How to Hold a Northern Pike

How to Hold a Northern Pike
The northern pike is a favorite target of anglers through the ice and on the open water. It combines size with strength and is as aggressive a fish as anyone could hope to find in freshwater. This species of fish has an impressive set of sharp teeth that can quickly tear up the careless angler's hand. Those that catch a big pike typically want a picture of it for posterity. Knowing how to hold a northern pike can keep your hands in one piece and allow the fish to return to the water, healthy to fight another day.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Lip-grip tool or fishing net
  • Pliers
Step 1
Get the pike out of the water. On the ice, the best method to use is a lip-grip tool. This fishing tool grabs a pike by its lower lip when the head comes out of the hole and closes onto it, allowing you to keep your hands clear of the mouth as you swing the pike up and out of the water. Open-water anglers will need a large fishing net to corral a pike, scooping it underneath the tired fish when it gets close to the boat or shore.
Step 2
Hold a northern pike beneath its gills with one hand and beneath the area just in front of the tail with the other. This supports the fish without compressing the inner organs, which can easily injure the pike and cause it to die after you release it.
Step 3
Kneel down on the ice while holding your pike, so that if it wriggles free and falls, it will not fall far enough to injure the fish. Have enough respect for the fish to worry about its safety over keeping your clothes clean from the fish thrashing about.
Step 4
Avoid making the mistakes that can spell quick death for a northern pike. Never hold a pike, or any fish, with your hand underneath their gill latch. This method has the ability to injure the fish severely. Never hold a pike or other large fish with a hand underneath its stomach, as the internal organs are located in this region and can suffer permanent damage from the weight of the fish resting on them. Never hold a pike like the old-time angler used to---by the eye sockets---as this will certainly injure and very likely kill the fish.
Step 5
Employ a fishing partner to remove the hook as you hold the pike. Fish that are as large as a pike, which has the potential to easily grow longer than 3 feet in length, are too cumbersome for you to both properly hold and take out a hook from its mouth, especially with the teeth the pike possesses. If you are alone, there is no need to hold the pike to begin with, since you cannot take your own picture holding the fish. Lay it on a damp towel or on the ice, remove the hook with pliers and release the fish.

Tips & Warnings

There is no need to cost a pike its life so you can have a mounted trophy. Take the length and girth measurements of the pike and have a fiberglass replica made by your local taxidermist.

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