Unhooking Pike

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nick bennett

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My uncle told me recently that it was not necessary to unhook or throw back pike from the canal network, as they are taking over the waterways. Is this true or do we have to unhook and throw back pike as we do any other fish?
 

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joseph foxall

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as a pike angler i don't believe that there are to many pike in the canals. i believe that pike should be returned for future anglers fun and enjoyment.
also it was made compulsary in the north west to throw pike back as to many were being left to die on the banks.
 

GrahamM

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Nick, the answer to this is very simple: pike should be unhooked carefully and returned alive and well to ANY and EVERY water where you catch one. Quite apart from the fact that pike are a wonderful sporting fish in their own right, they are an essential part of a fishery's food chain and removing them can inflict severe damage to a fishery. The days when pike were treated with contempt are long gone and only those steeped in the ignorant past think otherwise.
 
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nick bennett

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Thankyou for clarifying that area for me. What is the best way to unhook a pike?
 
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BUDGIE BURGESS

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Nick,The best way would be to find a competent pike angler locally and ask him to show you.It is crucial to the Pikes well being that if you intend to fish for them you know how to deal with them.I aplaud you for trying to find out about this subject.If you get no luck contact me.I would gladly take you for a days piking this winter to show you.
 

GrahamM

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Nick, there is a specific technique for unhooking pike, and I would say the essential ingredient, as well as the correct procedure, is confidence. I have an article on file that describes how to do it that will appear soon on FISHINGmagic. However, your best bet is to take Budgie up on his offer and see first hand how it's done. A demonstration by a competent pike angler is better than anything.
 
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nick bennett

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Budgie, I've found a load of books and stuff on unhooking pike. I can probably handle it now. Thanks for the offer of a trip out and if you're still interested in taking an inexperienced piker out this winter then email me:
doing_it_with_eloquence@hotmail.com Cheers
Nick
 
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Chris Bishop

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Pike care starts before you even get one on the bank. Make sure you use a rig that shows a take as soon as a pike picks your bait up, sit near your rods and keep an eye on those floats or indicators.
If in doubt strike - it's better to miss a few takes, or bounce the occasional jack off the end then find the fish has swallowed trace and hooks down.
Using barbless hooks, matching the size and pattern to bait size, and the way you position them in the bait can also cut the chances of deep hooking.
Don't fish for pike unless you have the right equipment to land and unhook them. That means a large landing net - ideally 42", a generous padded unhooking mat to lay the catch on, a couple of pairs of long-nosed forceps and trace blades or wire cutters.
Have everything to hand before you get a fish on the end. There's nothing worse than getting the landing net caught up in some bankside snag when you've got a good fish wallowing under your rod top on a short line.
As the fish comes within netting range check whether the hooks are visible. A fish caught on the bottom treble of a lure or two hook trace will have a hook flying clear.
Keep its head up and draw it right over the net before lifting to engulf it in the mesh - this minimises the risk of a flying treble catching, leaving the fish hanging, or worse still catching an eye if a fish thrashes about in the net.
If a hook does catch the mesh and the other treble is visible you may have to cut the trace to get the pike clear of the net - this is quicker than taking slime off a fish which twists the net, trace and end tackle around it.
If the fish is lightly hooked, you may be able to whip the hooks out in the net and return it immediately.
If the hooks are lodged in the scissors or further inside the mouth, you will need to take the fish out of the net and lay it on the unhooking mat. Roll the fish on its back and kneel astride it to stop the pike rolling off the mat.
Quickly check where the hooks are, then slide your fingers along the inside of the gill slit and lift the head. This lifting will open the pike's mouth so you can see the hooks and reach them with forceps.
Some people like to slip a glove on the hand they place inside the pike's mouth. The drawback with this is you can't really feel what you are doing and could damage the fish's delicate gill filaments.
While the bigger fish have pretty formidable looking teeth, they are usually spaced far enough apart to miss your fingers.
You may find it easier to unhook smaller fish by lifting their heads slightly, as the weight of the head is not always enough to open their mouths.
Pike normally tense up before they start thrashing about, so you have a split second to steady your grip.
If both hooks are near or one or more is inside the fish's throat all is not lost. The key to saving the fish is speed and care.
Pulling the trace gently will normally bring the first hook into view. By holding the jaw as described, it should be possible to open the mouth and gills far enough to carefully insert the forceps through the gill opening and grip the hook by the shank. If you then reverse the hook - ie turn it through 180 degrees - the points should pop out, freeing the treble.
Repeat the process with the bottom hook and you should be able to free this too with minimal damage to the throat tissue.
If you can't get the hooks free or handle the fish yourself, uncilp the trace from your rod, place the fish back in the water in the landing net and go and seek help from another pike angler - make sure you reel any other rods in first, to avoid deep hooking another fish.


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