Netting a fish is usually the surest way of getting it in your boat; but, it’s not always the best practice, especially if your intend to release it. That’s because often your hooks get caught in the mesh, and you spend too much time trying to get them untangled.
Then again, if you’re a scatterbrain like us, because you’re excited about going fishing, your net is usually the one thing you forget. Not to worry. You really don’t need a net to land even a big fish.
In fact, with toothless species like bass and crappies, the easiest way to land them is by putting your thumb into their mouths and lifting them up. Fishermen, who try this for the very first time, usually are amazed at how effectively it paralyzes the fish, and makes hook removal so fast and simple.
The key words though, are toothless fish. You wouldn’t want to try lipping a walleye, pike, muskie or king salmon. Not unless you were eager to lose a digit or two.
Anyway, there’s another technique for these species which is just as simple. It’s the gill cover compression technique. To land fish this way folks, you slowly lead them alongside your boat, and then bring your hand from the back of the fish up toward its head. When you hand is over it gill plates, simply squeeze them firmly, but gently, together and lift up the fish.
Just like the lip grip method, this technique virtually paralyzes the fish, making the removal of your hooks quick and easy. Remember though that you put your hand over the gill flaps, NOT in the gills themselves. And, don’t squeeze so hard that you damage the fish’s gills which are protected by the covers.
Forgot the net at home, did you? Well, that’s no problem. Not when you know the lip and gill flap compression techniques for landing fish.