Top 10 Angling Disasters (and how to avoid them!)

hook-head

We’ve all done it right? The hook in the hand…
Image source: Dom Garnett

It’s only fishing, what could possibly go wrong? For some of us, quite a lot! Dom Garnett talks us through his top 10 angling disasters, with a healthy dose of hindsight humour. Take the chance to learn from Dom’s mistakes and make sure you don’t get caught out in the same way…

1. Rod pulled in!

napping

Don’t get caught napping! If there are big fish about, you could lose that rod in a flash.
Image source: Dom Garnett

There’s a price to be paid by those that don’t stay alert. Heavy hitters like carp and barbel can easily pull your prized rod into the drink. That rule about never fishing unattended rods is there for a reason. There are three easy ways to avoid this common error: Set the drag on your reel carefully (a little loose if your mind tends to wander); double check baitrunners are on for carp; and for goodness sake, pay attention!

2. Forgotten landing net

That sickening feeling… it’s not there when you open the boot. Sure you can fish, but how are you going to land anything? The only solution is to nip back home. Or find a more accessible spot. Or buddy up with an angler who is better organised than you.

3. In for a soaking

getting-wet

Falling in might be a bit of a joke, but hypothermia certainly isn’t.
Image source: Dom Garnett

Getting wet is the stuff of angling banter, but not always a laughing matter if you’re the victim. I’m constantly amazed by the fact that over a quarter of fishermen can’t swim. Assuming you get out safely, it could be more than your pride that hurts. Cold is not only uncomfortable, it can be dangerous. Unless it is baking hot, you should quickly change into dry clothes if you plan to keep fishing.

Having got my feet wet on many occasions, my answer is simple: always have a spare set of dry clothes in the car. Anything will do, even that old band t-shirt from 1995. Just don’t make yourself ill.

4. A hook in the hand

Ouch! That looks nasty. Whether it’s a point in the finger or an unwanted piercing somewhere else, getting hooked isn’t much fun. If it’s a small or barbless hook, you might be fine. The best way to remove an errant hook is to push down against the barb, then pull up (try practising on something other than your hand!). If the hook is big or lodged solid, you should go to hospital, period. It’s also a good idea to make sure your tetanus boosters are kept up to date. (There’s yet another argument for barbless hooks in there somewhere too).

5. Missing bait, lures or flies?

Oh for goodness sake, how did I forget my bait box or neglect to pack any lures? It’s easily done, but what happens next? If you’re a messy angler, you might just find a few stray flies, an old spinner, or a tin of sweetcorn in the boot. Otherwise you’ll have to improvise.

If you can’t nip to a shop, perhaps you could gather some bait on the bank? If there are old leaves, rocks or stones to turn, you might just find a worm or other snack. But the best answer is to have a sneaky bag of bait and a little handful of lures stashed away in the boot of the car for emergencies.

6. The call of nature

It’s not a pretty business, but there are times when you (ahem) have to do what you have to do, but are miles away from the nearest toilet. The prospect of going Tarzan style in the bushes is fairly horrible, um, so I’m told… but needs must. Always have a roll of loo roll and a thick resealable bag hidden in your car or supplies.

7. Lost or cut off

cut-off

Tides and conditions must always be watched.
Image source: Dom Garnett

It’s easy to lose sense of time or direction, especially if you enjoy fishing wild areas or those exposed to the elements. The weather can change very suddenly. You can easily get stuck or even stranded by the tide. For any fishing trip in a new or risky area you should always try to get advice from a local, let someone know where you’re headed and keep a mobile close.

8. Plenty of bites

Mosquitoes, midges, horseflies and other insects can be pure evil. For anyone who fishes in Scotland, Finland or Alaska, plagues of these creatures can crop up! Repellent is essential (“Skin so Soft” is a good one, for those who shrink at deet). If things are really heavy you may even need a mask (no kidding). It’s often good practice to cover up ankles, legs and exposed areas so you’ll avoid ticks and other critters too.

9. Bird trouble

Birds love eating bread (or any floating baits) and can also tangle with line. We all need to be vigilant and fish with care. As for what to do if you hook a duck or other bird when fishing, that’s another mess altogether. Try to retrieve the line and hook as quickly and delicately as possible. Usually the best way is steady pressure. If you can see and free the hook, great. If it’s more awkward, the best thing to do is to cut the line as closely as possible- and remove anything that might hinder the bird. A small barbless hook will cause little harm; but being tethered to fishing line is serious. If you are concerned for the bird’s welfare, you can call the Environment Agency, who will direct you to the best local source of help.

10. Broken rod

broken-rod

At some stage in your life it will happen… crunch!
Image source: Dom Garnett

It can be the most heartbreaking thing of all. Your favourite rod, snapped. What can you do? If you had the sense to pack a spare, at least you can keep fishing. If it’s broken near the tip, you might even get it fixed. However, if the break is a bad one you might need a spare section; which can be a pain if it’s more than a couple of years old. In any case, it’s probably time to speak to the good folks at Fishtec!

