A late January ice fishing trip left Jake Rodiek with a difficult decision: should he keep a behemoth 33-pound northern pike and break Nebraska’s 17-year-old record, or should he release it back through the hole in the ice?
“As soon as I held this fish up, I knew it was a record fish,” Rodiek told KIKN-FM.
In order to verify the fish as a Nebraska record, Rodiek would have to bring the pike to a Game and Parks office. The angler admitted that he did not have the heart to risk the monster pike for a shot at the record.
“I just feel better about knowing that I might catch that fish out there again when it’s even bigger. I do the same with trophy fish of any species,” he told Recycled Fish.
Before letting the fish slip out of his fingers, Rodiek was able to document the pike and get its measurements. The current state record for northern pike caught on rod and reel belongs to Steven Morris of Scottsbluff, who in 1997 caught a pike weighing 30 pounds and 1 ounce. Rodiek’s fish measured 45 inches long and 27.5 inches in girth. Rodiek and his fishing partner estimated that the pike weighed roughly 33 pounds.
Rodiek was glad to release the fish, but it was not the first time that the massive pike found itself battling an angler. When Rodiek and his friend pulled the pike through ice, they noticed that there were two hooks in its jaw, one in its back, and broken lines that did not belong to Rodiek.
“I just keep pulling, pulling up and I notice a different line than what I had on my tip-up,” Rodiek said, adding that he had trouble drawing the pike through his eight-inch hole.
“It was a tight fit,” he explained. “I was pretty elated after I got him out of the hole and saw the size of the fish I just caught.”
Rodiek says he harbors no regrets over releasing the record pike and that he is much happier to see it swim away healthy. Of course, he also hopes that perhaps someday he will meet the fish again.
You can watch the video of the catch below: