Local captain gets a reminder that fishing can be dangerous

On Tuesday, a 66-year-old Arkansas hunter was gored to death when a deer he shot attacked him after the hunter thought the deer had been killed. Around 6:30 p.m. the hunter called family to say he had shot the deer. At 8 p.m. he called again, this time to say he was injured, before later passing on the way to the hospital.

It’s a grim reminder there is always a risk when dealing with wild animals and in the pursuit of capturing game.

Capt. Griffin Deans also was served that reminder recently on the water. Deans was out grouper fishing around Tampa Bay on Thursday when a fish got its revenge before it headed for the cooler.

“There’s been a lot of big fish around so we wanted to get some, it’s been really good,” Deans said. “I do some grouper fishing between charters or at the end of trips for meat and usually get one keeper. The best day we got five over 30 inches.”

To target grouper, Deans trolls rock piles around Tampa Bay. He prefers to use a Stretch 25+ lure, with pink being his favorite color.

“Thursday, I went out trolling with Joseph Benoit and Ric Yrabedra and got a nice grouper on our first pass so I was excited,” Deans said. “It was big, around 31 inches. The lure got stuck in the net, and I tried to get them both out together. I rushed wanting to get back to fishing since we got that one so fast. The grouper flopped and got me with one of the treble hooks!

“The hook went right into my pinky almost to the bone. It was past the barb at a point where I couldn’t push it through or pull it out.”

In Deans’ excitement, he hurried the delicate procedure of unhooking the big grouper. Stretch 25 lures have both a front and back set of treble hooks that are extremely sharp. I’ve personally seen them dig into an angler’s hand with the slightest touch. In Deans’ case, the force of the grouper flopping sent it deeply into his skin.

When a hook enters the skin there’s a few techniques to getting it out. If lucky, the barb will reemerge through the skin on the other side and can be cut, then backed out.

Capt. Griffin Deans had to make a trip to Urgent Care after getting a hook stuck in his finger on a recent fishing trip. Photo provided

Another trick involves tying line on the bend of the hook, putting pressure on it, then pulling it back out with a jerk. Professional Bass Angler Kevin VanDam demonstrated this technique with a film crew on board.

After catching an 8-pound bass, a treble hook was stuck into the middle of his hand. He flagged down a fellow boat to help him.

“Leave a bit of slack, don’t tell me, just jerk it,” VanDam said in the video. The hook was pulled out and he went back to fishing.

Unfortunately for Deans, that wasn’t happening.

“I told them to take me back in, there was no way I was getting it out,” Deans explained. “I headed to Ellenton Urgent Care.”

The accident seems to be a fairly common one at the Urgent Care, as it’s listed as “Fishing Hook Removal” on their list of procedures for $50.

“He numbed it and cut around it for 15 or 20 minutes. He was struggling to get it out. I just looked away. He told me it was the biggest hook he had ever taken out.”

A few hours after the procedure was done and medicated, numbness wore off and Deans said the pain was excruciating but has since subsided.

“I think I’ll take it a little slower next time,” Deans said laughingly.

Alan Bellittera is the print liaison for the Bradenton Herald and also helps with breaking news and high school sports coverage. Alan graduated from the University of Central Florida in 2000 and is a lifelong Florida resident.