Musky America Magazine December Edition

2. Nets versus cradles: There are good arguments to be made for both netting a Muskie in a traditional net or the use of a cradle, which is a fine mesh netting connecting to two long poles like a sling. The decision is up to the angler on which to use and what your more comfortable with. There is no doubt a cradle is gentler on the fish but the Muskie must be fought longer to ensure its settled down enough to be guided into the cradle. Personally, I use a net for all my Muskies and have pretty good luck with it and have successfully released every fish thus far. I try to net the fish quickly and get my samples and photos before a releasing the fish. The problem with a net arises when the lure is hooked in the fish and also in the net webbing. A thrashing fish can get the line, lure, and hooks entangled for a real mess. A net can also slit the various fins on a Muskie but its inconclusive whether this effects fish in a negative way. Regardless, if you're using a net or a cradle it's a good idea to keep the fish in the water while you’re working out the hooks. This will give you a bit more time to work. Never try to gill the fish out of the water with your hand. You often see this on various Muskie fishing episodes on TV. This is a foolish way to land a fish. Imagine that fish thrashing with one hook in its mouth and the other in your hand! 3. Have the proper tools: Make sure you have a good set of pliers, side cutters, tape measure, and knife. If a particular hook is embedded in the fish's mouth and won't come out, cut the barb with the side cutters rather than tearing up the mouth of the fish. Often the hook will pull back out once the barb is removed. Even if a piece of the hook has to be left in the fish's mouth it's much better than tearing them up and taking too much time working out the hooks. The pieces will eventually rust out or the fish will spit it out later.