The case against fishing

One of the things almost as bad as rugby is fishing. I have an in-law who fishes every weekend. He has invited me, on occasion, to take advantage of his spare rod and trek the ponds and waterways with him. Now I can see the attraction of sinking a good few beers while you’re waiting for your line to be pulled, it’s just that those good few beers could be supped doing better things.

My relation not only fishes, he watches all the angling programmes on Sky sports. He’s also been brainwashed into buying all the gear: hooks, lines, sinkers. Bully for him, I can’t even tell the difference between a bass and a treble.

The main objection I have is, at the end of the day, fishing is all about luck. And I told him this. Not so, he replied. Many factors have to be considered: stage of spawning season, water temperature, depth, vegetation, behaviour of the fish.
Behaviour of the fish!
What does that mean? If it’s a good fish it’ll bite whereas if it is an unruly fish it won’t. All his factors make him sound just like a golfer with all their considerations before they swing. (Golf, is also, almost as bad as rugby).

To make the odds more in your favour, surely, you can’t go wrong with a big net. And your trawling might bring unexpected results- An unopened can of beer that fell out of an unlucky fishermans holdall- A pair of discarded training shoes that might or might not fit you- A drawbar damper that is ideal for a Massey-Ferguson. All those Brucie bonuses and a good few fish as well.

20 thoughts on “The case against fishing”

  1. Jay Dubya,

    Are you seriously looking for teeth in a basket?

    Angling is a very relaxing and engaging passtime. A fellow can escape the rat race for a few hours of a sunny day and while away the hours simply messing about at the side of a stretch of water. It is calming and as long as some pesky pescator doesn’t actually bite can be totally without incident.

    At the other end of the scale I can hop on a boat with a reel the size of a 5 litre paint tin nailed to a broomhandle with all the flex of an RSJ. Dangle the line off the back while the boat trawls along hoping that one of the big boys will rise to the bait and give me over an hour of serious exertion.

    I can see how some folks don’t see the lure, but just because you don’t see the point it hardly qualifies as a case against. Anglers pay for an annual license in this country and that money helps the Environment Agency keep many waterways, rivers, lakes and ponds clean and accesible to the general public. Even if you have no compulsion to drown a worm in it, a peaceful stroll by the side of a quiet pond can be most pleasant.

  2. You could of course be totally wrong. Perhaps you may care to download and read the following work by Drs. Sergey and Zworykin,

    Individuality in Fish Behavior: Ecology and Comparative Psychology.

    This work is a brief review of a series of studies of the phenotypic organization and ecological significance of individual differences in fish behavior. The following species were studied: guppy Poecilia retuculata, lion-headed cichlid Steatocranus cassuarius, and the convict cichlid Archocentrus nigrofasciatum. We developed methods for the analysis of individual differences in fish behavior and studied their structure, development, and ecological and evolutionary significance.

    PS – Given your interest in this area an even briefer review written for a layman like me would be appreciated.

  3. Good afternoon ferret

    You make a robust defence in total contrast to the calming influence you claim angling gives you; my teeth are shaking behind the tongue that is in my cheek. As much as you make some good points, you haven’t convinced me that it’s not about luck.

  4. Haven’t seen many of those Steatocranii cassuarii knocking about my local creek.

    As far as I’m concerned, angling consists of hopping in a small boat and heading out to the end of Deal Pier when the mackerel are about. Bunch of hooks tied together with a shiny teaspoon in the middle and the stupid buggers just jump onto the lines. Out of the boat, rush home, clean the fish, bit of salt in the bottom of a pan… Nothing else comes close.

  5. PB,

    Generally speaking, an angler can adjust his style of fishing to specifically target a particular species. Knowing how and when to do this is an art in itself.

    Some species grub around in the silt and weed for their food, the tench for example. If you are competition fishing and a load of tiddlers keep gnawing away at your maggots, the canny angler will swap to a fast sinking bottom presentation of corn or scented meat which gets to the bigger fish before the surface and mid level sprats like small roach and bream can nab the bait.

    If you spot a few lazy fat carp rolling around near the surface when the sun is out, you can switch to a floating line and wrap a hook in some bread. As bread floats by them, they may just be tempted to cop a gobful.

