Hooking a big fish is always a thrill, so when it’s time to get it in the net, you don’t want things going wrong there. Plenty of anglers have had their hearts broken after tricking their fish-of-a-lifetime into biting, then playing it cool long enough to keep it from breaking the line or running into thick cover that makes landing them impossible, only to knock the fish off with their net. Or worse, having their fishing partner knock the fish off.

Capt. Jimmy Price of Southport’s Wildlife Bait and Tackle said anglers can catch fish a million different ways, but he said there’s only one way to properly net a fish.

“A lot of people make the mistake of trying to net a fish from behind. They think they’re going to sneak up from the rear and scoop them right up. The problem is, as soon as the fish feels something touch his tail, he’s going to get scared and swim. And he can swim up, down, left, or right, or straight,” said Price.

The right way to scoop that fish up, said Price, is head first.

“When you put the net in front of his head, he’s got nowhere to swim but into the net. A fish isn’t like your car. He doesn’t have reverse. Put that net right in front of him. Maybe he’ll just sit still and you can scoop him up. If he tries to swim, you’ve got him. He can’t go up, down, left, or right now. He’s got nowhere to go but straight into the net,” he said.

Price said that advice does no good if anglers don’t have a net handy when that fish strikes. Storing the net under the boat deck is a good plan to keep it from blowing out while you’re running to your favorite fishing hole, but it does no good to have it there once a fish strikes.

“You have to get it out and in a convenient spot before the fish hits. The last thing you want to do when fighting that fish is to fumble around trying to find the net,” he said.

Watch the netting job in this video, as this team member from Drum Daughter Fishing misses from beside the fish, then properly lands it head first.