Some cool new research led by the folks at the Universities of Manitoba, Massachusetts and Carlton has shed light on the use of carbonated water to treat fish wounds caused by hooks.
I first heard of the practise from fly fishers who were angling for trout, but it gained its most prominent toehold in the southern and central United States, where bass anglers went so far as to debate the relative merits of various brands of soda (Mountain Dew, won by the way) that appeared to act as a cauterizing agent when poured over an open cut or wound on a fish. Not long after that, muskie anglers considered the treatment as well. I know I caught a northern pike last season that was bleeding from a mouth wound that appeared to stop immediately when I poured carbonated water over the cut.
But, all of the experiences were anecdotal, without any science to back them up. So that is where the university folks stepped in. They captured 28 northern pike using traditional hook and line fishing methods and “experimentally injured” their gills. Then, they treated the fish with Mountain Dew, Coca Cola and carbonated lake water. They also maintained a control group of fish that they similarly injured experimentally and monitored in lake water alone.
The results showed that treating hook wounds with carbonated water had “no influence on the outcomes,” resulting in the researchers to conclude that “there is no scientific evidence to support the use of carbonated beverages for reducing or stopping blood loss.”