FISHING TIP OF THE WEEK: The End Game
When fighting a big fish from the cockpit, you need to have a clear plan about how that fight will ultimately be resolved. That leaves you with two choices: kill the fish, or release it. With either option, a well planned strategy will help ensure success.
If you’re bringing in a fish you wish to harvest and eat, say, a tuna, dolphin or wahoo, your plan must include a dedicated person to wield a gaff or net, and possibly a wire man to boot. If you’ve rigged with a wind-on leader that enables you to wind the fish to the rod tip, you may be able to omit the wire man, but you still got to figure out how to get the fish into the boat and the fish box.
It always works best when you play the fish to one corner of the transom or the other, rather than bringing it to the center. By keeping the boat in gear with one engine and slowly moving forward in a circle, you can maintain good control over the fish and lead it into range of the gaff. But if the fish comes to the center of the transom, you risk losing control and offering the gaff man a poor shot, potentially losing the fish.
The same holds true when releasing large fish. It simply works best to bring them to the corner, where you can leader them for a quick photo and then cut the leader as close to the hook as possible. By talking over your end-game strategy with your crew and having a firm assignment for everyone, you maximize your chances of landing a truly awesome fish.