Sometimes big fish seem destined to get away. The angler and crew do everything right, and bad luck can still rear its nasty head to deprive them of a great prize.
But more often, "luck" is made when the fisherman commits some error. He may not even recognize the mistake that costs the catch of the day - or a lifetime. Chances are, however, an experienced charter skipper will; he's likely seen it all before, probably far too many times.
No doubt novices cause the most ulcers for skippers, but fishermen who live in glass bait houses shouldn't throw stones: Even an experienced angler will screw up at some time when a good fish is at stake - most of us have.
And isn't it one of Mr. Murphy's many corollaries that states that the bigger/more prized your fish, the more likely you are to make that amateurish blunder?
One way to avoid committing any of these deadly sins is to know them - to recognize, understand, remember them. I decided to get a handle on which fish-expropriating goofs are the most common and egregious. So I asked 18 top captains, near and far, who fish everything from seatrout to black marlin, "What mistake(s) do your anglers most often make that cost them trophy fish?" Or, I added, put another way: "What inevitably runs through your head when you see an angler hooked up to a great fish, and you think, Now, I just hope he/she doesn't ____________"?
The results are described below. Read 'em and heed 'em. Remembering these actions, especially in the heat of battle, can help you steer clear of showing your expertise at losing a trophy catch.