Lacrosse is a growing sport out west, but out east where I grew up it was pushed on us harder than the french language. At an early age lacrosse sticks were put in our hands and we were taught how to scoop up grounders, cradle, and hum an indian rubber ball a country mile. I still love the sport, but looking back now I realize it taught me a skill set I would use the rest of my life, netting fish.
After working in Alaska for 12 years I figure I have probably netted a couple hundred thousand fish. I take pride is swiping a fish well before he’s really ready to be landed. I have caught them mid air on jumps half way through a fight and I have dug several feet bellow the water and scooped unsuspecting fish out before they knew what hit them. I keep loose by cradling rocks with my net on the beach and hucking them deep into the forest underhanded.
Even if your net man is a professional lacrosse player you need to live by a few golden rules to ensure your fish is brought to hand. When you double your spey rod over to lift a 15 pound steelheads nose out of the water you will soon realize it seems futile. However a couple tricks to the trade will get you by unharmed. Start by having religious faith in your 12 pound maxima, the stuff will not break as long as you have fishes momentum as you pull up.
Use the long handle of the rod against your body and forearm to get leverage and when the fish is coming your way give it all you got. The second the fish turns away you have lost momentum so abort the mission for now. Your net man can’t scoop your fish tail first, nor can he get a clean swipe if the fish is under water very far.
Your net man is only as good as you set him up to be. Just because you got the fish close to the net doesn’t mean your job is over. This is when crunch time begins. If your guide has to physically grab your leader and lift the fishes head into the net, you have failed him. Stay focused, intense, and reach deep for the strength to get the fishes head up. If you follow my advice the celebratory high five is going to be just around the corner.