I wanted a better ending. It should have been honorable, dignified. But it wasn’t. I stood trying to find reason as the Stanislaus River ran quietly over my boots, as if waiting to see if I would yell, throw a fit, or just accept it.
What I wouldn’t be doing was netting any trout the rest of the day, not with my net broken in three spots and only connected by strained fibers of micro mesh. There is no doubt that the lives of outdoorsmen will be at some point hindered by the destruction of important and sometimes expensive gear. You hope it comes along with an epic story, or that the amount of use it got validates the cost.
I planted my hands onto a boulder to control my slide down the steep, slick downriver side. Everything worked as planned at first, then I felt a dull pressure in the left cheek section of my waders and heard a burst of cracks — like a sun-dried dead twig being quartered.
I turned to see that as I lowered myself down, my net which hung from the back of my fishing vest, had stuck into a crack in the boulder and stood straight up. As I lowered myself down, a portion of my weight was transferred to the upright net.
With no place to slide, it didn’t take much weight to pop the handle and two other sections. My net goosed me, then snapped. I killed it by sitting on it. Nothing makes that story good, or worth telling. I should have just kept it to myself.
Anyway, now I need a new net. To get an exact replacement would set me back $29.95 at The Fly Shop in Redding. I liked the net and got a good amount of use out of it, but I feel like this is an opportunity for me to get something a little bigger to accommodate larger fish.
There’s the Brodin Ghost Landing Net, which is a steal, I guess, at $110.95. I guess if I was a trout I’d be much happier knowing that after I was pulled around by my mouth, the thing that swept me from the water had hand-crafted Christobal multi-laminate grips and a thermoplastic net bag with reinforced yoke.
Cabela’s has a long-handled, rubber net bag that’s more for landing fish from boats, but it doesn’t hurt to have some extra reach. That one’s $69.99.
It’s funny to look at the reviews of these things, because how do you really judge the performance of a net? “This net works great.” Wouldn’t a failure to scoop the fish be an indictment of the user, not the net? People also talk about how it doesn’t get stuck in branches or berry bushes. How the heck is it the net’s fault if it does? A comment about a Bass Pro brand net spoke to me.
“I don’t see why someone would spend $90 for the same net with different wood material…When you slip on a rock and land on your net and bust it, a $20 replacement feels better than a $90 one.”
Had I bought a premium net, maybe I wouldn’t be writing this column. I also wondered if that guy owns Wal-mart furniture from a box because it feels better to replace that than something from a real furniture store.
I guess nets come down to non-performance based attributes – does it have a non-abrasive net to protect fish, is it light, does it match the size of fish you angle for and how much are you willing to spend.
As of right now I’m choosing the Alaskan option — I’ll duct tape it.
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