When you bring a really big fish close to the boat, chances are it’s not excited about coming onboard. This is often when they put up their biggest fight, and is also a common time when many anglers lose their biggest fish. One simple tip will help you land more big fish at the boat.

“It’s difficult to believe until you see it done, but I do it every day throughout the spring with stripers and redfish, and it will work on most any species of fish,” said Rod Thomas of Capt. Ponytail Charters. “Once you get them to the side of the boat, you turn the fish upside down while it’s still in the water. As soon as it’s upside down, it’s yours to do what you please with it.” 

Thomas (336-240-5649) guides each spring during the monumental striped bass run up North Carolina’s Roanoke River, then spends the summer and fall guiding inshore anglers out of Georgetown, S.C., and he has a lot of experience hooking and landing big redfish and stripers.

After boating these big fish, Thomas said it’s important to help revive them once it’s time to let them go. And simply tossing them back into the water is not the right way to do this.

“You want to place them back in the water, then hold onto their tail. Push their bodies back and forth while keeping them in an upright position,” he said. “This moves water through their gills and helps acclimate them back into their natural habitat. They’ll let you know when they’re ready for you to let go.”