How to: Net a Fish

     How many times have you hooked, fought, and got the fish almost in the boat? Then it happens. The hook amazingly comes flying out and the fish swims away laughing. You might not have noticed it, but that fish was laughing. They already have a permanent smile so it's not that hard for them to laugh. They know how much we want to catch them and how easy they can get away. 

    They tricked us. In the excitement they lulled us into forgetting something. They played along till they got close enough for us to think we were going to catch them then they launched the surprise. They let go of the hook. Then it’s over. The fish is gone, and we are left wondering what we could have done.

    This is the first step in the right direction. You are about to become aware of one of the most crucial questions in fishing.

When to Net

    There comes a time in most fishermen's lives when they have to ask ourselves: Do I use the net? Usually, it’s better to be safe than sorry.


"If you have to ask WHEN, the answer is NOW!"


   In the excitement of landing them sometimes we forget to ask this question and I have lost more than one from being impatient. As soon as the fish gets beside the boat and I see it, I get excited and try to haul it over the side. Sometimes it works. Other times it gets halfway in the air and wiggles loose and I’m standing there saying:

Why did I do that? Why didn’t I get the net?”

   One answer would be because I'm A man and I rely on ME more than common sense or God or even experience. If I relied on common sense and experience to get it in, I would have used the net. If I tried to rely on God to get it in, I probably still would have lost it. God COULD help get him in, but I think he would probably say something like “I gave you enough sense to have a net, why didn’t you use it?”. I think God has a sense of humor and I probably make him laugh all the time when I’m fishing.

   (Fishermen talk to God all the time when we are fishing)

   God’s ways really aren’t that complicated, WE make them that way by not listening. People can be hardheaded, but He loves us anyway. Thankfully.

Fishermen tend to forget everything we know when we are about to land one, at least I do anyway.

 The basic rule of thumb on when to net it is weight: If it weighs more than such and such use a net. If it weighs more than the lbs. test you are using, use the net. If it looks bigger than anything you expected to catch: Use the net. If it MIGHT be bigger than what you expected: Use the net. Why take a chance?

   I’m telling you this from many years of experience and having lost many fish from NOT using the net. Trust me on this: USE THE NET!

    If you really want to be safe: ALWAYS USE THE NET. people might laugh about it, but they will laugh more if you lose a big one than they do for netting a small one. Caution can be a good habit to get into with fishing. USE THE NET!

    Just make sure you know how to use the net, or you will lose fish trying to net them.

Don’t Chop

    As the adrenaline builds and you are about to try and net the fish Do NOT CHOP at it. I have seen people, and I have probably been one of them, that reared back behind their shoulder and came down quickly with the net trying to get in before it got away. The only thing it accomplished was knocking the fish loose and letting it get away. Then we sit there for a second trying to see if the blame could fall on something else. Then we accept it. Fishermen are usually pretty good at admitting when we are wrong, if the fault was with us. Sometimes it is someone else, but we try to be nice. The first time. Keep knocking my fish off and you’ll be in a boat time-out.

   I’ve only had to do that to one person, and I still think he was intentionally trying to foul me up. Nobody can knock off that many fish. . . on accident. HMMMMM

 If you chop at it like swinging an ax, you are probably going to hit either the line and possibly break it or the fish and knock it loose. I guess knocking the fish off would be better since you keep your tackle but either way you lose the fish is bad. Especially after you see it.

    There is nothing worse than losing a fish after you have it beside the boat. If they get off before then we can pretend it wasn't that big anyway. This usually happens a few seconds after we tell ourselves it was a giant. To save our confidence we tell ourselves it wasn’t that big, or not worth keeping anyway. 

    I’ve had a few that I fought for a bit and the hook came out right beside the boat. They were so tired they didn’t even swim off. They just sat there. Till I tried to reach in with the net. Amazing how quick they can wake up when they see it coming.  Amazing how disheartening it can be when you lose one like this too. I usually blame the hook. I didn’t do anything wrong, the hook did. 

    Fishing optimism and confidence skills at their best. My gear failed not me.

(I don't backlash either, I professionally overcast.)

Scoop the Fish

    The proper way to net a fish is to have the net in the water and bring the fish into it. For some reason they don’t spook if the net is already there. Maybe they can’t see it, maybe they don’t think it’s threatening. I don’t know, I just know it works.

    Put the nest in the water just below the water line. Guide him into it with your line. When he is in, lift the net. You have just successfully netted a fish.

   If you try to bring the net to the fish while it’s in the water, you risk knocking it off again or making him swim from it. There are a lot of funny fishing videos with people chasing a fish with a net. Adrenaline kicks in and we try to keep from losing it by chasing it.

     While one hand is moving the net towards the fish the other is moving the fish away. It reminds me of a dog chasing its tail. I know I should say something to them but I’m usually laughing too hard to stop them. Dogs and people. Funny how they resemble one another sometimes, especially men like me. Yes, I am one of the ones who does a lot of things that look silly sometimes. If we can’t laugh at ourselves, who can we laugh at, right?

   I know the right way to do all this stuff because I have done it WRONG so many times that I lost count. I will probably continue to do things wrong from time to time. I am not perfect and when I get excited and adrenaline kicks in my brain shuts down. I turn into a big mass of hormones and chemicals and action. A human action figure fueled on adrenaline. I can laugh about it because it's me. I don’t do it like this all the time, but occasionally . . . . 

    If I get something wrong in life, I ask God to forgive me and I try to correct it or do it right the next time. Fishing is less forgiving. One mistake and the fish are usually gone. Time to move on to the next one. I’m very grateful God is not like this or none of us would get to fish in Heaven one day. Thank you, Jesus.


 Got HIM!

    Do not be fooled into thinking fish want to be caught. They don’t. If you are going to be a serious angler, you are going to have to learn how to use the net. This simple little gadget will turn many of the ones that got away into the ones we caught.

Work smarter not harder.

    Just having the net with you isn’t enough, you have to use it and you have to use it right. Hopefully your knowledge of netting is better now than it was. It will still take some practice and you will still lose some of them, but the tides have turned in your favor. Just remember it’s still fishing not catching and we are not perfect. Mistakes will continue to happen as you get better. Learn to enjoy fishing and you will never be disappointed by what you catch or don’t catch. 


Live by FAITH. Love the Outdoors. Life is Out HERE!

written by Benjamin Evans