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Hooked by a 20-pound yellowtail

"It couldn't be pushed through or pulled out due to tendons..."

x-ray of lure in finger
x-ray of lure in finger

“What started out as a great Friday [September 15] turned south when I was attacked by an upset yellowtail,” wrote Matt Hayward in an Instagram post.

Matt Hayward's fishing injury was properly addressed during ten hours at the hospital.

“I was on a solo trip and had the fish on my boat the ‘Bon Chovy,’” Hayward explained. “He was just about ready to go into my fish cooler and have the lure removed. I tried to incapacitate the fish quickly by cutting his gills and then letting him bleed out (sounds sinister but makes the quality much better and ends quickly for the fish). So this was like 5 minutes later. He came back to life for one final jump/flop and ended up catching my pinky with the lure/hook just before I was going to remove it. So my finger and the fish were hooked at the same time while he was jumping around which allowed it to go super deep…I was super frustrated having to come in as I had planned on staying out as the fishing was getting good. I fished for another 45 minutes with a lure in my hand and then decided to call it and go to the hospital. Will be keeping bolt cutters on the boat from now on.”

Hayward luckily did not try to remove the lure himself, as hospital personnel were having difficulty and first tried a serious of "tricks and techniques" in efforts to remove it without surgery.

“They tried for an hour to remove it,” continued his Instagram post. “Turned into a real shit show at the hospital and yes there was much laughter to be had…ring cutter, snips, expensive shiny tools broken in seconds, a pair of bolt cutters might have worked on a giant and finally a regular size pair of bolt cutters. This was all just to cut the hook and get the lure off...it was lodged in at a really bad angle, plus the huge treble was close to a tendon so it’s a good thing I didn’t try to pull it out myself…then another host of tricks and techniques that did not prevail in removing the hook…it was super deep and couldn't be pushed through or pulled out due to tendons so I had surgery at 6pm…and after 10 hours at the hospital, we were done.”

The Point Loma–based artist/fisherman told me about recovery. “Most of the pain I had in the first few days was from the bandage around my hand being so tight. My hand was swelling and I ended up with a pretty large bruise/wound on the other side of my hand. Hopefully I’ll be out again soon. Fishing has been really good this season. I was told I had to take a break for three to four weeks, but that is laughable — I will probably be out this weekend.”

As for the culprit? “Twenty-pound yellowtail, he has been eaten and shared with friends,” Hayward said.

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x-ray of lure in finger
x-ray of lure in finger

“What started out as a great Friday [September 15] turned south when I was attacked by an upset yellowtail,” wrote Matt Hayward in an Instagram post.

Matt Hayward's fishing injury was properly addressed during ten hours at the hospital.

“I was on a solo trip and had the fish on my boat the ‘Bon Chovy,’” Hayward explained. “He was just about ready to go into my fish cooler and have the lure removed. I tried to incapacitate the fish quickly by cutting his gills and then letting him bleed out (sounds sinister but makes the quality much better and ends quickly for the fish). So this was like 5 minutes later. He came back to life for one final jump/flop and ended up catching my pinky with the lure/hook just before I was going to remove it. So my finger and the fish were hooked at the same time while he was jumping around which allowed it to go super deep…I was super frustrated having to come in as I had planned on staying out as the fishing was getting good. I fished for another 45 minutes with a lure in my hand and then decided to call it and go to the hospital. Will be keeping bolt cutters on the boat from now on.”

Hayward luckily did not try to remove the lure himself, as hospital personnel were having difficulty and first tried a serious of "tricks and techniques" in efforts to remove it without surgery.

“They tried for an hour to remove it,” continued his Instagram post. “Turned into a real shit show at the hospital and yes there was much laughter to be had…ring cutter, snips, expensive shiny tools broken in seconds, a pair of bolt cutters might have worked on a giant and finally a regular size pair of bolt cutters. This was all just to cut the hook and get the lure off...it was lodged in at a really bad angle, plus the huge treble was close to a tendon so it’s a good thing I didn’t try to pull it out myself…then another host of tricks and techniques that did not prevail in removing the hook…it was super deep and couldn't be pushed through or pulled out due to tendons so I had surgery at 6pm…and after 10 hours at the hospital, we were done.”

The Point Loma–based artist/fisherman told me about recovery. “Most of the pain I had in the first few days was from the bandage around my hand being so tight. My hand was swelling and I ended up with a pretty large bruise/wound on the other side of my hand. Hopefully I’ll be out again soon. Fishing has been really good this season. I was told I had to take a break for three to four weeks, but that is laughable — I will probably be out this weekend.”

As for the culprit? “Twenty-pound yellowtail, he has been eaten and shared with friends,” Hayward said.

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