Fishing is a great activity done for sport or relaxation.
Those who are concerned about the environment might wonder if fish hooks dissolve.
This question is typically motivated by a concern for both the fish and the environment.
The answer is interesting and one that you may not expect.
Do Fish Hooks Dissolve?
Yes, fish hooks do dissolve.
This can take months, a few years, or up to 50, depending on what they’re made of.
There are many factors that will dictate the length of time a fishing hook takes to degrade.
Saltwater may degrade certain materials faster than freshwater or brackish water, which is half salt and half freshwater.
All those water bodies are regularly fished, so finding a fish with a fishing hook in its mouth would be common.
What Type Of Hooks Dissolve Quickly?
There is no one type of hook that will dissolve that quickly.
However, there are some materials that degrade faster than others regardless of the type of water they are submerged in.
If the hook is made of wire, it will degrade faster than those that are made from other metals or treated types.
The cheap wire hooks have no protective treatment at all.
Stainless steel hooks will take the longest to degrade.
The amount that the hook gets used over and over again will also contribute to how fast a fishing hook will dissolve.
Most fishing hooks, regardless of the material it’s made from, will bend or get filthy with corrosive material, depending on where and how you store them.
They can also just weaken from overuse.
Do Fishing Hooks Hurt The Environment?
Yes, fishing hooks can hurt the environment in many ways, starting with the water itself and then the marine life other than the fish whose mouth the hook is lodged in.
Let’s begin with the water.
The way a fishing hook pollutes the water is simple.
Fishing hooks are made of different metals, so they can be as harmful as all the soda cans and other metallic items that people indiscriminately throw in the oceans.
The rust from the many millions of fishing hooks that get disposed of in the water, and not to mention the fish, is a polluter.
Then, there are the coatings on these things.
How Do Fishing Hooks Harm The Fish?
Fishing hooks harm fish by causing prolonged pain or discomfort.
Here’s why we say pain or discomfort.
You can only imagine what it must feel like to any living thing to have a metal hook in its mouth and no hands to be able to rid itself of it.
Do the fish feel pain in the classic sense, like humans do?
Well, according to the Smithsonian Institute, they do feel something.
When behavior is observed after a rainbow trout is injected with acetic acid in the lips, the body signals would indicate “pain” or intense discomfort with the urge to remedy the situation.
Some of those signals were rocking back and forth and rubbing their lips against rocks to try and make it stop.
Therefore, a hook would do roughly the same thing.
With just this evidence, we can say with some assurance that there is a negative condition that is caused by hooks to the fish.
What Are Fishing Hooks Coated With?
Fishing hooks are coated with several different types of materials.
The coatings are there to fortify the strength hooks.
This is great for those who fish as they can catch bigger and stronger fish, but it’s not so hot for the environment since the tougher the coating, the less likely the fishing hook will dissolve quick enough to not be a nuisance to other marine life.
Types Of Fishing Hook Coatings
In modern-day fishing, you can find fishhooks coated in tin, nickel, gold, and Teflon.
Most times, clear lacquer is the cheaper and most common coating that can be found.
The fishhook has been fashioned from many different natural elements which demonstrate strength and integrity to do the job effectively.
The earliest fishing hooks date back as far as 9,000 years ago.
Those fishing hooks were made from animal and yes, human bone, stone, bronze, shells, and iron.
They were fashioned out of the objects that were the most readily available for the time that would do the job.
Eating fish back then was a life-or-death situation.
The difference between then and today is we have many other food sources to choose from, and those fishing hooks were made from natural materials.
Did the hooks still stay lodged in the fish?
Yes, we are sure they did.
It was and is just a part of the fishing process.
Did those hooks harm the environment?
No, they didn’t because they are all of nature.
There is even gold in the oceans.
Can I Fish Without A Hook?
1. Sharp Objects And Natural Hooks
There are ways to fish without a hook.
We will say that the efficiency that some of these suggestions offer will be better for the fish, too.
First, one can use other sharp objects such as spears or any hook that can be fashioned from a natural material.
