Fishing in the Boundary Waters and Quetico


Fishing Quetico and the Boundary Waters
Handling the Fish you catch.

Northern Pike:
Small ones, big ones, all sizes of Northern Pike have teeth that can cause severe lacerations if slashed across your skin. Pike do not bite per say but usually thrash wildly with their mouths wide open. In addition, pike have what's called rakers attached to the red tissue in their gills that are just as sharp as their teeth. Add to all this the fact that pike tend to go completely spastic at just the wrong time, usually in the bottom of the canoe with one or two treble hooks hanging out of their mouth or just before that photograph is taken. That's why we never bring a pike into the canoe. Even the small ones are unhooked at the side of the canoe. Many times if you just firmly grab the hook with the needle nose pliers (here's where that lanyard on your pliers comes in handy) the pike will shake itself loose. If not grasp the fish firmly across the back of the head and take your time backing out each hook until the lure is loose. The fish will be OK if this takes some time because it is left in the water while you work.

Extra large trophy pike are handled a little differently. First, we make every effort to find a suitable place along shore to beach the fish, get it unhooked and snap a few pictures. The other thing we do is use a pair of light leather or fish handling gloves (available at sporting goods stores) to protect our hands. Once at the shore and when the fish has calmed down, slide your hand inside and under the gill flap (avoid touching the red tissue) all the way to the lower jaw area where you will feel a substantial bone to grab onto and secure your grip while you remove the lure. You can lift the fish out of the water by this grip alone but it's best to support the back end of the fish if it's large. Keep a secure grip at all times on that jaw hold. Take a few quick pictures and then release your trophy by supporting the fish by the tail and under the belly in the water until it is able to swim away on his own. This may take several minutes if the fish is especially stressed so be patient.

Handling Fish | Bass | Northern Pike| Walleyes | Lake Trout

Entry > Discover Wilderness > Fishing > Handling Northern Pike

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