a twist-on screw lock holder that can be used on some of their lures and could be used on others. Innovative fishermen are experimenting with ways to rig soft baits using circle hooks. There are two problems they have to solve. The first is to not reduce the lure’s effectivnes by altering its action and reducing the number of strikes. The second is keeping the hookup ratio high. Clever fishermen are solving these problems every day.
- Inline circle hooks are slightly better at lip hooking fish than off set.
- With toothy fish, such as sharks or barracuda, it’s safer to remove a hook from the lip than the stomach.