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10 Angling Errors Likely to Cost You a Trophy Fish

By Doug Olander

Article courtesy of Sport Fishing magazine/World Publications LLC


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.

  1. Let Your Line Go Slack
  2. Let Your Line Get Tip-Wrapped
  3. Don't Keep Steady Pressure on the Fish
  4. Don't Follow Your Fish
  5. Be Unprepared or Ineffective at the Strike
  6. Fail to Rely on your reel's Drag or use it improperly
  7. Using Your Own Rigs/Tackle When that's Not up to the Job
  8. Screw Around with a Rod Belt or Harness Midfight
  9. Horse Your Trophy When It's Near the Boat
  10. Don't Stay Focused on the Fight