Netting by Pete Maina
This subject is important for any species, but knowing how
to properly use a net is especially important when it comes
to big predators like muskie and northern pike. Done right,
it’s the most effective and safest (for angler and fish) way
to land and release fish. The ‘safest’ part is true – but
based upon use of a quality, fish-friendly landing device,
like the Frabill “Conservation Series” nets. (The net’s mesh
must have a quality coating and large enough holding area at
the base.) Play any fish with moderate-to-heavy pressure, to
tire it out and prepare it for leading into the net.
Sticking the landing device in the water and hoping the fish
swims in it only works once in a while. Never just stick the
net in the water, especially stretched out and overextended.
Netting should be one consistent movement that starts with
the fish coming to you head-first. The angler should be
leading the fish to the net. The would-be netter should be
watching and waiting, in a position pointing toward the
fish, with the front rim of the net just above water, with
arms (elbows cocked) ready to thrust forward … when the fish
is the length of the net handle away, drive the hoop down
below the fish and forward. When the front of the hoop is
beyond the midsection of the fish, start the swing up and
continue the movement until all of the net hoop is above
water. Pull the hoop to the boat’s gunnel and start the
release process with the fish in water. I can’t stress
enough that netting is one, smooth, consistent movement.
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