I always love hearing people say, “Fishing isn’t really a sport… you just wait for the fish to bite, then reel ’em in.” Yeah, anyone else out there laughing? Those are the people I’d love to see on a boat in the middle of Boca Grande Pass… fighting a 125 lb tarpon among dozens of boats, crossed fishing lines, and bull sharks circling. Then, I’d politely ask again if they think fishing isn’t really a sport.
Although, the fact of the matter is, whether you’re fighting a 5 lb bass in your backyard or a 125 lb tarpon off Boca Grande, there are a few key fish fighting mistakes you need to avoid making when your drag starts to zing.
- Allowing slack in your line. Anytime your line goes slack, you’re highly likely to lose your fish. Always keep easy, steady pressure on the line so that the hook doesn’t have a chance to become dislodged and work its way out of the mouth of the fish. When the drag isn’t zinging, it’s your time to gain the upper hand and reel by using smooth strokes.
- Not following your fish. Your fish makes a long, hard run towards the other end of the boat. What do you do? Follow the fish! If you are standing at the front of the boat and the fish takes off towards the back, don’t keep trying to fight the fish from the same spot. Follow the fish so that you have more control and can maintain proper leverage on the rod. Granted, if you are fishing offshore on a large party boat or are sitting in a fighting chair, this may not always be possible. In those instances, the captain will usually help by maneuvering the boat so you can fight the fish from the right angle.
- Letting your line touch the side of the boat or get wrapped around the engine. Seems like common sense, right? Well, in the heat of the moment when a decent sized fish is making a mad dash around the boat or heading for cover, always be mindful of the engine, cleats, the edge of the boat, trolling motor, or anything else that might come into contact with your line during the fight. With the amount of tension and pressure on the line as you reel, the line can very easily snap or fray on any number of objects.
- Not knowing what to do if the fish goes under the boat. If the fish suddenly goes under the boat, always put your rod tip straight down into the water so the line doesn’t snag on the bottom of the boat or engine. At times, a little extra pressure on the line may be required. In this case, put the palm of your hand lightly on the spool. Just be prepared to let up on the spool immediately if the fish decides to take off, otherwise you can get a serious line burn.
By keeping the above points in mind, you’ll successfully land more fish. Have you learned from a past mistake while fighting a fish? I want to hear from you! Comment on the Shefishes2.com Facebook page or “tweet” me @shefishes2 and tell me about a fish fighting blunder you made (or saw someone else make), but ended up learning from.