In order to use either of these things, you need some semblance of dexterity, ingenuity, and focus.
In the case of hook fashioning, you would need whatever equipment is available to create the hook.
Cutting, bending, and sharpening tools are needed.
As we always say, “Google it!”
Find out what you can use around you.
There are countless natural things in your surroundings that you can use based on your location.
2. Spear Fishing
Regarding the spear, this one takes focus and dexterity.
Spearfishing can be done as a diver in the ocean (which will mean you need to be certified as a diver), or one can do it while snorkeling in a more shallow and legal fishing area.
Legality is a big deal, so check it out first before you go poking around a protected reef or area which will land you in big trouble.
Spearfishing can also be done with a hand spear in a lake or river.
It’s like playing darts or doing archery, only the target is moving—fast.
Practice makes perfect, but we wouldn’t do it if you are starving, and that fish is the do-or-die for the day’s meal.
The way that is better for the fish is a one-and-done situation.
You take aim at one fish and it’s over.
That fish feeds you and won’t swim away with a hook lodged in it.
Netting is another, more efficient and humane way of fishing unless you use a tangle net.
We don’t suggest it if you are interested in reducing the suffering of the fish.
Tangle nets are made specifically to get fish caught in the net so they can’t swim out.
There was a time when people were spreading awareness to people who eat tuna regularly that the dolphins were getting stuck in the tangle nets.
Other types of nets can be used.
Casting nets are those large nets that are thrown or “cast” out onto the water and then collected after a period of time with the hope there are fish inside.
If not, you cast it again and maybe change the position of the net or the geographical position of the boat.
Bottom trawling is a type of net fishing that is done from the back of a ship or boat and is performed by dragging the net on the floor of the body of water.
The fish get dragged into the net by default.
(As a bit of trivia, there was a TV program in the 1950s and ‘60s called Dragnet which was a police detective show based on the true practices of the police back then and named for this type of fishing.)
Hand nets are the ones we call butterfly nets, but the difference is what the net is made of.
It’s a heavier material than the butterfly variety.
It’s attached to a pole, and you dip it into the water and catch the fish that way.
You need dexterity, strength, and balance for this one.
You don’t want to go headfirst off your boat, and fish in even small numbers are heavier than you think and more unwieldy while they are flip-flopping around.
4. Fishing Weirs, Buckets, And Bags
This can be easy or not.
A fishing weir is a contraption that is made from stone or wood.
They are traps that are shaped in a V or a heart so that, when the fish swim by, they get sucked in.
You can then go and collect them.
In order to do that, you need to know the body of water you are working with really well.
Knowledge of the water, tides, and currents, both underlying and at the surface, are imperative to make this work without wasting time.
Buckets and bags are another method of catching fish and can be used much the same way a fishing weir can.
However, it may not work as well.
A fishing weir is made out of hard, solid material.
A bag can collapse on itself and not catch anything.
A bucket is a hard material, but not typically big enough.
Most people will wade in the water to get closer to the fish and scoop them up, much like they do with the net.
For the bucket or bag wading method to work, you have to have knowledge of the water that you are working in, when the fish are closest to the surface, and where they are located.
You should have patience and optimal focus.
Fish are not the easiest things to catch at close range.
Whether you are using a spear or a bag, your hand-eye coordination should be near perfect in order to succeed.
Of course, you could just randomly start scooping for a couple of hours and see what you get, but that’s going to wear you out pretty quickly.
Fishing hooks will dissolve over time.
The span of time could be months or years—up to 50 years in some cases.
That’s half a century.
There’s a lot of fishing going on.
It’s going to have a significant effect on the environment.
Using the alternative methods we mentioned is one way to curb the impact while still maintaining the joy of fishing and eating fish as well.
These techniques take practice, and whether you want to make fishing a hobby or a profession, practice is the one common denominator that is good for both you and the fish population.
Be sure to dive, snorkel, or spearfish in waters that you are legally permitted to.
We can do so much to live in harmony with our environment with just these few alternatives and conscious fishing.