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Thread: Pickerel handling suggestions

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    3,880

    Default Pickerel handling suggestions

    Many Snaggedline members have enjoyed fishing for pickerel in the local tidal rivers (Severn, Magothy, South) during cold weather months. The pickerel have provided some fun and good pullage when the other local near shore species were absent. The pickerel bite was reasonably predictable each winter until November 2016. At that point, pickerel became very scarce. As an example of the obvious decline, here are my pickerel catch totals for Nov and Dec over the past few years (all from the Severn tributaries).

    Year Nov Dec Total
    2013 13 48 61
    2014 42 58 100
    2015 50 81 131
    2016 a few 0 a few


    I have not started targeting pickerel this fall, but for the first time in a decade, I did not catch any pickerel during the summer months while perch fishing in Severn tributaries. I have heard from others fishing in different parts of the Severn and from the other two rivers that they noticed a significant decline too.

    With this unknown population decline as a backdrop, I would like to offer several suggestions if you do catch a pickerel. Hopefully these ideas can protect the remaining pickerel in our waters and allow them to reproduce next year.

    1) Unless you are desperate for some fish to eat, put it back. Practice careful catch and release.

    2) If this is your first pickerel or is larger than others you have caught, or if you think it may be a citation size (24"), feel free to take a photo. If not, consider releasing the pickerel quickly without taking time to lay it out on a measuring board and taking a photo. That flopping around and handling cannot be good for the fish.

    3) For most pickerel that I have caught, the hook is through the jaw but is not inside the mouth. If you grab the fish around the body behind the gills (not in the gills) -- like grabbing the barrel of a baseball bat -- you can control the fish long enough to slide the hook out with your fingers or pliers.

    4) If you fish live minnows, keep the minnow moving like a lure. Fishing a live minnow under a bobber allows the fish to get the minnow into its mouth and throat and requires a much more invasive release procedure.

    5) Consider getting a simple jaw spreader tool.
    John Veil
    Annapolis
    Native Watercraft Manta Ray 11 and Slayer Propel 10
    Member - Pro Staff team for Native Watercraft

    Author - "Fishing in the Comfort Zone" - light tackle fishing techniques for kayaks and small boats

  2. #2

    Default

    Great Post John,

    appreciate the chart as well. This really gives us a good look of the decline.
    -TimH

    Perception Striker

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Posts
    372

    Default

    For me the easiest & best thing to do is hold the top of the head / skull so their body isn’t squeezed


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Pasadena
    Posts
    998

    Default

    John those are amazing #s and pretty much fall in line with my years went.. knocking their socks off to NOTHING basically.

    I have been once this year on the severn and only managed 3.. which is not good for the creek i was in.

    Im starting to think the water is too salty for our toothy friends
    Zach Moore
    Delaware Paddle Sports Fishing Team
    Fishal Custom Baits Pro Staff
    Bait Towel Pro Staff
    2017 Hobie Pro Angler 12
    YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSa...8WkC2WzHhAjVaQ

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Posts
    141

    Default

    Unfortunately I think the Severn creeks will be like 2016. The bay salt levels were high this year
    John
    Hobie Adventure Island 16'

    Slayer Propel 10

    Pelican Trailblazer ( don't hate , pond use only)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Pasadena, MD
    Posts
    2,894

    Default

    A special thank you to John for this post.

    The population decline over the past 12 months has been obvious to those of us who target them.

    I did indeed query the MD DNR about it. I was a little surprised that that they did not acknowledge the decline. They cited only the positive relationship of SAV to pickerel numbers as the key factor in their population. My internet reading (northern states produce more info about them) leads me to believe that increased salinity played a role in their downturn here. And while I hate to think it, my own catch and release tactics during the good years and that of others may have contributed to their decline.

    John showed me how to grasp them years ago and that works fine for most of my catches. Also, he's correct that most are lip hooked. They rarely take a lure deep. I carry jaw spreaders in case they do. In fact, I find that my hook often comes out easily perhaps due to the bony jaw of pickerels. That's also probably why they sometimes spit the lure back at me during the fight!

    One thing I would add to John's list is to use a fish grip when your pickerel is 20 inches or more. (You can tell by the fight before you see them.) When they reach that size, I cannot get my hand around them because of their girth and their hyperactivity when they are out of the water. They're hard for me to hold. Instead, I slide my fish grips into their mouth at the side of my kayak and pop out the hook without removing them completely from the water.

    Unfortunately, these are tactics I have not applied for tidal picks in the past year. However, the good news is that they are still present in many Eastern Shore ponds...another reason I believe salinity as opposed to any other factor is cause of their decline in tidal waters.
    Mark

    Slate Hobie Revolution 13
    Hidden Oak Native Ultimate 12

    Author: The Simple Joys of Kayak Fishing (Tips and Tales From an Old Guy in His Plastic Boat)
    Available on Amazon.com

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Pasadena
    Posts
    998

    Default

    I just read an interesting article from 2007 . About the earths rotation and how it changes the flow from the northern rivers to bring more fresh water into the bay . Along with lack of rain .. we’re getting both right now .. which is why the bay is saltier than ever .. pushing these fish north .



    https://www.chesapeakebay.net/news/b...nderwater_life


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Zach Moore
    Delaware Paddle Sports Fishing Team
    Fishal Custom Baits Pro Staff
    Bait Towel Pro Staff
    2017 Hobie Pro Angler 12
    YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSa...8WkC2WzHhAjVaQ

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