More from our blogger:

Dom Garnett is an avid all round angler, author and photographer. His books include Canal Fishing: A Practical Guide; Crooked Lines and the Amazon bestseller Flyfishing for Coarse Fish. Catch his weekly column “The Far Bank” in the Angling Times, or discover more from him at www.dgfishing.co.uk

Fishing In Droughts – Lack Of Rain Stops Play?

low water fishing

Summer low: dry conditions call for extra caution.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

With some of the lowest rainfall levels on record, 2017 could prove testing for fish and anglers alike. Dom Garnett offers some thoughts on the challenges of low water fishing and the issues facing our rivers.

For both coarse and fly anglers, low rivers present a difficult scenario. We might dream of full, healthy waters during the closed season, but often the picture is very different on the bank.

This year we have been hit by some of the strangest weather on record, and whether you blame climate change or just freak chance, more extreme weather patterns look set to stay. The driest April for decades was followed by some of the warmest temperatures we have ever seen; including the hottest June day since 1976. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out the huge effect this can have on our rivers.

New highs, new lows

dried-up-river

Down to the bones: a drought-hit river.
Image courtesy of Angling Trust.

While pretty much all UK rivers have been at low levels lately, some have witnessed dramatic extremes. In Wiltshire, for example, parts of the River Kennet ran totally dry earlier this year, and experts warned that Britain’s rivers were in danger of drying up.

Of course, it is not only extreme weather that causes problems. Human activity also exacerbates low river levels, with abstraction and water wastage two of the biggest causes of falling waters. Indeed, groups like the Angling Trust and WWF have been campaigning for years to push for better standards, as population levels grow and water management still leaves a lot to be desired.

Effects on fish and fishing

chub

A summer chub lurks in inches of water; fish like these can be painfully cautious.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

Welcome rain has stemmed some of the extreme drought recently, but as river levels across the UK remain low, what can anglers do? Should we be fishing at all in extreme conditions? This is a very personal choice, but caution is advised and we must be extra careful with our catch.

For the fish themselves, low water can be a time of stress. When the body of water shrinks, temperatures rise quicker. Lower flows also result, further depleting oxygen levels. Just as we feel lethargic and short of puff on a hot day, the warmer the water becomes, the lower dissolved oxygen it holds for fish.

Some species should probably be left alone altogether when the water is really low and warm. Pike are especially fragile, but some anglers also cease fishing for barbel and other types of fish too. The choice is yours, but the fishing is likely to be challenging- and if you do succeed you must be responsible for your quarry.

Low water tactics

avoid-spooking-fish

Anglers will need to work harder to keep a low profile.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

When rivers run low, fish are often at their most vulnerable. Less water means more exposure to predators, so they tend to be cautious. They will often move from their usual haunts too, meaning you must track them down. Many fish, such as chub and even carp, will migrate to fast, shallow flows where they have cooler, more oxygenated water. Others may abandon shallow, exposed lies for deeper pools and cooler depths.

The most obvious consequence for the angler is that they must be stealthier than ever to avoid scaring fish. Keeping a low profile and cautious wading are a must. Line and tackle are also more obvious when the water is clear and shallow, so finer kit makes sense. Smaller baits and hooks are a good idea for those seeking coarse fish, while fly anglers should resort to fine lines and smaller, more natural looking flies.

On trout streams, low water can make keen-sighted fish especially spooky. Those you find in the steady glides can become painfully shy to any disturbance. Spots with broken, faster rushing water tend to fish better therefore, providing oxygen for trout and enough commotion to conceal the angler.

On coarse rivers, standard tackle never looked so obvious to the fish and you might have to scale down. Simple link-legered or even free-lined baits are one answer, and you might find smaller, more natural baits such as maggots and casters work best. Another good dodge is to try fly fishing for the likes of chub, roach and dace.

Fish care in hot weather

handle-fish-with-care

Keep fish wet and handling to a minimum in hot conditions.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

Low rivers and warmer temperatures make the fish we catch more vulnerable to angling pressure. As we’ve said, it is a personal decision whether to fish or leave them alone, but in the hottest weather we must take extra care. Keepnets, for example, can be dangerous when fish are retained for any length of time.

A good general rule for the summer is to handle your catch as little as possible. Waders are useful here, allowing the angler to unhook and release most fish without them leaving the water. Should you want a quick picture though, your quarry can always be retained in a submerged net- much better than them flapping around on a dry bank. Should you need to land a fish, make sure your unhooking mat is well-doused with water.

Fish often need more recovery time on a hot day too. Just as you find exertion leaves you exhausted on a balmy day, fish also suffer in the heat. Where possible support the fish you are releasing and give it time to recover. Point it nose first into the flow and be patient; fish like grayling and bream may need a few seconds to fully come to their senses.

Above all, use your common sense and be as kind as you can to fish in low water and hot conditions. You might also find my selection of catch and release tips handy, on the Turrall Flies blog.

Longer term lows?

cracked-river-bed

Is this what the future has in store?
Image source: Shutterstock.

Are current low water levels an exception, or part of a troubled future for our rivers and waterways? Even Donald Trump would have a hard time writing off present day extremes as “normal” as records continue to be broken and the vast majority of scientists point towards a future of more freakish changes in our weather.

