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Thread: How to Net a Hooked Fish

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    Member Tomcat's Avatar
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    Lightbulb How to Net a Hooked Fish

    Through trial and error, I'm convinced that the best and easiest way to net fish on a river is as follows:

    * Position the net just downstream of the angler and fish;

    * Dip the net roughly halfway into the water;

    * The angler guides the fish directly above the net, then lowers the rod to create slack in the line;

    * In turn, with the help of the current, the fish swims right into the basket.

    In slack water, avoid trying to net a fish tail first. Most fish will simply swim out of the net. Go for a head shot instead.

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    Sounds good except for the putting slack in the line part....I can't even count how many times I was making the scoop and the angler dropped his rod and the fish then had room to escape....definitely keep tension on the fish until the lip of the net breaks the water...

    Definitely, guide the fish to the net...stabbing at it is futile.

  3. #3

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    I like to do exactly as described. I would add that once the fish is in the net, raise the handle vertical. Grasp the metal by the top of the hoop to pull the fish in. This works very effectively in a boat as well as on the shore for locking the opening of the net.

    AK Chappy

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    I agree with Catch It, no slack when I'm netting fish. I like to get them splashing on the surface and just scoop them in, basically using the same method Tomcat describes.

    Now my question is...how do you land a 20"+ fish, fishing alone, with a 9ft rod and a 12+ft leader?!?!? Don't tell me grow longer arms either!

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    Quote Originally Posted by FishnPhil View Post
    Now my question is...how do you land a 20"+ fish, fishing alone, with a 9ft rod and a 12+ft leader?!?!? Don't tell me grow longer arms either!
    You must catch a longer fish

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    Pretty much agree with Tomcat other then the slack line bit, too. Never try to scoop suddenly...always have at least part of the net already in the water. Work the fish so it naturally either swims into the net or drifts into it, depending on current. A fish can swim a hell of a lot faster then you can scoop a big salmon net through the water, so the sudden pounce technique just doesn't work all that well. I've lost a lot of fish to strangers trying to be nice and net my fish, but who really had no idea how to do it.

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    Here's an excerpt from an article I had published in Salmon Trout Steelheader, Aug 2007

    "Fighting BIG Fish"

    The net shot

    Perhaps nothing can cause more trepidation than the intense “must succeed” pressure of netting a huge trophy fish. It really takes two people to make it come together smoothly. Until you’ve done it a few times, it’s hard not to be anxious, but rest assured that it becomes pretty easy if you heed these four simple principles. 1) Wait for the fish to swim on its side. 2) Aim for the head first. 3) Drop the rod tip. 4) Close the bag.

    Don’t rush the net shot. Have confidence that everything you’ve done so far has helped to insure the hook will hold fast and your trophy is only moments from capture. Chances for success are greatest once the fish is tired enough that it starts to swim on its side. You should then slowly and deliberately lead the fish toward the netter with side pressure. Add just enough lift to keep the fish in the surface film, but not so much that its head is lifted out of the water which only encourages violent headshakes. Avoid lifting the fish to the surface right against the boat. If the fish surfaces right next to the hull, lead it away with outstretched arms and encourage it to surface a rod length or two AWAY from the boat.

    The netter should keep the bag out of the water. Your trophy wants nothing to do with a big bad net sitting in the water in plain view. The fish will do everything in its power to dodge that waiting net. Use the element of surprise to your advantage!

    Hold the net high out of the angler’s way and secure the mesh with one fingertip to keep it from hanging in the breeze to tangle rod tips, sinkers, boat cleats or rod holders. As the fish is being led toward the netter, the hoop should come swooping down in a swift deliberate motion aiming for the head first! Aiming for mid body, or worse yet, the tail, is simply planning for disaster. As I said earlier, wherever the head goes, the rest of the body follows. If the head doesn’t enter the bag first, neither will the rest of the fish. At the moment the hoop touches the water, the netter releases the bag by simply pointing his fingertip. If timed correctly, the bag opens up in the water like a parachute.

    As the fish’s head and pectoral fins clear the edge of the hoop, the angler should immediately drop his rod tip, taking all tension off the line. A terse reminder from the netter to “drop him” never hurts at that moment. The fish will instinctively swim to the bottom of the open bag.

