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Northern Pike unhooking tips

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Hey this is about to sound extremely dumb but I have been fishing the south for 12 years. Recently my uncle in Minnesota asked me to come and work for him for the summer, but since I don't know anyone in Minnesota and my uncle lives out in the middle of nowhere I plan on spending  alot of.my time fishing out of his small tin boat on Lake Fawn, well the bass fishing is pretty nice and so far I've caught a few 4 lbers in my 2 days up here, well anyways today I hooked into my first Northern pike, I have maybe only caught one or two northerns before and my I was younger so my uncle took em off for me, I have never delt with a fish like a northern so I have a few questions on removing them. Do they pose a significant risk to biting me?  I covered my hand with a rag while holding the fish out of fear it would bite my hand, can the fish lunge out and bite me? Or can it only bite me if i put my hand in its mouth?

 

Thanks any other tips on Removing  or Fishing for Northerns would be awesome.

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I hold them by the back of the head with one hand and use pliers or a tool to remove the hook with the other. Pliers with a long handle or long jaws are handy to get out hooks that are far back in the mouth. Holding them by the back of the head keeps that hand away from the teeth. They will twist and fight and if your fingers come close to their mouth, you can get cut. Make sure you have some jaw spreaders to hold open their mouth. For those who may be too timid to hold them, some guys use a gripper to grasp them by the mouth. 

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For small, non picture worthy pike, it's easiest for me to just unhook them while still in the water next to the boat. Definitely use pliers. They won't "bite" you unless you stick a finger in their mouth. 

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Big sharp treble hooks are much worse than pike teeth. Average sized fish you can grab on the top of the head behind the ears. Once you get the hang of that they are a pretty easy fish to handle.

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I have a bit of experience with pike of all sizes and can tell you that if you do not handle them correctly, you put yourself and the fish in jeopardy. I do not recommend using a net on pike. Mainly because they are a very fragile fish by normal standards and susceptible to skin disease if a significant amount of slime is removed.

As Scott said above, best method is to grab them across the top of the head and lift ONLY the head above the water with one hand. Use your other hand to grasp the lower part of the gill PLATE (don't touch the gills, as the rakers will open you up as well as the teeth. Once you have a tight grip on the gill plate, you can lift them easily out of the water. Then, with the hand you used across the back of the head, remove the hooks as quickly as possible. When ready for releasing, lay them horizontally in the water (while still gripping the gill plate) and let them move off when they are ready.

Always have a pair of long nose pliers handy whenever you are in pike waters. It also pays to have a set of jaw spreaders too. Most importantly, be gentle with these wonderful fish. Especially the big girls over 15 pounds. They are very easy to harm.

 

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Ah yes, the hated snot rocket.  A lot of lakes in Minnesota are plum full of these snakes right now so be prepared to catch them when your bass fishing.  Sometimes we'll catch 30-40 by accident in a day targeting bass.  As someone already mentioned, don't use a net.  The reason for not using a net is not because they're fragile though...they are far from that.  You can drop kick em back into the lake and they swim away like nothing happened.  I don't use the net because I don't want my net covered in stinky pike slime!  Same reason they don't come in the boat.  Its like a really bad sinus infection.  The best way to remove one is just grab it behind the head over the side of the boat and use a pliers to remove the hooks.  Be careful that you don't drop your pliers in the lake though.

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I always have a jaw spreader on board when in toothy critter country. Also I use  a pokie stick more than pliers anymore. Mine are hand made aluminum flat bars with a slot cut into the tapered end. Its about a foot long.Put the hook shank in the slot,push and twist.

 

https://www.google.com/search?q=pic+fish+jaw+spreader&biw=1120&bih=577&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjO5cjd4qPNAhWF7SYKHZutBPMQsAQIQQ

DSC01431.JPG

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If you single-hook hammer-handles, the easiest way is to grasp the shank of the hook with your long-nosed pliers and turn the hook up.  You can have that fish off the hook and back in the water in a couple seconds.  Doesn't appear to do any harm to the fish at all and gets them off and back to the deep very quickly.    I wouldn't do it if hook is any deeper than mouth area, however. 

