Whether you’re into fly fishing, coarse fishing or sea angling, we’re all well aware of how dangerous our favourite element can be.
You might be wearing the very best in waterproof fly fishing clothing, or ensconced in neoprene lined chest waders, but the truth is there are some emergencies no one can plan for. Here we’ve trawled the web for some of the most incredible fishing survival stories. Warning: best read from the comfort of home.
Hiking back from a successful salmon fishing trip on the Russian river, 25 year old Dan Bigley was an experienced outdoorsman. Well aware that there were bears in the area, Dan and his fishing buddy chatted loudly as they walked, making sure any animals in the vicinity would be aware of their presence.
But they didn’t reckon on meeting a rogue grizzly bear. Most bears will avoid humans, but not this one. Instead of trotting away, hackles raised, it stood its ground. Dan and friend backed away and once out of sight headed back the way they’d come. But the bear tracked them and pounced, pinning Bigley to the ground and savaging his face and head.
Dan Bigley was left blinded by the attack, but despite the seriousness of his injuries he now works as a social worker and college lecturer. And of course he still loves his fishing.
Shark attacks kayak
For our next story we head to Port Elizabeth in South Africa. Werner Coetzee, 35 had recently moved to the area, and as a keen kayak fisherman was looking forward to the fine fishing on offer there.
Early one morning, he and some friends put to sea in search of Geelbek – Cape Salmon. Guided by their fishfinders the group came to a good spot, fanned out and prepared to fish.
It was while Werner was getting ready to drop his anchor that a Great White shark attacked from below. It struck his kayak at full pelt, making a noise like a gun going off and throwing the unlucky fisherman two and a half metres in the air. Now in the water, Coetzee watched wide eyed as the monster predator turned its attentions to him.
The fisherman managed to scramble aboard the remains of his craft and was plucked to safety by a nearby boat. Needles to say, he and his friends beat a hasty retreat to land – happy to live to fish another day.
While fishing from any kind of boat, a life jacket really is a must have safety item. But if you forget to wear it, or there’s an equipment malfunction, here’s a story that should give you a clue what to do in the worst case scenario.
John Aldridge was working aboard a lobster boat out of Montauk, New York state. He was trying to move a cooler when the handle suddenly snapped. He lost his balance and fell off the back of the boat. It was two and a half hours before crewmates noticed he was missing and raised the alarm.
By the time Aldridge was found, he’d been in the water for nearly 12 hours. The fisherman hadn’t been wearing a lifejacket but thanks to his quick thinking, he managed to save his own life.
How? He pulled off his seaboots and trapping air in them, jammed one under each armpit.
Sharks and crocs
A fishing trip almost ended in disaster for two elderly Australians when their fishing boat was capsized by heavy waves off the North Queensland Coast.
Ross Pennisi, 82, and Phillip Sorbello, 77 found themselves clinging to their upturned boat in shark infested waters. Terrified they’d be eaten, it took them a nerve jangling two hours to make it to shore.
And their reward? A trek through crocodile infested swamps to make it to safety.
Somehow the intrepid duo lived to tell the tale. Of his ordeal, Ross Pennisi told reporters:
“You have not got much time to pray there but we were thinking of Him and we asked Him for help and I think we got it. I’ve been tough all my life and thank God for that.”
Here’s a little gem from Florida newspaper, the Evening Independent, from August 1958.
Would be rescuers feared the worst when local radio engineer, Ben Smith’s rented angling boat was found adrift at sea. A sea search failed to find the married father, and he was later given up for dead.
But in small town America, secrets can be hard to keep. It wasn’t long before Sheriff’s deputies heard a rumour that Smith wasn’t dead at all. Their enquiries revealed the lost angler was alive and well, and living under an assumed name in a town a few miles away.
They decided not to press charges, but on hearing the news of her husband’s resurrection, Mrs Smith threatened to sue. Ben Smith had moved in with the family baby sitter!
Winter is almost upon us and with it, the likelihood of a cold snap.
