How to Use Commercial Fishing Nets

Written by david montoya
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How to Use Commercial Fishing Nets
Drift net fishing is often criticised for its inability to select certain fish to catch. (coloured fishing nets image by Joe Houghton from

Drift netting is one of the easiest forms of net fishing, but it is still hard work that should be left to the avid fisherman. Drift nets get their name because they are not fixed to any part of the boat. They drift with the current and act as a barrier to large schools of fish. Once the fish swim into the net, they become stuck in the netting and are ready to be brought back onto the ship.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Boat
  • Drift nets

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  1. 1

    Have at least two people toss the drift net overboard. The buoys should be the last to go in. They will keep the top of the net floating above and will serve as your marker. The buoys need to be watched at all time to ensure the net is not lost in the ocean's current.

  2. 2

    Keep your boat a safe distance from the net. The mechanics of your boat either will destroy the net or cause severe damage to the boat's propellers.

  3. 3

    Let the net drift out into the current for at least a couple of hours in order to give it enough time to catch fish. Remember to have at least one person always watching the net so you do not lose track of it.

  4. 4

    Move your boat slowly toward the drift net and lift it out of the water. It may take several people to do this because a wet net will be heavier and it may be carrying a large amount of fish.

  5. 5

    Remove the fish from your net if you were successful in finding a large school.

  6. 6

    Drive your boat to a new location and repeat steps 1 through 4 to continue fishing.

Tips and warnings

  • You should have a sonar system aboard your ship to find areas in the water populated with fish. Another method is to look for a slick, oily surface on the top of the water. This usually indicates the presence of sardines or herring.
  • Large scale drift nets have been deemed illegal around the world. These are drift nets that exceed 2.5km in length. It's unlikely you'll find a net this size, but it's advisable to ask your drift net seller about your net size and other pertinent regulations.

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