After learning that Northern Pike are known to put up a fight while being reeled in on a fishing line, I became curious about the best way to hold one of these massive fish to safely capture them.
Take a look at this easy guide to find out how to get this technique right.
While fishing for Northern Pike, reeling them in on your line is not the last step of catching one of these crafty creatures.
You will need to demonstrate the proper technique of holding it before it gets away from you!
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Table of Contents
How to Hold a Northern Pike
After you have caught a Northern Pike and hoisted it up toward your fishing boat, don’t get too excited.
These giant fish can grow up to 30 pounds, and certainly do not get defeated easily.
In order to avoid one of these fish literally slipping through your fingers and back into the water, you will need to educate yourself on the proper technique for holding them.
It is easy to get caught up in retrieving one of these creatures and immediately posing with it for a photo, but you are not done yet!
Take a look at the steps below for a quick outline, or keep reading for more details.
Tips For Holding a Northern Pike:
- Control the head
- Use the gill-plate grab
The most important thing to keep in mind while holding a Northern Pike is that they will use the entire weight of their bodies to thrash around and try to get back into the water.
To avoid this, you will need to control the head. This is where most of their power comes from, and will be used to flip around and move their bodies off the side of your boat.
In addition to controlling the head, the best way to hold one of these fish is by using a technique called the gill-plate grab.
The gill-plate is the organ that most fish use to breathe, which is located near the head on the sides of the body. This area is essentially a flap that can be opened and closed, or used as a handle in this case.
How to master the gill-plate grab:
- Curl the fingers in your right hand to make a U-shape
- Place this hand formation under the right gill plate of the fish
- Touch your fingers to the inside surface of the gill plate
- Extend your right thumb forward (parallel to the head)
- Squeeze your fingers and thumb together in a firm grip
- Unhook the fish and hold it up
- Smile for the camera!
In order to perform a successful gill-plate grab on your Northern pike catch, you will begin by curling the fingers in your right hand upward to make a U-shape.
Once the fish has been reeled into your boat, you will secure your catch by placing this hand under the right gill plate of the fish.
Your fingers should be touching the inside surface of the gill-plate, and not the scales on the outside.
Since the scales of a fish are slippery, you will not be able to get a good grip on your Pike if you are trying to hold it from the outside.
Therefore, it is very important that you quickly locate the gill plate and insert your fingers completely.
Just placing your fingers inside of the gill plate alone will not keep the fish in one place, however. To gain some stability, you will need to quickly extend your right thumb forward, until it is parallel to the head of the fish.
Next, squeeze your fingers and thumb together in a firm grip. Along with wedging your hand into the gill plate, you will have a better hold on the head of the fish, now controlling it.
Finally, you can unhook your fishing line from the pike’s mouth and hold it up horizontally in front of you.
This will be the time to smile for the camera and pose with your impressive catch for a photo that will earn you bragging rights.
How to Hold a Northern Pike For Catch And Release
While a lot of fishermen enjoy bringing their prized Northern Pike catches home with them as a trophy, others would rather catch them for the thrill and release them back into the water promptly after they have been hooked on the line.
If you plan to catch and release Northern Pike, you will need to come prepared with the proper supplies. These tools will allow you to quickly and seamlessly unhook the fish without hurting it too much.
- Needlenose Pliers (as long as possible)
- Jaw spreaders
- Bolt cutters
How To Hold a Northern Pike For Catch And Release:
- Reel the Pike in above the surface of the water
- Use the gill-plate grab to secure a grip on the fish
- Hold the fish in position through the entire process
- Remove the hook with the needle nose pliers
- Use jaw spreaders if necessary to open the mouth
- If the hook is wedged deeply, use bolt cutters to remove it
- Revive the fish in the water
- Release it back to its home
When the Northern Pike has taken your bait, and you have reeled it up to the surface of the water, you will need to establish a firm grip on the fish.
Almost exactly like the steps that were outlined in the previous section, you will need to form a U-shape with the fingers in your right hand, and secure the fish under the gill plate.
Instead of hoisting the fish into your boat for keeps, you will need to use your needle nose pliers to manually pull the hook out from the roof of its mouth.
Keep in mind that the gill-plate grab should be administered through this entire process to avoid losing the fish before you can help it.
When it comes to your needle nose pliers, the longer these tools are, the better. This will allow you to get deep into the fish’ mouth and pull the hook out seamlessly.
If the fish is resisting the pull and not allowing you to remove the hook as easily as you thought, the jaw spreaders will come into play.
After spreading out the jaw with this metal tool, you should be able to continue pulling it out.
If not, you will need to use the bolt cutters to remove it. The bolt cutters are only necessary when the needle nose pliers are not strong enough to unhook the fish.
After the hook has been removed, it is important to revive it before throwing it back into the water.
This can be done by simply holding the fish in one place about an inch below the water line.
For a few seconds the fish will most likely sit still in the water until it begins to start kicking once more. When you feel movement and resistance, you are safe to release the fish back into the water.
Regardless of what you will be doing with a Northern Pike after you catch it on your fishing line, it is important to demonstrate the proper holding technique throughout the entire process to make sure you can finish what you’ve started!
Are there any limits when it comes to fishing for Northern Pike?
Depending on the region in which the fishing takes place, fishermen are allowed to catch anywhere from 2 to 10 Northern Pike in the same day. This limit will vary from North Central, Northeast, and Southern regions.
Where can Northern Pike be found?
Northern Pike live in streams, rivers, and lakes, and are most commonly found in regions such as Washington, Oregon, and Idaho in the United States, among other places.