If you like nothing better than bright, crisp mornings or chilly moonlit nights on the riverbank or beach, it’s important to make sure you’re adequately prepared for whatever the weather may throw at you. Here’s our guide to keeping warm so you can keep your line wet this winter.
Stay warm by staying cool
As every arctic explorer knows, the best way to stay warm is never to get hot. On cold days, sweat won’t evaporate. Instead, it’ll make your base layer damp. As soon as you stop moving around so much, that cold wet layer will chill you to the bone.
Wear a thermal material next to your skin, preferably one that wicks water away from your body. And rather than thick, bulky clothes, wear thin layers of fishing clothing you can take off if you get too warm. Fleeces come in a wide variety of thicknesses, making them the ideal layering garment.
Keep your head covered
While it’s not actually true that we lose more heat from our head than any other part of the body, it is true that we will if it’s the only part of us that’s not covered! The simple message is - don’t forget to take your hat. Bobble hat, beanie, thinsulate hat – whatever your choice, make sure it’s on your head.
Even the Romans wore socks – with a separate big toe so their sandals wouldn’t fall off. Luckily you’ll be wearing boots, but you still need to make sure your socks are up to the job. Wool rich socks, thermal socks, fleece welly liners – all will do their bit to keep your toes warm. Waterproof breathable fishing boots with a decent grip are a must for wet or icy winter conditions – and if you’re choice is wellies, go for the neoprene or fleece lined variety.
Half gloves, or fingerless gloves will keep your hands warm while allowing you to work with your fingers. For cold wet conditions, it’s always best to go for a design that combines a warm neoprene or velvet lining with a windproof outer. That way if your gloves get wet, your hands will stay warm.
It goes without saying that you’ll need a waterproof shell for winter fishing excursions. Go for the best breathable fishing waterproofs you can afford. A decent coat with lined pockets and a decent storm hood, matched with over trousers or bibs will offer great protection from inclement weather.
One of the best ways to keep warm is to keep your internal boiler stoked. Hot soup, tea and coffee served from a good quality stainless steel or unbreakable thermos can be a lifesaver on cold wet days. Those who prefer to travel light or who anticipate being away for more than one day might consider a field kettle cook set. Originally designed in the early 20th century and used extensively by kiwi soldiers in world war two, this superb bit of field kit enables you to heat water and cook using small quantities of twigs as fuel.
Hardened winter carpers will know the value of a decent bivvy. A tough, lightweight shelter is essential kit for when the weather turns nasty. Not only does a bivvy offer somewhere to sit while you wait for the fish to bite, it offers vital and potentially life saving protection from the elements.
The guys and gals at Simms have produced one of the most technical and stylish fishing clothing range for this years Autumn range. Featuring some old named garments with new fabric technologies, these new fishing jackets, fleece tops and pants from Simms will perform to the very highest level.
Any angler knows that fishing can cause wear and tear on the body.
Periods of relative inactivity interspersed with flurries of intense effort can result in injury, as can the repetitive motions of casting and retrieving. Physical fitness can really help you up your game and keep you healthy too.
So kick off your fishing boots, clear some space in your bivvy, and try some of the stretches below while you’re waiting for a bite.
It’s all about posture
How we stand when we fish has a major effect on the muscular balance of our bodies.
When standing, most anglers tend to rest more of their weight on one leg, with their pelvis rotated forward. Holding a fishing rod is a shoulder-rounding stance and gazing down at the water places a strain on neck muscles.
In short, fishing puts your body out of balance.
To counteract the stresses that fishing puts on our bodies, we need to stretch in such away that unlocks tensions in muscles and joints – particularly our backs. One exercise that’s very useful for anglers is the ‘superman.’
Not only does it release tension in your lower back, it strengthens core muscles too. Lie on your front with your arms stretched out in front.
Keeping your head in a neutral position, lift your arms and legs clear of the floor. Hold and slowly release.
