If you have never thrown a cast net before, well now is the time to learn as anglers enjoy another good run of prawns in our local waters.
Before you race out and buy a net there a few things that you should consider, as like all types of fishing gear these days there are quite a few options and price points.
Cast Nets are predominantly made from monofilament (fishing line) these days. They used to be made out of woven nylon cord and while these are a very strong net they are a heavier net once they get wet as the multiple fibres hold a lot of water and they are also more expensive.
Throw a net for an hour or so and you will soon appreciate the lighter mono nets. An added advantage of the mono is that also sinks fast so it ends up over the bait before they see the net coming and can quickly shoot away.
When you buy a net, it's bought by length. Most brands will start at six foot and work up in one foot increments to ten foot.
A ten foot net is a big one and while you might get a great spread throwing such a big net and capturing plenty of bait in it, they are very hard work.
For the average angler, I'd recommend an eight foot net, at this size it isn't too big to handle and you will still get plenty of prawns or bait fish.
It's a good idea to pull the net out and check the length as some of the cheaper brands fall well short of the specified length. The length refers to the drop of the net, from the top to the bottom when you hang it up.
The first net I bought for my son to learn with was quite a cheap six inch net and ended up just a little over five feet. As he was only quite young at the time it provided the ideal size to learn the casting technique with it not being too heavy or difficult to hold in his small hands.
The spread wasn't that flash but enough to still get a bit of bait. Now days he throws my bigger nets with ease.
The spread is the area the net opens out to when it is thrown. It should be close to double that of the drop of the net. Achieving that sort of a cast constantly is always a challenge.
If we were to group the nets into the three main styles they would be:
Bottom Pocket: This sees a small inward turned pocket sown in around the bottom circumference of the net. This is to aid in capturing the bait as the net is drawn as a lot of bait does fall out as the net is gathered and drawn back up. If you wanted a general purpose net for predominantly baitfish and maybe a little prawning you would use this one.
Top Pocket: This net has a small net pocket sown into the top of the net as well as the standard bottom pocket. The net also has a draw string opening at the top of the net. This is the most popular for prawning as when you throw the net over the prawns they shot upwards and get trapped in the top section of the net. The drawn string at the top allows you to open the top of the net and shake the majority of prawns out through this opening and into you bucket. It allows you to get the prawns out quicker and more efficiently, rather than having to sort through all your net to get the prawns out.
Draw String: For the diehard cast netter this is the top choice. The net has the standard bottom pocket, the top pocket and opening and a series of draw string which travel down the length of the net from the top and attaches to the bottom of the net. The idea of this is as you gather the net up the drawn string pulls in the bottom of the net to form larger pockets and an overall bell shape of the net thus reducing the chance of bait falling out of the net. I see this style used a lot off jetties where the net is thrown over schools of herring and hardiheads. The last thing you want is all your bait falling back out as you lift it up onto the jetty. The over net is a little on the bulky side when you get to the larger sizes.
There are a lot of different ways to throw a net. I first learnt to throw it off my shoulder. It works well but you do get quite wet with the net hanging off you and if there are any small fish or jelly fish left caught in the net you will find yourself getting spiked or itchy.
This technique also involves twisting your back with each throw. That's okay for the young guns with strong backs but not nice you start getting older.
Now days I throw with the net off the elbow and wrist which is much easier and once you master that basic principle of crossing the arms over to get the net opening it is quite a good option for casting from the boat, shore or jetty.
Just remember to make sure the other end of the rope is attached to your wrist. We've all done it, thrown the net without attaching the rope; it's like putting the bungs in the boat.
With your net ready to go have a few practices in the back yard first to get it right before you head out onto the water.
In Queensland there is a bag limit of a 10 litre bucket of prawns per person. It is policed heavily when the prawns are running.
The pick of the spots at the moment for local anglers is out in front of Nudgee where good numbers of big banana prawns are running.
Aside from the obvious signs of groups of boats gathered together casting nets, keep an eye on your depth sounder as the schools of prawns will also show up on the screen.
When prawning the creeks and rivers look in the deeper holes and bends. The bottom half of the tide tends to prawn better.
Let's see what sort of creations you can cook up in the kitchen with your catch.