Don’t you just love it when a fish you’re fighting jumps clear out of the water. It invariably brings ooohs and aaahs from anyone within sight. It’s sort of a climax to all that fishing stands for.
However, in the middle of a jump is when many fish make their real bid for freedom and throw the hook disdainfully back at the hapless fisherman.
What should you do when a fish jumps? In the excitement of the moment it seems there’s not much anyone can do but let the fish jump and pray the hook stays stuck. However, many a fish has been lost in mid-leap that could have been caught had the angler been prepared.
What you do depends largely upon whether you hung the fish on a weighted lure, such as a plug or an unweighted one, such as a fly or baited hook. A keeper bass with a 5/8 ounce spoon rattling around its jaw will come out shaking its head violently, thrashing the lure from side to side. The weight of the lure often provides enough leverage for the fish to toss it away, especially if the hook is not firmly embedded. So when you find yourself hooked to an acrobat, lean back on the rod when it erupts from the water; tighten up on the line and try to tip the fish over, thus preventing him from tossing the lure around and flinging it free.
A fly or baited hook, on the other hand, has little weight and there is little danger in the fish throwing it free. The danger lies in the possibility that the fish may hit a taught line with its tail or fall on it and either break the line or tear the hook free. Therefore, when a fly-hung fish leaps from the water, lower your rod tip quickly, lean forward and throw as much slack into the line as possible. That way the line is slack if the fish falls on it. After the fish is back in the water, lift the rod tip with a sweeping motion to pick up the slack again.
Should you try to prevent a fish from jumping in order to increase your chances of landing it? I don’t think so. In fact, as I mentioned earlier, most people love to see a good old, water spraying, gill flaring fish jump. First of all, it is pretty, and secondly, jumping tires a fish quickly. Finally, if I am going to lose a fish, I’d like to go down in style-right in the middle of its jump!