Circle Hooks Will improve your Fishing in the Florida Keys

I’ve been fishing with circle hooks in the Florida Keys since the late 80's. I lived a couple of years on Guam and began using them there.

The Japanese were probable the inventors of circle hooks.

Recently the National Marine Fisheries Services released an environmental impact statement for the Highly Migratory Species. This includes the Atlantic Billfish. This could affect anglers fishing from Highly Migratory Species permitted vessels and all tournaments and recreational anglers fishing for billfish. Their final ruling will be in mid-August of this year. It would go into effect on January 1, 2007.

As anyone knows who uses true circle hooks, they reduce the mortality rate in fish to be released.

The ruling may also change the landing limit for Billfish. The landing limit would be 250 recreationally caught Blue and White Marlin combined on an annual basis. They have the power to change the minimum size limit and or change and restrict the Marlin fishery to catch and release only when the landing limit it approached or exceeded.

Circle Hook

Circle hooks aren’t as popular here in the Florida Keys and the rest of the country as they are in the rest of the world. For example in Costa Rica all charter boat and commercial boats are required to use only circle hooks for fishing.

There’s several reasons why you should consider switching from “J” hooks to circle hooks. It’s been proven over the years that the catch rate is higher for all species fished with these hooks. There’s no setting of the hook required. Actually if you do try to set the hook you’ll put it right out of the mouth of the fish. That’s probable the most difficult part to learn when you switch. We’ve all been setting hooks as long as we’ve been fishing. It’s hard to unlearn setting the hook when the fish is on.

When a fish hits, all you do is point the rod tip toward the fish and begin reeling him in. The unique curved shape of the circle hook catches on the bony mouth of the fish and as you begin reeling, it just slides on over the bone at the lip or the jaw of the fish and you have him. If you need to release the fish, this hook up allows you to easily remove the hook and the fish swims away unharmed. Most of the fish get lip hooked.

Package of Circle Hooks With “J” hooks the fish can easily swallow it. It then gets hung in the gut or throat of the fish and causes considerable internal injury. Better hope it was a legal fish to keep. Otherwise, you’re releasing a dead fish.

I’ve had to get really creative with rigging natural bait. I asked one of the local Fishing Captains to show me how to rig with natural and live baitfish . He’s been fishing in Costa Rica and showed me how they rig there.

This is one of the simple ways he showed me. It can be for either live or natural bait. Place the hook just in front of the dorsal fin of the baitfish. Dig it in deep enough to get a good bite and begin trolling. I was skeptical about being able to troll with this method. It actually works. It’s the easiest method I’ve ever used to rig bait.

Rigged Circle Hook

Another method was to first poke the eyes out of the bait fish. You’re gonna also need a small length of braided line. Feed the hook into the mouth of the bait fish and stick the point out the bottom of the mouth. Take the braided line, run it thru the eye sockets and thru the eye of the hook and tie it. I like this method the best. It’s real close to the way I’m used to rigging.

Give these hooks a try next time you go fishing. Just remember the two rules when using circle hooks. Don’t set the hook and don’t cover the point with hard or bony portions of the bait.

Something interesting I just found out about how grouper get mates. I had no idea they were so sophisticated. It's really a good read.

Tight lines and good fishing in the Florida Keys.

Return from Circle Hooks to Fishing

Return from Circle Hooks to N The Florida Keys