How to Net a Fish

Jordan, Rick and Chase

Until yesterday, I had never given it a second thought that someone might not know how to net a fish. I sometimes forget that what comes as second nature to me is a very new experience to someone else and can be quite challenging. I thought I would share this experience with all of you in the hope it is helpful.

My charter started out with a father and his two boys, 11 and 19. We were trolling for walleye out on the Canadian line. After a couple hours of instruction on how to bait the crawler harnesses, use the line counter reels correctly, attach the inline planer boards, set them out, and retrieve them, I went to the bow of the boat saying, “We’ve caught your fish for your fish fry tonight, and you seem to know what you’re doing now, so now it’s up to you guys to do all the work and just have fun!”  

Well, the one thing I never explained was how to use the big walleye nets I have in my boat, because I had been netting all the fish that morning.

Is this the only way to do it? Maybe not, but after years of netting fish successfully, (mostly), it might work for you too. You see, the nets I use have a very large basket on them, and if the bottom of the basket isn’t held with one hand while also holding the handle before it enters the water, it will drift back in the water making it impossible to capture the fish. The netting will float back with the current and get in front of the basket opening, blocking the fish from entering it. Or, it will catch an exposed hook on the wrong side of the net and the fish will be able to shake free.

When the older brother grabbed the net to help his Dad land a fish, I instructed him to hold the bottom of the net like I explained above. With an obstructed view I watched him unsuccessfully go after the biggest walleye of the morning. When I could finally see what was going on I realized he was never letting go of the net when it entered the water. The walleye just bounced off the taught netting time and time again. The fish won that fight and swam off. As I explained how the net works, his little brother was giving him the “what for” and we all laughed. 

So, the next time you hand someone a net, don’t take for granted that they know how to use it.

Captain Juls can be contacted by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or by phone at 419-835-7347. Her website address is

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