As a co-angler one of my worst fears has always been that I will knock my boaters bass off with the net. The last thing you want to do is cost your boater a check because of your poor netting ability. So I have devised a system that has given me the best chance to avoid this very uncomfortable issue.
Step 1: Have a conversation with the boater in the morning before take off.
This is important because every boater has a different idea of how it should go. Sometimes you will get an experienced boater who has been on the receiving end of a bad net job and will bring it up then other times it will be up to you. Just make sure you talk about it together before taking off that way you are not trying to net a bass your boater hooks on his first cast without a plan.
Step 2: Make sure the net is open and ready as soon as you get to your first stop.
Most of the time the boater will handle this but if he forgets then don’t be afraid to ask him if it is ok for you to get it ready. I like to place the net in between the two seats with the handle pointed up toward the back deck and make sure there is nothing inside of the net. It is easy for stuff to get trapped in the net between rides so you want to make sure after every trip that nothing has fallen into the net and the net has not got hooked on any fishing rods or baits. You do not want to be untangling the net from a rod while your boater is fighting a 6 pounder.
Step 3: What to do when the boater hooks a bass and says “Get the net”
Ok its time and if everything is set up correctly this part should be a breeze. You have the net laid out and ready to go all you have to do is lay down your rod and grab the net. Its ok don’t worry about reeling it in you don’t have the time to waste just make sure you lay the complete rod on the back deck. Do not leave half your rod hanging off the boat to get snagged on something. Now once you have the net watch to see which side of the boat your boater is bringing the bass and if you are unsure then just ask.
Step 4: Assume the netting position.
This is the most critical part of the process because if you don’t have the net in the correct position when the boater pulls his bass up to the top of the water column you will not be able to scoop it up correctly. You want the net facing straight down on the side of the boat to make for an easy scoop and score. Get low down, even on your knees if you can, that way the boater has more room to fight the bass and bring it to your awaiting net.
Step 5: Ask your boater to tell you when the bass is coming up.
During the planning phase, you will tell your boater that you will go to the side of the boat, point the net down and wait for him to tell you when the bass is coming up. This is where you need to use a little common sense because in the heat of the moment, especially if the boater has a good one hooked, he may forget to tell you.
Step 6: NET THE BASS!!
Watch the bass and see when the boater is pulling it up to the surface. Then push the net straight down in the water, scoop under but in the direction of the bass and watch it swim directly over the net before you lift it straight up out of the water.
Step 7: Make sure your boater has the bass before you let go of the net.
Don’t lay it on the deck and take the chance of the bass flopping off the side of the boat. Make sure your boater has a good handle on the bass before you go back to fishing.
That’s it, you are done. Now get back to fishing and make every cast count.