Added release for shoulders and neck can be incorporated into this exercise by bringing your arms back so that you resemble an aeroplane. Not sure? It’s easy – babies do it all the time.
Pain in the neck
Fishing puts a strain on your neck, so make sure that you stretch before and after fishing.
The lateral neck bend is a simple exercise. Look up – look down, look right – look left. Bend your head towards one shoulder, straighten, then bend toward the other. Keep your shoulders relaxed and in a neutral position throughout.
You can do the exercises at any time so make sure you take them fishing with you. Take your time to perform the movements slowly and smoothly.
Lower back problems affect vast numbers of people. The human body wasn’t designed to sit down for hours every day.
Enforced immobility is a major problem in Western society – but to ensure you remain fit enough to fish – there are steps you can take.
Simply take a step forward, lower your back knee and at the same time push the front of your hip forward. Only bend as far as you find comfortable and always stop if you feel pain.
With this exercise, it is important not to bend your front leg beyond a right angle. Hold the position for 30 to 60 seconds before slowly straightening. Then swap legs and do it again.
A simple exercise for improving core strength is the plank.
Pay great attention to getting the pose right and you’ll reap the reward of this very effective exercise. Keep your knees locked and your legs straight.
Your hips should be level at all times. As you tire it’s tempting to let your back sag. Don’t.
It’s far better to let your knees drop to the floor and do a modified stance. Your head should be in a neutral position and your upper arms at right angles to the floor.
Hold the position for as long as you can – it’s great for your core, back upper body and legs.
Forearms and elbows.
Winding the handle of your reel and casting are highly repetitive motions that can lead you to develop tennis elbow. This is a very painful condition that can take all the fun out of fishing. Keep your muscles and tendons supple by performing this easy stretch.
With your arm out in front of you, gently bend your hand back. Hold and release. Now take the same hand and bend it in the opposite direction. Repeat several times on each side.
Never stretch further than is comfortable. It’s much better to repeat the exercise two or three times a day than try to make big gains right away.
Practise little and often and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much more reeling your elbows and wrists can take.
Trench foot is a particularly nasty affliction of the feet caused by prolonged exposure to cold and wet conditions.
But if you think trench foot isn’t a risk for anglers, think again. It can take as little as 13 hours to develop what amounts to a serious medical problem.
Read on to discover how good quality fishing boots could literally save your life.
It’s only mud
As every angler knows getting wet and muddy goes with the territory, but you do need to pay attention to your feet. In temperatures below 16 celsius, if your feet get wet, you’re at risk of developing trench foot.
The boots themselves are partly to blame, because all footwear restricts circulation. But how you look after your feet is key.
This is particularly true if an angling trip is scheduled to last more than a single day. Make sure you know the warning signs that your feet are feeling the strain.
The first sign of a foot in trouble is likely to be tingling, or perhaps an itching sensation with pain, swelling and cold, blotchy skin. You may notice areas of redness or blueness indicating blood circulation has been compromised. Alternatively, you may experience numbness or a heavy feeling in a waterlogged foot.
Later on, once you’ve warmed your foot, is the skin suddenly very dry? And are your feet uncharacteristically red, swollen or painful? You may have chilblains but if you’re unlucky – it could be trench foot.
Untreated, trench foot can worsen beyond the point that swelling and blisters develop. Infection can set in and interruption to blood circulation can cause skin to die. At this point there is a significant risk of gangrene.
While you’re unlikely to let a case of cold, wet feet deteriorate to such a degree, it is worth being ‘foot aware’ to prevent very painful and perfectly preventable after effects. If you are worried you might have developed trench foot – seek medical advice.
The best way to stop trench foot in its tracks is to keep your feet warm and dry, also avoid footwear that’s too tight or too loose. Good fishing boots are a must.
But if your feet are likely to get wet, make sure that you pack plenty of dry socks and change them frequently. At night, when you’re tucked up in your bivvy, always check your feet over and treat any blisters.
Leave wet boots and socks off at night, this will give your feet a chance to fully recover, in time for the following days fishing.
Trench foot gets its name from the appalling plight of soldiers during World War One. Men fought for days and weeks in thick mud and standing water. At its peak 20,000 soldiers had diseased feet, and over the course of the war the condition affected a staggering 74,000 allied troops. Some of the soldiers suffered gangrene, amputation and even death.
Combattants in wars as recent as the Falklands have been dogged by trench foot. In the civilian population, festival goers, anglers and hikers have all been affected. But by being prepared and knowing the signs and symptoms – you can stay one step ahead.
Well that was that then, the second coming of the ice age soon put paid to my little run of catching carp.
I turned up last Monday full of confidence of finally achieving my lifetime ambition, a big carp in the snow. The white stuff was falling out of the sky in flakes the size of white sugar mice and an even crisp coating covered the banks, but not enough to put a damper of my carp fishing enthusiasm.
The drive through the Estate was pretty hairy as, half an hour before light; mine were unsurprisingly the first set of tyre tracks on the lane. Even in four wheel drive it was more than a little slippery but I arrived in one piece and with no dents or scrapes.
Pushing the barrow was easier than normal though as the sloppy mud on the paths had frozen solid and I trudged straight up to the swim I had been so successful ion the previous two visits.
Surely this would be the week that I returned victorious with a camera full of images a big golden carp against a Christmas card background?
I knew I was up against it though as the forecast was for a rapid deterioration in the conditions and hideously cold temperatures during Tuesday night, this combined with a swing in the wind to the East meant there was a very real chance of the lake freezing over.
To start though it looked perfect, the snow kept falling and the baits all went out in the right spots first time. I put the bivvy up to shield my kit from the snow and settled in for the duration.
The first bite time came and went, shortly followed by the afternoon chance without as much as a sniff.
As soon as grew dark I knew I was in for the long haul as I have only had the one take in darkness and the nights seem so interminably long at this time of year but a film on the mini DVD player and a good book helped to pass the time.
Once again the morning feeding spell came and went and I busied myself by making a snowman for company, it was looking really good until Paddy decided to eat both his stick arms!
Once I had re-cast all the rods with fresh baits there really was very little to do apart from sit and wait some more and consider the sanity of doing another night as they were predicting temperatures of minus eight that night.
Luckily I had come well prepared and the layers of thermal fishing clothing I had on kept me nice and warm despite the biting easterly winds.
Once again darkness fell only this time the forecast came good and by midnight I knew that my chances of that magical snow photo were as far below zero as the thermometer was.
I snuggled down for the night and, as I awoke on Wednesday morning, I was actually surprised just how nice and warm I felt, I had my trusty Hard-core Sleeping bag tucked up around my chin and the fleece lined cover keeping in all that lovely warm air, it was quite a shock when I peered out of the bivvy doorway and saw fifty ducks all walking in single file across the middle of the lake, my quest for a carp had failed but I suppose my testing of the new winter range of clothes and sleeping bags had been a roaring success. I was tempted to just stay in bed and pretend I was still fishing but, eventually, I had climb out and start the long and arduous task of packing away a frozen bivvy and breaking the ice to retrieve my lines with fingers that felt like frozen sausages.
As they say though, you have to be in it to win it and there is still plenty of winter left to try again, and plenty more snow on the way.
Here at Fishtec we now have stock of the Reversible Polar Buffs.
To follow in the ever growing ‘buff’ trend, BuffTM have created the Reversible Polar Buff. A two layer garment made from polyester microfibre and fleece. The two layers create an air cushion that acts as a heat trap, providing extra protection and helps to maintain body temperature. Perfect for the hardcore fisherman who are looking to be out on the banks or up to their chest in ice cold water this winter!
A buff has been regarded as an essential piece of fishing clothing, protecting against harmful UV rays and retaining heat on the coldest of days.
Made from 100% polyester microfibre and 100% polyester fleece, Polar BUFF® Reversible weighs 73g/2.6oz and measures 51cm x 24.5cm/20″ x 9.6″.
One size fits most adults.
Polar BUFF® Reversible is machine washable and non iron. It won’t fade or lose its elasticity.
The Airflo Mesh Vest is Trout Fishermans top selling subscription gifts. It has been described as the “Ultimate lightweigth fly vest” and is ideal piece of fishing clothing for the angler who likes to travel light, wade deep or be able to carry everything.
Remember, a magazine subscription offer could be the perfect gift for an angler who has everything! The Airflo Mesh Vest is a Great addition to a year long subscription!
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Take advantage of this superb subscription offer and order in one of two ways…
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Finding the right fishing jacket, fleece or softshell could be a long and tedious process. Trying on a jacket and walking around a fishing store isn’t the ideal environment to test a product. It could fit perfectly but as soon as you start waving a fishing rod around the garment could soon become uncomfortable. The designers at Simms have tried to make everything a little easier for the fly angler who wants everything at the click of a button.
Introducing the new Simms’ new fall line-up of technical fishing clothing. These garments offer serious protection from the worst the winter can throw at you.
Featuring the Bulkley Jacket, Simms have designed this jacket for the enthusiastic boat or bank angler who doesn’t need a jacket which they can deep wade in. By extending it’s length the bulkley will cover the back of all waterproof trousers eliminating damp patches and draught. Boasting a 2 layer GORE-TEX® outer shell with the innovative all-weather insulation of PrimaLoft® One technology.
Simms developed the Fall run jacket for the angler who like to travel light. This amazing piece of kit is lightweight and packable and will defiantly keep you warm on those cool winter mornings as you’re waiting on the bank for the mist to clear. Primaloft® One material traps and holds heat in its pours making it one of the best mid/top layers on the market.
The Simms Guide Windstopper jacket has been designed for the most extreme angler wanting the most out of their fishing clothing. This jacket is said to be the jacket for fall 2012 and Spring of 2013, featuring a Windproof, breathable and showerproof outer construction finished with DWR, this jacket is immune to the elements.
The new football season is upon us, and it’s all to play for.
But if the thought of watching a bunch of millionaires kick a ball around turns you cold, or if listening to the waffling Gary Lineker makes you reach for your fishing boots, don’t worry; you’re not the only one.
In fact, this seemingly football crazed nation is not, as it turns out, quite as crazed as you might think.
Most people can name a team they follow – at least in principle. Many take a keen interest in the football premiership. But when it comes to participating in this most ubiquitous of sports, it turns out that we’d rather go fishing.
Yes, that’s right, a study by the Countryside Alliance has found that more people go fishing, than play organised football.
Fishing continues to grow in popularity
For confirmed angling addicts, this will come as no surprise. But the growing popularity of angling owes much to the efforts of the bodies that control our rivers. Thousands of projects to improve river ecosystems, better environmental controls and partnerships with farmers and businesses have done much to improve the quality of British rivers.
Thanks to the work of the Environment Agency along with thousands of volunteers and charities across the country, our waterways are now some of the best in Europe. Salmon, otters and water voles are returning, in numbers, to stretches of water they long ago abandoned.
The peace and tranquillity of the countryside is key to the quality of the fishing experience, and with thousands of miles of riverbank scheduled by the for improvement by Environment Agency, things can only get better.
Fishing is fun for all the family
Just as organisers of the wildly successful British Olympics, have focused on getting young people interested and engaged in sport, so organisations like the Countryside Alliance are going to great lengths to get young people fishing.
Fishing for schools, is a programme run through the Alliance, and headed by angling legend, Charles Jardine. The scheme engages kids who may not thrive in the classroom, by giving them angling instruction.
Currently underway too, is National Fishing Month, a campaign to inspire families across the country to take up fishing.
Such efforts should be roundly applauded. An appreciation for the natural environment, gained at a young age, will last a lifetime, helping to protect our wonderful rivers, for future generations of anglers.