The art of throwing a cast net

Baylor Allen is pictured throwing a cast net. (Photo by Ricky Aucoin)

Learning the skill will pay big dividends with fresh live bait

Throwing a cast net can be very beneficial to a fisherman for a multitude of reasons. Let’s start with the savings you will experience from not having to buy bait, which can be quite expensive.

Your fishing trip will be much more productive with live bait in most cases, as opposed to frozen bait. At the right place and time of the year, you can even catch huge saltwater shrimp to eat, which I consider quite a bonus.

But one of the best things about throwing a cast net is the sheer enjoyment of the activity. It will take a good bit of practice to perfect your technique. But like any new thing that is learned, once you get it right, the benefits last forever.

All sizes and prices

Cast nets come in all sizes and prices. The nets are 3 to 12 feet in diameter. They cost between $15 and $300. You do not need to start with the most expensive net. You definitely don’t want to start with the biggest net either. Try an inexpensive net that you can handle fairly easily for your size and strength. You can upgrade as you become more proficient.

There are thousands of “how to” videos on YouTube and other media to help you get going. You must find the one that is right for you. The directions on how to throw one range from super simple to unbelievably complex depending on the individual doing the teaching. Find the method that best works for you and start practicing. The better circular shape that you throw, the more coverage your net gets on the descent to the bottom.

However, as you are in the process of perfecting your technique, a partially opened net will still catch bait. So don’t get discouraged, if you put in the effort, the payoff will be well worth it.

Boat landings

A popular and convenient place to throw the cast net is at the boat landing. Marsh drains, canals, sloughs and sight fishing schools of baitfish can also be productive. Be aware of underwater structures which can ruin your net in an instant.

First time cast netters will likely be surprised at the number of different species they catch. We have caught mullet, shad, bass, perch, catfish, croakers, garfish, turtles, Asian carp, speckled trout, sand trout, black drum, alligators, shrimp and the list goes on. Note that according to state law: “Cast nets and brill (brail) nets: Not to exceed 12 feet in radius, may be used in marine waters only. No freshwater species may be in a fisherman’s possession while he is using a cast net or brill net.” So please follow the rules regarding the use of cast nets.

When you do learn to throw that perfect “pancake” circle, pay it forward. Find a buddy, or even better, teach a youngster what you have learned. After all, cast netting is an art!

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