I had just finished locking everything down in the boat and was headed to the truck when Harold Whitten shouted across the parking lot, “Have you got a second…I’ve got a little problem.”

The closer he got the more obvious his problem became. He was carrying a pair of pliers in one hand and a bloody Hoginar dangled from the other. One of the barbs on the rear treble hook was buried in his thumb making it a little difficult to continue fishing.

“I had just caught five redfish on five consecutive casts,” he offered less than enthusiastically, “and I didn’t want to quit, but I couldn’t push this hook through my thumb. I know you deal with this kind of thing all the time so I hoped that I could catch you before you left.”

I wasn’t exactly sure what he meant by my dealing with hooked body parts all the time, but I have dealt with more than my share over forty years of guiding. Fortunately for Harold, this looked like one that would not require a trip to the Doctor outside of a possible tetanus shot.
I swapped his pliers, which he was more than ready to relinquish, for three feet of monofilament line and told him that all he needed to do was press down on the eye of the impaled hook. As I made a couple of loops around the exposed shank of the hook the weak smile on his face indicated that he had already lost confidence in his choice of boat launch physicians!

“Are you going to yank on it or just kind of pull,” he asked looking down at his thumb, “How bad is this going to hurt…do I need to bite down on a stick or something?”

“Its not going to hurt me at all I assured him,” as I gave the mono a short snap and the hook neatly and quickly exited the entry point.Harold never even flinched, nor did I, just as promised. After applying a little hydrogen peroxide he was ready to fish again, but had other commitments.

The Hoginar is the one lure that nearly every client that fishes with me asks about at some point during the trip. Amazingly enough, they will fish with it and catch fish, but inevitably write it off as a Sabine Lake deal and never use it on their own home waters.

For area anglers, however, this is the time of the year when the bladed bait is the most effective for everything from flounder to stripers. They all have their own opinion as to what color reflective tape needs to adorn the metal sides, but they will fish any color they can get their hands on.

Because it is most effective when bumped across the bottom just fast enough to feel it vibrate, it seldom eludes any potential snags. I have fished all day with the same Hoginar only to lose a half dozen on as many casts the next outing.The most devoted of the Hoginar users order blanks, hooks and tape and pour their own, but most anglers are left to purchase what they can find at tackle shops.

They are packaged with two small treble hooks that not only catch fish but anglers as well on a very frequent basis.Most of the angler mishaps occur when the fish is flouncing around on the floor and the free hand gets too close to the open hook on the rear of the lure.

Many anglers, myself included, remove the two treble hooks and replace them with a single 3/0 hook on the rear of the bait. The lure doesn’t vibrate quite as well fished on a steady retrieve, but we seldom use that retrieve anyway and we have eliminated the potential risk of that second hook.

If you are looking for a “can’t miss” stocking stuffer for your favorite fisherman, ask for them when doing your last minute shopping at an Academy store or local tackle shop. They won’t look like much of a gift to you, but they won’t get exchanged after Christmas.

I get more e-mails and phone calls as to what to buy the fishermen in the family this week than any other time of the year. For the most part, unless you are ready to spend more money than you could have imagined for a specific rod or reel, you are left to purchase a gift card or take a chance with a reasonably priced generic item that he or she may never use.

There are two gifts, however, that even the fisherman that seemingly has everything will not exchange.Number one on the list is a set of Frogg Toggs even if he already owns a set. I keep three pair in the boat and two more in the truck for friends and clients that didn’t believe the weatherman.

They will keep you as dry as advertised, but they are even more valued on that first chilly boat ride of the day or cool windy afternoons in the spring at the ball park. They are durable, fold up into an incredibly small pouch for storage and are inexpensive. In fact, you’ll have enough money left over to buy yourself a set as well!

My second choice would be a gift certificate from one of the independent tackle shops in the area that provide reel cleaning and rod repair. When you have $200 to $300 invested in a reel, having it cleaned and returned to like-new condition by a qualified technician at least once a year for $16 makes good sense.

A gift certificate will give your fisherman the freedom to take the reel in between fishing trips. Regardless of how good your intentions are, taking the reel in without asking in an attempt to surprise him could be a bad thing!

I have taken several of my own reels in to Terry’s Rod and Reel Repair on 39th street in Groves recently and couldn’t have been more pleased with both the work and minimum down time. They also had a few Hoginars left as late as Tuesday.