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When a large pike attacks – do this

10 tips to help you catch, fight, handle, weigh, measure, and release (catch & release) large pike. Watch the enclosed video and read the included tips and you will know what to do! Also see the proper liplock hold for lifting fish.

1. Equipment.

The right kind of equipment that is also strong enough is a fundamental requirement for catching and bringing in large pike.

Leader, at least 25 cm
Braided line, for example Powerpro 0.32 mm
Reel, such as Abu Garcia Record C6 baitcasting reel
Rod, Savage Gear Big Lure & Jerk 7' baitcasting rod

2. Only focus on the fishing.

Forget everything else and avoid doing irrelevant things while fishing. Alter your fishing style based on the weather. Also account for the water temperature.
The fishing style used in the enclosed video is jerk fishing.

3. Counterattack.

When you feel a bite, react with a solid counterattack by pulling the rod back, as the mouth of a pike is very tough and bony.

4. Do not rush it!

Once you have hooked a large pike, stay calm. Adjust the drag where necessary but avoid overtightening.

5. Reel the fish slowly closer to the boat.

Pike will often make one last furious attempt at breaking free once it sees the boat. This can be seen clearly in the video at 2:25. The pike comes very close to escaping.

6.  Pulling the fish up from the water.

Once you have tired the fish, you have to decide how to get it up from the water. Solid options include Savage Gear's net with rubber netting (size XL) or the so-called liplock hold. If you decide to go with a liplock, I recommend protecting your hands with cut-resistant gloves. Grip tight to avoid dropping the fish. Pliers are the easiest way to remove the hook.

7. Weighing and measuring.

Place the fish in a wet weighing bag or a net with rubber netting. Weigh the fish. Deduct the weight of the weighing bag from the reading if you have not pre-adjusted your scale. Hanging the fish from its jaws for weighing may damage the neck of a pike.

The easiest solution for measuring the length of your catch is a measuring sticker applied to the side of your boat or bench. Squeeze the tail of the pike slightly for an accurate measurement.

8. Handle live fish cautiously and carefully

A fish is a delicate living creature, and you should respect and acknowledge this when weighing or photographing the fish, for example. Fish live in water, and thus air is a foreign element to them. If you intend to release your catch, a maximum of 2 minutes of exposure to air at any one time is a solid general rule. For releasing the fish, you should tie the weighing bag or net to the side of your boat. This will allow you to place the fish back in the water where necessary. If you lower the fish back into the water in a weighing bag, leave it to recover for 30–60 seconds. After this, you can continue with the photographs.

9. Releasing the fish

• Once you have measured, weight, and photographed the fish and are ready to release it, do not throw it back in the water!
• Lower the fish into the water in the weighing bag and open the zipper.
• Let the fish recover without hurry. Sometimes moving the bag back and forth may expedite the release.
• If the gill covers of the fish are fully closed, you can open them up slightly by hand.

When the fish dives back into the depths, you know that the release was successful. Releasing your catch is a personal choice. I recommend reading more about the topic.  An excellent summary can, for example, be found in Open Repository of the Universities of Applied Sciences (in Finnish, PDF, link opens in a new window ).

10. Enjoy fishing and the nature.

Liplock hold for lifting fish

Slide your fingers against the inside of the gill covers underneath the jaw. This will leave your thumb outside, while the other fingers are inside the fish. I recommend using cut-resistant gloves, at least when practicing the hold. Avoid damaging the gill arches and support the fish with both hands wherever possible.

Keep your lines tight!

Petri Tallqvist
Fishing instructor / future guide


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