9. Horse Your Trophy When It's Near the Boat
"What I worry most about right from the start [of a trophy-fish hookup] is whether the angler will be able to [keep pulling] on that fish at the last 50 feet, when it's at 'color,'" says Tommy Rothery, skipper of the Polaris Supreme, a San-Diego-based long-range boat.
The tricky end-game moments are, for many professionals, a particularly scary time. Just when the angler needs to maintain a cool head, he's likely to become addled at the sight of a trophy catch. It's just then, with very little line out to cushion sudden movements, that the angler must be alert and handle with care, not brute force. Experts agree that it's a time to concentrate on angle of pull, and if a circumstance warrants backing off on the drag, this would be it.
"Horsing a fish while a deckhand is wiring it may help the mate's ego until the leader snaps or chafes through," says Sacco. "Don't bring a fish to the boat until [everything is] ready!" He counsels patience to his anglers.
A particular form of horsing worries Bacon, who tries to get his anglers hooked up to a big fish to keep its head in the water when the fish is at the surface near the boat. "Many anglers instinctively want to lift the fish's head out of the water, but fish don't seem to appreciate the fresh air and go hog wild when the least length of shock-absorbing line is involved." He has seen too many bragging rights lost at the last minute in just this way.