By angelamontana

Posted: September 17, 2023

Fishermen hate it when the BIG ONE gets away. Losing a fish can ruin your day. Kids cry, guides yell, and angler’s curse. I have seen angry anglers throw gear, stomp, scream, and cry after losing the Big One. 

The most common reasons for losing a fish begin with a poorly tied knot. After a lifetime of guiding, I am always amazed at the crappy knots’ fishermen attempt to tie. Any knot will weaken the line, but a crappy knot will make the line even weaker. A proper knot will degrade the line up to 20%. Using quality line reduces this weakness. Always wet the line before snatching it tight. This reduces friction/heat which weakens the connection. Practice your knots. 

A poorly adjusted reel drag will lose even more fish. You want just enough tension to hold the fish until they make a strong run. Now stop cranking and let the fish run. A properly set drag will allow the line to give way without breaking. 

Pointing the rod at the fish will help break off a fish every time. Always make the fighting fish bend the rod. Hold the rod tip high and let the flexible lever tire the strong fish. If you point the rod at the fish, just the reel tension is fighting the fish. It is now when the weakest link, usually the knot, shows up. 

Cheapo or sunbaked line Causes fish losage. The sunbaked line and tippet become brittle. Cheapo line is inconsistent in strength. A 10-pound spool of cheapo line can vary from 6-14 lbs. in strength. Expensive line is more consistent. Fly tippet is even more pricey since it is precisely made to be consistent from the start to the end of the spool. 

Getting overly excited and horsing the fish often ends badly. Relax and let the bending rod and screaming reels do their jobs. If the knot is proper, rod is bending, and the drag is set, all you need is patience. 

Lousy netting breaks off big fish. A long-handled net will help you place  the net down current and under the fish. Then lift. If you attack the fish with a net, bad things happen. If you have no net, and plan to keep the fish, beaching is your best option. Slide the fish onto a gradual incline, then kick the fish landward. When ice fishing, fight the fish until you can get the fish headfirst into the ice hole. The water pressure and a smooth, consistent pull will allow the fish to literally jump out the hole. 

So, the fish is gone, what can you say?

“How about that for a voluntary release?”

“Now I don’t have to clean the fish”.

“The ones that get away make for a better story.”

“Now I can let them grow even bigger for my next trip!”

“Now that’s what I call a sporting Catch and Release!”

If these suggestions don’t help try; F#@&%, G$%&@! %, or S>&%$#@!!!!”

Montana Grant

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