Pike are extremely aggressive, and the action can be explosive. Here is a breakdown of the equipment you need, including some important safety information.
The fishing at Plummer’s is remote. Besides basic first aid, medical attention can be hours away or the next day, and that’s if the weather permits safe flying conditions. By having the proper equipment, and some Pike handling knowledge you can avoid potential injury.
I’m using the same rod and reel set-up used for the T-60 Flatfish, so I don’t need to bring an additional rod and reel for Pike angling. The rod is a Daiwa DXSB 801 HFB 8’ H; it’s coupled with a Daiwa Lexa 400 XS-P 8:1. The reel is spooled with Maxima Ultragreen 65-pound braid. Tied to the braid is a SPRO wire leader that features a barrel swivel with a Coastlock Snap. The wire leader is important, a pike will cut right through fishing line, and your lure is gone.
If I can only use one lure for Pike fishing, it is no doubt going to be a SPRO BBZ-1 6” Swimbait in Lavender Shad pattern. This universal fish catcher is a hard bait that can stand up to the punishment a hardy Pike is going to deliver. I bring slow sinking models.
Pike water is relatively shallow, and the 6" slow sink version can effectively cover the entire water column. This lure will draw Pike in from a long distance. Its dynamic swimming action can trigger reluctant followers. Cast this lure and be prepared to get crushed.
This section is essential, and your choices can have a significant impact on safety. Pike have ultra-razor-sharp teeth. If their teeth barely touch you, they will cut better than a surgeon’s scalpel. They’re so sharp that you probably won’t feel it, and you won't know until you notice that you’re bleeding all over the place. So, don’t skimp on quality. Large or small, if there is a weak point in your fish handling tools, Pike will exploit it.
Extra Long Needle Nose Plyers – Under no circumstance should you ever place your fingers and hands inside of a Pike’s mouth. It doesn’t matter if you have a quality jaw spreader. Pike do not cooperate, and if something can go wrong, it probably will. There will be times when a Pike chokes down the lure, and both sets of hooks can be deep in the fish’s mouth. This is when you'll need the extra length. These pliers are common and sold at many retailers. https://www.tacklewarehouse.com/Rapala_Long_Reach_Pliers_11/descpage-RLRP.html
Jaw Spreaders – All jaw spreaders aren’t equal. Don’t learn this lesson the hard way. A weak jaw spreader can give you a false sense of security. I buy the 10-inch Bucher Jaw Spreader available at https://www.muskyshop.com/tools-measuring/bucher-jaw-spreader/ They’re strong and have finger bends that prevent them from rolling in your hands. A jaw spreader's purpose is to hold a fish's mouth open so you can see, and accommodate tools only. Remember Pike don’t cooperate, a struggling Pike can pop out the best jaw spreader.
Hook Cutters – Hopefully, you won’t ever need a good pair of hook cutters, but if you do you’ll be glad, you have them. Sometimes the hooks have deeply penetrated a fish, and the best thing to do for the preservation of the fish and your safety is to cut the hook off the lure. You want to remove as much of the hook as possible, and a quality hook cutter will make it easy for releasing the fish quickly and getting you back to the action. https://www.muskyshop.com/tools-measuring/hook-cutters/
Fish Grip – I like The Fish Grip. It floats, it’s lightweight, and has a broad flat pinch. Many grips on the market use a thin metal pinch that can easily penetrate through a fish’s jaw, tearing a hole in their flesh. It doesn’t matter what the species is, that’s not good. A good fish gripper provides leverage, control, and safety when handling and removing hooks. If you have The Fish Grip, you’ll find that many times you don’t have to net the fish, saving net tangles and a lot of fishing time. Here is a link https://www.thefishgrip.net/
Fish Grip Glove – If you're new to the game, a Fish Grip Glove will provide another level of confidence when handling a Pike. Gill plates can cut you too. The Lindy Fish Handling Glove features high-tech materials providing a layer of protection around your hand when a Pike is twisting and struggling to escape your grip. The Lindy is well constructed, and it helps with slippery fish. They’re available at several major distributors. https://www.lindyfishingtackle.com/lindy-fish-handling-glove-1
Finger Tape or Elastic Bandage Tape – Saltwater anglers know what finger tape is. Finger tape will protect your fingers from scrapes and friction common to handling fish. It does a good job at staying in place even when wet. If you do get nicked, or cut, Fish Tape is very helpful first aid that can keep you in the game. This bandage wrap is inexpensive and available at Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Pangda-Adhesive-Bandage-Stretch-Self-Adherent/dp/B07F83G6BR/ref=sr_1_1_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1534372668&sr=8-1&keywords=fishing%2Bfinger%2Btape&th=1
Handling the Business End of a Pike
“The easiest way to hold a Pike, either for a release or a photo, is to slide your fingers between the Pike’s gill flap and the gills until you reach the ‘notch’ where the gill flaps meet and pinch your thumb against the lower jaw. As you lift the fish with this hand, bring your other hand up under the fish’s belly to support its weight for the photo or release” – adapted from The Complete Guide to Musky Hunting by Saric and Heiting, Musky Hunter Publications.
Don’t forget to crimp down your hook barbs. Barbless hooks, I love this Canadian Fishing Regulation; it makes un-hooking feisty toothy Pike much easier.
Expanding Your Horizons
I’ve heard many anglers make disparaging remarks concerning Northern Pike. Freedom of choice but personally, a big fish is a big fish, and I think large toothy predators make impressive catches and photos. Once you learn how to handle them, your confidence will go way up. These tips can give you a basis for fishing equipment, safety gear, and handling so you can get the most out of your time at Plummer’s Lodges, enjoy!
To learn more about the amazing adventures waiting for you at Plummer’s check out their website at https://www.plummerslodges.com/