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Catching long fish, especially “very” long (40”+), such as musky or pike comes with great responsibility.  

Both types fish have delicate bone structures that -due to the fish’s weight- can break if not handled properly.  Plus, these animals are so strong that when trying to shake away from the angler’s hands they can really hurt themselves.

This is why it is so important to remember these steps when catching any fish of the Esox family:

  1. When possible, use a LANDING CRADLE.  If a cradle is not available, use an extra-large BASKET NET that’ll fit the fish inside.
  2. Remove the hooks in the water with the fish inside the cradle/net.
  3. ALWAYS support the weight of the fish HORIZONTALLY with BOTH hands.
  4. LIMIT the handling (stress) time to the bare minimum (a couple of pictures and back to the water she goes).
  5. DON’T launch the fish into the water.  Take your time reviving it.

“Use a basket net and support their weight with both hands”

To revive a fish:

  1. Grab it by the tail with your dominant hand.
  2. Put it in the water without letting go.
  3. Rock the fish back and forward to allow for water to pass through its gills.
  4. The fish will tell you when it’s ready to go by trying to swim away contracting its powerful muscles.
  5. Personally I tend to give the fish a few squeezes to its tail as I’m rocking it.  That usually makes them angry and when they are strong enough to swim away they will.
  6. When the fish is gone, blow her a kiss and thank the fishing gods!

“Kiss them goodbye”

Next time you catch a trophy fish like these just remember the steps above.  You won’t just contribute to that fish’s well being and survival, but you’ll also make sure that future generations will be able to catch such beautiful specimens for years to come!

Thank you for reading and may you always feel a heavy tug at the end of your lines!