Pike are a predatory species with very sharp teeth, so unlike other fish, you have to pay particular attention and care whilst handling them. So, this article is going to be about how to unhook and handle a pike safely.
Pike is stubborn, and if not handled properly, there is a good chance that you will injure yourself as well as the fish. Don’t take that risk. Learn how to hold a pike and handle it properly before your head out for pike fishing.
It pays to spend some time researching this fish. Do make sure to check out some pike fishing videos in order to learn the best practices and just to see what other anglers are doing.
Table Of Content
How To Handle and Unhook Pike?
In the following section, I’m going to be showing you the proper way to hold and unhook a pike so that you can release the fish safely.
Stable Your Position
So, you’ve just landed a pike, and it’s in your net. We’re going to lift that fish onto the unhooking mat and look where and where not to put your hands. With the fish on your unhooking mat, you will need to ensure that it doesn’t flip around too much.
If it’s a large fish, then kneel with your legs on either side of it. That will help keep it still. If it’s a much smaller fish, then you don’t necessarily have to position yourself like that as it’s not going to be as strong whilst wriggling around.
Locate The Hooks
Keep your eyes out for where the hooks are and be careful to avoid them. The fish’s teeth may be sharp, but your hooks can cause a lot more damage if they get stuck in your hand.
Sometimes the hooks can be on the left side of the mouth, other times on the right side of the mouth. So, just make sure that you chin grip the fish on the opposite side to where those hooks are.
Open The Mouth
To get the pike to open its mouth to let you get in there with forceps, you’ll need to locate the main gill cover. There is a smaller gap too which you can’t quite get your fingers under, but go a bit further down, and there is the main gill.
Slip your hand under there and slide it up towards the mouth of the fish into the sort of V-shape. With your fingers tucked into this opening, clamp your hand against the side of the pike, and you should be able to open the fish’s mouth up.
Holding The Pike
Remember to avoid the red gill rakers as they are quite sensitive for the pike and also can be very rough and graze your skin. You’ll see with your hand in this position it is away from the teeth but also provides a solid place to grip the pike if it tries to wriggle.
Removing The Hook
With the fish’s mouth open, you can now remove the hooks using a long set of forceps. You should always have long forceps with you when pike fishing. Never go out without them.
Also, ensure that you have wire cutters, as in some very rare circumstances, you may need to cut the hooks if the fish is awkwardly hooked or if your hooks get stuck in your net. If a fish has a very deep hook, then firmly on the trace to try and gain access to those hooks.
If you can’t or don’t know how, try, and find another angler on the angler to try and help you. In a worst-case scenario, if you just can’t get to the hooks and there’s no one around to give you help, then cut loose as much of the tackle as possible. Cut that wire as close to the fish as you can and release the fish.
Once unhooked, you can hold the fish with the chin grip but do support the weight of the fish, especially if it’s a heavy one with your other hand. You can weigh the fish if you want and then release the fish as soon as possible they can survive for quite a while out of the water but don’t mess around any longer than you have to.
Our Biggest Tip
Our biggest tip for unhooking pike easily is to simply strike quickly. If you set the hook within just a couple of seconds of that fish pulling your float along or your ledger being moved, then you ensure that that pike doesn’t have enough time to swallow the hook deep down.
If you’re fishing in quite warm water in the spring or the autumn, for example, you will need to strike immensely quickly. And it’s for this reason, it is not recommended to fish with dead baits during the warm weather.
Pike can be very active, very hungry, and they can swallow the bait too fast, and you end up with a deeply hooked fish. So that’s why it is recommended to just fish with lures whilst it’s a little bit warmer.
But if we’re pike fishing in the winter with dead baits or live baits, for that matter, as the float starts moving along, we will literally wait a couple of seconds to check the drag and set the hook. It’s just to ensure that pike doesn’t have enough time to swallow the bait down too deeply.
A Good Practice
You will probably have seen maybe old videos where people wait 30 seconds or even a minute or two before setting the hook.
Now that was quite commonplace in the past, but these days, we all want to do catch and release fishing. It is definitely helpful to set the hook as quickly as possible.
So, good luck with your pike fishing. We hope this article helps you unhook and handle your pike safely. All that’s left to do now is for you to go out there and catch yourself some fish. That’s all there is to know about how to handle a pike.