Please Sign In

Please enter a valid username and password
  • Log in with Facebook
» Not a member? Take a moment to register
» Forgot Username or Password

Why Register?
Signing up could earn you gear (click here to learn how)! It also keeps offensive content off our site.

Why I Think Nets Should Be Allowed in Bass Tournaments

Recent Comments

Categories

Recent Posts

Archives

Syndicate

Google Reader or Homepage
Add to My Yahoo!
Add to My AOL

The Lateral Line
in your Inbox

Enter your email address to get our new post everyday.

June 10, 2013

Why I Think Nets Should Be Allowed in Bass Tournaments

By Dave Wolak

A while back a reader asked why pro bass anglers don’t use nets in tournaments. To many, a net may seem the safest and surest way to get a money fish in the boat. But the use of nets is actually a huge debate, with many anglers and tournament directors split on the decision.

It comes down to categorizing the argument three ways: what’s best for the bass, for the angler, and for the excitement. Personally, I am for the use of nets in tournaments and recreational bass fishing. That’s because I believe proper care of the fish is of the utmost importance, and quite honestly, fish care can be lacking at times without the use of nets. So these are my “pro net” answers to the three facets of the argument.

The Bass - A long fight is stressful on a bass, and hand landing a fish often prolongs that fight. Nets help cut the fight short by allowing the angler to scoop the catch on the first pass rather than risking potential misses when the bass freaks out at boatside. In my experience, netting also seems to have a somewhat calming effect on the bass. Now, let's say the bass fishing method you are practicing involves heavy line and a heavy rod/reel combo. Perhaps you’re strong enough to flip that pig right into the boat without a net. That’s fine, but if I do flip a fish, I try to give the bass a little love by doing my best to reduce the amount of time it’s on the floor, which can remove the protective slime coat. To that end, always flip the fish toward you, get a hold of it quickly, and try to keep it off the floor

The Angler – Though it may sound funny, I’m for the use of nets for safety reasons. Some anglers have more agility and technical skill than others, but no matter how agile you are, trying to lip a leaping smallmouth with three sets of trebles hanging out of its mouth in 3-foot waves is not easy. So now, both the well-being of the angler and the fish are at risk with the lack of a net.

The Excitement - People who are against nets say they take the athleticism and excitement out of watching bass fishing on TV. I feel this is a totally invalid argument considering we’re talking about the tiniest fraction of time. Do you want to sacrifice fish care for the short-term excitement of the sport? I don’t think so. And the last time I checked, you can still miss a fish with the net...and it's just as dramatic.

Comments (15)

Top Rated
All Comments
from buckhunter wrote 44 weeks 6 days ago

You would think in this day and age of conservation, nets would be required for the safety of the fish.

I also believe nets should be required for native trout and muskie. Natives are fragile and brought to hand while they still have lots of wiggle left.

I goes without saying with muskie.

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from themadflyfisher wrote 44 weeks 6 days ago

I agree.
I have always wondered why nets aren't used in tournaments. A lot of guys handle the fish very poorly when fishing tournaments also, so nets would make them slow for that couple seconds and pay attention to what they're doing. Also yanking a 6# fish 6 feet in the air by a hook in it's lip can and does damage the fish's mouth.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from the Preacher wrote 44 weeks 6 days ago

Absolutely. Many new anglers watch these tournament tv shows as a main learning tool. Then they go out to their local waters and act like madmen ripping fish out of the water, high sticking on the hook set and breaking rods. We know now that it is not good to even lift a bass up by the lip.

Bass fishermen could really use a lesson from fly fishermen haha. but trout being a little more sensitive taught us the importance of proper catch and release techniques. Bass fishermen will come around.

I got scorn once as I unhooked a bass while it was still in the water and released it with almost no touching of the actual fish. They couldnt imagine why I would lift out this 3 pound fish to show off.

