After a long fight with a prized king salmon, the last thing you want is the heartbreak of losing the fish at the boat. The proper technique for netting fish involves teamwork between angler and netter. Let’s look at the basics for getting the job done.
Fish don’t volunteer for the net – they must be led. The fish has to be tired enough for a controlled turn of the head and a steady pull, near the surface, into the opening of the net. Trying to net a salmon that isn’t tired enough is a potential ticket to misery.
That steady pull into the net begins with recognizing the fish is tired enough to lie on its side. You then bring it to the surface with the rod tip and fish out from the boat. This is done with a good deal of force – remember – it’s not going to volunteer. The ideal distance between the netter and the angler is roughly a rod length. This allows the fish to be led to the net with a long sweep along the surface and not a pull up.
Yanking a salmon’s head out of the water will make it thrash and it puts a lot of strain on the hook up. People lose a lot of fish by pulling straight up instead of sweeping the fish along the surface. Ideally, the tip of your rod passes just over the head of the person with the net.
Both netter and angler should take advantage of the fact that fish have no reverse – they only swim forward. If you startle a fish by putting a net right in its face, said fish will swim directly into the net. Conversely, if the net is put behind the fish, it will always swim away from the net. You cannot net a fish by coming at the tail. So, the job of the angler is to lead the fish forcefully, with the head near the surface to the opening in the net. The netter needs to move to the fish – push the net right in front of the fish and the rest is history.
A few mistakes to avoid:
- 1. Don’t walk backward in an attempt to get your fish to the net. You want to stay on the side of the boat that your fish and your netter are on.
- 2. Don’t give up the fight until the fish is in the net. Fish do some crazy last minute turns and maneuvers; you have to keep an eye on your fish and be prepared to react if it doesn’t end up in the net.
- 3. Don’t reach for the sky. Pulling straight up on your fish and getting its head clear of the water is a no-no. This becomes a big problem if the netter and the angler stand right next to each other creating a dynamic in which the only way to bring the fish to the boat is to go higher and higher with the rod tip.
- 4. Net no fish before its time. Rushing a green fish to the net because you want so badly to catch it is the number one reason people lose fish at the boat.