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Hooked a Bird

Saltwater Marine Fishing Regulations Florida Saltwater Fishing

Hooked a bird? Don’t Cut the Line!

Even if you take precautionary steps to avoid it, sometimes you might hook a bird by accident. That’s when it’s important to remember—don’t cut the line and let the bird fly away with it attached. This can lead to entanglement and death of birds (and an inconvenient loss of line). Instead, follow these simple steps to unhook the bird: Reel. Remove. Release.

  1. Wear safety glasses and enlist a partner for help.
  2. Reel the bird in slowly and lift it from the water using a hoop net.
  3. Grasp the bird by the head just behind the eyes and fold the wings against the body. For pelicans, hold the beak, keeping the mouth slightly open so it can breathe. Cover the bird’s head with a cloth to keep it calm.
  4. Remove the barb and hook from the bird using pliers or clippers. If the bird is entangled, remove all line.
  5. Release the bird (if healthy) by placing it on the ground near the water and allowing it to take off.
  6. If the bird has swallowed the hook or is severely injured, contact a local seabird rehabilitator. For help finding one, use the link to the locator app at MyFWC/Unhook.

How else can you keep the seabirds away from your fish and reduce entanglement?

  1. Don’t feed the birds, which teaches them to approach where they are more likely to interfere with fishing.
  2. Dispose of filleted bones where birds can’t get them — in a trash can with lid or at home.
  3. Cover bait buckets and take unused bait home.
  4. Dispose of fishing line in a monofilament recycling bin or cut into small pieces and place in the trash.
  5. Don’t leave your line unattended.
  6. Cast carefully to avoid being snared on trees, bridge piles, power lines or obstacles.
  7. Help others learn what to do when they accidentally hook a bird. It’s pretty easy, once you know how.