How to Hook & Unhook A Pikeminnow

Written by Dane in Fishing
Image Credits: Pixabay.com

When I was reading about bounty fishing for pikeminnow on the internet, I wondered how these types of fish are best hooked and unhooked. So, I found a few more articles that gave me some information on the best way to do this.

How do you hook and unhook a pikeminnow? To hook a pikeminnow on your fishing line, you will need to “set the hook” by applying some pressure from your fishing rod while reeling in the line.

To unhook the pikeminnow, on the other hand, you will need to demonstrate the proper technique for holding the fish. While keeping it in place, the easiest way to remove the hook is to use a pair of long, needle nose pliers. 

It is best to have some emergency tools on hand as well, in case the first method of removal is not effective.

The pikeminnow is a tricky fish to catch, and certainly will not go down without a fight. 

Read through these quick tips about how to hook and unhook a pikeminnow properly to prepare you for your next fishing trip.

How to Hook a Pikeminnow

How to Hook a Pikeminnow:

  1. Hook your bait
  2. Cast your line
  3. Get a bite
  4. Set the hook
  5. Reel it in!

The term “setting the hook”, or striking, refers to a motion that is carried out through the fishing rod that will secure the hook into the mouth of the fish once it has taken a bite of the bait.

By setting the hook, you are basically confirming that the hook is wedged deeply into the roof of the fish’ mouth, since the fish can nibble on the bait and get away if you don’t hook actually hook them.

Skim through the steps below on the process of setting the hook, or keep reading for more details and tips for a successful pikeminnow hook.

How to “Set the Hook”:

  1. Look for signs of fish biting (bobber underwater / tugging on line)
  2. Reel in slack, keeping the line tight to prepare for setting the hook
  3. Pull the rod back toward yourself while reeling in the line

Before you can set the hook, it is important to be able to identify when a pikeminnow is actually biting on your line. If you are using a bobber on your line, which is a small flotation device that sits right on top of the water to indicate where you have cast it, the fish will be given away if it dips completely under the water.

In other words, if you no longer see your bobber floating in the distance, a pikeminnow is nibbling on your baited hook.

If you do not have a bobber on your line, but you feel a tug or see it moving, you have a bite. 

No matter how you identify that a pikeminnow is biting on your line, you will need to immediately prepare for setting the hook.

To do this, you will need to stay relaxed while slowly reeling in the line, keeping it tight to get ready to apply some pressure.

The process of actually setting the hook will consist of one simple motion that must be executed correctly in order to secure your catch.

This motion is as simple as pulling the rod back toward yourself while you are reeling in the line. 

During this step, you will need to keep the line tight in order to put some pressure on the hook.

This way, it will dig deeper into the fish’s mouth, therefore setting the hook. If you kept the line loose, there would be no tension, and the pikeminnow would be very likely to get away from you if you are not quick enough.

While both staying relaxed and moving fast while executing proper hook setting technique, you will be able to successfully outsmart a pikeminnow and pull it into your boat.

How to Unhook a Pikeminnow

The process of unhooking your pikeminnow is just as important as hooking it. In other words, your catch is not secured until the hook is removed and you have safely and effectively retrieved the fish.

Supplies Needed For Unhooking:

  1. Needlenose Pliers (as long as possible)
  2. Jaw spreaders
  3. Bolt cutters

Although you might only need the first item on this list, it is always good to come prepared with more tools than what is necessary. 

The needle nose pliers are very effective in reaching into the pikeminnow’s mouth and removing the hook, while the jaw spreaders and bolt cutters are more for emergencies.

How to Unhook a Pikeminnow

  1. Reel the Pikeminnow into your boat
  2. Use the gill-plate grab to secure a grip on the fish
  3. Hold the fish in position through the entire process
  4. Remove the hook with the needle nose pliers
  5. Use jaw spreaders if necessary to open the mouth
  6. If the hook is wedged deeply, use bolt cutters to remove it

When the Pikeminnow 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. 

This technique is called the gill-plate grab, which basically consists of forming a U-shape with your right hand and wedging it under the gill plate on the side of the fish’ head.

This is not to be confused with the outside of the gills, however, since the exterior skin of the fish is very slippery. Instead, your fingers and thumb should be squeezed together on each side of the fish, from inside of its respiratory flap.

To quickly and easily remove the hook from the Pikeminnow’s mouth, you will use your needle nose pliers to manually pull it out. 

Keep in mind that the gill-plate grab should be administered through this entire process to avoid losing the fish you’ve just reeled in.

As far as the needle nose pliers, the longer this tool is, 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.

What is the best way to catch pikeminnow?

While fishing for pikeminnow, the best bait to use is either live bait or some kind of fresh meat. Since pikeminnow are carnivorous fish, they will be interested in worms or chicken liver on your line. It is also a good idea to put a small weight on your fishing line in order to allow the bait to sink down to the same level of your target.

Where is the best place to catch pikeminnow?

Pikeminnow are usually found in calm water environments, such as lakes and slow-moving streams. They most commonly swim through the bottoms of these water bodies, and are always on the hunt for anything they can find. As far as location, two of the best places to find large pikeminnow populations are Washington and Oregon.

Can you eat pikeminnow?

Pikeminnow is an edible fish, however most people regard the species as “trash” and do not regularly eat it. Additionally, there have been complaints about too many bones in the fish, as well as the scent and the taste. Overall, the general population does not enjoy pikeminnow nor do they bother to try eating it, but it can be done.

About Dane

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