Netting a fish takes practice and experience. Not everyone knows how to properly net a fish and not all fish should be netted.
We have all had our Netting Nightmares. On one trip in Canada, I hooked a HUGE, 50 plus inch pike, on a small jig, 4 lb. test, and ultra-light rod. Netting was needed since we were in the boat. The great drag on my reel helped be bring the monster pike along side the boat. My partner scooped the fish and lifted it high out of the water. I remember yelling for him to swing it over the boat. Before I could say it twice, the net handle bent and broke. The huge pike swam off.
My favorite boat net is a long-handled aluminum boat net that I found in the bottom of the Bighorn River. The cloth fabric was rotten, so I replaced it with a rectangular rubber net. The net is maybe 5-foot-long in length and has been my guide net for decades. Thousands of fish have been netted and released over the years.
NET SPECS! The best nets are now made in a rubber web fabric. Nylon webbing is stiff and works well in larger web sizes. If you are using a net for Catch and Release, this is a great idea. The web pattern can vary in size, width, and length. An oval shape is ideal for most scenarios. If you have a long handle, be sure that it is sturdy. Net fabric will wipe or scrape the protective slime off a fish. Be sure to wet the net before touching the fish. Keep the fish in the net and in the water if you plan a release. If the fish is to go into the cooler, smack it in the head with a Billy club first. Keep it in the net while you handle the fish. Close web patterns act as towels and wipe the protective slime off fish. Support the fish in the wet net for pictures. Keep the fish and net near or in the water.
NET TECHNIQUE Once the fish is ready to be netted, wet the net. Do not show or move the net so that the fish can see or feel it. If you are inn water with a current, place the net downstream. Hold it in place and let the angler lead the fish into the net. It is best to net the fish headfirst, but fish will do what fish do. If you shoot the net at the fish, you will scare them away. Breakoffs are common.
The more experience you have with netting, the better you will get. If you screw up some fish, figure out what you did wrong and learn from it. As a Guide, you need to net dozens of fish daily. Even still, a fish will do something unexpected. If you plan to keep the fish, beaching is the best bet. I have seen Halibut over 250 lbs. fought toward the beach and dragged ashore in Alaska. The harpoon had been broken and no net was big enough.
Get the NET!!!
For more Montana Grant, net him at www.montanagrantfishing.com.