Featured on Fisherman's Blues - Talksport2
Almost all Pike anglers will remember a time when they had to learn how to safely handle a Pike with care. In the not-so-distant past this meant having a more experienced pike angler show you the ropes on how to hold the Pike, unhook it and even deal with a deep-hooked Pike which can often be a tricky task.
In today’s world, a vast amount of information is available on the internet, particularly on YouTube, which provides comprehensive guidance on the necessary steps. Even with all of this information at your fingertips, you will still need to eventually get your hands dirty!
Nothing beats real-world experience and to help anglers bridge the gap between being scared of Pike to confidently holding and unhooking the fish themselves we’re delighted to feature Gert the Pike!
Who Created Gert the Pike?
Alex Fraser, the creator of Gert, has been an avid angler for more than half a century. He caught his very first fish, a Scottish wild Brown Trout, in 1972, and from then on, he was hooked. Within five years, he landed his first pike, and it quickly became a passion.
Alex said… “In February 1980, I had a formative experience, which was both exciting but also traumatic. I was lure fishing after school, casting a deep-running ABU Hi-lo plug into the North-East corner of the gravel pit. It was mild, overcast and windy and I remember having less than an hour of light left in the day to fish. At about 5.30pm, my rod, a heavy Fibalite spinning blank, was pulled over powerfully and I was attached to a big fish. After an epic battle (I was only 15!) and in the dark, I landed the pike in the big net.”
“The lure was nowhere to be seen, but hidden right at the back of the mouth, pointing towards the gullet. I remember inserting by steel gag, which the fish just closed. In a panic, and this fish was way bigger than anything I had caught before, I grabbed the upper jaw, where the teeth looked smallest and prized the mouth open. I felt inside the mouth with my other hand, found the lure and wrenched it out, damaging a gill raker in the process.”
“I had already weighed the fish at 22lb and she eventually swam away after I held her upright in the waves. I staggered home in shock, rang the bell and fell into the house when my mum opened the front door. She screamed, as my hands were covered in blood. I remember panicking that the blood was from the fish, but it wasn’t. It was mine. Mum patched me up but sent me to the doctor the next day for a tetanus boost. My sick note for school went roughly as follows: ‘Dear Mr Bennet, I am sorry Alexander missed school this morning, but he was bitten by a fish’. Mr B wet himself laughing, as he knew I was a mad keen angler and that the story was absolutely true.”
“A few years later, and with more experience, another angler at the pit told me about a damaged ‘22’ he had caught. I didn’t ‘fess up, but I am now, which is, absurdly, quite a relief. So, the point of this big fish story? It’s that I believe the education of novice anglers to be so important for pike welfare (and in life generally) and anglers fingers. If I had been shown how to unhook pike properly, the fish wouldn’t have been damaged and hands wouldn’t have suffered so much. With Gert, we can now demonstrate to new anglers how to unhook fish, using the correct tools for every scenario.”
What is Gert the Pike?
Gert is primarily designed to assist novice and seasoned anglers in gaining confidence in handling Pike. Each Gert measures approximately 110cm in length and weighs around 5kg. This weight is just sufficient to mimic a sizeable fish, but not too much that it becomes arduous to stitch or mail.
Sewing together nearly fifty pieces of fabric is just the beginning of creating a lifelike fish model. A wooden hinged spine and jaw, a wire skull, and a set of sharp teeth in the lower jaw are also required. The mouth features three pairs of gills with red filaments and a stomach that can be retracted. Additionally, gill covers and flaps are included for anglers to learn how to “chin” the fish and safely remove deep-set hooks through the gill cover.
Creating the eyes for each model is a bespoke process, which takes approximately five days, even when utilising batch fabrication and a sewing machine. The buttons are custom-made and require careful attention to detail.
In addition to teaching people how to unhook pike, Gert can also be used as a model for demonstrating safe weighing techniques, proper positioning for trophy shots, and even as a target for teaching lure casting on a lawn.
The name ‘Gert’ derives from the local Bristolian dialect for ‘big’ or ‘very’. We’ve all heard of the phrase ‘gert lush’ or ‘gert tree’ – now we have a ‘gert pike’.
Who’s Using Gert the Pike?
Alex has made about thirty Gerts since inception and continues to do so to this day. These have been shipped all over the UK to tackle shops, angling clubs and even the PAC (Pike Anglers Club of Great Britain). Alex believes more tackle shops and angling clubs should own a Gert and we agree. The people already demonstrating how to safely handle Pike with Gert reckon they’ve managed to change anglers’ perceptions of Pike for the better and given confidence to those who previously wouldn’t go near them.
How Can You Get a Gert?
Each Gert is made to order so if you’d like to get your hands on one for your tackle shop, angling club or simply just to own this brilliant piece of engineering you can contact Alex using his email address here – firstname.lastname@example.org.