FISHING TIP OF THE WEEK: Using The Boat To Catch Big Fish Faster
Photo credit: Richard "Gibby" Gibson
Many captains think the only method for chasing down big fish involves backing down in hot pursuit at high speed, but there’s a better way. Chasing a fish that has taken a considerable amount of line off the reel can be controlled more efficiently by following the fish with the boat moving forward at an angle to the line. This holds true with most big pelagics, including the various billfish species and most tunas.
When a big fish strikes, it will almost always take off away from the boat at an angle; they rarely run straight back from the transom. Once it settles down and you’ve determined where the fish is headed, simply turn the boat in the same direction the fish went, following the line where it enters the water and taking care not to get too close to it in case the fish suddenly changes direction. This is a game of angles and experience will show you the precise place you want the boat to be in relation to the line.
The angler will need to point the rod tip toward where the line enters the water, whether fishing with standup gear or in a chair, and the mate can help guide both the captain and the winder to keep all angles at an optimum. This method gives you better control and it creates a big line belly moving though the water, adding drag on the fish and shortening the fight. As the angler gains line and the gap between the boat and the fish lessens, pay close attention to the line to make sure you don’t cut it off.
When you get close, that’s the time to quickly spin the boat and back down the last few yards to close on the fish. This makes are you keep the fish away from the boat and gives the mate an ideal shot at the leader to either release or gaff it. This method is much more efficient and it’s also safer, as many overzealous captains have flooded the cockpit while backing down at high speed, endangering both the crew and the boat.
By learning to chase them in forward gear, you’ll save wear and tear on yourselves and your equipment, you’ll have better control of the situation, and you’ll quickly learn to catch big fish faster.
John Brownlee is the host of Anglers Journal Television, and the former editor-in-chief of Marlin and Salt Water Sportsman magazines.