Net Landing Fall Trophies 

By Tim Allard

With fall fishing in full swing, chances of landing a chunky trophy are better than ever. As water temperatures drop and anglers bundle up, hand-landing is less of an option and nets become crucial. Yet, having a net is not enough. Proper technique and communication are crucial to ensuring a quick landing and healthy recovery of released fish.

Net Placement and Positioning
When moving in the boat with a large net, hold excess netting to avoid snagging the meshStore your net so that it is always accessible in your boat. Keep it away from dangling baits, cleats, rods, and other hazards. When holding a large net, grab excess netting with the hand closest to the loop to prevent it from snagging objects as you move. Your releasing tools should also be within arms reach. Large fish always add a little chaos, excitement and adrenaline into the angling equation, so be prepared to land this giant properly.

The constant in landing a fish is to net it head first, with two options for net placement. One method is to lower the net into the water and then lead the fish into the lowered net. The downside of this method is that fish often spook after seeing the net, causing additional stress to the fish and could cause a boat side break off. Furthermore, it can be difficult to hold large nets or position nets in strong currents.

A better approach is to hold the net above water until the fish is within netting range. Positioning is influenced by boat size and layout as well as water conditions but if using a net with a short handle, position the netter in front of the angler. With long handled nets, the above positioning is an option, but standing side-by-side can be more effective.

The Landing Process
As the fish gets within netting range, decide if it is ready to be landed. A good habit is that the angler playing the fish decides when the fish is ready to be netted. The next steps should be executed in one full motion - plunge the net downwards in front of the fish's head (release excess netting at this point if using a large net), continuing to move lengthwise under the fish and then lift the net upwards once you reach the tail.

If fishing with people new to netting, explain that moving a net through the water can create a lot of resistance so they should be positioned to put some force into the netting motion. Ensure the net is submerged about a foot in front of the fish otherwise it may bump the fish and could dislodge the hooks, causing an early release.

Synthetically treated nylon netting limits the removal of protective slime, but is also tangle resistant to hooks and teeth. The net was easily, but cautiously, removed from the toothy mouth of this soon-to-be released musky.Once the fish is netted release the line tension on the lure by lowering the rod and disengaging the reel. This allows the hooks to easily be removed and also minimizes the risk of the bait snapping backwards if the fish suddenly shakes the hooks. Also while in the net, ensure the fish is kept in the water as much as possible.

Using nets to land fall trophies is not only an excellent method to reduce stress on a fish, but also has benefits to anglers. Using a net will keep hands and clothing dry from cold, fall waters. If you have an old net you may want to consider upgrading your set-up. Higher-end nets feature synthetically treated nylon that is both hook resistant and does not remove the fish's protective slime like knotted, untreated nylon. A quality net will last for many seasons and using top of the line equipment will increase your confidence when it's time to net that fat, fall fish.

 

 

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