The stress of being the net man can be overwhelming at times. Especially in situations where a fish is hooked in faster water. Having “crackered” off a few fish myself with a net I have learned that you and the angler have to communicate to get a big fish into the net. Recognizing when the fish is ready to throw in the white flag is key to getting it quickly to the net. Many times anglers are so excited to get the big fish into the net and in front of the camera they pull real hard and lose the fish at the net. Let the fish wear itself out. Of course not to the point of killing itself but where it is coming to the surface and its runs are getting slower.
As the net man I like to be down stream and out of line sight from the fish. The angler should try and guide the fish into 2-3 feet of slower water where a net can easily be placed under the fish. It is difficult to net the fish in water that is shallow faster moving water. The fish tend to see you and will make a run to deeper water, this is where a lot of anglers will put more pressure on a fish and pop the hook. If slower water is present work the fish into it and get its head to the surface. Once in a good landing position the angler should work the fish towards the net man. As this is happening the net man should keep a keen eye on the fish as it gets near. Pick your chance to swoop with the net and commit. Keep the net out of the water until you are ready to make your move. The best time to make your move is when the fish has its head near the surface of the water if the fish’s head is still pointed down it can swim easily out of the net. This is a good time to coach your angler. Tell them to get the fish’s head up before you go in with the net and make sure you get the net below the fish. Too shallow of a scoop can hit or spook the fish. Go deep and come up quick. Once the fish is in the net tell the angler to drop the rod tip and take tension off the hooks. Keep the fish in the water until ready to take a picture, deep rubber baskets are great for keeping a fish in the water and allow them to stay oxygenated after a long fight. Follow these simple steps next time your client has the big one on. The key is not to rush. Tell your angler to enjoy the battle.