Anglers targeting pike are being urged to take extra care of them during warmer weather, as the coarse fishing season gets under way.
The Pike Anglers Club says anglers should make sure they use strong enough tackle to land fish without tiring them and ensure they are unhooked and returned to the water quickly.
The 2,500-strong club, which was founded nearly 30 years ago to protect our number one predator, says pike are vulnerable to rough handling.
Its secretary Mark Barrett said: “We're calling on all anglers to protect pike and recognise the important role they play in balanced fisheries.
“Our club was founded in the Fens 30 years ago by people who recognised this. We've come a long way since then, but it's vital that all anglers protect pike because they play a vital part in the ecology of our waters.”
June 16 marks the start of the fishing season on our rivers and drains. But it also coincides with warmer weather, when pike can easily be damaged if anglers don't take extra care.
Guidelines published in the PAC's magazine Pikelines remind anglers to play pike quickly and not keep them out of the water any longer than is necessary to unhook them.
"Unhook them in the water if you can and retain them briefly in the landing net, in the water, before weighing and photographing them," the article says.
"Time out of the water is the real killer of pike in the summer time, take as few photographs as possible and return them straight away."
The PAC is also urging anglers to go properly equipped and be prepared to cut hooks to speed up unhhoking, and ensure fish are held upright and fully-recovered before allowing them to swim off.
“We'd ask anyone thing of fishing for predators to visit out website,” said Mark Barrett. “We want them to enjoy their fishing, but think of the fish and their welfare too.”
Anglers seeking more information about pike fishing can go to www.pacgb.com