Europeans have the safe release thing pretty down, especially carp fishermen. I would love to see fish slings and fish mats become the norm here

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from 1uglymutha wrote 44 weeks 6 days ago

As a former recreational tournament bass fisherman I enjoy watching the pros on tv. The question of the humane handling of fish that are to be released is one that has been debated much, like "Which is the better cartridge for deer- the .270 or the 30-06?" There are many proponents on both sides of the issue. Many theories have been expounded but none have caught the attention of these Pro tournament organizers to any significant degree. Like many, I agree that what's best for the fish is best for the sport. But getting any two people to agree on what is right and proper is difficult.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from MattM37 wrote 44 weeks 6 days ago

Nets or no nets, bass tournaments will still be examples of fishing that has nothing to do with good conservation or respect for nature. I'd be pleased if Field and Stream never mentioned them again.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 44 weeks 6 days ago

Matt, it's just the opposite. The reason there are so many fish hatcheries raising bass, bass seasons and bass conservation groups is because of the high demand for bass fishing. Part of the reason for this demand are the numerous bass tournaments around the country.

As harsh as this may sound, it's simple economics.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from MattM37 wrote 44 weeks 6 days ago

I see your points, Buckhunter, but I'll also raise this one: How many of the tournament-inspired fishermen are people we'd rather not see fishing -- for the kinds of activities mentioned in some of the comments above, not to mention the increase in lake pollution from the ridiculous number of boats on the water come tournament weekend? I'm with you on the economics; it's the same thing as deer-hunting here in Central New York, where a scary percentage of hunters are morons and slobs but without those license sales, the conservation dept. wouldn't have the funds for many worthwhile projects. I guess everything is six of one, half a dozen of the other.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from casestevenson wrote 44 weeks 5 days ago

looks like i'm buying a net with this next paycheck! awesome article!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from David Wolak wrote 44 weeks 5 days ago

Thanks,
One other point, the rubber-type nets (like shown above) are great for handling fish, but are somewhat heavy and difficult to maneuver by yourself (in one hand) while trying to net a fish. Check different types of nets(for the main way you will be fishing) at your sporting goods retailers to locate the best mix of easy-handling, size and coated fabric for fish care.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Woods Walker wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

Excellent comments - especially those by MattM37! One should never confuse fish tournaments with any aspect of conservation. As Buckhunter put it so succinctly, tournaments are simply a matter of economics.

Frankly, in my humble opinion, whether the contestants use a net or not is a relatively minor (but important)aspect of injury to the fish. Being put in a live well for most of a day - often with a number tag attached to the fish, jostled around the holding tank as the boat races from location to location, then being handled, weighed, etc at the tournament HQ, then dumped in a holding tank until being transported out to some location that may be new to them, then being netted/dumped back into the water body is extremely traumatic. Most of the water used in each of the above steps is a a different temperature and chemical composition - something that is hard on any fish. In a recent walleye tournament, a friend of mine estimated that the fish were placed in 5 different water temperatures using water from at least 3 different sources. Even pet stores do not recommend this approach to handling goldfish.

The only answer in my opinion is to put a judge on each competitors boat to immediately weigh and size the fish, then immediately return the fish to the water. While this would still not be perfect, it would at least cut down on the stressers affecting the fish health and survival. Short of that, I do not ever see myself in favor of professional tournaments.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Drover1 wrote 44 weeks 3 days ago

I agree. Whenever I see tournament fishing on TV I’m appalled at the way those “sportsmen” treat the fish they catch. On a related note, I was surprised by the following quote in the latest issue of Field & Stream magazine, in an article about throwing a variety of lures at spawning bass, by Don Wirth (Page 38): “Unless you are in a tournament, spawning bass should be handled gently and released near their bed.” Huh?? What?? Unless you are in a tournament? Why should tournament “sportsmen” have a different ethical standard than other fishermen? What tournament would schedule their stupid game during the spawn?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Iclasticons wrote 44 weeks 3 days ago

Thanks for a thoughtful blog, Dave. I sportfish and fish local tournaments and am a firm believer in nets. Rubber nets and other treated nets that protect the fish while easing hook removal are easily found and worth their weight in gold. No caught fish should spend time getting carpet burns or bouncing off the buttseat, windshields, gunnels or anything else. Wet hands, nets, good live well management are essential to the future of the sport.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from David Wolak wrote 44 weeks 2 days ago

