Recovering Lines Safely

It is easy to get careless with fishing lines out on the ocean. It is easy to think, “I have been trolling for hours, and not a strike. There are no fish here.” That can be very dangerous.

When recovering handlines, or when clearing tangles or otherwise dealing with trolling lines it is vital that you always remember that at any second a very large fish could grab that lure and instantly be moving away at high speed. Every game fish in the ocean is capable of speeds of 30 knots, with wahoo and sailfish good for over 50. If you have a loop of line around a body part when it comes tight at those speeds, you could be in a world of hurt.

I was reminded of this on our recent passage when I was recovering a hand line as the sun set (we do not normally troll at night). As the cedar plug approached the boat, a small tuna who had been sheltering under our hull darted out and hit it within 20 feet of the boat. Without any shock absorber in the system the strike bent the hook, and he got away, but it reinforced the need to always be ready for that line to snap tight, even when you are done fishing for the day!

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