Riege: Handling the net when fishingPublished 7:50pm Wednesday, April 24, 2013
BY BOB AND GINNY RIEGE
Perhaps the most frustrating experience on the water is losing a good walleye next to the boat. This happens more often than anglers are willing to admit. I believe that this problem can be corrected.
The two-fold key to landing more fish is to increase hooking ratios and to practice proper execution at boat side. You might be amazed even veteran anglers disregard some simple tips and continue to lose fish.
Choose a net large enough for the task at hand. A good rule of thumb is to buy the net with the biggest hoop, deepest basket and longest handle that will fit comfortably in your boat. You can’t net what doesn’t make it within reach of the net. Don’t scrimp and try to save a few dollars on this piece of critical gear.
The smallest hoop is for panfish, said Frabill pro staffer Tom Neustrom. The 16 to 22 inch sizes are good for bass. The 22 to 26 inch sizes are great for walleyes. A 26-inch hoop will tackle most northerns. A 30-inch hoop will do for king salmon. For muskies, you want a 30 to 34 inch hoop.
Nylon bags that are treated with a rubberized coating are hook-proof. They’re excellent for avoiding a common situation when a walleye is able to put the hook into the netting itself, thus taking a long time to extract it. Knotless, treated bags are easier on the fish. Aluminum handles, yokes and hoops are the strongest and lightest. Four feet is the most common handle length.
Now that you own a Frabill, don’t leave it in the pickup truck. It’s an essential tool. Make sure it’s in the boat before you launch. Also make sure that the boat stays clear of clutter. Tackle boxes, rods and reels, must be out of the way so movement is free to get to any location in the boat.
A fish thrashing on the surface can also be a problem. Try to keep the fish underwater until you are ready to net the fish. Most walleye fisherman know that netting a fish head first is the only way to go. The angler leads the fish toward the net as the netter scoops it up. If you discuss landing techniques ahead of time you will have more success. Just as important, is communication. Netting the fish takes teamwork and no one is a mind reader.
When it’s time, scoop down into the water so the head of the fish is centered in the hoop of the net. Envision a spot one-foot in front of the fish’s nose and start pushing towards the fish as the angler leads the fish to the net. If the net is down in the water during the process, your chances of getting the fish are good even if the hook comes out at the last moment. Don’t “stab” at the fish. Sweep and lift.
No one can avoid losing a few fish. But these pointers should cut down the loss column appreciably, forcing you to come up with other alibis for coming home empty-handed.