Thanks,
To their credit, most tournament organizations(and serious anglers) do work hard to protect the fish and have made many advancements in fish care. It makes sense for them to be on the winning side in fish care as well.
Another little tip in fish handling that I have utilized over the years is to thoroughly wet (by dipping in the water) your measuring board before measuring a fish. Those metal measuring boards could get awful hot in the sun and can remove the slime coat of a bass if dry and hot.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from haverodwilltravel wrote 44 weeks 11 hours ago

Dave, you are right, they are wrong. Unless one plans on eating a fish....all concerns must go to the safe release of the fish. If you C&R you should try and leave the fish in the water and take as much time reviving it as you did fighting it.
If you can't because of photos or a tournament, then you should use a rubber net in trying to keep it and the fish in the water as best you can.
Some of these "Pros" should be ashamed of their fish landing antics. Seriously, some are starting to act like wrestlers dressed as Nascar drivers and the chatter sounds like banter from a rodeo. JUST FISH!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from haverodwilltravel wrote 44 weeks 10 hours ago

......also. How come all televised tournaments haven't gone to the weigh in on the boat and immediate release, like the Beef Jerky circuit? If they used a rubber net....IMHO they would be the best tournament system out there. No live wells, no laundry basket, no laser light show and a release miles from where the fish was caught. Seems like a conservation no brainer to me.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from buckhunter wrote 44 weeks 6 days ago

You would think in this day and age of conservation, nets would be required for the safety of the fish.

I also believe nets should be required for native trout and muskie. Natives are fragile and brought to hand while they still have lots of wiggle left.

I goes without saying with muskie.

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from the Preacher wrote 44 weeks 6 days ago

Absolutely. Many new anglers watch these tournament tv shows as a main learning tool. Then they go out to their local waters and act like madmen ripping fish out of the water, high sticking on the hook set and breaking rods. We know now that it is not good to even lift a bass up by the lip.

Bass fishermen could really use a lesson from fly fishermen haha. but trout being a little more sensitive taught us the importance of proper catch and release techniques. Bass fishermen will come around.

I got scorn once as I unhooked a bass while it was still in the water and released it with almost no touching of the actual fish. They couldnt imagine why I would lift out this 3 pound fish to show off.

Europeans have the safe release thing pretty down, especially carp fishermen. I would love to see fish slings and fish mats become the norm here

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from themadflyfisher wrote 44 weeks 6 days ago

I agree.
I have always wondered why nets aren't used in tournaments. A lot of guys handle the fish very poorly when fishing tournaments also, so nets would make them slow for that couple seconds and pay attention to what they're doing. Also yanking a 6# fish 6 feet in the air by a hook in it's lip can and does damage the fish's mouth.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from David Wolak wrote 44 weeks 5 days ago

Thanks,
One other point, the rubber-type nets (like shown above) are great for handling fish, but are somewhat heavy and difficult to maneuver by yourself (in one hand) while trying to net a fish. Check different types of nets(for the main way you will be fishing) at your sporting goods retailers to locate the best mix of easy-handling, size and coated fabric for fish care.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from haverodwilltravel wrote 44 weeks 11 hours ago

Dave, you are right, they are wrong. Unless one plans on eating a fish....all concerns must go to the safe release of the fish. If you C&R you should try and leave the fish in the water and take as much time reviving it as you did fighting it.
If you can't because of photos or a tournament, then you should use a rubber net in trying to keep it and the fish in the water as best you can.
Some of these "Pros" should be ashamed of their fish landing antics. Seriously, some are starting to act like wrestlers dressed as Nascar drivers and the chatter sounds like banter from a rodeo. JUST FISH!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from MattM37 wrote 44 weeks 6 days ago

I see your points, Buckhunter, but I'll also raise this one: How many of the tournament-inspired fishermen are people we'd rather not see fishing -- for the kinds of activities mentioned in some of the comments above, not to mention the increase in lake pollution from the ridiculous number of boats on the water come tournament weekend? I'm with you on the economics; it's the same thing as deer-hunting here in Central New York, where a scary percentage of hunters are morons and slobs but without those license sales, the conservation dept. wouldn't have the funds for many worthwhile projects. I guess everything is six of one, half a dozen of the other.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Woods Walker wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

Excellent comments - especially those by MattM37! One should never confuse fish tournaments with any aspect of conservation. As Buckhunter put it so succinctly, tournaments are simply a matter of economics.

