Question: Why are fish lost?
Jim Dant, IL, had a cooler of Reelfoot crappie in the isle of the Grizzly Jig Show where he was visiting with customers about Bobby Garland Jigs. This tournament fisherman says, “Hookset and slack line in the leaders are primary reasons for lost fish. I’ve been fishing a lot at Reelfoot Lake using double minnow rigs. I changed from a typical Capps/Coleman double-hook rig to putting the weight on bottom and shortening the extensions, or leaders. Putting the hook only two inches from the main line gives a more direct path for setting the hook. Fish I had been losing are now getting and staying hooked. My catch per bite ratio has probably doubled. I do set the hook firmly but try not to go overboard with it.”
Josh Gowan, LA, fishing guide, says, “Not netting a fish. Single poling there shouldn’t be many lost fish unless the bite is ultralight. The second a fish hits with a decent bite you should be setting the hook. Always use a net for a large crappie.”
Steve Coleman, TN, 8-time National Champ, says “Hookset is the number one reason for lost fish. Most sets are too light. If you see a hit the fish has it in its mouth. If it’s not a quick hookset or just lifted up instead of being set, the fish usually won’t be caught.”
John Martens, MO, tournament fisherman, says, “Netting. The number one time for us to lose a fish is when it gets to the top of the water before the net gets under the fish. All it takes is a head flip and it’s off. With a 16-foot pole and the fish coming up way out it just happens sometimes.”
Rodney Neuhaus, IL, double Classic wins in 2015, says, “Netting and playing the fish. The only time I think about losing a fish is when we are tournament fishing. Most of the time it will happen when I have the head out of the water getting it to the net. That’s when they’ll shake the hook. Mentally I go to tournaments expecting to lose a fish so it doesn’t hurt as bad and I don’t let it bother me all day. In general, I believe big fish are often lost when letting them run too long, or, horsing it in too quickly. Keeping firm pressure without overdoing it is the key. This takes practice.”
Tony Sheppard, KY, Crappie Masters Classic Champ says, “Hookset that is too light. A light and limber pole needs a fast, strong hookset. We set the hook hard. For me part of it is because I get excited every time I get a bite, but I want to set it hard anyway so that’s okay. Fishermen don’t have to worry about being too hard and causing the hook to come out unless they really overdo it.”