One species of fish that can be found in various parts of the world is the pike, and variations thereof. Pike are long, strong, and have many teeth, making it one of the most predator species targeted in freshwater fishing.

That being said, there are certain techniques, tips, and tricks when it comes to handling these types of fish.

Without the proper knowledge it can be very hazardous. Thankfully, we are here today to break down what pike are, what the hazards are when handling them, and how to do it all properly. Here is some more information about how to handle and unhook pike!


Pike anatomy


Pike can be found all over the world in various sizes. Some of the largest in the world are Northern Pike that can be found in parts of the United States and Canada. These fish have long, slender bodies and huge jaws full of teeth.

There are a few components of the fish that are important to keep in mind. Firstly, there are the various fins spread all over the body.

There is a dorsal fin, anal fin, pectoral fins, and pelvic fins. These all allow to fish to move through the water quickly. Luckily, these fins aren’t spiney, so you shouldn’t have to worry about them as much.

The other main fin is known as the caudal fin, but this is known to everyone else as the tail. This is the main way that pike and move around. This is probably one of the most important fins on the fish.

Another huge part of a pike’s anatomy is the slime coat that covers the skin. This is a trait that many fish have and is there to protect the skin. When handling a fish, this is important to keep this in mind because of how important it is to the fish’s biology.

The final part of a pike’s anatomy that is relevant to this blog is the head, mouth, and gill area. This is the most important to think about when fishing for pike. Because the lure or bait is involved with the fish’ mouth, it is crucial to understand some of the science involved.

First off, the jaw is made to fit a predator. It is long, flat, and filled with sharp teeth. This is perfect for eating other fish and being on the hunt. This is compared to other fish that are more passive and have sand paper-like mouths.

The head can be very big with the mouth portion flattening out. The gills are nestled right behind the head and before the body goes out. There are a few species of fish that have barbed gills that can be very dangerous.

Luckily, most pike do not fall into this category and their gills are fairly safe. This is important to know because it will completely change how you handle the fish.


The potential hazards


There are many hazards that come with handling pike. Without the proper knowledge, you are at risk for injury. Now that you know how pike are built and what parts of the fish are more important than others, here are some of the potential hazards that come with handling pike.

The most obvious hazard that come with pike is their teeth. Because they are predatory, they need fish to hunt and eat other fish.

After catching a pike, your lure will be mangled amidst the teeth. So, it is extra important to be careful around the teeth area. You can be bit, pricked, or slashed by the razor sharp teeth.

This ties into the overall head as being a big hazard. Especially on the bigger fish, a pike’s head can be very wide and can thrash all over the place.

The only other main hazard is with the tail. The fish’s tail is the strongest part of its body, so the bigger ones can whip you if you are not careful. However, this is far less hazardous than what could happen with the mouth, but it is still good to keep in mind.


Tips for handling and unhooking pike


Finally, it is time to dive into some tips and tricks related to handling and unhooking pike. The way you do it can be the difference between a success fishing trip and one that is ruined. Let’s get right into it.

First off, you need to know what to do when trying to unhook the fish. Obviously, pike are not a fun of having a hook lodged into their face, so they will be thrashing around and trying to cause a dangerous situation for you.

The first step is to use a net. Many species do not require one, but pike should be netted when caught. This allows you to stabilize the fish and not let it go too crazy.

Then, you want to leave the net partially in the water while you take out the hook. This is a very common mistake made by many anglers.

Especially when you are in a boat, this step is very easy. Net the pike and leave it about half way in the water so the fish remains wet. This keeps both you and the fish safe. The longer the pike is out of the water, the quicker the slime coat dissolves, and the fish is at risk.

Not only will it keep the fish safe, but it will keep you safe. Many anglers make the mistake of putting the fish in the boat and letting it thrash around.

This is dangerous for everyone. The fish can cut you, ruin any equipment you have on the boat, and injure itself in the process. Keeping it off the side of the boat will avoid it all. Then, you can unhook it and pick it up from the submerged net and take the pictures you want.

Once you have the fish netted, it is time to do the actual unhooking. This is the moment where a lot of the hazard is. Because of teeth and strength of a pike, you have to be extra careful. If you get complacent or lazy, this is when the accidents will happen.

So, the worst thing you could do is just sticking your hand in the mouth and trying to unhook it. This is a recipe for disaster. Instead, there are a couple of options.

The first one is the use of a glove. There are fishing gloves on the market that keep your hand safe against teeth.

These gloves are quite stiff and do a great job of keeping you safe. They might cost a bit more money that you may think, but they are a good investment, especially when you are constantly catching pike.

Another main option is a hook remover. These are metal tools that can be inserted into the mouth and hooked onto the lure. Then, all you have to do is wiggle it free and release the fish. It really is that simple.  

These are usually a foot or two long, so your hand will be far enough away for nothing to happen. This keeps you at a safe distance while also getting valuable leverage on the fish.

The most common dehooking tool is plyers. Just about every angler should have plyers on deck no matter what species is being targeted. These are cheap, light, and very easy to include with your tackle. Although your hands will be fairly close to the teeth, it is far better than nothing.

If you have neither of these tools, there are some things you can do to keep yourself safe. First off, you should use the gills to your advantage. As we already covered, pike’s gills are usually not dangerous to you. Some fish have sharp gill plates, but pike are usually safe to handle.

The main grip you should use is often referred to as the chin grip. This keeps the fish under your control while your hand is in the safest place possible.

You will put your hand right below the mouth and pinch what would be the chin. This keeps you away from the mouth and takes away the pike’s leverage.

In the unfortunate situation where the pike really swallowed the hook, you might need to get a bit creative. One way to control the fish as much as possible is by laying it on its back on some sort of protective made and straddling it.

This will give you the control and a really good vantage point to unhook the deep hook.

That is about it! Hopefully, you now know a bit more about pike and how to handle them safely. The next time you find yourself in one of these situations, you will be far better informed about the species and the best way to keep both you and the fish safe!