(Pike care article kindly provided by Colin Goodge of Pike Anglers Club of Great Britain.)
It happens all too often when a parent buys a son or a daughter a cheap rod and reel with a couple of plugs or spinners, and sometimes a small landing net for the school holiday, just sometimes to give them something to do. The thinking is ‘Well I don’t suppose they’ll catch much, only a few tiddlers’, but this can be fatal, because Mr big fish can turn up at any time, and suddenly these youngsters can be thrown into a frenzied sense of excitement crossed with panic, and poor old Mr big fish lies thrown up the bank and will no more give any pleasure to boy, girl or anyone.
I feel that sometimes a visit by an experienced angler to one of the local schools before the summer holidays could save a lot of fish lives and teach a lot of youngsters how to get more pleasure from their fishing.
Fishing is a great pastime and helps us appreciate the wonderful gifts of nature, and lets face it, would probably keep a lot of youngsters from mischief.
Please before you buy or send your youngsters out fishing, speak to a local angler, make enquiries about the local clubs and waters, many local clubs hold junior fish-ins and teach-ins, this will let your son or daughter get the best from their fishing, simply by doing things correctly.
Don’t be afraid to write to the top anglers, the likes of John Wilson or Bob Nudd, etc., most of these do actually have their own websites, these gentlemen are only human, but are very good at what they teach, most are only too willing to give advice and help.
The Pike Anglers club is one such club that organise junior fish-ins, where there are top anglers on the spot to help, plus the added bonus of free gifts. We also have regions all over Britain and are only too willing to help, please feel free to write to me, The Chairman of the Pike Anglers Club, or e-mail me, I shall be attending many angling shows demonstrating the art of unhooking, handling and the care of pike.
Many pike anglers will tell you that they probably catch an 18lb pike in November and will return again in February or March hoping to catch that very same fish at 20 lbs, they know full well that because they handled it correctly the first time, it will be a healthy fish that has put on weight.
Pike look a very ferocious fish but if you know how, they are very easy to handle, but in all honesty are a very fragile predator, and if mistreated will soon die. I have read over the years so many articles about baits, rigs, methods, and how to catch all species of fish, but I read very few articles about unhooking, handling and the general conservation of the fish in our waters.
Remember the fish of today could, and should, still be the fish of a day in the future.
During summer, when the oxygen levels can be low, it is vital to handle fish as little as possible and to return them to the water as quickly as possible, if you have no alternative but to put them in a keepnet or a tunnel, then they should be put in a shady spot and as deep as possible, the colder the water the more oxygen.
If a fish is to be laid on an unhooking mat then make sure the mat is, if possible, in the shade, and has water splashed on it, to lay a fish on a hot or warm mat could be fatal.
Any item that a fish is to placed on or in should always be wet. If a trophy shot is required, make sure you are really ready and well prepared, hold the fish in such a way as not to damage its gills or vital organs, and be prepared in case the fish decides to make one last jump for freedom, once a fish has been in a keepnet or tunnel it will have regained its energy and could well be very lively. Trophy shots are something we all like, but sometimes you have to think of the welfare of the fish rather than your own selfish needs.
You should fish for your own satisfaction, and I know there is no satisfaction in catching a big fish, and to return at a later time to see it belly up in the reeds, with a little care this can all be avoided, it can also help stop supplying fuel to a few anti-anglers.
Pike care article kindly provided by Colin Goodge of Pike Anglers Club of Great Britain.
You can find more information on pike handling, unhooking & care here.