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With a bit of forward planning and practice it is remarkably easy to take photographs of yourself and the pike you catch.

As with any aspect of pike handling your first priority must be for the fish itself and, with this in mind, having it out of the water for the absolute minimum amount of time necessary to weigh and photograph should be your aim.

Here is the sequence of events that leads to taking the final shot.

  • With the pike safely in the net unclip the trace or, if possible, remove the hooks.

  • Secure the net so that the fish is comfortable and cannot escape.

  • Place the unhooking mat in a suitable spot.

  • Wet the weigh sling and tare off the scales.

  • Kneel behind the unhooking mat and push an extending bankstick into the ground directly in front of you, extend it until the top is slightly above the top of your head.

  • Attach the camera to the tripod and place a suitable distance from the pre-positioned bankstick. Try and set the camera height so that it is on the same level as the fish for best results.

  • Zoom in/out until the top of the bankstick is at the top of the frame whilst the back edge of the unhooking mat just shows at the bottom. Remember that you can always crop the photograph at a later date.

  • Remove the bankstick and pose as if holding the fish (don't worry, there's no-one there to see you!).

  • Using your preferred method, more of which later, take one shot and check that it is OK. A camera with a flip round screen allows you to judge the composition and pose without having to leave the unhooking mat. Adjust the camera as necessary and repeat until you get the desired result.

With the above preparation complete it is now just a case of lifting the net from the water; unhooking and weighing the pike and placing it, still in the weigh sling, onto the unhooking mat ready for the camera.

Hold the pike in a suitable pose and take the required number of shots then place the pike back in the weigh sling to transport it back to the waters edge and release it. By following the steps outlined above you should have a perfectly good photographic record of both you and your catch and, more importantly, the fish was out of the water for the absolute minimum amount of time.

It is worthwhile having a dry run in the garden when you first try this as it will give you a good idea of camera position etc. and save a lot of messing around on the bank.

So, having described the way in which to set up and take the photograph let's take a look at the various remote systems available to us.

Self Timer
Virtually all cameras come with a self timer facility built in, this can be set to take multiple shots on some but most only allow for one shot before the shutter release button needs to be pressed again. The biggest drawback to this method is that it entails laying the pike down and leaving it unattended, with the potential for damage that entails, whilst the shutter release is pressed. Not the preferred system and one to use only in an emergency. Other self timers allow the taking of multiple shots, with a delay between each, which is a slightly better system. It is worth noting that most self timers cause the camera to focus as the shutter release is pressed - so they can focus on a point behind where the fish will be held and result in out of focus shots. Cameras that can be focused manually get round this problem.

Infra Red Remote
Some cameras come with this as standard and they can be very useful as they very often allow you to zoom at the same time, coupled with the fold out screens on some of the Canon range of cameras self take becomes very easy. They do, however, have one very obvious drawback and that is the fact they are electronic and do not take kindly to getting wet. Not only can this be expensive but it also causes problems as, invariably, you only become aware of the damage when you come to use the release.

Bulb Release
Simply a bulb attached to a plunger via a length of tube, as the bulb is compressed the plunger acts on the shutter release and the picture is taken. In use it couldn't be simpler, attach the business end to the camera and place the bulb beneath a knee (or a heel), all it requires is a slight increase in pressure and the camera fires.

Good though the system is it does have a couple of pitfalls. The bulb tends to sink into soft ground and thus become useless although this is easily remedied by placing a piece of plastic, sandwich box lid or the like, on the ground first. The second, and perhaps biggest, drawback is that camera manufacturers rarely equip shutter release buttons with the thread needed to attach the plunger assembly, this requires the additional purchase of some sort of bracket although these are freely available. A word of warning, don't waste your money on the velcroed rubber band type, buy a proper bracket as shown in the accompanying photographs as they are much better.

Although a tripod is referred to throughout, strictly speaking, it isn't a necessity as a bankstick fitted with a camera adaptor fits the bill perfectly and is one less thing to carry.

Finally, the use of a digital camera has been assumed as these are far and away the most commonly used now. The same principles apply to the use of a film camera but you don't get the opportunity to check the framing by using the playback facility.

Thanks to Graham Slater for providing the bulk of the text and all photographs for this page.