How to Land a Fish

Landing a fish is not difficult, but a careful exercise, for both you and the fish. These simple beginner fishing tips teach you how.

How to Land a Fish: Steps

Now that you’ve learned the fundamentals of how to fish (e.g., how to cast, how to reel in a fishing line, how to hook a fish when it bites, etc.), it is time for the last step in learning how to catch fish. After all, what good is it to master all the previous steps if you cannot land the fish you’ve hooked? Follow the steps below to maximize your chances for successful landings.

  1. As your fish gets closer to the boat, drop your entire rod and reel to your waist.
  2. If the fish goes under the boat, get your rod tip in the water and follow it.
  3. If you can see the fish, you'll know when it's tired. It'll roll over on its side to let you know it’s ready to be landed. And if you can't see the fish, you'll be able to feel it.
  4. For smaller fish, such as crappie simply lift them by hand or by a fishing net from the water quickly then cradle the fish around the belly to remove the hook.

How to Net a Fish: Steps

Usually the best way to land a larger fish, or one with sharp teeth is with a fishing net.

  1. Place the fishing net in the water and lead the fish into the net head first.
  2. Don't stab the net at the fish. If you don't get it the first time, re-aim and try again.
  3. Get it out of the water and take the hook out as quickly as possible so you can either release it promptly or stash it in a livewell or fishbox to eat at home.

Using a fishing net is also great when learning how to catch fish, especially when you want to practice catch and release. Rubber nets are preferred for catch and release fishing because they are safer for the fish. Nets minimizes the amount you touch a fish. Learn more about of these tactics in the catch and release section.

Landed a keeper? Check out our how to fillet a fish page for tips in the preparing your catch section.