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BLACKJACK

Best way to handle pike for catch and release??

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Caught a nice pike on Red last weekend, 40.5 inches.

First off, as I was handling the rattle reel line, my brother wanted to get the gaff out and gaff it, I said no, I could tell it was a big one that was going back - does a gaff hooked in the mouth do a lot of damage??

Secondly, after we had it on the deck, I could see the hook was quite a ways in, didn't have a spreader, so I just cut the line off a couple inches into his mouth. How far do you go in to try and reach your hook?

Third, when it was picture time, he didn't want to pick it up, it was flopping, and was going to be quite a handful, how do you pick up big pike? Does it hurt them to hold them up by the gill opening?? Seemed like a lot of fish to be holding up by one spot.

Lastly, how much time is reasonable to keep them out of the water?

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The best way for a releasing big pike is use a monofilament leader. I tie 25-50 lb test ones so I can quickly cut the line if the hook is going to be a challenge to get at. I can't remember getting snapped. I just feel the line after each fish and tie a new one if I feel any nicks in the line.

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Hold them by the eyes they won't squirm so much. Pike often have cut or deformed jaws, it don't hurt them jacks much.

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Hold them by the eyes they won't squirm so much.

ummm, yeah don't hold them by the eyes.

why anyone thinks that's a good idea is beyond me.

Just cuz grampa does something doesn't mean it's a good idea. In fact, it probably isn't.

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Look forward to more answers. I'm no expert but I've hear holding them by the eyes or squeezing them by the head pretty much is a death sentence. Damages the optical nerves and/or brain if I remember correctly. Anywhoo, I just try to get them back into the water asap after some quick pictures. And cutting the line as far as you can in if the hook is deep is good.

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The wife caught a 41 inch pike last sat.aft.. Fishing out of an old camper made in to a fish house with the floor 16 inches off the ice we new this was going to be highly unlikley of getting the fish up without a gaf. The wife reminded me of how her friends dad said stick your hand in a heavy glove/chopper in there mouth and when they bite pull them up. After getting the fish up to the top of the hole in 2 ft. of ice I took mitt and poked the fish onthe end of the nose a couple times and he opened up, stuck the mitt in it's mouth and it bit down. As soon as it did I started lifting and it came right up. Took one pic.and sent it back down the hole. If I knew how to post pics I would.

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A fish grip doesn't do too much damage if you are not comfortable picking it up with your bare hands and work good for pics- in a perfect world a lip gaff isn't going to hurt them much either but that's much easier said than done and I don't recommend a gaff unless you are planning on keeping one or happen to be very experienced and coordinated :-). A jaw spreaders is a VERY important tool to have with at all times fishing right next to your pliers. It makes hook removal much easier (not with your hand but with a long needle nose) and you can grab and hold the tool instead of putting your hand under the gill plate if you aren't comfortable with that. If you are comfortable putting your hand under the gill plate to help hold it before you support with your other hand, just be careful. Your finger tips can easily get in too far and get sliced not to mention the fish can thrash at any time. A 'fish' glove at this time is smart if you have one on hand.

Either way you do it it's important to remember to support the weight of the fish with your other hand. No fish on this world is made to hang the weight of their own body by their head and in some cases with some big fish it can actually damage the spine. Naturally in the water they are fully supported horizontally so do it a favor and as you immobilize the head in any way you are comfortable with (BESIDES that blinding eye grab) support the weight of the body with other hand for the pic.

Even if one is not targeting pike it sure helps to always have a 'fish releasing' kit with all of these important tools with for when the **** hits the fan and that big gator hits the floor.

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For those people uncomfortable handling a fish, or grabbing it under the bottom jaw and lifting it out of the hole, use some type of a fish grip system, i found this one to be the most fish frendly. It floats, and costs about $13

Works great to grab a big eye or northern as it's mouth firsts breaks the surface of the water.

full-26433-29576-13345491.jpg

Keep them big fish alive.

full-26433-29577-2013_01_18_15_41_35_859

FORGET THE JAW SPREADER! THOSE CAN REALLY HURT FISH.

Use the fish grip above, when you lock onto the bottom jaw, you are in full control of opening the mouth - making easy access to get out a hook.

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Hold them by the eyes they won't squirm so much. Pike often have cut or deformed jaws, it don't hurt them jacks much.

Gotta love them internet trolls!!! Who in their right mind, if you wanted to release the fish, would grind your fingers into their eye sockets??

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truth, looks interesting. Do you have a problem getting it into their mouths? Do you use to pull them out of the holes or do you just use it after you have the fish out of the hole and want to take a picture?

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I mainly bought that fish grip for northerns. I have used it to pull fish out of holes, it's easy to attach to mouth. I just have it ready and grab it as i lift a fish up into the hole. 90% of the time i just use my hands though, but where it really comes in handy is pulling a crankbait out of a little slimer in the summer, that way you can hang onto the slimy buggers without getting a crankbait in the hand/leg/whatever.

It's much easier than a gaff, safer than a gaff, will keep you from getting hurt, makes it easy for kids to hold onto fish for pictures if they are uncomfortable...

most times i don't use it to get a fish out of a hole, but once the fish is on the ice i do use it often to open the mouth for hook retraction when the hook isn't on the lips.

