Throwing a Cast Net
We use Shad as our main bait for Flatheads both cut and live. The best and the easiest way to gather them is with a cast net. I have owned many cast nets over my life and I have found one that is easy to throw and will hold up to some of the abuse that a cast net goes through during a season of fishing.
Cabala's makes one of the best it is called a Bett's "Old Salt Cast Net" you can get it in most size ranges from 3 foot up to 10 foot. Ohio law has established that a cast net can't be over 5 foot which would allow it to open to ten foot, for me this is a hard net to throw because it is so small. I learned to throw in Tennessee where you are able to throw a sixteen footer, and I have to throw it while I hold a part of it in my mouth, Lynn has never cared too much for this practice, some of the water we throw in can be pretty dirty so in 2001 I'm going to try and illuminate this practice. Throwing a cast net is not all that hard, people make it hard by not practicing in the backyard.
First make sure that you loop the hand line onto your wrist, I have forgot to do this one time, saw a bunch of Shad and let it fly, opened perfect and flat and then I saw the cord laying on top of the net, lucky for me the water was shallow and I was able to fish it out with a rod. I throw from right to the left, so I loop the rope in my right hand, I hold the net in a vertical position then I shake it to make sure that all the weight's are loose and hanging down. Holding it at the top I take my left hand and grab it in the middle, and bring it to the top and hold it in a bunch with my right hand, this is one of the secrets to throwing now your only working with half of the net.
I take my left hand and grab the net closest to me and hold it in my mouth, then I grab the bottom of the net where the weights are and lift it up so that I'm looking at my left fist holding the net.
This is were practice pays off, now your next move you have to make everything go in one fluid motion. Take your left arm and the top half of your body and twist it too the right, then uncoil your body to the left and let the net fly. The motion that you are trying to obtain is like picking up a feed sack and throwing it into the back of your pickup, try to keep the net in as close to your body as you can. once you get this motion down it is a cakewalk to throw a net.
Don't get in a hurry, and don't try to throw it a great distance, you will lose control of the net and it will figure 8 on you. Work on trying to keep the net right out in front of you, you control the net and where it is going to go. When you get good at throwing it then you can work on distance.
I have been throwing a cast net for many years yet each year I go out and practice in the backyard so I can keep that fluid motion.
I try never to let the net sink all the way to the bottom it is too easy to drape on a rock or a stump, just pull back on the rope cord and the weights come up into the center of the net and your bait will be in the pocket along the outside, put the net in a bucket of water and grab the ring at the top and your bait will drop into the bucket . It is that easy. So here is a recap of the steps again in order:
#1- Loop the rope over your right wrist
#2- Put coils of the rope in your right hand
#3- Grab the net at the top with your right hand and coiled rope and shake it down
#4- Using your left hand, grab the net in the middle and bring it to your right hand you should now be holding all of the net in your right hand
#5- With your left hand grab the weights at the bottom of the net and bring your left extended arm up and you should be looking at your fist.
#6- Now take and twist your body to the right and moving forward your twisting your body like a spring throw the net right straight out in front of you.
#7- The net should make a perfect circle when it hits the water or your backyard if your practicing, and pull back on the rope, hey you got Bait, it's that easy.
If your left handed just reverse the above instructions. Be careful as your unloading bait from the net, Shad are very fragile and it doesn't take much to knock there scales off there body if you are going to use them live. Gathering bait is fun and it doesn't cost as much as buying your bait and you can sort it out from big to little when your gathering your own bait.
When you do it right it don't get any better than this, now this is bait!!
One other thing, Ohio law forbids the catching of game fish in a cast net, so anything other than rough fish have to be thrown back, and that includes Crappies, Bluegills, Bullheads.
Shad, Carp, Suckers, Minnows these all can be kept in your cast net. As I write this article on Super bowl Weekend in 2001 I have caught two five pound, and a seven pound Largemouth Bass , and a 14 pound Walleye and several ten pound carp in my cast net at my hometown lake. When the weather breaks Lynn will take pictures of me throwing a cast net on the water and I will post them here so you can see all that I have described, pictures will make it much easier to see the methods I use.
Doc and Lynn Lange