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July 12, 2005

10 Ways To Lose A Trophy Fish

You, too, can lose that big fish! Just follow this experts list of 10 Deadly Sins.

4. Don't Follow Your Fish 
"A burly 30-something construction worker was having a prolonged argument with a 275-pound-class mako on a relatively light Penn 30SW outfit. The rod man was doing a decent job on the fish, working the reel's two-speed gear box to his advantage. After a few initial cartwheel jumps, a couple of drag-scorching runs and a handful of surface-to-bottom crash dives in 155 feet of water, the fight was beginning to take on a certain predictable personality.
"But knowing the very unpredictable nature of mako sharks, I grew concerned when the crew started dividing up mako steaks before the fish was even close enough for a gaff shot. Bad karma. And, the fight having taken place mostly in the port corner, I could see the angler was getting a bit overconfident, so I reminded him to be alert, keep the line tight, be ready to move (backing off on the reel's drag lever if necessary).
"No sooner were those words out of my mouth, than the mako, as if on cue, rocketed sky high only 40 feet from the boat and followed up with a mad,
port-to-starboard dash just off the transom. Despite my shouts of "Move to starboard!" the angler reacted too slowly, realizing too late that the mako had put a major-league move on him and that his dinner was now in jeopardy. Before he could make a single lateral step to compensate for the shark's directional change, the mako dashed past the starboard corner right at the surface, then dived for bottom, snagging the bellied line on the outside corner of my starboard trim tab. The rod suddenly popped up, slack; the 50-pound mono was cut clean on the metal's edge."

- Capt. John Raguso
Long Island, New York

Anglers fishing with Raguso use stand-up gear 100 percent of the time, he says. "It's my responsibility to position the boat so the angler has the best shot at the fish; it's his/her responsibility to move across the cockpit sole from one corner to the other anytime a big fish makes sudden high-speed directional changes - like makos, threshers, wahoo, monster mahi or swordies are known to do." The angler's ability to control a large adversary requires him to be in the closest corner; control is difficult from the far side of the boat, he points out.
"Some anglers," says Al Anderson, who skippers the 42-foot NC custom express Prowler from Wakefield, Rhode Island, "when fishing stand-up, suddenly have their shoes nailed to the deck and seem to find it impossible to move along the coaming to follow their fish."

Perhaps in no fishery does staying right with a big fish become more requisite than on San Diego-based long-range boats where deckhands may constantly remind their passengers, "Follow that fish! No angle, no tangle!" Good advice for just about all anglers in any situation.