Netting koi

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Netting koi

Postby B.Scott » Mon Jan 28, 2008 9:16 pm

This thread will be pre-chewed oatmeal for many, so my advice is to invest the time going to the fridge for a drink of your favorite libation. But it seems some others might be in need of a few tips. I was reading a post a bit farther down and for the umpteenth time read that someone found netting their fish a chore and a half. I think "worlds worst netter" and "I couldn't catch them with 5 nets" was the approximate phrase. Once upon a time I played this game as well. I resorted to partitioning off part of my (small) pond and stabbed at them with multiple nets. One spring I went to SKS in Norwich (England) and spent an afternoon watching Andrew Chatten net fish for his clients. It was sheer poetry in motion. No stabbing, chasing or jumping fish. Each fish he netted was transferred to a floating crate without even lifting the fish above the level of the water. That afternoon was one of the most educational I have ever spent and made it clear to me what I was doing wrong. Even more importantly it showed me the way to get it done properly.

First of all the net...

Ever wonder why Koi are caught using whopping giant whoop shaped nets with the net strung almost flat? The first time I saw a net like that I was sure the reason was so the dealer could charge me more for it. It figures doesn't it? Giant net = giant price. Well yes and no. Big nets are pricey and hard to store as well but there is a reason they are so big. In the first instance you don't use a net like this as an instrument to "scoop" the fish. See it more like a large soft wall. Don't chase fish with the net. The fish will always win. Instead move slowly in a horizontal position toward the fish in question. Do it as a knife through butter. Notice butter doesn't cut well using the flat side of the knife. Rotate the net to near vertical so that it is now in front of the fish and blocking it's path. This stops the fish from spooking, reduces stress levels and makes things go faster in the long run. The trick is to maneuver the fish so that the "wall" is obstructing its path. Now what do you think their fish does when it finds its path blocked? It turns around of course.

Now at this point many people of lesser experience resort to the scoop. But face it, a net with 2-3 foot diameter isn't going to let itself be pushed through the water with any speed, even if you have arms like a Back Hoe. No way are you going to catch the fish, but... there is another plain of motion that works with much more efficiency. Try rotating the handle of the net. Now the wall that was to the right of Mr. Fish is suddenly on the left and once again blocking his path. Now if the fish turns toward you, simply rotate the net to horizontal and raise the handle above your head. Once again the net blocks the path of escape. During this whole process the fish moves slowly toward the surface. This is because the wall is usually at a 45° angle and the fish move slowly upward trying to find the top. As you approach the surface you turn the net to a position approaching horizontal. Always keep the high end of the net in front of the fish’s head. At the point where the fish is in the middle of the horizontal net with his back out of the water he can no longer swim or jump off the net.

Another reason the net is so large can become evident at this point. If the fish size approaches that of the net, the fish is in danger of slapping the metal rim with it's tail. Don't under estimate the power of that tail! A good whack is bad for your net and even worse for the extremities of your fish. In fact a friend of mine was doing a large water change in his Q-tank one day and a large Koi tail-slapped the other large fish in the tank and killed it! The blow broke it's back!

Now a net that had a sack like netting (like an angler's net) would cause the fish to swim inside the net making it difficult to remove as it tried to escape or allow it to entangle itself in the mesh with the loss of slime and possible damage. Lying on top of a flat net will deprive the fish of motion without it becoming damaged. What you don't want to do is lift the fish from the water. This will allow the fish to thrash, possibly squirm off the net and increases the chance of injury.

Much better is to transfer it to a floating crate, bowl or tub. This should float with the rim just above the water's surface. Maneuver the fish across the surface without removing it from the water. Push the edge of the container underwater with the edge of the net nearest the fish’s head. Nine times out of ten the fish will swim off the net into the container. Once in the container the fish can be removed using a Koi sock or plastic bag. It can be a bit tricky to learn and takes a bit of practice. Many folks need a large amount of time to capture the intended victim and are loath to do anything that would give the fish a chance of escape. I would encourage folks to practice netting their fish in this manner unless it's a matter of life and death (i.e the fish can't deal with the stress).

You may also notice the handles used bear a striking resemblance to rounded 2x4's. This again is for a good reason. A net that size has a lot of resistance as it moves through the water. You are in danger of breaking a pole of less than 1¾ inches. Bigger IS better. Now don't think for a minute that buying a big Koi net will solve the trouble you have netting your fish. In most instances it will improve things. Depending on your personal situation it will be easier or in most cases less difficult. Of course if your pond is a mass of green things... you know, the "P" word, then you will have more difficulty than those with a bare bones pond like mine. I have found that I can now net the fish of my choice within about 30 seconds. Of course the Great Butt in the Sky dictates that the more people watching, the longer it takes. Give me a crowd of ten people and I can guarantee the fish will escape on a regular basis. In general though it has now become a cinch for me to net my fish.

Becoming an experienced net handler is vital to the well being of our fish. It allows the koikeeper to quickly and frequently check, inspect, measure and treat the fish with little or no stress and take action as soon as it needed.

NOT the guy from the Antarctic
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