More fish are lost during the lipping, swinging, gaffing, or net- ting than at any other point during the fight. And if you can’t get that fish out of the water and into your fishbox, the rest of the story is academic. Ever heard a tale about the big one that got away? Yeah, we thought so. Unless you want to be
the one telling that story, now’s the time to listen up. Let’s take a look at each
of these four methods to bring a fish on board and the best way to apply them.
The End Game: Landing Your Catch
Once a fish is solidly hooked, chances are you’ll get it up to the boat.
But getting it over the gunwales is another matter
Lipping A Fish
Inserting your thumb or finger into a
struggling fish’s mouth and gripping its
jaw is certainly not the most effective
way to get it in the boat. Nor is it the
most physically comfortable, because on
most boats, it means kneeling or bending down to get as close to the water as
possible. But it does have several very
important advantages. First and most
important, it’s one of the least-harmful
ways of catching and releasing a fish.
More on that later. Another advantage
is the fact that you don’t need any extra
equipment to do it.
However, you should expect to lose
quite a few of the fish you attempt to
land by lipping; often the fish will make a
last-ditch effort to get away as you reach
down, and quite often, it’ll be successful.
So reserve lipping for the fish you aren’t
terribly concerned about landing. There
is, of course, one other overriding factor
to consider: Don’t lip a fish unless you’re
1,000 percent sure it doesn’t have sharp
teeth. More than one newbie has grown
accustomed to lipping one bass after
another, then made the mistake of lipping a toothy pickerel. Ouch.
■ Use your thumb to pinch down on the
fish’s lower jaw; this will give you the
■ Tilting the fish so it’s slightly horizontal will help immobilize it.
■ Be careful about using this technique
whenever treble hooks are involved, as
fish will often thrash around and may
set the other tines of the hook into
■ There are several mechanical fish-gripping devices, such as the Boga
Lipping is a quick, if
somewhat risky, way
to land fish that don’t
have sharp teeth.
By Lenny Rudow