Fisherwoman Renee Johnson and a native winter steelhead.

Fighting in Slow Motion

There was a point in this past steelhead season that I was losing fish because I was rushing them to the net. The majority of the time we do not need to rush fish to the net unless there are predators present or if they are going to be released. Buoy 10 is a great example of a time when you need to just get a fish in the net. When I was rushing steelhead to the net they were popping off the hook and my catch to net ratio was about 50% and it was absolutely maddening.

The solution to my problem was slowing my fight down and enjoying the experience. It sounds simple but it is hard to break bad fishing habits. The decision to slow down was difficult to stick to and the only way I could do this was to think about doing everything in slow motion. It may sound crazy, but it worked. My husband taught me to shoot using this principal to help me learn muscle memory and control. Now shooting feels much more natural and I am a better shot.

Learning to relax and not to react was so much easier when I was fighting in slow motion. Slowing down did not mean I was not reeling fast when the fish were running at me, but more slow movements during the rest of the fight. My reactions to the fish were more thought out when I had to make them, and the movements were not as slow as I thought they were. The practice allowed me to mentally slow down and stay with the fish instead of just thinking about the end of the fight.

Staying in the moment with the fish let me feel more of what the fish was doing and I could enjoy the moment I was in. When I got comfortable with going slow, being mindful of my movements, and enjoying the moment my catch to net ratio went up to around 80%.

Now I am not thinking about the net until it is time and I am not intentionally slowing myself down. Fighting in slow motion was a fix that worked for me and it is not something that I will do when fighting every fish but it is something I will go back to if needed. We all love the feeling of getting a fish in the net but I think part of that comes from enjoying the fish while it is on your line.