Fluke have a penchant for boatside escapes, but with preparation, and a refined technique, you’ll greatly improve your odds of getting that doormat into the boat. Here are 9 tips for making sure your fluke hits the deck, learned through painful experience.
1. Always scoop the fish head-first.
2. Wait to flash the net until the angler has steered the fish close to the boat. When you fully extend your arms, you lose the ability to move the net quickly through the water, giving the fluke time to thrash and throw the hook before it’s surrounded by the mesh.
3. Keep multiple landing nets on the vessel. When the fluke bite is on, it can get downright hectic, so having two or three nets is a big plus. Anglers can then lend each other a hand or net their own fish depending on how crazy the action gets.
4. Don’t net fish that don’t look like keepers. Doing so runs the unnecessary risk of tangling the rig in the net, which can cost you a larger fish.
5. Keep the net in the same, convenient location. This will keep you and your fishing buddies from frantically asking, “Where’s the net?” when a big doormat swims into view. Some fishermen prefer using the T-top and some like an out-of-the-way rod-holder; others like to lean or wedge the net in an area where the handle can be easily grasped when needed. No matter where you keep your landing net, you should make sure it’s not going to get caught on cleats, rods, hooks or any other items on the boat.
6. If you have a big fluke near the surface but are waiting for the net, leave the fish a few feet below the surface and keep tension on the fish. The fluke will remain calmer a few feet underwater than it will on the surface, making it less likely to shake the hook.
7. Fluke are capable of swimming backwards and will do so at impressive speed to avoid the net. Make sure the angler keeps pressure on the fish until it’s in the net.