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Landing large fish ice fishing creates some unique problems. You must tire the fish completely. Then lead the fishes head thru a hole drilled into the ice. When light line is used it is not possible to lift the fish without breaking the fishing line. Gaffs are used to lift the fish thru the hole onto the ice. There are many commercially available gaffs on the market. Many fishermen make their own gaffs for ice fishing. The gaff at the top of this page was made with a ¼ inch brass rod with a 3/16 wooden dowel rod inserted in the brass tube for added strength. The rod has a 4/0 single hook inserted in one end and the brass tube is then crimped over the eye of the hook. The barb on the hook is filed or flattened down. The other end is a 1 inch dowel rod with a ¼ inch hole drilled. The brass rod is inserted into the hole and epoxied. Duct tape is wrapped around the handle to provide a good grip. Other fishermen make gaffs for ice fishing with dowel rods and attach a 4/0 single hook one end. We do not like using treble hooks for gaffs, because they can get the fishing line wrapped around the hook too easily resulting in lost fish.

Step 1: The fishes head is brought to the ice hole. The bottom of the fishes jaw is penetrated with the gaff.

Step 2: The fish is lifted in one motion onto the ice. Notice in the picture that the fisherman has a cork from a wine bottle rubber banded to the shaft of the gaff. The cork is placed over the exposed hook of the gaff when not in use.

Step 3: Do not stick your fingers into the mouth of a northern pike when trying to land the fish.

Great Lakes Salmon, Steelhead, Trout and other species Fishing tips, tactics, articles, techniques, and information