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Fishing with Capt. Gus: Don't forget the landing net

The landing net is arguably the most frequently forgotten item on any fishing trip.
If you leave the net at home, you can almost guarantee that you will hook and lose a big fish at the boat. To quote a popular reminder, “Don’t leave home without it.”
A dip net, as some call it, is both a blessing and a challenge. It can be used to land a trophy fish, when manipulated by skilled hands, but the bulk of the net makes it hard to stow and the netting material easily tangles everything in site.
An inexpensive, short handled, nylon net with a small hoop will do the trick some of the time, but a seasoned angler knows that it is a “must” to match the net to the size of the fish. Landing nets come in a variety of lengths, hoop sizes, and materials. When purchasing, consider the following.
The handle is an important factor. Short handled nets are preferred when stream fishing for trout, but longer handles are needed to reach out from docks, piers and boats. The longer the net, the more difficult to transport and stow, so some models come with adjustable handles.
Also, consider that the handle should be rigid enough to move through the water and strong enough to lift a big fish to the boat without crimping, bending or breaking. A good net will also have a gripping feature to prevent it from slipping from wet hands.
What about hoop size and material? A little hoop makes the netting of a small darting fish a big challenge. Larger hoops give the angler more “wiggle room.”
Hoop sizes on long handled nets vary from a small 14 by 16 inches to 30 by 30 inches or larger. Because larger hoops are bulky, some models collapse when not in use. Net depths vary as well, and range from 12 inches to more than 36 inches for capturing long-bodied fish.
Various netting materials should also be considered. In today’s fish-friendly world, micro-mesh without knots and space-age rubber netting reduces the risk of harming the fish and all but eliminates hooks from tangling.
Landing nets are like everything else that you purchase. You get what you pay for. Prices range from about $10 to more than $100. Remember, a quality net could make the difference in landing or losing a big fish.
Consider a landing net with a black handle, hoop and netting material. Black is said to be less obvious to the fish than the silver and gold materials that adorn some nets.
Upcoming Events: The 10th Annual Lake Norman Striped Bass Fish Fry will be held at Midway Bait and Tackle, Terrell, on Saturday, from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. This fundraiser is sponsored by the Norman Fishery Alliance (NFA) and the Lake Norman Striper Swipers. For more information call 704 663 9441.
The surface water temperature is in the 70s and low 80s. The lake level is 3.6 feet below full pond.
You can visit www.lakenormanstriperfishing. com or call Gus Gustafson at 704-617-6812. E-mail him at Gus@LakeNorman. com.

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