In addition to our comprehensive 15-minute instructional video by Jon Neafcy we have also created this article which helps to provide guidelines that contribute to responsible angling.

As we gear up for the winter season and the pursuit of pike, it’s crucial to prioritize their welfare. Join us as we delve deeper into the practices that not only protect these magnificent freshwater predators but also ensure a fulfilling and ethical fishing experience. Here are some key pointers to keep in mind:As the winter season approaches, the focus of many anglers turns to the formidable freshwater predators, the pike. Despite their imposing appearance, pike are surprisingly delicate creatures, particularly vulnerable to mishandling. To ensure their well-being during catch-and-release, follow these essential guidelines:

1. Swift Strike: When you feel a bite, act promptly. Delaying can lead to deep-hooking, especially in colder temperatures when pike tend to linger with the bait. Ensure a quick response to avoid harming the fish.

2. Get Them In Quickly: Always use robust gear (a minimum 15lb mainline and wire traces) and aim to land the pike in the net as swiftly as possible. Prolonging the fight tires the fish unnecessarily, increasing stress and the risk of injury.

3. Confident Handling: Boost your confidence, especially if you’re new to predator angling, by using a leather gardening glove or a similar protective tool. Confidently holding and unhooking the pike with long-nosed forceps reduces harm and ensures its welfare.

4. Support Their Weight: Unlike carp, avoid handling pike with one hand under the head and the other under the belly. This exerts undue pressure on the pike’s spine. Instead, grip under the jaw with one hand and cradle the fish with your other arm under its vent to distribute weight evenly.

How to Unhook Pike Safely:

  1. Place the pike on a padded unhooking mat, ensuring its fins lie flush against its body. Gently sit astride it to prevent unnecessary thrashing.
  2. Carefully run your fingers into the underside of its jaws, avoiding the gills. Apply light thumb pressure for a secure hold.
  3. Lift the jaws slightly upwards towards you, and the pike’s mouth will open. Use forceps to carefully remove the trebles.

Six All-Round Fish-Care Habits:

  • Prior Preparation: Always use an unhooking mat and set up a safe, flat area for the unhooking process, with necessary gear readily available.
  • Wet Hands for Handling: Never use dry hands or any cloth material to handle fish, as this can remove their protective slime. Wet hands are essential for safe handling.
  • Keep Your Catch in the Water: Whenever possible, release the fish without taking it ashore, especially in shallow margins.
  • Kneel and Cradle: When taking pictures, kneel over an unhooking mat to prevent accidents. Avoid pressure on the front and gills; instead, use a cupped hand.
  • Revive and Return: Hold tired fish upright in the water, facing the current if it’s a river fish. Be patient until the fish shows signs of readiness to swim off.

By following these guidelines and practising responsible angling, you contribute to the well-being of pike and the preservation of our cherished sport. Remember, our fish are too valuable to catch just once.