Learn How to Land a Fish

Catching Them is Exciting – Bring them Onboard!

Learn to land a fish is what makes catching them exciting. When a fish hits your bait/lure your first instinct is to set the hook and reel your line in immediately. You can do that, however, the fish will struggle to get free. Working to release itself may cause you to loose your potential catch. So, “play with the fish” to tire it out so that the fish will be manageable.

I’ve tried to land a fish successfully when I first started fishing. I’ve had a muskie on my line that fought and fought with me to get itself free. I did everything I was supposed to do to tire the fish out. I thought I let the drag on my reel and my rod do their job. I let the fish make long runs away from me and I would reel it back in. The fish would work it’s way around the boat and I would let it. Guess what? It got away. Read my story in the “About Us” section.

What I didn’t do was set the drag on my reel correctly nor did I keep my rod at a 45 degree angle. When you follow the techniques for setting the drag your fish will slow down and stop taking the line, in an essence, tire itself out and making it easier to land a fish. You can then start working on landing your catch. The pictures located on this page are from when we fish at night. We enjoy going night fishing as that is when larger more aggressive fish are more active. We usually go during a full moon cycle as there is light for us to see not to mention the lunar cycle makes the fish more active.

Pull your rod up – as you lower it, reel your line in. Use small fine strokes vs. hard large jerks as this will keep the line tighter and your fish more relaxed.

Your fish will try to get away again, let it do so and follow the same process. You’ll see that soon the length your fish will try to swim away will become shorter and shorter because the fish will start getting more and more tired.

This is an exciting time because it’s telling you that you’re getting closer and closer to land a fish.

When the fish swims away you’ll hear the drag on your line. As the drag quiets down that is the time that you should be reeling in your fish. Your fish will continue to struggle to get away even as it gets closer to the boat. You can tell when the fish is tired; it may roll over to its side. At this point, have your net ready to swoop the fish. Keep in mind, for larger fish you will need someone assisting you. It’s difficult to reel the fish in and land it with your net at the same time. I’m not coordinated enough to do that, especially as the boat is rocking while you are working on landing your catch.

Once you land the fish in your net, it’s important to be safe when removing the hook or holding your fish by it’s lower jaw or underneath it’s gill. Some fish have very sharp teeth. Use your fishing glove to be safe. Use needle-nosed pliers to remove the hook.

Smaller fish are easier to land. You can net the fish, pull your line out of the water with the fish on it, or carefully use your thumb and index finger to grip onto the fish’s lower jaw. Doing this technique holds the jaw open and stuns the fish as you pull the fish out of the water and remove the hook.

Remember to practice Catch-N-Release if you do not plan on keeping your catch. View our “Catch-N-Release” section to learn more about preserving fish conservation.