10. Don't Stay Focused on the Fight
"Take a deep breath, slow down and focus on the job at hand!" That's the advice Capt. Brad Phillipps offers his anglers, having observed "buck fever" strike some during the excitement of hooking up a trophy. Keep aware of advice from skipper and crew and on what's going on around you, advises Phillipps, who fishes Guatemala from the Pelagian. That "focus," he advises, doesn't mean tunnel vision.
Kennedy echoes that sentiment. Most times when his boat loses big fish, he says, it's "due to the angler not being completely aware of his/her surroundings. When a reel starts screaming, even some of my most experienced anglers seem to get so involved in the microtask of reeling in their fish that they lose all consciousness of what's going on in the world around them. They turn into some kind of reel-winding zombie, not paying attention to what's happening with other people [and tackle] aboard, the seas and so on."
Or not paying attention to directions. "For whatever reason, some anglers suddenly become deaf once they're connected to a big fish," Anderson says. "They can't or don't any longer hear helpful directions and suggestions to prevent disaster!"
Of course, these 10 great ways to lose trophy fish hardly represent the total list. Anglers commit a variety of other faux pas cited by the pros who see such things day in and day out. There's knocking a drag lever into free-spool (at the worst possible moment) - oops! Or failing to guide line evenly onto a conventional reel so the buildup freezes the spool - uh-oh! Letting the line touch the hull, and a myriad of other possible screw-ups just waiting to happen.
But they don't have to happen, especially for those aware of such mistakes. Now that you know the most effective ways to lose that big fish - remember the "instructions" and do the opposite.