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Page 138

The safest and most reliable method of landing a fish is to net it. When done wrong, however, netting becomes one of the worst ways to bring a fish to hand. All large fish, such as salmon, lake trout, northern pike, and muskies, should be netted. And a large specimen of any species usually should be netted, to reduce the risk of losing it. And the easiest way to land any fish caught in moving water, particularly trout, is with a net, keeping the fish upstream and the net downstream.

Although it's a lot easier to have someone else net the fish for you, here's how to do it by yourself, whether on a boat, standing on shore, or wading:

  1. Make sure the fish is played out. This is evidenced by the fish swimming in small circles or swimming on its side.
  2. Reel in so that about 1/ rod lengths of line is out from the rod tip.
  3. Holding the rod in your casting hand, grasp the net with your other hand and put the net gently in the water, away from the fish. The net opening should be facing the fish at about a 45° angle.
  4. Keeping the net motionless, begin lifting your rod to guide the fish headfirst toward the net.
  5. When the fish is just above the net opening, bring the net quickly forward and lift it up completely out of the water. If the fish shies away from the net, play it some more and try again.

Don't ever try to chase a fish with a net or drop it over a fish. Fish are fearful of overhead objects, and nets are extremely clumsy to move through the water. Besides, you may hit the line with your net and break it or pull the hook out of the fish's mouth. So if the fish recoils or jerks away as you lead it to the net, don't force it in. Play the fish some more and try again.

In other cases, you don't need to use a net to land your catch. Largemouth bass are easily brought out of the water by grasping their lower lip between your thumb and forefinger. The fish should be played out and, obviously, no hook should be protruding from that area of its mouth. Bring the bass close and lift the rod so that the bass's head is just protruding from the water. Pinch down and lift it quickly from the water; the bass will stop wiggling as this method seems to immobilize the fish. Other species without teeth on their jaws, such as smallmouth bass and crappies, can be lipped as well.

Average-size specimens of comparatively small species, such as panfish, can be swung out of the water and into the boat or onto the shore (although the fish should be handled delicately if they are to be released). But be very careful doing this, especially with fish that are large for the tackle you are using. Don't just derrick the thing inall that weight puts undue pressure on the line, which is now short and offers very little stretch. And if the fish is not hooked solidly, the strain may pop the hook. Instead, hold the rod by the

Fish Recipes

Fish Recipes

This is a great collection of delicious fish and shell fish recipes that you will love.

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