Over the years I have lost some good fish beside the boat due to many reasons, from rushing to get the fish in the net to the fish still being green (still lots of energy). The main case I see is the nets man swooping at the fish, spooking the fish to jump and the net man getting the lure and fish stuck on the out side of the net. This is not a situation you want to find your self in with a nice/ PB fish in the water, nothing is more nerve racking than that. I have heard a few lads talk about a saying “Behind every great angler is a great net man” which is pretty much on the money in my book. Hooking big fish is only half of the equation, landing big fish however takes team work.
Any body who has attempted to put the hurt on a big fish in heavy current knows that there’s just as much skill required of the net man as there is of the guy doing the fighting. Unfortunately as an angler, there’s not much you can do to make the nets mans job any easier. As i have a young family, and they show interest in being on the boat with me wanting to wet a lines, I have had to think of how I have to approach them with net training and make them understand the importance of both roles.
So what i believe are the main sections of netting a fish are:
Communicate while fighting your fish, let the person going to be netting your fish know exactly what you’re going to do ahead of time. Talk to each other, the person with the fish call the shots like “I’m switching sides,” or “I’m going to get his head up..” Communication is key and many big fish are lost when the angler and the net man aren’t on the same page.
Big, Slow Lift you achieve this by not rushing and reel down until you have enough control to make a big slow lift of the rod. The goal of this is to lift their head up towards the surface of the water and then directly beside you where the net man will be waiting to take his shot. By lifting the head up the fish can only swim one direction and up isn’t a direction that gives them much to work with, which in turn gives the net man time to do his thing.
Steer the fish towards the net, best way to do this is positioning of the nets man on the boat ideally down current side, this is the point when the net man will most likely try to make a successful net. Therefore as the fish’s head begins to point down current, use your rod to keep pressure on the fish and ‘steer’ his head towards the net. A good net man will always net the head of the fish whenever possible, so give them a good look at it.
I recon with these basics should improve your netting skills and help out next time you have a PB fish on the other end.