• Tales of the fish that got away

    One of the interesting parts of every derby is listening to the tales of the fish that got away. It happens to all of us anglers at times because catching fish is never a sure thing. Perhaps the lost fish was a prize winner, maybe even a derby winner but winner or not it is still frustrating to lose a good fish just moments before you scoop it up with your net.

    Still, sometimes but not always, you can cut your losses.

    These lost fish can be classed into three groups. First there are the ones you class as no hopes; no equipment failure, no technique failure, it simply wasn’t in the cards for you to land that fish and you can’t do anything about it but hope it doesn’t happen very often. Perhaps the fish failed to grab your lure strongly and wasn’t hooked well. Perhaps it hit your lure with a closed mouth or with its tail and would have had to be released as foul hooked anyway. There is nothing you can do in those cases but sharpen your hooks and try again.

    Secondly, there are the fish you lose due to equipment failure. This is probably the most common reason for losing trophy fish. Perhaps a defective swivel snap broke, perhaps the line was old or poorly stored from the last trip and sunlight weakened it or perhaps your reel wasn’t clean and lubricated and the drag jammed. You might not have sharpened your hooks. Equipment flaws are an angler’s fault and shouldn’t happen often or shame on you.

    Thirdly, many fish are lost due to technique… or rather the lack of it. Those oh-so- important landing skills needed to win prizes are learned mostly by practice or by mentoring from someone more experienced. The hard way to learn is by practice…doing it wrong but learning every time. These lessons are not always a lot of fun but are not easily forgotten. Typical examples of technique losses include rushing a fish up to your boat when it still has lots of fight resulting in a tangle of tackle or trying to net a fish that has too much fight to cooperate. Another example of technique failure is when a big salmon dives straight down and the angler wastes his efforts trying to hoist the fish straight back up. Undoubtedly many very big fish are lost that way. The only solution is to loosen your drag and move off to one side so you can turn the head of the fish rather than pull it straight backward. Letting the fight go on too long or trying to make it too short are both examples of lack of technique. To be fair though, derby time or tournament time is a busy time on the water and being crowded by other boats doesn’t make it easy to practice good fish landing techniques. You can always console yourself with that excuse. For sure you can soothe the pain by telling your story to other anglers… who have undoubtedly got their own tales about the one that got away.

    Grant Ferris
    Grey/Bruce Outdoors