Landing nets are very important pieces of equipment. They provide the angler with the ability to land his catch, handle the fish and release it with minimal risk of injury to himself and the fish.
It is often quite funny, when sitting in a group of boats and there is a hot bite running. All around, reels are screaming, anglers grunting, cheering or cursing as fish after fish take the baits. As only an angler would know, when there is a hot bite running, everyone is aware of everybody else, where they are and what they are doing. It is almost as if each fish landed presents an opportunity to perform for the rest, for as soon as the rod bends for the first time, you know that every eye is upon you.
From these torrid sessions, much can be learnt about fishing techniques, with most of the techniques in the "don't do this" category. Many fishing styles and approaches can be included in this category, but none more so than landing net techniques.
The following describes some of the more popular landing net styles implemented in a hot bite session:-
THE LOOK AT ME - FRANTIC SPLASHThis is the most popular technique employed by anglers. It consists of a series of constant arm waving, dipping of the net in the water and serious attempts to catch the fish in the net.
The results are amazing as the numerous splashes and lunges are sure to grab the attention of everyone in the immediate area. Unfortunately, this approach rarely helps the angler land the fish.
RUBBER MAN - ELASTIC ARMSThis is another popular technique used by many anglers to try land that important fish. Generally, to use this technique the fish is still very green, very active and still full of energy and there must be an audience nearby to entertain.
This technique is usually deployed when the fish happens to be making a strong run along the side of the boat. The netter immediately realises that here is the chance to stop the fish getting away and shorten the fight.
Unfortunately the strength of the fish and the power of the run are never taken into account as the fish suddenly hits the net. I have seen several anglers dragged into the water after the fish, with the last evidence of a devotee of this technique being the soles of his shoes as they disappear under the water.
Serious adoptees of this method are easily recognised. They usually have extra long arms, distorted knuckles and walk with hands dragging on the ground.
THE BUGGER YOU APPROACHThis technique is usually observed when one angler in the party is consistently catching the fish. This is a tried and true method of ensuring that landings are minimised and future catch stories are never retold.
It seems to consist of a series of serious lunges and probes at the line, in an attempt to help the fish to an early release. The objective is obviously to hit the line with the net and when this technique is successful, exclamations of "Bugger" or “Dickhead” can be clearly heard above the din.
THE FLAT BAT SPLASHThe flat bat splash is a specialist technique. It consists of the netter hitting the water with the broad side of the net as a flat bat. It is obviously designed to use the sonic booms from the impact to stun the fish into submission. This is another of the more popular techniques employed during a hot bite session on the water.
It is amazing how much each angler can learn by fishing amongst a group of boats, on a hot bite. Fishing is such an art that there are so many different approaches to catching and landing fish. Many of the techniques are so spectacular and demonstrative, that it is obvious that the objective of many anglers is to entertain the masses.
BRING THE FISH TO THE NETThe purpose of angling is to catch fish. It doesn't really matter whether the fish is to be taken home and eaten or released to fight another day, the purpose of fishing remains the same.
The purpose of the landing net is to land the fish at the end of the fight. Once again it really doesn't matter whether the fish is to be taken as food or released to fight another day, the purpose is still the same. The landing net is a tool to help land the fish at the end of the fight.
The least used techniques with the landing net is the "Bring the Fish to the Net" approach. This technique is a rather sombre and unspectacular approach, when compared with the other techniques, but it does land many more fish than all of the others combined.
This technique is simply a patient waiting game. At the end of the fight, when the fish is beaten, the head of the net is simply placed in the water and held in position. The angler is allowed to continue the fight and bring the fish to the boat. When the fish comes alongside, the netter simply moves the net from behind and under the fish to assist the angler in landing it.
In many instances, the fish is exhausted at the end of the fight and comes to the boat on its side. In these cases the fish can be led over the head of the net and the net is lifted to complete the capture. There is no splashing, with minimal excitement and impact exercising, simply a gentle scoop and the fish is brought on board.
When using this technique, most of the fish brought to the boat are actually landed. The fish is quietly brought on board and very few of the spectators are even aware that a capture has been made.