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butt and quickly spring the fish out of the water and into the boat or onto land in one motion. Let the rod bear the weight of the fish instead of the line.

Never grab hold of the line above the fish to bring it in. You'll lose all advantage of the rod's elasticity, and if the fish makes a sudden move for deep water, you'll probably break the line or tear the hook out. It's much better to lip the fish if possible, try to spring it out of the water, or search for a fellow fisherman and ask to borrow his net.

Loose Linn

Occasionally I toad or hear about an angler who, without a net, beaches a fish: When playing a fish from shore, be brings it ci ose arid then walks || backwards, so tin; fis.li slides up out of the water and onto lan ti where he a " simply reachcs dawn and grabs it. While this technique sounds plausible, find actually is effective when fishing the surf, where the wave action both disorients lhe fish and helps push it onto shore, it rarely works well with large fish in fresh water. Ideal conditions for beaching fish—a smooth (sandy or muddy) very gradual slope, with plenty of room for the angler to back up, aren't common anyway.

I found this out the hard one summer day when I was fishing a coldwater farm pond in Pennsylvania and hooked the biggest smallmouth bass of my life. This fish ran, jLimped, dived, bulldogged, and otherwise put up a tremendous fight—and one 1 didn't think I'd win, considering i was using ultralight spinning tackle more suitable for smaIE-stream trout. Eventually, though, I had this fisli close, swimming lazily in about 6 inches of water near my feet. That's when I realized that my net was still in the tar, about a quarter of a mile away. So 1 tightened my line and started walking backwards. The bass csmi partially onto the brushy bank but wouldn't go farther because of the steep angle, so I stepped into the water and squatted down, trying to simultaneously push and scoop the fish onto shore with one hand while holding the rod with the other. It worked, but the fish started flopping as soon as it hit dry ground. I dropped the rod and squatted down, trying to trap the fish with my hands, but then the line snagged and broke on a low-lying branch, and the fish slithered into the water. It remained in The shallows, evidently stunned, and I quickly knee-walked after it. I actually got my hands around the bass's gills when its tail surged hugely and the fish rocketed out of my hands and disappeared into the depths.

A month later a friend told me that someone canoeing on the pond found a long-dead smallmouth bass floating on the surface near shore. The fisli measured more than 20 inches, my friend said, and what a shame for a beautiful bass like that to die unappreciated. That's a fish you catch once in a lifetime.

Now I always bring a net.

Fish Recipes

Fish Recipes

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

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