Landing Net and Gaff
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Landing Net and Gaff

Landing Net and Gaff


Landing Net and Gaff

Landing Net and Gaff

The number of game fish annually lost between the water and the creel through the unskillful use or the absence of a landing net or gaff probably approaches closely to the amount of the entire catch. The final netting or gaffing of a fish sufficiently played and ready to be landed is more than a mere detail; it requires skill, presence of mind, and, above all, coolness. Every angler can remember times when the bungling use of the net resulted in the loss of the "big one." Also, the bungler, if the fisherman did his duty on these occasions, should have no difficulty in recalling the particular disaster in which he figured.

In stream fishing for brook trout, however, the angler is usually his own netter, and if through his haste or lack of skill in handling the net, the especially large one gets away, he has no one to blame but himself. Landing a trout in still-water is a matter of no great difficulty. The fish can be gradually played in to the angler, and when he is ready to be taken out the net should be immersed and the fish led over it. Sudden motions should be avoided and the fish neatly meshed without touching him with the rim of the net.

Sometimes the lightest touch of the net will revive a played-out fish and he is off again like a flash. In view of this it is advisable before using the net to have a fair amount of slack line off the reel which should be held between the fingers of the rod hand so that it can be released immediately. Thus prepared, a final rally of the fish is not apt to result in his escape. Unless the trout was originally hooked very hard after a more or less protracted siege of playing, the hook often "hangs by a thread" in which case if the trout is snubbed in the least the hook will tear away, and frequently if any slack is given it will drop out.

Landing a trout in fast-running water is another thing. Here, if the fish is a large one, the angler has his work cut out for him. The best plan is not to attempt to play the fish up to you but to hold him, as far as can safely be ventured, where he is hooked, and work down to him. If you try to drag him upstream it brings him to the surface where he will roll over and over and thrash about until nine times out of ten he whips himself off the hook. Once down to the fish so that you do not have to handle him from above, but from the side or below, lead him gradually into a gentle side current. The fish should be up-stream from you when you are ready to use the net. The current will then bring him over the net instead of taking him away from it.

When fishing from a boat or canoe the net should have a handle at least four or five feet long. Almost invariably a bass that has been played in to the boat will take one more run when he sees it, and unless he is absolutely played to a finish he will always fight away from the boat. For fish that run large, such as the lake trout, a gaff should be used. Gaffing a fish should be gone about in the same way as when using the net. The gaff should be immersed and the fish led over it. A skillful gaffer will take a fish in out of the wet with one motion.

Although some anglers advise that even when there are two men in the boat, it is better for the man who is playing the fish to do his own netting, it would seem that it is preferable for the angler whose rod is not busy to handle the net. It is much easier to lead the fish within landing distance of the man who occupies the opposite end of the boat than to lead it in where you can net it yourself.

Camp, Samuel Granger. The Fine Art of Fishing. New York: Outing Pub., 1911. Print.

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