Monday, January 30th, 2023
Monday, January 30th, 2023

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Tools for the trade for handling pike

(Photo courtesy of Vexilar)

By Steve Carney

Contributing Writer


As I get acquainted with the lakes where I live, I’m learning that this area is infested with “hammer-handle” northern pike that seem to plague me everywhere I go. 


I’ve always kept pike out of my boat, releasing them on the water and trying and keep them from the interior of the boat for cleanliness reasons. The smaller pike can be released with ease by using a long pliers, preferable 12 to 16 inches long. 


Bringing a pike to the boat is hazardous, because they twist and can jump, potentially hooking you with your own crankbait. I’ve been hooked enough by pike over the years and have learned my lesson. 


Short medical hemostats are worthless, in my opinion, because they are too short and you can’t get any leverage on the fish because hemostats are too light.  


Heavy-duty, industrial pliers in the 16-inch range are perfect.  


There are times when I get a large pike to the surface and then resort to a Kevlar glove and handle that fish gingerly by netting it and removing the hooks while the pike is secure in the net. The glove protects me from the thrashing and is impervious to hooks. 


I have a love-hate relationship with northern pike, because they have saved the day for me on the water many times. But I’m finding almost every lake in this area has such aggressive, small pike that they even attack bait such as leeches and crawlers, which can be frustrating. Often, I catch close to two dozen small pike during an outing, regardless of what species I am targeting. 


Bite-offs occur regularly and cost me a ton of hair jigs, crankbaits, and plastics, but that’s reality.  


It’s also amazing how pike inhabit both shallow water and deep water, and there’s no getting away from them.


I remember this small-pike phenomenon in the Bowstring-Winnibigoshish area, and it’s even more prominent here in the northwest.  


Walleye and crappie fishing here is just starting to take off. I’m finding some lakes are totally shut off to walleyes and crappies, but the pike are nuts. Water temperatures are still in the 60s on some lakes, meaning walleye and crappie fishing is yet to happen, but the pike are biting regularly.


In other words, you take the good with the bad, and things will steadily improve as we progress into late June.

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