    The netter should then immediately close the bag by drawing straight back along the axis of the net handle, retracting the hoop back to the gunnel. DO NOT SCOOP AND LIFT as if you were trying to shovel a load of dirt. Doing so will only give the fish an opportunity to jump out of the open bag. And even if it doesn’t jump out, its sheer weight will almost certainly bend the hoop at the yoke, possibly even cracking it.
    "Let every angler who loves to fish think what it would mean to him to find the fish were gone." Zane Grey
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    Well said fishen, couldnt have said it better....... HEAD FIRST, NEVER TAIL

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    snowcrab is right. always head first. fish will swim into net!!!! you have to tirer the fish out to net it. ( first)

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    Quote Originally Posted by FishnPhil View Post
    I agree with Catch It, no slack when I'm netting fish. I like to get them splashing on the surface and just scoop them in, basically using the same method Tomcat describes.

    Now my question is...how do you land a 20"+ fish, fishing alone, with a 9ft rod and a 12+ft leader?!?!? Don't tell me grow longer arms either!
    That's always a good one Phil. If you have a beach with shallow water flowing next to it, its easy- get the fish to the shallow water, it'll lay on its side, tail it and remove hook. If you're netting the fish in midriver, with fast current, thats the challenge! I try to get the fish downstream of me, then swing my rod upstream so the leader gets close to my body. The fish will be facing upstream, so I just bring the net downstream with the current into the fish.

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    That was a good article Doc. Always head first without a doubt. The only thing that I would add is someting that would seem to go without saying expect for I see this mistake made quite often.
    Be aware of and avoid the lure - fishing line when netting a fish. Always net head first but dip net below the head of the fish and come upwards with it but once the head is in the net then level the net back out. You want to Come upwards with the net in the beginning just enough to avoid line - lure and once the fish has begun to enter the net either let the fish swim into it or take the net down the side of the fish. The trick is to come upwards just enough to avoid the lure - line in the beginning but not to come upwards with the net during the whole netting process. Make sense? If not then just read what the Doc posted and follow his instructions and you will be ahead of the game more times than not.

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    Good stuff doc....i agree....100%

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    Good article there Doc! My stance is simple I would rather beach my fish alone than have a tail netter go after it!

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    I will have to say that the only plus of having to fish a single point hook for Kenai kings is that NO kings are lost on the net shot due to a hook hanging the mesh as the fish is abruptly stopped from reaching the bottom of the bag.

    Nowadays it's not even a consideration because the only hook point you need to worry about is already buried in the fish! In the days of multiple hooks, an exposed hook point(s) would sometimes snag the mesh during the net shot, preventing the fish from completely entering the bag.

    because you can't believe what just happened....

    because no matter what you do, you are totally helpless...

    when the fish gets enough leverage against the snagged mesh to pull the hook out.... FISH OFF!


    I've personally done it twice with KwikFish before the single hook rule went into place... once for each of my brothers. One was just a ho hum 30-35 pound hen for my oldest brother Alex at Honeymoon, but the other was a HUGE 65-70 caliber buck for my brother Noel at Chicago/Upper Beav. Would've liked to have gotten a pic of that beast (his second biggest ever) but it was not meant to be. Good thing for me that was a C&R year (1998) otherwise I might still be hearing about it more than 20 years later!
    "Let every angler who loves to fish think what it would mean to him to find the fish were gone." Zane Grey
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    Quote Originally Posted by fishNphysician View Post
    I will have to say that the only plus of having to fish a single point hook for Kenai kings is that NO kings are lost on the net shot due to a hook hanging the mesh as the fish is abruptly stopped from reaching the bottom of the bag.

    Nowadays it's not even a consideration because the only hook point you need to worry about is already buried in the fish! In the days of multiple hooks, an exposed hook point(s) would sometimes snag the mesh during the net shot, preventing the fish from completely entering the bag.

    because you can't believe what just happened....

    because no matter what you do, you are totally helpless...

    when the fish gets enough leverage against the snagged mesh to pull the hook out.... FISH OFF!


    I've personally done it twice with KwikFish before the single hook rule went into place... once for each of my brothers. One was just a ho hum 30-35 pound hen for my oldest brother Alex at Honeymoon, but the other was a HUGE 65-70 caliber buck for my brother Noel at Chicago/Upper Beav. Would've liked to have gotten a pic of that beast (his second biggest ever) but it was not meant to be. Good thing for me that was a C&R year (1998) otherwise I might still be hearing about it more than 20 years later!

