The Gill-Plate Grab: Catch & Release Pike Without a Net

This simple tip will help protect the fish, and your fingers

Handling a big pike or muskie means you have to control its head to prevent wild thrashing. A gill-plate grab is the easiest way and will keep your fingers away from the fish’s sharp teeth: (1) Curl all four fingers of your right hand into a U shape, then slip them under the fish’s right-side gill plate. Your fingers should be touching the inside surface of that covering–not the gills themselves. Your right thumb, meanwhile, is extended forward, parallel to the fish’s head. (2) Squeeze your fingers toward your thumb, thereby getting a firm grip. (3) Now you can safely unhook the fish and hoist it for a photo. Always support the fish’s body horizontally.