KENAI - Salmon aren't alone in being snagged during this busy summer fishing season in Alaska. Anglers get the hook, too.
Monica Musgrove, a nurse at Central Peninsula Hospital in Soldotna, said emergency room staff have removed 62 hooks from patients since May - including a few through the eyelids and one from the tip of the nose.
And it's likely that many more went to other hospitals or did their own first-aid work.
Musgrove said the hospital also sees people who cut themselves while cleaning their catch and injuries related to weights - such as when an angler catches a hook on the bottom, jerks backward to free it, and winds up getting smacked in the face by a split-shot or sinker.
"The weights are like a bullet when they come out of the water," she said.
For years, the hospital has used two life-sized display boards of a fisherman and a fisherwoman to show the hooks that are removed each season.
"We always try to keep the hooks, but some people don't want us to," Musgrove said. "They'd rather keep them for souvenirs," Musgrove said.
The boards illustrate that the hands and face are the primary targets for errant hooks.
"With the hands, people sometimes can't take them out themselves because of the tendons, and with the face, I think some people are hesitant to remove them, since they could possibly disfigure themselves," Musgrove said.
Most of the hooking seems to occur when fishermen fail to keep a safe distance from each other, a common problem when sockeye are running at the crowded Russian River.
"When the reds are in, that's when the injuries peak. A week ago we took out five in one day, so I knew the fishing must have been good," she said.
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