    Been there done that.
    Not on a king but on a 55# plus lake trout on a T60 flatfish.
    Wasn't all my fault though as the client dropped his rod tip before the fish was completely in the bag. The 4' chop probably had a hand in it too. LOL

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    True story here...I was fishing with a well known (drift) guide on the Kasilof a few years ago, hooked and brought to boatside a good fish. We were anchored; he stays above me in the boat and expects me to put the fish in the net, upstream, from below him! Well, the rod blows...got the fish anyway, but he berates me for breaking his rod! Goes on to tell me how some old guy broke one a couple days ago by stepping on it and he can't afford to keep losing rods, yadda yadda...I did attempt to ask him how he expected me to put the fish in the net from downstream, but he wasn't listening to any of it. We were all ticked the rest of the trip, he got NO tip, and everyone I've spoken with since then has been steered away from him when they ask about my experiences. Goes to show how long customer relations will affect a business...

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    Quote Originally Posted by fishNphysician View Post
    I will have to say that the only plus of having to fish a single point hook for Kenai kings is that NO kings are lost on the net shot due to a hook hanging the mesh as the fish is abruptly stopped from reaching the bottom of the bag.

    Nowadays it's not even a consideration because the only hook point you need to worry about is already buried in the fish! In the days of multiple hooks, an exposed hook point(s) would sometimes snag the mesh during the net shot, preventing the fish from completely entering the bag.

    because you can't believe what just happened....

    because no matter what you do, you are totally helpless...

    when the fish gets enough leverage against the snagged mesh to pull the hook out.... FISH OFF!


    I've personally done it twice with KwikFish before the single hook rule went into place... once for each of my brothers. One was just a ho hum 30-35 pound hen for my oldest brother Alex at Honeymoon, but the other was a HUGE 65-70 caliber buck for my brother Noel at Chicago/Upper Beav. Would've liked to have gotten a pic of that beast (his second biggest ever) but it was not meant to be. Good thing for me that was a C&R year (1998) otherwise I might still be hearing about it more than 20 years later!
    I've been fishing the Nushagak hard for the past several years (it's easy when you live there) and think that single hook is the only way to go for all rivers. Great point doc on avoiding the hooks, I started with kwikfish with both trebels....it was ridiculous. Plenty of fish messed up by a bad netjob and hooks all rolled up in the mesh. Plus, when you are catching at least 10 fish per rod each day (up to 20 plus when they are rollin) just picking all those hooks out of their face (they always seem to imbed the other someplace in their face/gills?) and then the time spent picking the hooks out of the net could cost you more fish than guys on most other rivers get per day. SO, the last two years I went to singles either bead chained to the front eye or a single on a swivel off the buttend and can say that it has not lowered my rate of landed fish at all, and it opens up at least another hour each day that you are not bent over the side of the boat with a pliers, cutting hooks out of a tangled net, not to mention it's easier on the fish. I wish the kwikfish boys would save the world the bags of unused treble hooks like I have sitting around my house and just put singles on them all.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Catch It View Post
    I wish the kwikfish boys would save the world the bags of unused treble hooks like I have sitting around my house and just put singles on them all.
    Amen.

    I got boxes stuffed with hundreds of those worthless trebles in that thing I call a fishing room.

    I'd like to see 'em sell discounted plugs with no hooks at all. They'd save material costs on hooks and labor costs mounting them by hand on the split rings. That should be worth at least $2 off per plug.
    "Let every angler who loves to fish think what it would mean to him to find the fish were gone." Zane Grey
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    Default In or Out?

    The netter should keep the bag out of the water. Your trophy wants nothing to do with a big bad net sitting in the water in plain view. The fish will do everything in its power to dodge that waiting net.

    or

    Dip the net roughly halfway into the water;

    Seems there is a difference of opinion. I personally agree with doc - net fully out of the water until its time to get 'em. Then give it all you got.

    I also like to warn my guests that they should not lift the rod directly towards their body during netting - who here has not seen the hook pop off and gear come screaming into the boat? Sunglasses are mandatory on my boat - even when it's raining. I reckon FNP has all the clients he needs.

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    Or you could do like my old fishing partner and hit the fish with the tip of the net trying to knock it off the line :-)
    He did this twice, once with a six plus pound brown trout in PA. Not only did he hit the fish with the end the net he went up the line and into my rod. On the third attempt though he did land the fish for me.

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