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Ronan's report

Wednesday 13 November, 2013

During the past decade I have successfully released 1800-2000 pikes. At the same time all my students being with me caught even more pikes in summary. So all in all I have removed a hook of a pike pretty often, I think. Teaching my students how to catch pikes on fly always included to teach how to remove the hook (mostly for a quick release). I saw and tried many different ways how to get this done. Not all of them were successfully, which one can easily tell by a serious number of scares on my hands. Since a while now I ended up using only one technique, which almost always worked best for me:

Once the pike is surfaced on his side, I put my line hand below the gill cover and then immediately lift the pike more than 50% of its length out of the water. Why more than 50%? Because, pikes too often start shaking, if 50% (or more) of their body will hang in the water still. Shaking without doubt is the biggest danger for both the pike and the angler!

Smaller pikes I completely lift out of the water, while the bigger ones (90cm+) I lift out of the water around 60-80% of their length. Once they will be lifted up into the hang down position they mostly (95%) do not shake at all. A huge pro for this method! Also I will have my rod hand free to use my plier to remove the hook (after just dropping the rod in the same moment I grab the pike). And then it's fair to say that pretty often I don't even have to use my plier, because the hook pulled down by gravity will fall free, while the pike is in the hang down position. Another significant pro for this method. The hang down position will also allow you to perfectly look into the pikes mouth. And the pike mostly will completely open his mouth, which is important since you need the other hand for the plier.

After the hook is removed, I may hold the pike for a quick picture. For big pikes that will be using my rod hand under the stomack, too. And then a quick release.

Quite some discussions have been held about fish being in the hang down position above the water. I cannot answer this for all species of fish. But for pike I have plenty of serious proves that most (if not all) pikes survive without damage. Yet I have to see just one pike dying afterwards. Yes I agree to not be able to see all pikes afterwards... But I have seen pikes afterwards by catching them again. And I also have put them in a "carp bag" for further observations after a pike was bleeding significally. Yet even those 100% survived.

To those of you thinking a fish being in the hang down position always must be a damaging position I recommend to think about the enormous strength a pike must have based on grabbing its food with 40Km/h and more. He is like a torpedo (well, not as hot maybe)!

There have been tests around pikes presenting different results. Yet all of these tests (I have come across) have been made under pretty unrealistic circumstances. Those being made under realistic circumstances all presented the same results: Very very low mortality always.

If you disagree with all of this or having a different experience I would be happy to learn more!

I wish all of you such a great fishing as I have it day by day. I am living in the middle of a shit load of fish right now, if you like.

All my best


p.s.: Still waiting for Paul to take the best of all of his mermaids and come over here (mainly to share some fishing, mate)!

Pic Of Day



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