Saturday, December 13, 2008
The best fish unhooking tools for pike
You need some specific northern pike unhooking tools to safely and humanely extract your lures from these powerful fish with their mouthful of teeth.
First, you need good jaw spreaders of the type pictured above. This type has two T-shaped ends that go into the fish's mouth. It spreads the pressure so that the tool doesn't puncture the flesh of the fish. Poor versions have a single wire that will poke right through the mouth.
If you can't get the spreader in because the fish won't open its mouth, use a set of wide fishing pliers such as the yellow ones above to open it enough to insert the spreaders. These pliers are probably all you need to hold open the mouths of smaller pike and for walleyes. Don't use the jaw spreaders on small fish because the pressure is too great and can injure their jaws.
Finally, use the Baker Hookout to safely reach down into the maw and take out the hooks. Nothing is better at doing this but you can also use long-handled needle nose pliers.
Make sure you tie a length of something like parachute cord to the spreader and then fasten it to the boat. This will prevent your throwing the fish overboard with the jaw spreader still in its mouth.
Keep in mind when taking out lures from a fish that the best method sometimes is to slip the lure out backwards through the fish's gills, unsnap it from the leader, then resnap the leader so it can be pulled back out the mouth without catching on anything.
Oh yes, remember to re-tie your line to the leader, cutting off a foot or two, because it will likely have been nicked by the rows of diamond-shaped teeth in the roof of the pike's mouth.
Often it takes two people to get the lure quickly out of the mouth of a big northern pike. One holds the fish while the other does the "surgery."