I grew up fishing in Minnesota, and when I wasn't after walleyes I was fishing for northern pike. Built for ambush speed and notoriously ill-tempered, "northerns," as we called them, always could be counted on for a good fight. The problem was that the fight often continued once they were in the net, and the slimy coating on northerns made them hard to get ahold of for hook removal.
My 6-year-old son, Alex, and 9-year-old daughter, Rebekah, spent most of their childhood in South Dakota's Black Hills where our fishing was primarily for trout. I always wanted them to experience the thrill of catching a northern pike, and early May provided a chance to do so. But I also wanted to make the experience as pleasant for them as possible, and that's when I did a bit of research, spent about $13 at Cabela's and got a Fish Grip Fish Holder.
For years, anglers have been using a variety of pliers and grippers to hang onto fish in such a way that they can avoid sharp teeth and still keep a good grip. One problem with early versions of these tools is that, being metal and often being put to work over the side of a boat, they sank. Today there are many models of pliers with floating handles, but some of them cost a pretty penny. I'd heard good reports about the Fish Grip Fish Holder, and the fact that it's entirely made of floating plastic certainly didn't hurt my purchasing motivation.
Another thing I liked about the Fish Grip Fish Holder design is that it basically functioned like Vise-Grip® locking pliers. You get the fish close, open the Fish Grip Fish Holder jaws, put one jaw end just inside the fish's mouth, and then squeeze firmly until the holder locks shut like a Vise-Grip. Rounded plastic edges on the ends of the locking holder jaws are designed to prevent damage to the skin around the fish's tongue or upper mouth. As a result, a firm grip is maintained on the fish while the lure is extracted, a fisherman most likely never needs to even touch the fish, and once the fish is back in the water or livewell, the Fish Grip Fish Holder releases with a flick of the wrist.
On my northern pike fishing expedition with the kids, we brought in four northerns, and the Fish Grip Fish Holder performed flawlessly. If there is a downside to the tool, it's that I think there should be a smaller version available for younger hands and fish with smaller mouths, but as you can see from the picture of my son, even a child can use the Fish Grip Fish Holder for a quick pose before releasing a fish.
At the end of our day of fishing I was convinced that my purchase of the Fish Grip Fish Holder was money well spent, and I can't wait to try it on other species as the fishing season progresses.
Click here to purchase The Fish Grip Fish Holder