While fighting a fish is a very exciting activity, all good things must come to an end. When we hear “get da net” on a boat that is instant verification that your buddy has a good one. Well, of course, unless your buddy is “that guy”. When we talk about fighting large varieties of inshore fish a lot of them are lost at the boat. In today’s blog I will share my thoughts on a few reasons that this happens and some ways to try to ensure that it happens less. Keep in mind that when you are fighting a 30-40 lb. bull red on light tackle you are not always going to make that fish go where you want it to go.
Why are so many fish lost in those last few critical seconds? In my experience, it’s typically because some one gets impatient. The number one rule in terminating the fight with one of these larger fish is don’t rush things. I get it dad, that is the biggest fish your son or daughter or wife has ever had on the line. It’s coming in this boat! Right? Wrong. If you allow yourself to get anxious and force that net to the fish there are tons of things that can go wrong. The hook that is your only connection to the fish gets snagged on the net, the fish surges cutting the line on the side of the boat or trolling motor, or worst of all you hit the fish and literally knock it off the line. If you do this it’s likely going to be a long quiet boat ride home. Keep in mind you have invested some money in what is likely pretty good gear. Let it do the work! Wear the fish down and set yourself up to let the fish swim into the net.
Always try to net the fish head first. Netting a fish from the tail can be done but it should be an absolute last resort. The reason for netting head first is pretty self explanatory. If you try to net a fish from the tail it is facing away from the net and is set up perfectly to escape. As soon as the fish feels the net from behind it simply swipes its tail and is gone.
Okay, so we have a big fish on the line. Now what? First thing is make sure the drag isn’t too tight. Reel manufacturers spend a lot of money improving their drag systems for a reason. They work! Now what? You always want to try to fight the fish from the bow of the boat because there is a much smaller chance that the line will tangle on something. There really isn’t anything to hang up on up front once you have pulled the trolling motor up. You did pull the trolling motor up right? Keep in mind this is a big fish with a mind of its own so you are not going to lead it around like a puppy on a leash using 12 lbs. of drag pressure. You may have to make a few trips around the boat. I know, I know, I said to fight the fish from the bow not the stern. Once the fish has cleared the back of the boat make your way back to the bow.
Whew, all that was tough! Congratulations, you did it! You got little Johnny’s big fish in the net. Now all you have to do is lift that fish in the boat and it’s picture time. This is where another costly mistake happens regularly. People’s natural instinct is to lift the net horizontally placing a lot of strain on the point that the net attaches to the handle. Snap! That really nice net you bought just became a two-piece net. Little Johnny’s fish is is back in the water. The way that you prevent this from happening is to point the handle to the sky (vertically) and lift straight up. This greatly lessens the stress on the net and little Johnny will be all smiles!
Frabill nets have always been my choice of nets. They produce high quality gear at a reasonable price. This past year at ICAST they released a new model that I have headed my way right now. The trophy haul series net has some awesome features that you haven’t seen before in a net. Y’all go to Frabill.com and check them out. I hope that this little blog will help you be more successful this season. Good luck out there, maybe we will run into each other on the water.