How to Unhook and Handle a Pike Safely
Beginners to pike fishing often struggle with how to unhook a pike safely and how to handle a pike. Inexperienced Anglers can be a bit wary whilst unhooking them due to their large teeth, large mouth, and the sheer size of the Fish. But if the correct Pike fishing techniques are applied, and the fish is handled correctly, confidently, and carefully it will make the unhooking procedure go more smoothly. Hopefully without too many complications. It is highly advisable to take someone experienced with you if you are unsure of unhooking Pike safely or it is your first time Pike fishing.
First Things First Whilst Unhooking Pike
Before you even think about casting out a lure/bait for Pike, you need to have the right unhooking equipment. This will consist of, an unhooking mat, long-nosed forceps, a strong pair of pliers, and some decent side cutters. All of which play an important part in unhooking pike, so please don’t go Pike fishing without them.
Going pike fishing without these items will almost certainly result in injured or dying fish. So please think carefully and check your kit before heading off for a days fishing.
All the above items are available at reasonable prices from your local tackle dealers.
Landing the Pike
Always make sure you have a big enough landing net for the job at hand, a 42″ triangular net with a good sturdy handle should do the trick. Summer piking, although not illegal is frowned upon by a lot of people in the Piking community down to the fish gassing up due to low oxygen levels in the water.(I will cover this topic more thoroughly at a later date).
Use Heavier Gear in the Warmer Months
If you do have to go Summer Piking, be sure to use slightly heavier gear so you can get the fish in quicker without tiring it out too much. In the colder months when landing the Fish be sure to have your net lowered well in the water and only when the fish seems ready(you’ve tired it out), glide it over the net. Do not stab the net at the Fish, you have more chance of spooking it and distressing it, and therefore missing it.
Keep the Pike in an Upright Position Whilst Unhooking
Once in the net, sometimes it’s worth letting the Fish recover a bit by keeping it in the net at the water’s edge. Just take care in making sure that the fish is in an upright position.
Once recovered, take the Fish over to your unhooking mat, which should be placed nearby on a nice level bit of ground. Be sure to have all your utensils within arms reach.
Handle the Fish Confidently
If it is a small Pike you can lift it just above the unhooking mat. To do this steady the fish and slide your middle finger and forefinger up the inside of the gill plate until you reach the bony part at the top. Once you reach this, grip the Fish and gently lift off the ground. You will find by doing this the Pike will naturally open its mouth, and reveal the lure inside. with your other hand, you can then use either your pliers or forceps to dislodge the hooks.
Whilst Unhooking Pike Do Not Put Weight on the Fish
If the Pike is too large to use this technique, instead of lifting the Fish, lay it on the unhooking mat and carefully straddle the Pike. Do not put weight on it, just stop it from thrashing about with your knees.
Run your fingers up the gill plate then grip and gently but firmly open the pike’s mouth. By doing this you should see your lure and be able to unhook it with your pliers or forceps.
Recovery After Unhooking a Pike
With the Pike safely unhooked it is now time to return it to the water. Always, if possible return it in a weigh sling or landing net. The last thing you want to do is drop it on the hard ground and damage the fish.
The chances are the fish will be tired by now and will need a helping hand recovering. This will mean holding the Fish upright in the water until it is ready to swim off on its own accord.
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