With the pike season now underway, there are a number of measures you should take to ensure your own safety and, most importantly, the safety of your prized catch.
While on the bank recently, doing a bit of pole fishing, we met a family whose boy had hooked a good pike of around 9lb, but had no equipment to safely land, unhook and release the fish. We had to step in to show them what to do and loan them some equipment - we are happy to report that the pike swam away safe and unharmed, and it was great to see smiles all round!
When pike fishing with deadbaits or lures, there are a few items that make catching and releasing a safe and easy experience for human and fish. We have included links to recommended products (click on the paragraph headers, or search for them using the Search bar on our website).
These padded mats are lightweight, so no burden to carry, and are designed to allow you to safely unhook fish away from hard ground and/or sharp rocks. An absolute must for fish welfare.
Landing Net with Handle
A large, strong net with a suitable handle is essential for safely landing fish from all types of banks and boats. It is much safer to net a fish than to try swinging or beaching it. Make sure the net is wide and deep enough to comfortably hold a large fish, and strong enough to support its weight. Net with rubber-coasted mesh are not essential, but they are more fish-friendly and can also be useful to prevent your hooks getting tangled in the mesh, causing a mess.
Forceps or pliers are probably one of the most important pieces of kit in your pike angling armoury. These are used to remove hooks from the mouths of pike, and prevent your fingers from getting nasty cuts. A wire cutters is also a handy thing to have, and some pliers come with a wire cutting function, ideal for cutting hooks if they get stuck in your clothing, bags, etc.
Strong, suitable Line and Wire Trace
Having a good quality line in correct weight, bolstered by the addition of strong wire trace will prevent the pike biting off the line and heading off with the hook still in its mouth.
Landing Your Pike
When fishing, be sure to keep your gear (particularly your Net, Unhooking Mat and Pliers) close to hand so that you can quickly land and unhook your pike with the minimum of delay and/or fumbling.
Unhooking Your Pike
When you have landed your pike, place it on the mat and kneel over it, placing the fish in the gap between your knees (but not touching or squeezing it with your legs). Carefully grip the pike by slipping your fingers between the gills and gill plates, and clamping your thumb on the outside. Be careful of hooks and teeth! Now, use the pliers to remove the hooks.
If weighing the fish, do so quickly in a damp Weigh Sling.
Before release, either rest the fish back in the net or hold it in the water, swaying it back and forth, until it is ready to take off.
And there we have it! The very best of luck with the season. We'd love to see photos of your catch, so please share any with us on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/openseason.ie/