If you fish long enough, you’re going to catch a bird. Usually this happens during a wide-open blitz when the fish are driving baitfish to the surface and the gulls and terns are diving and flying into the very spots you’re trying to cast into. Eventually one of the birds snags the line and becomes entangled, resulting in a “now-what” situation as you reel in the crazed and sharp-beaked animal.
The first rule of thumb is to get the bird into the boat as quickly and gently as possible, so as not to damage its delicate wings. Also, stay clear of its beak, which can inflict a serious wound. Next, place a towel or T-shirt over the animal’s head, which generally has a calming effect.
With the bird subdued, gently grasp it around the base of its neck to keep it controlled and go about untangling or cutting away the line. This may require 2 people. When the operation is complete, remove the towel and allow the bird to fly away.
Note: if the bird is hooked, and the hook cannot be removed, consider taking the animal to a shelter or vet.