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A gaf is fine in the bottom jaw, its just like a hook, do not gaf them anywhere else though. I always bring three things with me when going to a flag. A needle nose pliers, a jaw spreader, and a gaf. I hold them just behind the head and support around the tail. Always hold a northern horizontal, holding them vertical can mess up their internal organs. A jaw spreader will not hurt a fish, all it does is open their mouth. Other things I like to bring is a scale, tape measure, phone/camera, and a heavy duty jaw spreader, Big pike can easily close a lighter duty spreader, but the heavy duty one can literally rip a small pikes jaws open, and might hurt them. I used to cut line and release gut hooked fish thinking the hook will dissolve. I now realize its better to try and get the hook out, or keep the fish. I only use circle hooks, or quick strikes now.

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For those people uncomfortable handling a fish, or grabbing it under the bottom jaw and lifting it out of the hole, use some type of a fish grip system, i found this one to be the most fish frendly. It floats, and costs about $13

Works great to grab a big eye or northern as it's mouth firsts breaks the surface of the water.

full-26433-29576-13345491.jpg

Keep them big fish alive.

full-26433-29577-2013_01_18_15_41_35_859

FORGET THE JAW SPREADER! THOSE CAN REALLY HURT FISH.

Use the fish grip above, when you lock onto the bottom jaw, you are in full control of opening the mouth - making easy access to get out a hook.

+1 this is a great tool for holding fish love mine, or i should say my fiance loves it shes not the best at holding flopping fish and this helps a ton

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I may have to get one of those! smile I have no problem of grabbing a pike under the jaw. BUT!! The Mrs. was not impressed when a fish flopped and my thumb slipped into it's mouth! cry I had forgotten how much one bleeds!!!!! grin

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Hold them by the eyes they won't squirm so much. Pike often have cut or deformed jaws, it don't hurt them jacks much...

ummmmmmmm yea......

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For those people uncomfortable handling a fish, or grabbing it under the bottom jaw and lifting it out of the hole, use some type of a fish grip system, i found this one to be the most fish frendly. It floats, and costs about $13

Works great to grab a big eye or northern as it's mouth firsts breaks the surface of the water.

full-26433-29576-13345491.jpg

Keep them big fish alive.

full-26433-29577-2013_01_18_15_41_35_859

FORGET THE JAW SPREADER! THOSE CAN REALLY HURT FISH.

Use the fish grip above, when you lock onto the bottom jaw, you are in full control of opening the mouth - making easy access to get out a hook.

Got my Fish Grip in the mail yesterday, can't wait to try it!!!

Looking on the cover of the last Outdoor News and the picture of the big pike, I'm really regretting not doing a better job of picking up and taking pictures of our 40.5 inch northern frown

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Gotta love them internet trolls!!! Who in their right mind, if you wanted to release the fish, would grind your fingers into their eye sockets??

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A fish gripper of any sort COULD be looked at as a waste of money. Or it could be looked at as a common sense tool to keep a little kid, a novice, or an expert with bad luck that day from needing to leave the water and get stiches that day. I've seen it happen to all of the above. No matter how good you are handling fish it CAN happen to you. The more fish you handle the higher the odds no matter the skill level. Kind of like hitting deer with you motorcycle. ;-)

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A gaf is fine in the bottom jaw, its just like a hook, do not gaf them anywhere else though. I always bring three things with me when going to a flag. A needle nose pliers, a jaw spreader, and a gaf. I hold them just behind the head and support around the tail. Always hold a northern horizontal, holding them vertical can mess up their internal organs. A jaw spreader will not hurt a fish, all it does is open their mouth. Other things I like to bring is a scale, tape measure, phone/camera, and a heavy duty jaw spreader, Big pike can easily close a lighter duty spreader, but the heavy duty one can literally rip a small pikes jaws open, and might hurt them. I used to cut line and release gut hooked fish thinking the hook will dissolve. I now realize its better to try and get the hook out, or keep the fish. I only use circle hooks, or quick strikes now.

Trust me, Drop that spreader down the hole and the gaff while your dropping things, grab them by the bottom lip with the fish grip (12" slimer or 40" slimer) and their jaw will not close. It's those little fish that it can be hard to get a lure out of their mouth, and you'll surely rip their jaw off if you put a spreader in a small pike.

You seem quite fond of pike...Be honest, how easy is it to gaff the bottom lip everytime? Been there, tried that, this is a much better method. Frankly, i just use it to assist in removing a lure every now and then. Use your finger to lift it out of the hole.

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I have only needed the gaff maybe 3 times ever, once was the one in my avatar pic. If I get their head started in the hole, momentum carries them out. The ones that I could not (a hard fighting 12 pound beast that was foul hooked in the pectoral fin) It was pretty easy to get the bottom jaw, and the gaff turned their head upwards. and . As far as jaw spreaders go, like most things it is personal preference. I have seen those jaw tools, they just look clumsy to me 2c

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So you ask how to hold them, and then bash a guy for giving you an answer. Nice! I see alot of guys hold them by the eyes, oldtime trick.

The key was that I asked how to hold them so they could be RELEASED unharmed. Grinding your fingers into their eyes might be an oldtime trick but it was probably done by oldtime fisherman that took home every fish they caught. Then it didn't matter how you held them or handled them, they weren't going back in the water to get caught another day.

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Here's a good example. Sunday the walleyes were inhaling the jigs. As soon as the walleye is at the top of the hole, i grab the bottom jaw with the fish grip. Reach over to get my pliers, and gently remove the hook from back of the throat.

Harmless. Notice how i never even needed to pull the fish out of the hole wink Mouth open, easy access, and full control of the fish.

full-26433-30055-2013_02_10_07_38_05_953

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