Catching Fish

by Tom Burton

Some folks have said I seem to have a knack for netting fish. Maybe so, as it seems to come very naturally. But when asked to describe my method (or write about it) it’s sort of like trying to tell somebody how to ride a bike or learn to drive; there’s no substitute for experience. However, to shorten the learning process, here’s my methodology, for whatever it’s worth.

A 32” net is a “must” no matter what size fish you’re going after. The length of the handle depends upon the size of your pond, your strength (you’d be surprised how heavy and cumbersome that thing becomes with over a five foot handle), and whether or not you’ve got a “herder” to help keep the “target” fish in your reach. By the way, the herder never attempts to catch the fish.

I keep total concentration on the target fish, and the position of my net, all the while segre­gating the target. Don’t get distracted. Move very slowly. Don’t stress the other guys either. Let’s keep everybody cool and calm.

Start advancing on the target from the bottom of the pond. You want him to rise toward the surface (it would do you no good to have him in the net at four feet – he’d just swim away as you started your ascent.)

Once near the surface, the net should be moved under the fish and slowly raised and turned toward the side of the pond to corral the fish. Then, slowly raised and turned up to the surface with the fish “free” in the water in the net. NEVER lift a fish out of the water with a net as you may injure a scale or fin inviting a bacterial invasion in the broken mucus immune system.

At your side you have a large pan, such as we use at shows, which you can now, after having brought the fish hand-over-hand closer to you, dip into the net and allow the target to gently enter. Or you could use a sock net for the transfer but – NEVER lift a fish out of the water in the large net as it’s very likely to cause damage to fins or scales.

Sounds easy doesn’t it?

A couple other “nevers”:

If the fish darts past your net or jumps out of it, never give chase. Just start the process over again. Never stab the net at a fleeing fish. Suppose you nailed it to the side of the pond. That’s like taking a block from a Dallas Cowboy – survivable, but sometimes bringing injury and always bringing discomfort.

The old saw about “If at first you don’t succeed” comes to mind about now. Practice. And in the meantime, happy hunting.

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