Frankly, in my humble opinion, whether the contestants use a net or not is a relatively minor (but important)aspect of injury to the fish. Being put in a live well for most of a day - often with a number tag attached to the fish, jostled around the holding tank as the boat races from location to location, then being handled, weighed, etc at the tournament HQ, then dumped in a holding tank until being transported out to some location that may be new to them, then being netted/dumped back into the water body is extremely traumatic. Most of the water used in each of the above steps is a a different temperature and chemical composition - something that is hard on any fish. In a recent walleye tournament, a friend of mine estimated that the fish were placed in 5 different water temperatures using water from at least 3 different sources. Even pet stores do not recommend this approach to handling goldfish.

The only answer in my opinion is to put a judge on each competitors boat to immediately weigh and size the fish, then immediately return the fish to the water. While this would still not be perfect, it would at least cut down on the stressers affecting the fish health and survival. Short of that, I do not ever see myself in favor of professional tournaments.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Drover1 wrote 44 weeks 3 days ago

I agree. Whenever I see tournament fishing on TV I’m appalled at the way those “sportsmen” treat the fish they catch. On a related note, I was surprised by the following quote in the latest issue of Field & Stream magazine, in an article about throwing a variety of lures at spawning bass, by Don Wirth (Page 38): “Unless you are in a tournament, spawning bass should be handled gently and released near their bed.” Huh?? What?? Unless you are in a tournament? Why should tournament “sportsmen” have a different ethical standard than other fishermen? What tournament would schedule their stupid game during the spawn?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from haverodwilltravel wrote 44 weeks 10 hours ago

......also. How come all televised tournaments haven't gone to the weigh in on the boat and immediate release, like the Beef Jerky circuit? If they used a rubber net....IMHO they would be the best tournament system out there. No live wells, no laundry basket, no laser light show and a release miles from where the fish was caught. Seems like a conservation no brainer to me.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 1uglymutha wrote 44 weeks 6 days ago

As a former recreational tournament bass fisherman I enjoy watching the pros on tv. The question of the humane handling of fish that are to be released is one that has been debated much, like "Which is the better cartridge for deer- the .270 or the 30-06?" There are many proponents on both sides of the issue. Many theories have been expounded but none have caught the attention of these Pro tournament organizers to any significant degree. Like many, I agree that what's best for the fish is best for the sport. But getting any two people to agree on what is right and proper is difficult.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from MattM37 wrote 44 weeks 6 days ago

Nets or no nets, bass tournaments will still be examples of fishing that has nothing to do with good conservation or respect for nature. I'd be pleased if Field and Stream never mentioned them again.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 44 weeks 6 days ago

Matt, it's just the opposite. The reason there are so many fish hatcheries raising bass, bass seasons and bass conservation groups is because of the high demand for bass fishing. Part of the reason for this demand are the numerous bass tournaments around the country.

As harsh as this may sound, it's simple economics.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from casestevenson wrote 44 weeks 5 days ago

looks like i'm buying a net with this next paycheck! awesome article!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Iclasticons wrote 44 weeks 3 days ago

Thanks for a thoughtful blog, Dave. I sportfish and fish local tournaments and am a firm believer in nets. Rubber nets and other treated nets that protect the fish while easing hook removal are easily found and worth their weight in gold. No caught fish should spend time getting carpet burns or bouncing off the buttseat, windshields, gunnels or anything else. Wet hands, nets, good live well management are essential to the future of the sport.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from David Wolak wrote 44 weeks 2 days ago

Thanks,
To their credit, most tournament organizations(and serious anglers) do work hard to protect the fish and have made many advancements in fish care. It makes sense for them to be on the winning side in fish care as well.
Another little tip in fish handling that I have utilized over the years is to thoroughly wet (by dipping in the water) your measuring board before measuring a fish. Those metal measuring boards could get awful hot in the sun and can remove the slime coat of a bass if dry and hot.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment