Camouflage kit is great for creeping up on easily spooked trout.
But while we enjoy the benefits of angling incognito, the camo gear we wear today has its origins in the carnage of the First World War. Appalling losses at the Western Front prompted a desperate search to come up with ways of disguising troop movements.
Things have come a long way since then. Modern camouflage patterns are designed using complex algorithms that ensure near invisibility. Here we bring you a collection of some truly incredible camouflage fishing clothing. So, can you spot the camo guy?
From sharks to grouper, cod and trout, some fish will eat anything.
And some mighty strange things turn up inside them when they’re caught and filleted. Never mind the more common finds like stones, plastics and assorted sea, fly or carp fishing tackle, here we bring you a selection of the most indigestible objects ever discovered in the bellies of our fishy friends.
When Andrew Cheatle lost his mobile phone on the beach, he soon gave up hope of ever finding it again. So imagine his surprise when a week later, he received a call from a Sussex fisherman to tell him he’d found his phone – inside one of his catch.
The trawlerman caught the 25 lb cod off the coast of West Sussex. When he gutted it, he was surprised to find an intact mobile phone among the stomach contents. He rescued the SIM card and found the owner’s number. Incredibly, once Mr Cheatle had dried out the Nokia mobile, it still worked.
When a Malaysian woman bought a small shark at the market for her husband’s tea, she got more than she bargained for. As she was preparing it, out fell a rare 16th century medallion. It’s thought the trinket is of a type worn by Portuguese soldiers to ward off bad luck during their exploration of foreign lands.
The medallion features a head engraving thought to be that of of Queen Elizabeth, the consort of King Denis I of Portugal who reigned from 1271 to 1336. The family have decided to keep the treasure…for good luck.
When American, Haans Galassi lost four fingers of one hand in an accident while wakeboarding on a lake in Idaho, he thought that would be the last he ever saw of them. But three months later, an angler caught a trout.
You guessed it – the fisherman found a finger in the fish. He put it on ice and took it to police who matched the fingerprint to that of the unfortunate wake boarder. Offered the return of the digit, Galassi declined.
Sheep’s head, preserved milk tin & 7 crabs
Summer is always a bad time for news, and a good time for animal stories. There was obviously a shortage of news in July 1865 too when New Zealand’s Lyttelton Times published a report of the stomach contents of a fish caught off the coast of Queensland in Australia.
The unlucky grouper was 7ft long, 6ft in diameter at its widest and its head alone weighed 80 lbs. Inside, it contained, “two broken bottles, a quart pot, a preserved milk tin, seven medium sized crabs, a piece of earthenware triangular in shape and 3 inches in length encrusted with oyster shells, a sheep’s head, some mutton and beef bones, and some loose oyster shells. The spine of a skate was embedded in the grouper’s liver.”
A fishy tale
The Vox Pisces is a 17th century book with very fishy credentials. The work was published in 1627 from three religious manuscripts by protestant reformer, John Frith. Incredibly, a fishwife found the treatises wrapped in sail cloth in the stomach of a cod caught off Kings Lynn. At exactly the moment she pulled the strange package from the belly of the fish, a theologian from Cambridge University happened to be walking past.
Sadly The originator was less lucky than his writings. John Frith was imprisoned for his beliefs, in the Tower of London and later burned at the stake at Smithfield.
Think you know a ‘fin’ or two about the movies? Hooked on fishing?
We thought we’d combine the two to bring you some ‘reels’ from down the decades. The world’s most famous fish, ‘netted’ on the silver screen.
Easily the most famous fish movie franchise of all time, Jaws is the 1975 masterpiece directed by Steven Spielberg, featuring the scariest rubber fish in history. Even now, the theme music chills the spine.
Set in the fictional American seaside town of Amity Island, Jaws first makes a midnight feast of skinny dipping teen, Chrissie Watkins. Other snacks include a child and a fisherman, but still mayor Larry Vaughn won’t close the beach.
Sheriff brody is the hero of the hour, doing his duty in the face of wilful ignorance. Quint is the shark man, brave (and mad) enough to tackle the monster. The special effects are feeble by today’s standards and the vilification of sharks hasn’t helped the conservationists battling to save them. But it’s still a great movie.
It’s is all about anthropomorphising fish, every time your kids have fish fingers for tea, they’ll feel like they’re committing murder. It’s a great coming of age story about dodging fishing rods, hungry, bigger fish and pesky humans!
When clownfish, Nemo is captured by scuba divers, his father, Marlin goes looking for him. His quest takes him to Sydney, where Nemo is held in captivity in a fish tank in an office overlooking the harbour.
This animation is funny and schmaltzy and of course it has a happy ending. It made Pixar a lot of money and deservedly so.
Flipper the dolphin
A watery version of “Lassie”, Flipper is a dolphin who likes to help out. In his first incarnation in the 1963 film, Flipper was harpooned by fisherman, Porter Ricks but rescued by his son, Sandy and taught to do tricks. There’s trouble when Flipper eats a load of Porter’s fish, but the dolphin redeems himself by leading the fisherman to a large shoal of fish and more importantly, protecting young Sandy from a marauding shark.
A TV series followed and then in 1996, a remake of the film starring Paul Hogan as Porter Ricks and a fifteen year old Elijah Wood as his son, Sandy. Suffice to say there was no harpooning in either the TV series, where Porter is recast as a marine reserve warden, or the film where he reprises the role of fisherman – albeit a good one.
While deviating from fish to mammals, it seems only fitting to mention Free Willy. The film is the the heartwarming tale of a young boy who befriends a captive whale, then helps to free it. The film was a surprise hit that spawned two sequels, each less successful than the last.
The real star of the show was Keiko, the whale. The success of the film franchise prompted kids everywhere to write to Warner Bros to insist that ‘Willy’ be released in real life too.
At vast expense, the whale was moved first to a state of the art treatment tank in Oregon where he was nursed back to health, and then to a sea pen off the coast of Iceland. Keiko did manage a partial return to nature, hunting and socialising with other whales. In 2002 he embarked on an epic 1000 mile journey through the North Atlantic to the coast of Norway where a year later he died.
Rufus the Pacu
Remember the pacu who starred alongside Johnny Depp in the 1997 film, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas? Called Rufus, he’s a 40 year old, 30 lb largely vegetarian relative of the piranha, who likes nothing better than a stick of carrot to crunch on.
The fish was big news recently because the restaurant in which he’d resided since he was tiddler, tanked. Donors pledged money to move the famous fish, but in the end he stayed put. The new restaurant owners plan instead to build Rufus a brand new 2000 gallon tank worthy of his star status.
Next time you strike lucky when you’re out fishing, take a moment to examine your catch.
Because it could hold the answer to some of the world’s most pressing technological challenges. Yes, fish are in demand as never before, not just because they taste nice, but for their high tech secrets.
Read on to find out just how high tech a fish can be.
For a construction technique that could lead to production of fishing clothing that’s literally bulletproof, we need to trek to the Amazon. The arapaima is a river fish that grows to over 2 m in length and can weigh as much as 200 kg. But it’s not its size that interests scientists.
The scales of the arapaima are so tough, piranhas’ teeth crumble on impact. Scientists studying the scales have discovered that beneath their rock hard mineral exterior, the fish scales ride on a bed of elastic protein threads. The combination of hard and soft lends the scales incredible toughness, a discovery that’s inspiring a new generation of flak jacket as well as tougher false limbs.
A plate of fresh sardines or herring is a delicious heart healthy meal at which few would turn their noses up. But those shimmering silver fish have scientists in a flap for a completely different reason. It’s to do with the way their bodies reflect light.
Crystals in the skin of the fish are aligned so they reflect light in all directions, mimicking the natural play of light around their ocean home. It’s neat trick that helps hide the shoal from the beady eyes of dolphins and other predators. Researchers now believe they can use this clever natural mirroring to improve LED and fibre-optic technology.
Hoki is a succulent white fish commercially harvested in New Zealand. But it’s not the flesh that’s spawned a whole new high tech industry, but the skin. As a by product, hoki skin had no particular use until scientists discovered the possibilities of the collagen it contained. Engineers worked out a way to spin the collagen into nanothreads 500 times thinner than a human hair.
From the super fine threads a non woven mat is produced. An incredible surface area makes this mat ideal for use in air purification filters, but its applications offer far more scope than that. The super thin material can be impregnated with anti bacterial agents for use in wound dressings. And other uses include in electronics, cosmetics and packaging. There could even be a use for hoki skin fibres in structural engineering.
Remote controlled unmanned subs are hard to manoeuvre, particularly in confined spaces. This makes them less than ideal for tackling complex tasks like the investigation shipwrecks. But now engineers are making progress with a new type of sub whose movement and sensory equipment is based on the knifefish, a small inhabitant of mangrove swamps.
Instead of using its eyes to see, the knifefish beams a low voltage electric field that enables it to sense its surroundings. The diminutive fish is able to negotiate the tangled tree roots and dense water vegetation by means of delicate undulations of its long blade-like fin. By replicating the knifefish’s electronic eyes and precise manoeuvring ability, new generation robots will be able to go where no deep sea probe has been before.
When engineers were tasked with bringing wind power generation to the Los Angeles valley, they faced a problem: the lack of space. To resolve this issue, they went for vertical rather than the usual horizontal blades. But to make the best use of the available land, they went a step further, and turned to fish to help them work out the best way to position the turbines.
Scientists have noticed that individuals in a shoal of fish position themselves to make most efficient use of the vortices created by the fins of the fish around them. Engineers took this research and applied it to the positioning of each turbine in the farm, even working out the optimal direction of rotation of each turbine blade.
There’s only one word to describe this winter: waterlogged.
The wettest winter since records began has brought misery to the thousands whose homes have been flooded. For all of us it seems as though the storms have lasted forever. And though spring might be just around the corner, it can’t come quickly enough.
That’s why we invite you to join us as we head to the world’s driest places. Fishing where it’s hot, dusty and bone dry. It’s time to swap your rain lashed bivvy for suntan lotion and a broad brimmed hat.
Let’s go desert fishing.
Land of the saddle weary cowpoke and the dusty gun slinger, New Mexico is the location of choice, for many of our favourite Western movies. It’s also more geographically diverse than it gets credit for. While it’s famous for its rose coloured deserts and barren tablelands, there you’ll also find the forest clad mountain sides and snow capped peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the Southern Rockies.
For the intrepid angler, the fifth largest state in the US offers everything from alpine lakes and desert gorges to lowland rivers and streams; year round fishing for winter weary Brits. And with panfish, trout, bass, catfish, northern pike and walleye on the list of target species, you’ll have more than enough to keep your rod tip quivering.
Anyone travelling to Egypt should check out the Foreign Office website for the latest advice before they go. But assuming you make it, you’ll be rewarded with rich fishing in a climate that will banish your rainy day blues. During the 1960s, President Nasser ordered the construction of the higher Aswan dam, a vast feat of engineering built to control the annual flood of the River Nile.
Fish in the middle of the dramatic desert landscape, as nomadic tribesmen graze their animals on the lakeside vegetation. The waters of lake Nasser offer the opportunity to hook the fish of your life – the Nile Perch. A formidable adversary, this king of fish grows up to 2 m in length and can weigh anything up to 200 kg.
The best time to fish Lake Nasser is October to June – perfect for avoiding the British winter. Choose from one of the many tour operators for a fishing safari of a lifetime on Africa’s biggest lake.
The bushmen call the Atlantic coast of Namibia, the ‘land God made in anger’. Infamous for its treacherous cold water current, constant surf and frequent mists, it’s not surprising so many whales, dolphins and ships have met a watery end here. A most inhospitable coast, the bleached bones littering the shore would have provoked terror in the lost and stranded. And with good reason because the sea is full of sharks and it hardly ever rains.
But if this doesn’t dent your enthusiasm, you’ll be glad to know the fishing on the Skeleton coast is to die for. And there are a number of operators offering fishing safaris in the area. Catch wise you’re looking at Galjoen (black bream), Steenbra, Kolstert (Blacktail) and Bronze Whaler.
If you do go, you might want to pack your bivvy, plenty of water and emergency food rations in case your transport breaks down. You could be waiting a very long time for the next bus…
Australia’s Northernmost tip is home to some of the deadliest creatures on earth. It’s stiflingly hot, full of flies and if you get lost, you’re as good as dead. But don’t let that put you off. There are few language issues, cold beer is in plentiful supply, and there are plenty of tour operators who’ll have you afloat in a tinny before you can bound from your bivvy bag and boil a billy.
And the fishing is great. The Barramundi is a superb game fish that grows up to 1.8 meters long and can top the scales at 60 kg. They make good eating too, great for those long hot evenings beside the barbeque.
One word of caution though – beware the crocs…
February is the time of year for romance.
Think chocolates, red roses, and a candlelit meal for two. Yes, Valentine’s day is upon us and with it the opportunity for love – or a least a card from your mum.
For avid anglers, it’s also perhaps the one day of the year when in the interests of marital harmony it might be best to leave your carp fishing tackle in the cupboard.
But while we’re in a romantic frame of mind, we thought we’d take a fish’s eye view of the mating game. Just how do fish do it?
A cichlid’s sandcastle is his love nest. In the attempt to attract a mate these African lake dwelling fish build up a carefully designed pile of sand that they defend from other males. The sandcastle pad is both a place to mate and somewhere to look after the eggs until they hatch.
Scientists studying the fish discovered that if they modified the shape of the nest or ‘bower’, the male it belonged to had less fights with other fish and was more likely to attract a female. Cichlid ladies it seems, are most attracted to a man who’s not afraid to show a bit of individuality.
The ultimate clinger on, the male angler fish administers a love bite that lasts. Because of the difficulty in finding a mate in the deep dark abyss, some species of male angler fish have developed the ability to literally become one with their mate.
Males use well their highly sensitive sense of smell to locate a female and bite into her skin. His mouth produces enzymes that digest both their flesh. The two fish grow into each other, the male living off the blood supply of the female. As a survival strategy it’s spot on. Whenever the female feels like reproducing, she has a mate ready to fertilise her eggs.
In clown fish communities, who gets to mate is all based on pecking order. Top fish is a female – the biggest and bossiest of the group. She only mates with one male fish. All the others have to wait their turn. When the leading female dies or is taken out by a predator, the top male changes sex to become the matriarch, and all the male fish below move up one notch.
As to when clown fish mate – the female waits for the silvery light of the full moon before laying her eggs on flat surfaces amid the garden of anemones where she lives. Who said romance was dead?
Sea hares are gastropods with a soft bodies and internal shells. They’re a sort of shell-less sea snail. They can grow quite large – up to 75cm long and 2 kg in weight – and their long protruding nostrils prompted the romans to name them after the land animal.
When it comes to reproduction, sea hares are interesting because they have male organs at one end, female at the other. And when they mate, several of the creatures often link together, sometimes forming a circle of love.
The argonaut or paper nautilus is an octopus that resides in tropical waters. The female grows up to 10cm in length but creates a delicate calcite shell up to 30cm in diameter. The shell doubles as both a home and a brood chamber for eggs.
Mating with one of the tiny 2cm males of the species is an interesting process in that the male’s reproductive tentacle is broken off and presented to the female in its live, wriggling state.
Not much is known about how giant squid reproduce. For a long time scientists interested in discovering the mechanics of the creature’s mating process were baffled as to how males delivered their sperm to females.
But then a female specimen was found in Tasmania which may hold the answer to the riddle. Scientists examining the creature found dart-like tendrils attached to each of her legs. It seems possible that males shoot ‘love darts’ at their mates, injecting sperm through the female’s skin.
The sequence of Atlantic gales battering the British Isles is devastating news for commercial fishermen.
Unable to put to sea for weeks, some fishing families are feeling the pinch like never before.
Fish markets are empty or under-supplied, prices are soaring to their highest levels for years. For the consumer, the storms mean shortages, price hikes, and no fresh fish.
Looe in Cornwall is renowned for fresh fish from its day boat fleet. But some boats have been stuck in port for nearly two months now. That’s because static nets are the sea fishing tackle most Looe fishermen use. They set the nets one day and return to haul them the next. According to a fisherman interviewed by the BBC, there hasn’t been a two day weather window to allow boats to get out to work since before Christmas.
In fact, the port would be completely closed if it weren’t for one local mariner nicknamed, ‘Richard the brave’. The lone fisherman ventured out to sea, risking all to bring home a catch.
Fish markets closed
The South West fishing industry has been battered by the recent storm surges, resulting in extreme shortages of fresh fish that saw Plymouth fish market close for a time during January.
More recently, the past weekend’s storm means there is very little fish available for sale this week – although anyone courageous enough to take on the mountainous seas and wild winds can expect top dollar for their catch.
Newlyn fish market was riding high this Monday thanks to successful hauls of hake and whitefish from local boat, Ajax. The skipper’s twitter comment on his catch: ‘Big money’. But for every boat that puts out to sea, there are many more that have stayed behind, leaving industry leaders, fishermen and others reliant on the fishing trade for income wondering when the weather will finally clear.
For some Cornish fishermen even an improvement in the weather won’t see them heading out to sea anytime soon. During last Wednesday’s storm, the inner harbour doors at Porthleven harbour were smashed to matchwood by a sea described by shipping forecasters as, ‘phenomenal’.
Waves blown before storm force winds surged into the port sinking ten boats, damaging some of the vessels beyond repair.
Incredibly, efforts by fishermen and the emergency services to save the remaining boats in the harbour were hampered by the press of crowds of people who abandoned their cars at the side of the road to watch the waves.
Fishing is a risky business, and never more so when gales keep fishermen in port for too long. With finances stretched and the prospect of excellent prices for fish landed, it’s hard to resist the temptation to put safety aside and head out to sea in bad weather.
Fishermen riding their luck can make good money, but when it goes wrong, they pay a high price. In November last year, the five man crew of the French fishing boat, the Panamera wasplucked to safety by helicopter 25 miles off the Lizard when their boat began taking on water. It later sank.
In January, four crewmen were rescued when their fishing boat got into difficulty in bad weather and sank off Tynemouth.
And at the beginning of February, the crew of another French fishing boat had to be rescued by helicopter crews from RNAS Culdrose. ‘Le Sillon’ was struck by a monster wave off the North Cornish coast. Its bridge windows imploded, all the electrical gear was destroyed. The boat lost steerage and was later wrecked at Porthcothnan.
More to come
The position of the jet stream across the Atlantic means that winter storms will continue to lash the British isles for at least the next 10 days. Forecasters predict rising pressure and a return to more settled weather only towards the end of the month when hopefully fishermen will be able to begin to recoup some of the losses they’ve incurred.
Most of us know that humans evolved from apes and that apes evolved from creatures that came from the sea.
But now scientists believe they have found the missing link; a type of fish that had primitive legs. It’s one of the earliest forms of – us – ever discovered.
So next time you take your fishing gear for a day on the riverbank, spare a thought for your relatives. And no, we’re not talking about your long suffering partner, we mean your (very) distant cousins, the fish.
A new study of 375 year old fossils dug up in Northern Canada in 2006 has revealed a fish with ambition – the tiktaalik. Not content to spend its days swimming, this crocodile-like fish had spiracle holes in its skull – nostrils – pointing to the presence of primitive lungs and a skeletal system similar to some of today’s land animals.
The Tiktaalik’s front fins had elbows and an early form of wrist joint and at the other end, the fish’s pelvic girdle was much heavier than that of its contemporaries indicating that it might have had back fins a bit like legs. This four limbed propulsion could have seen the fish ‘walking’ through the shallows and maybe even shuffling out onto the mudflats.
This is completely new because up until now, scientists thought creatures didn’t begin to grow back legs until they had already moved to the land.
The unearthing of the tiktaalik is the holy grail for those with a passion for prehistoric life. As Jennifer Clack of Cambridge University’s fossil museum said in an interview with the Boston Globe: “It’s what we’ve all been waiting for.”
The discovery is being trumpeted as the long looked for ‘in between stage’ when the pelvic fins of fish developed. During this time, they became much larger and stronger and eventually evolved into the hind limbs of four legged land creatures, including mammals that eventually stood up and became us.
Paleontologists studying the prehistoric creature’s fossilised remains say its ungainly proportions and short, stubby fins suggest the fish was highly specialised to a shallow, muddy environment and would have moved in a similar way to a modern mudskipper.
In open water the tiktaalik would have been an easy lunch for other fish, a fact that has prompted scientists to speculate that the development of early limbs was a defence mechanism. Legs would have enabled the tiktaalik to squirm into ever shallower waters to evade predators. And eventually through evolution its descendents escaped from the water altogether.
Like so many breakthroughs, the discovery of the tiktaalik owes much to chance. The rock containing the fossil was loaded onto a helicopter at the end of a trip to the Arctic. It wasn’t considered to be of high priority, until that is, it was found to contain the fossilised remains of the creature that links land and sea life.
A second trip to the same area produced another fragment of pelvis, but not as was hoped, an entire rear fin. Now researchers plan to turn their attention to another area of the Arctic to study even older rocks to see if they can trace the origins of fish.
So next time you cast, wade or walk, just think, you have more in common with your quarry than you might previously have thought. Those arms and legs of yours used to be fins.