Saturday, 4 December 2010

Handle With Care

Not much to report this week. The severe weather's curtailed my activities a little, though I did manage to get out. It's the east side of the country that's been bearing the brunt of the snow, it's just been very cold here in the west. Lots of people haven't been venturing out at all so those of us who are mad enough have had the fishing to ourselves.

I managed two pike, a ten pounder and a 16lb 7oz fish. The ten pounder told a sorry tale as do many of the fish I'm seeing lately. It was carrying obvious handling damage which, though it didn't seem to be hampering its feeding was at the very least unsightly.

Most of the handling damage I see is around the fish's head and in particular the lower jaw and so it was with this fish. The jaw had clearly been held very tightly while the fish thrashed, or possibly the fish had been hand landed. This had resulted in the cartilage under the jaw becoming broken and the skin around this area was split.

There are times when hand landing a pike is the right thing to do but by and large a net is kinder to the fish. If people have to land a fish by hand they should put down the rod as soon as the fish is secured and take both hands to it. This is to prevent the fish from thrashing around - that's when the damage is done.

Of course it may not have been caused by hand landing. Failure to control a fish properly whilst unhooking can cause the same kind of damage. The fish has to be placed on the floor, or the deck on its back and the angler kneel astride it. Once the pike's in this position it can't go anywhere and thrashing only brings its tail in contact with the angler's legs.

In most cases we might try to pass off damage like this as being the result of inexperience but frankly I don't believe this to be true. The vast majority of anglers who fish this water are, or at least profess to be, knowledgeable pikers. It's noticeable too that the larger fish are in much better shape and I'm guessing that they are treated with more respect that the little ones because they are to be held up for a trophy shot. Indeed the sixteen pounder I had on the same day was in pristine condition - see pic.

Those responsible should try to remember that today's ten pounder is tomorrow's twenty , or even thirty pounder.


Paddy Pike said...

This is a great report, And not just for the fact that you have caught a couple of nice Pike, But the amount of people who go Piking nowadays is growing and growing, I have myself caught Pike That have been damaged, Torn skin under the chin, Broken jaw bones, Teeth scraped away on one side of the mouth, I do try and show the people that have or are just starting to Pike fish how to do it so it is safe for them and the pike, But i understand your frustration,in this matter, But very well done on your catch and your Post, And i am srry for the rant,,,
Kindest regards,

pikelines said...

Hi Eric, we've linked to this off our blog ...

Kind Regards,

Chris B