Ahh, it’s getting colder and we are not yet at the mid-winter point. Let’s talk fishing a bit again. In my last talk, I spoke about run+gun tuna fishing spinning rod mishaps (click here). Today I am going to slow it down a bit and talk about one of my favorites… “What to do when you get your fish to the boat.”
I love taking rookies and old pros fishing. I hope that the old pros read this one too, even though it sounds basic, it is often the guys who have been fishing a long time that need to read this one for fishing on my boat. Why? I value our eyes and, less importantly, my gear.
When we are fishing, it is great when we catch lots of fish; when everyone on board is landing fish as fast as they can get to the bottom. Often times, fishing is like that for us. I take people haddock fishing and the action is so fast that it often takes longer for the bait to fall to the bottom than it takes for the fish to hit. It is almost like the fish are waiting on the bottom, looking up with their mouths opens, ready to hit anything that drops near them. The same is true of our porgy and sea bass fishing. What I am saying is that this is a numbers/fast action game.
I start by talking about the fast action fishing/landing fish/bringing fish boatside first (versus the tuna/shark–big fish landings). It happens a lot on my boat. The action is fast and immediate and people let their guard down.
First rule: Pay attention to what you are doing when reeling a fish in. When you reel the fish in, please stop reeling when the fish is about 6 or 7 feet from the boat. That means that there should never be less than 6 or 7 feet from the tip of the rod to the fish. If you aren’t paying attention to what you are doing it is very easy to reel the fish right into the tip of the rod. If you do this, you will often break the tip of the rod. If it doesn’t break right on the spot, reeling hardware into the guides shortens their lives. Also, if you reel the fish too close to the tip of the rod then it becomes difficult to get the fish into the boat PROPERLY.
First rule “PROPERLY” explained. One thing that I hate seeing on my boat is people who lift the fish into the boat using the rod. They reel the fish near the tip of the rod and then swing the fish into the boat. I don’t like seeing this because it is DANGEROUS. On my boat, the rods are not designed for this. With haddock, for instance, the weight of the fish on the line (and out of the water) will cause the rod to bend a lot. There is a significant slingshot potential here. If you pull the fish out of the water with the rod….the rod bends…so if the fish falls off of the line (happens a lot) the rod will straighten out quickly and act as a slingshot, throwing a jig and hooks back into the boat at dangerous speed. Like I said, I value eyesight. Secondly, damage to the rod often occurs at this point in two manners…the rod is held in a “high stick” position and can break and with a fish flopping around, the rod is often leaned against a rail where it often slides and falls onto the deck, breaking off guides and chipping the structural finish of the rod.
HOW TO PROPERLY LAND A FISH LIKE THIS BOATSIDE? As you are watching the fish come up from the depths and you have stopped reeling with 6 or 7 feet of line left before the fish, you want to hold the rod with one hand and lead the line into your other hand, where you grab the line above the fish. Now you simply pull the fish into the boat with the one hand. The rod-hand, meanwhile, points the rod tip away from the boat and you are able to put the rod into a rod-holder in front of you. So, the fish is on the deck at your feet/dangling in front of you in the boat and the rod is in the holder (where it can’t fall and is out of the way, letting you use both hands). This is safe, efficient and allows you to get ready to do it again. There is no rush here if it is a fish that you need me to take off, measure, etc. If you need to re-bait the hook, it is all conveniently at your feet/in front of you and the line is not swinging around, tangling anything.
WHAT ABOUT BIG FISH? This is when the term “presenting the fish to the captain” is applicable. The good thing here is that it’s all about you..you have a good fish and everyone is watching. It is all about controlling the head of the fish. The fish will go in the direction where it’s head is pointing. I tell people to think what the fish is doing and use that against the fish. Take charge and when you can turn the fish’s head in the direction that you want, then do it. Sometimes you wait, wait, wait…then make your move. If the fish is going to be harpooned or gaffed, getting the fish on the surface is key. When it gets there, try to keep it there swimming where you want it.
There will be more on this one later and I have some good videos to go over that makes this more clear. Stay warm til spring! Capt. Rich, 508-269-1882