By Justin Pickett
My indicator drops below the turbulent surface and my rod bends over as I come tight to a nice rainbow trout.
Her initial reaction took her further into the head of the deep run, shaking her head violently in an attempt to escape the grasp of my hook. As this trout began to hunker down in the current, I applied some low, downstream side pressure, which she didn’t like at all. Suddenly, like a bolt of lightning, she darted downstream, leaving me in the rear-view with zero intentions of returning.
I was fishing with my buddy, Blake, who is new to fly fishing. This was the first fish that he had seen on a hot, downstream run. As this rainbow steadily peeled line from my reel, I looked over at Blake and instructed him to grab the net and get after it, but just as Blake began making his move downstream this trout shot through a small chute with several branches that hung just above the current on the opposite bank. As I reeled down to keep up, I waded my way towards the obstacle that I was sure was going to end this fight. I had my buddy come to the downstream side of the chute so I could pass my rod under and through the branches. After successfully making it through all the foliage without breaking off, I let Blake take over the fight.
I grabbed the net and hit the bank running so I could gain some ground on this crazy trout. About thirty yards later, I finally made it well downstream of her and stepped further into the water. I knew if I could get in front of her, then I would likely turn her back upstream and stop this crazy train. With her head now turned back upstream, and, seemingly, calmer, we were able to play this fish into the net quite easily. No doubt, this fish was likely as worn out as we were after all that!
Fast forward a couple of days and I found myself having a conversation with Louis about anglers who feel that if they themselves don’t net their own fish, then they consider that catch “incomplete”. It’s as if they feel the need to put an asterisk by that memory because they either asked for, or received, assistance to land a fish.
While I can certainly respect these anglers’ stance on the matter, for me, it doesn’t take away from my experience. Am I always going to have someone net a fish for me? Well no, but it will also always depend on the situation at hand. I’m not going to have someone net a native brook trout for me, but, in my opinion, there are times when having a good net man is beneficial to both angler and fish. In reference to the scenario above, if I wanted to land that fish, then I was going to have to work with my buddy, or risk losing the fish altogether. On top of that, it was just downright fun.
Now, when we fish alone of course, we must net and land our own fish. I know for me, though, there have been situations where I would have killed for a net man. Sometimes though, even with fish that I know I could net myself, I’m still going to let my fishing buddy net them if they are able, or want, to do so. I’m just not going to let my ego, or whatever it may be, get in the way of landing a fish and handing some credit over to the person behind the net. I’m not out chasing IGFA records or anything like that.
I realize that this is simply angler preference, and to each his/her own. In the past, I’ve asked both friends and other anglers I’ve come across if they would like assistance in netting fish that they were fighting, or maybe even struggling with. I’ve found that most people welcome the help, but I have had a handful of folks politely decline my offer to which I take no offense. I just give them a “have a great day” and carry on with my fishing.
How do you feel about this topic? Is it a big deal whether or not you net your own fish? Does it take anything away from your experience as an angler? Give us your feedback!Justin Pickett Gink & Gasoline www.ginkandgasoline.com email@example.com Sign Up For Our Weekly Newsletter!