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Slippery When Wet

Whether your goal is fun or food this applies to you. You fooled that fish, you want to play it carefully, it surges, jumps, disappears under your boat, skillfully it comes closer to being within reach….now the moment of truth, landing your prize.

Before that catch becomes a reality lots of things can happen. Fish escape us in many different ways. Once you’ve duped your opponent into biting your bait the next fishing factor is the hook set. Depending on the type of artificial lure or even live bait, the hook set varies but is critical. Without a good hook set the story stops or minimally ends badly moments later. The rod, the line and the hook all work in conjunction to deliver a solid hook up. The fishing rod best suited for the fish and the bait is important, a medium action rod for “moving” baits, spinners, topwaters and crankbaits is a good choice. The medium action rod offers a little flex to help keep the fish “buttoned up.” A medium/heavy or heavy action rod for soft plastics or jigs if your target is bass works well to drive the hook home and play fish of all sizes. Both rod types benefit from braided line which has no stretch and facilitates the hook set.

Once you have your potential prize hooked keep the rod back to apply steady pressure, make the fish work against the rod, this also translates into let the equipment do the work. Prior to any of this you should make sure your line is fresh and up to the task, your knot is tied properly and the drag is set on your reel. Generally all these occur to you after you hook a BIG fish, in a panic you run through the mental checklist hoping everything holds up. As you work the fish towards you the odds are better if you have a fish friendly net close by. Mine is a floating model, with rubber netting which does less harm to the fish if your goal is a release. If you try to bare hand a bass it can be hand to lip, slip away, put a hook in your hand or break off. For tournament folks doing CPR (catch-photo-release) having your bump board handy and dipping it prior to laying a fish on minimizes the chances of removing the slime coat. The removal of slime invites and almost insures a bacterial infection and delayed mortality of the fish. Additionally take care not to touch the eyes or the gills either of which can create irreparable damage. Skinned fish (non-scaled varieties) like catfish, musky and walleye are less prone to the infections. Have a pair of pliers handy, tethered to the bat is not a bad idea, for easier hook removal. For fish hooked on treble (I refer to the as trouble) hooks the pliers is almost a must. If you plan an immediate release you may want to leave the fish immersed as you do the “hook-ectomy.” This is safer for the fish AND you.

Make your photo session fast, I even advocate holding your breath so you and your catch experience the same feeling at the same time, I CAN”T BREATHE.
You can’t land em’ all but with these few tips you’ll get your share even if they’re SLIPPERY WHEN WET.