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Lol if your getting them to the boat and you still have your lure you've done good :)  don't put your hand in their those teeth are sharp.  When they flop (and they will flop) youll get cut.     Use pliers.  If I can't unhook them in the water with the pliers and I have to grab them the watch out for Their gill plate.  It can be sharp also so grab them farther back closer to mid section.  If they are n the 40" category I just use a net.  Most that size make off with my lure before I get my chance anyway.  

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Get yourself a jaw spreader for a few bucks. It'll be money well spent, as you'll likely encounter a lot of pike. After that just check out youtube on how to properly hold a pike or musky. There are hundreds of videos showing the proper way to hold them so neither you or the pike get hurt.

Keep your fingers out of the way of their mouth, and you'll be fine.

Do your best to release the bigger ones as unharmed as you can, and maybe try taking a small one home from the grill if you like eating fish. They're tasty! Pike, in healthy numbers, really do benefit the eco-system even if they do steal a lure or two from you once in a while.

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Some of the things I have found about pike fishing:

  • Always keep your tackle box/bag closed before casting again.   Unless you want all your stuff spread across the boat. 
  • The small pike (folks sometimes call them hammer handles) go freaking crazy when you get them out of the water.   So if you are using anything with multiple treble hooks I recommend using hook outs on them still in the water.  My brother had a 4 lber go nuts on him and it threw a 6/0 treble hook in his thumb.  Lucky it went all the way through and we were able to push it out and cut it with pliers.  
  • I love using the plastic grippers and a hook out tool for them, it seems to work out the best for me and the fish.   

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I reaches deep down into their gullets and pulls 'em inside out.

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I normally just let them bite off the swimjig and when I reel up my bare line, I tie another one on.

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21 hours ago, slonezp said:

I normally just let them bite off the swimjig and when I reel up my bare line, I tie another one on.

:lol:

 

That is no joke

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On 06/13/2016 at 5:21 PM, FluffChucker said:

Get yourself a jaw spreader for a few bucks. It'll be money well spent, as you'll likely encounter a lot of pike. After that just check out youtube on how to properly hold a pike or musky. There are hundreds of videos showing the proper way to hold them so neither you or the pike get hurt.

Keep your fingers out of the way of their mouth, and you'll be fine.

Do your best to release the bigger ones as unharmed as you can, and maybe try taking a small one home from the grill if you like eating fish. They're tasty! Pike, in healthy numbers, really do benefit the eco-system even if they do steal a lure or two from you once in a while.

My father wouldn't keep a pickerel below 20 inches or a Northern below 30 inches because of the tiny 'Y" bones.  Tasty is right.  Very white meat that isn't "fishy" tasting.

Use to catch them in my youth.  Know all about their teeth.  Then I quit fishing for 23 years and when I got back into it I fished for bass.  Caught a pickerel one spring, and without thinking lipped it.  Big mistake!  They don't hang there like a bass.  Caught it on a Smithwick Devil Horse with 3 sets of trebles.  One hook wound up in me.  No one around to either hold the fish or get the hook out.  Finally managed to get it out (and hooks eventually out of the fish), but my thumb from lipping the fish looked like it had been through a meat grinder.

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On 6/12/2016 at 8:46 PM, Catch 22 said:

I always have a jaw spreader on board when in toothy critter country. Also I use  a pokie stick more than pliers anymore. Mine are hand made aluminum flat bars with a slot cut into the tapered end. Its about a foot long.Put the hook shank in the slot,push and twist.

 

https://www.google.com/search?q=pic+fish+jaw+spreader&biw=1120&bih=577&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjO5cjd4qPNAhWF7SYKHZutBPMQsAQIQQ

DSC01431.JPG

These are the worst unhooking tools ever invented. You're going to gouge the hell out of the fish before you even get it down far enough to get on the hook.

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All you need is a FishGripper, and an 11" pair needle nose pliers.  If you need to open their mouth, just pull gently on the gill cover, and they'll oblige.  Just be careful.  There's no shame in using a leather glove on your "working hand." Just be careful not touch the fish with it.

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