Predator anglers have hit back at claims their tackle is "barbarous" after a newspaper columnist said being caught causes pike to "bleed to death".
It came after veteran Norfolk angling columnist Roy Webster claimed a 36lbs Broads pike had died as a result of mis-handling.
"And once again the barbarous snap tackle that can often carry three separate sets of barbed treble hooks have been identified as one of the main reasons why pike are wounded in the gills and bleed to death as a result," he wrote in the Eastern Daily Press.
Tonight Phil Wakeford, president of the 2800-strong Pike Anglers Club, dismissed the allegations as "ill-informed nonsense".
He said: "Pike anglers have been using the so called snap tackle - which is a rig made up up from two hooks, not three - since its invention more than 100 years ago.
"While there are still plenty of pike around today, standards of fish-handling and anglers' care for their welfare has come a long way, particularly over the last 30 years.
"We'd be interested to hear exactly who suggests pike are routinely wounded in the gills and bleed to death, as the reality both in Norfolk and elsewhere is very different .
"We note this mystery expert did not go on record, and was not quoted in the piece. And no-one in the pike angling community was given the opportunity to comment on these ludicrous claims. As ever, we ask where's the proof..?"
The PAC, which has campaigned to preserve the pike and pike fishing for the last three decades, recommends anglers use tackle suitable for landing the species as quickly as possible, effective bite indication and prompt striking.
"Pike, like all fish, feed with their mouths and this is where anglers' hooks generally end up if they are fishing with their quarry's welfare in mind," Phil Wakeford said.
"We do ask anglers to think carefully before pike fishing during the summer. While pike are vulnerable to poor handling at any time of the year, we know problems can occur when they are played on inadequate tackle when oxygen levels are low."
He added anglers seeking more information on rigs, pike care and summer fishing could consult the PAC website - click here.
The website includes specific information about fishing for pike during the warmer months - click here.