Net'em When You Can

By Bob Jensen - June 1, 2005
As fishing seasons get underway across the Midwest, it is a good idea to review proper netting techniques. Sometimes it can be tough to get the fish to bite: We sure don't want to goof up when the catching is slow. However, there really is no good time to make a mistake with the landing net. Following are some ideas for proper netting procedures.

We should be thinking about netting the fish even before they bite. Before the first cast, or as soon as the lines are set on a trolling or drifting run, make sure that the net is ready for action. You don't want it buried under tackle boxes, coolers, or jackets. Make sure that you can swing the net into action quickly and easily.

Some nets come with telescoping handles. These handles make storing the net easier, as less room is required for the net.

However, during the excitement of landing the fish, it can be kind of tricky to slide the handle into a netting position. With most nets you need to line a pop-pin up with a little hole, and that can be a chore when you're partner is urging you to hurry up and get ready. The new Pow'R Lok yoke from Frabill makes sliding the handle into position quickly, as it always lines the pin up with the hole. You don't even need to look as you slide the handle into position.

Don't try to net the fish too quickly. You don't need to fight the fish to exhaustion, but you certainly don't want to try to net it before it's ready. Wait until you can lead the fish into the net, and always take the fish head-first. Don't try to come up from behind, because the fish can swim faster than you can move the net.

Many anglers prefer to hold the net toward the end of the handle with their right hand, then grab the bag of the net and hold it and the handle near the yoke with their left hand. Drop the bag of the net as the fish goes in.

If you're going to release the fish, try to unhook it while it's in the net at the side of the boat. When it's unhooked, just slide the net away. Whatever you do, don't flop the fish out of the net onto the floor of the boat. That beats the fish up and can be hard on equipment that the fish flops on.

Netting is better for the fish, which is important if you plan on releasing it, because the fish can be netted sooner than it can be landed by hand. The fish isn't as worn out, so it's chances for survival are much better.

It used to be that nets could damage fish, but the current crop of nets produced by the folks at Frabill make netting so much easier on both the fish and the angler. Make sure your netting technique is proper. If you do, you and the fish will enjoy the catching part of fishing even more.

Author Bob Jensen
Bob Jensen
Bob Jensen is the host of the Fishing the Midwest television series, a series of television fishing shows that highlight fishing locations and techniques throughout the Midwest. He also writes a syndicated fishing column and does fishing seminars throughout the Midwest. He is a former fishing guide and tournament angler. Visit Bob's web site at www.fishingthemidwest.com.