looKing afTer Your PiKe

coarse fishing manual

looking after your pike
They’re deadly, they look prehistoric and they’re one of the most fearsomelooking of fish – it’s strange, then, that they’re so delicate and need to be handled carefully and with great technique. Poor handling of a hooked pike can damage it, so we’ve put together a guide to landing, unhooking, weighing, photographing and returning your quarry safely. Whatever you do, don’t skimp on the kit you use for looking after pike on the bank: a good quality unhooking mat and tools that are made for dealing with treble hooks and wire traces will help you look after the fish you catch. Here’s Mick Rouse’s guide to handling pike like a professional…

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Ascertain where the hooks are and slide your fingers under the pike’s gill cover on the opposite side to the hooks. DON’T grip the pink gill rakers – they should remain untouched at the back of your hand.

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Apply gentle pressure with your fingers on the inside of the lower jaw. There’s a natural gripping point where there are no teeth and it’s safe for the angler (and the pike) to secure the fish with a firm grip.

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Ease the fish’s mouth open and clamp the forceps on to the top treble hook.

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Turn your wrist over in the opposite direction to the bend of the hook to prise the top treble out of the pike. Lift it clear of the fish’s mouth to give better access to the second hook.

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Clamp the forceps on to the lower treble and repeat the unhooking procedure.

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Job done – the pike has been unhooked safely and is ready for weighing.

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Here’s the kit you’ll need:

n A large, thick unhooking mat. Pike can flap when they’re on the bank and need to be cushioned from the ground so that they don’t damage themselves. n Scales and a weigh sling. Ensure the scales are already zeroed to allow for quick weighing of your catch. n 10–12in (25–30cm) straight and curved forceps. Different-shaped forceps are useful to reach awkwardly positioned hooks (inset above). n 10–12in long-nosed pliers. They can help you gain extra purchase to remove deeply set hooks (inset above). n Long-nosed cutters. If you can’t remove a particularly awkwardly positioned hook cut the hook rather than tear it out – it’s much safer for the fish.

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When you land a pike carry it to the mat and straddle the fish with your knees. This gives you greater control over it and stops it flapping off the mat.

Quickly slide the fish into the wet weigh sling to record its weight.

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To photograph the fish hold it firmly round the wrist of the tail with one hand and keep the gillcover grip with your other hand. Take a couple of quick photos, carry the fish back to the water in the net or sling and release it as soon as its strength has returned.

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Even taking all the care you can you’ll still get the odd cut or graze off those mean teeth, so always carry a small plastic box packed with a first aid kit. Better safe than bleeding!

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