A sure way to lose a fish is to try to gaff it before it is ready, but even a tired fish often reacts violently to any sudden moves it perceives as threatening. The best way to gaff a fish you plan to keep is to reach smoothly across its back with the gaff, keeping the point facing down, on the underside of the handle. Next, pull the point smartly toward the boat so that it penetrates the back of the fish under the dorsal fin. Once the gaff is set, continue the pulling movement, now at an increasingly upward angle as the fish nears the side of the boat. If done properly, the gaff goes home and the fish moves from the water to the fish box in a single, smooth motion.