I’m not sure where it began or what changed my mind on keeping everything I would catch but it happened at some point when I became a hardcore pike fisherman, I must have gained respect for them and the fisheries. I am mainly a catch and release fisherman and I mainly for the sport of it. We keep fish once or maybe twice a year and that’s only if we’re having family or friends over for a fish fry and the fish we do keep are smaller fish that are 8lbs and under. As a rule of thumb I never keep pike over 40 inches because they are the breeders. Now that being said, I’ve always wanted one for my wall but there were a few reasons that I didn’t yet, one, I would never keep a 40 some inch fish and two, I just couldn’t justify spending around $1500 on a mount when I have 3 kids that I need to support. The biggest pike I’ve ever caught was 48.5 inches long and I released it. It was during the same summer, I happened to be out spending most of my evenings on the lake that I hooked into a fish that I’ll never forget. It was just me and my gear in a 12 foot, old leaky, Sears aluminum boat with a 9.5 Johnson on it, I used this boat all the time, calm or windy, it didn’t matter, I just knew this boat and the speed and everything to a T. I was trolling the original 12” Savage Gear 3D line thru pike, a big lure with 2 big treble hooks that dislodge from the lure when the fish strikes leaving the fish hooked on the treble but the lure safely aside and it also gives the fish nothing to use as leverage to throw the hooks and get away. I had my rod slam down and I set the hook! This one was good, I could tell by the dead weight, I reeled it towards the boat and it took off hard as soon as it caught glimpse of my boat. Now normally big pike run 2 or 3 times then come in pretty calm and limp, that wasn’t the case for this fish, it would not give up, it ran about 9 times before it came in close enough that I could grab my big net and do a one handed net job because I had no net man. I pulled the big pike into the boat and tried to grab ahold of it by the gill plate but this fish wasn’t ready to give up, as soon as I grabbed it it tossed back and forth and would not calm down. I was quick to take some measurements and this fish came in at 47.5 inches, I had my GoPro camera and ended up taking a release video as I sent the fish back, it swam away fast and hard. So I continued fishing and caught another fish and took some pictures but as I started to troll again I noticed a white object on the water not far away, I drove over to it and I could tell right away it was a fish belly up, as I got closer to the fish I was almost certain it was the same fish I caught 20 minutes prior, I rolled it on its side and sure enough it was the 47.5 incher I had released. I tried everything I could to revive it, burping it, trolling along then letting it go and even wiggling it’s tail but nothing seemed to work, it would swim about 5 feet then go belly up again. So I had a few options, I leave it for the birds, I eat it or I freeze it and hope to mount it someday. You guessed it, I always wanted to have one on the wall and a 47.5 was perfect so I froze it and had it frozen for over 2 years in a deep freeze by itself because it was so big. One day a friend of mine asked if I still had the fish, I said yes because I couldn’t afford to mount it, he made me an offer to do the fish in return for some of my old fishing gear, it was an offer I couldn’t refuse, I gave the fish to him and he mounted it. The day came and I was able to go to Rips Taxidermy in Tisdale and pick up my wall mounter that I had always dreamed of, it was perfect! I have it hung in one of my living rooms and I look at it everyday and am so appreciative of it, it couldn’t be a better way to have kept a trophy fish in my eyes.