How To Hook, Catch, And Land Fish For Beginners
If you're a novice angler, you might be losing a significant number of fish, even though you think you've set the hook correctly. The strategy for how to land fish for beginners is mostly common sense, and some of it is understanding fish behavior.
Fish tend to panic fairly easily - some species more than others. Just about any fish will panic, however, when it gets near a boat, near the bank or shore, or at any other time it realizes that it's about to be forced from its watery home. This is survival instinct on the fish's part, and it's often effective. It will do just about anything to toss the hook and escape whenever it feels threatened.
There's no one best way to land a fish. Too much of the landing process depends on the type of fish you've hooked and the type of fishing you're doing. For example, you might use a different landing technique in a boat than you would when fishing from shore.
Landing Fish From A Boat
If you're fishing from a boat, the easiest way to land a fish is with a dip net. Once the fish is near the vessel, place the net underneath the fish and allow the fish to swim into the net. This works best if you can maneuver the fish head-first toward the net - gently.
To keep the fish from panicking, try to do all these moves underwater. The fish will be much easier to handle because it won't seem as heavy due to the fact that the water will displace the fish's weight. Also, the fish will be calmer if its head remains submerged as long as possible.
Many bass anglers who hook a bass while boat fishing will "catch" a largemouth bass by hand when it's adjacent to the boat. They use their thumb and forefinger to grab the fish's lower jaw. Supposedly, this has a tranquilizing effect on the fish and makes it temporarily easier to handle.
Landing Fish From A Bank Or Shore
If you're fishing from a shore with a gradual slope, the best way to land the fish is by beaching it. Make sure it's a safe distance from the water before attempting to remove the hook, however. Fish are slippery, and if you drop it near the water, there's a good chance it will flip back into the water.
If you're angling from a steep bank, a fish is best landed with a long-handled dip net.
Landing Fish From Under A Pier Or Dock
Landing a fish from a dock or pier presents a special challenge for many beginning fishermen. Some of these structures are a significant distance from the water, so it might be all but impossible to reel the fish up that far, especially if it's a larger fish. In such a case, you can handline the fish in, but you'll need gloves to do so.
A better method is to use a drop net. Also called a "pier net," this type of net is round and doesn't have a handle. Instead, ropes are attached to the net, which allow it to be dropped and raised. Once the fish is next to the dock, drop the net into the water, a few feet away from the fish. Guide the fish into the net, head-first. Keep the fish's head underwater until the last second.
How To Land Fish For Beginners - Safety Tips
When landing a fish, there are several safety tips you need to consider - both for you and for the fish. Landing a fish can injure it, so if you're planning on releasing the fish, this is an important aspect of the landing process. Fish are coated with a protective “slime” that can easily be removed in the landing process. Dragging the fish across sand, rocks, or grass can remove the coating, as can handling the fish with a dish towel or gloves.
Any time you handle a fish, you can be injured. Experienced deep sea anglers have been killed in the landing process - sometimes by being pulled underwater after the fishing line was wrapped around a hand, and sometimes because of direct injuries from the fish itself, like with billfish and sharks. As a novice angler, you probably won't be dealing with these species, but even smaller fish can cause some minor injuries. Catfish, for example, have sharp spines, and those found on saltwater catfish contain toxins.
Some fish also have sharp teeth. Before you attempt landing a fish by hand, make sure it doesn't have teeth that could cut human flesh.