    The theories and practices are myriad and every angler will tell you they have a foolproof method for one thing or another. Some types are easily spooked and must be carefully conned into taking the bait, mullet for example are a highly suspicious fish.

    Mackerel however can be a complete pain in the rump, you have to drop your bait down fast because they will simply leap on anything close by. Drop 7 or 8 hooks tied in a line with a feather or some foil on each hook, no food or worm necessary and nine times out of ten you will come up with a mackerel on every hook. Even if you use mackerel as a bait on the hook, a killer bait for conger eel, cod, haddock, tuna and shark, they will still go bananas for it.

    This is what they refer to when they mention behaviour.Types and temperature of habitat, height at which they feed, what time of day or year they feed, migratory habits, favourite foods, average size, predatory tendency all have a bearing on your chances of landing a fish.

  6. Bravo,

    I bet you pray to Poseidon before you hop in the boat. And now you’ve got me thinking that mackerel is one of my favourite types of fish (to eat).
    Probably, because they’re cheap and cheerful. 🙂

  7. I have this enduring image of taking my eldest son (aged about 8) fishing. He was some distance from me and I think that he must have hooked a trout. By the time I reached him he had lost it – but the excitement – priceless. I’m not into fishing now, though I may have the short term memory of a goldfish. Couldn’t believe it when I found the article TR 😉

  8. Almost as bad as rugby? How dare you, sir? I am not qualified to talk about fishing, as I have never tried it, but it does not really appeal to me, but rugby is the best team sport in the world and very character building!

  9. Four-eyed English Genius :

    Almost as bad as rugby? How dare you, sir? I am not qualified to talk about fishing, as I have never tried it, but it does not really appeal to me, but rugby is the best team sport in the world and very character building!

    Here, here!

    But I do agree that fishing is a pain in the rump in most cases. If you are not catching every 15 to 30 minutes, it is time to stop and do something else like drink beer.

    I did catch a very nice salmon once, on the Ness, but came into serious flack when I admitted later that evening, to what I had hoped would be an admiring audience, that upon the ghillie’s advice I had used a spinner. As far as I was concerned, the ‘fight’ was exciting and the fish tasted fantastic. So what was the problem? They were horrified.

  10. Catching something was always a bonus but the real joy was the solitude (here in the West Country) and as Ferret said the relaxation only disturbed, in my case, by the occassional bite. I was more successful at ‘kite flying’,. But that’s another story.

  11. PB, the guppy and the two cichlids mentioned in this study would only be found in an aquarium in this country. Now, I don’t think angling in your neighbour’s fishtank would be well received.

  12. Sheona I watched a ‘televised fishing contest’ some time ago. The catch was (no pun intended) to land a particular specimen. On one occassion a competitor did fish in a garden fish pond. Perhaps not quite an aquarium. Even so the issue is the psychology of fish. Maybe a guppy or cichlid swimming back and forth in a fish tank is synonimous with a big cat pacing around a cage, or me a prisoner in the kitchen.

  13. Interesting thread.

    I have to confess, I love fishing. I didn’t think I would, but I was taught to fly fish, and it’s really exciting. I suffered the usual trauma of catching trees, bushes and the like, and extracting hooks from thighs, normally those of other people. But I’ve caught and cooked trout, and it’s magic.

  14. FEEG here here on your #11

    Not my cup of tea either, but from what I understand from people I know who partake, the peace and tranquillity of being away from the hustle and bustle of day to day life is the attraction.

    I often hear the quote that fishing is the most popular sport in the UK, but I can’t see that being true. It must be golf, surely.

    Having said that, I wouldn’t mind being on a big speedboat in sunny climes with a big rod between my legs. Oh bloody hell, that’s not sounding good is it….. 😀

  15. Arrers, your mention of hook-extraction from upper leg regions has a woken a new regard for fly-fishers. That must be why Jack Charlton does it.

    Cuprum, as every husband knows the universal claim to have gone fishing qualifies the pastime as Britain’s most indulged. Sport it ain’t. Altius, fortius, citius? Naeh.

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