The bigger picture for rivers is that they will face more floods and droughts in coming years and require our protection more than ever. It falls to all of us to be more cautious about water usage and to lean on authorities to manage natural resources more wisely.

Finally, there are two further things we can all do to play our part. The first is to report any worrying signs such as painfully low water levels or fish in distress to the Environment Agency (the number is on the back of your EA license). The second is to support the Angling Trust, who relentlessly campaign to combat abstraction and other critical issues. If we anglers aren’t conscientiously taking care of our fish and the fragile habitats they depend on, who else will?

More about our blogger…

Dom Garnett is a weekly Angling Times columnist and author of several books including Amazon bestseller Flyfishing for Coarse Fish and his recent collection of angling tales Crooked Lines. You can read more from him at www.dgfishing.co.uk.

One More Time By Rene’ Harrop

The latest monthly field report from Rene’ Harrop – American fly fishing guide, author and consultant for Airflo.

Aside from time spent away in the military, I do not recall being anywhere other than the Harriman Ranch on June 15.

June 15

June 15

Even as a very young boy in the 1950’s, the traditional opening of fishing within the Ranch was a date of supreme importance. What seemed a long journey in those days, the annual family fishing excursion was actually only a 65 mile drive up old U.S. 47 to Island Park. To both my father and grandfather the Ranch, as it is still most commonly known, represented a special fishing opportunity. And that awareness was firmly implanted in the mind of a fledgling angler not yet 10 years old.

Ranch Rainbow

Ranch Rainbow

On Monday just passed, I was joined by members of two subsequent generations in my son and youngest grandson in a renewal of an annual ritual as important as any in my lifetime. Along with Bonnie, whose time fishing the ranch water extends back nearly 4 decades, we joined a parade of like-minded fly fishers numbering perhaps as many as 60 or 70 individuals on the trail running downstream from the Last Chance Access at around 9:00 A.M.

Within less than an hour, both banks were lined with the year’s first human visitors for as far down river as the eye could see. With at least one fisherman positioned about every 50 yards, just finding an open spot to await the appearance of rising fish was a bit of a challenge along the northern most mile of the Ranch section, but on opening day it doesn’t seem to matter.

At more than 100 yards wide and quite wadeable, this section of the Henry’s Fork is unique in its ability to accommodate the exceptional numbers that will be mostly gone within a few days. And remarkably, this predominantly mannerly gathering seems able to coexist on the water with only minimal conflict.

Slow Water Performance

Slow Water Performance

I think this orderly conduct can be best explained by a sense of reverence that folks seem to possess for the history, tradition, and continuing influence that are represented by the gentle and fertile currents in which they stand. This is not a place for the selfish, greedy, or inconsiderate, and seldom are these characteristics revealed, even at the busiest of times.

On this day, my family and I were just happy to be there as part of something larger than ourselves, and our fishing success was of secondary importance. The reconnection with old friends seen only at this time of year combined with becoming acquainted with new faces that may become so somewhere down the road.

Working The Edge

Working The Edge

John McDaniel spoke of the “Ranch Culture” in his excellent book dedicated to the Harriman Ranch portion of the river. I agree with his comments pertaining to the age of those most often observed fishing this water. Most anglers I saw this week would be closer to 60 than 40, and this is somewhat troubling to one who might fear the coming of a new and somewhat indifferent attitude toward what fishing the Ranch has represented going back to when it was purchased by the Harriman Family more than a century ago.

For myself, the highlight of opening day 2015, was watching my 15 year old grandson land a very respectable rainbow hooked on a flawless upstream cast that was preceded by a skillful approach that told me he knew exactly what was needed.

I believe that in our descendants go ourselves and, therefore, we continue beyond mortal existence. Brogan Harrop is the most recent of five generations with whom I have shared the Ranch experience. My oldest great grandchild is 5 years old and with luck, I will live to include a sixth.

Fishing in Danger Zones

mine sweep

U.S. Army photo of a land mine sweep by Spc. Derek Gaines, via Wikimedia Commons

It should come as no surprise that some of the most troubled places in the world have excellent fishing. While we worry about civil war, piracy and nuclear radiation, the fish thrive on neglect. Dominic Garnett looks at some of the most dangerous fishing spots in the world, and what swims there.

Afghanistan

Afghanistan

Lake Band-e-Amir by Carl Montgomery

Would you go fishing in the Bamiyan area of Afghanistan, where the local landmarks include the City of Screams (Shahr-e Gholghola), the Blood Fort (Shahr-e Zohak) and Dragon Valley (Darya-e Adjahar)? In 2015, parts of Afghanistan were relatively safe, allowing one of Forbes Fly Tying’s intrepid bloggers to dodge the landmines to try his luck there.

For a desert country, Afghanistan has a surprising amount of water. Among the mountains, you’ll find Jurassic lakes and fast rivers, many of which contain trout. There are also snow trout in the mountain springs, which local people catch using handlines, explosives, and even the occasional rocket propelled grenade.

West Hawaii

lava

Lava flowing into the sea in Hawaii. Image courtesy of USGS via Wikimedia Commons

Anyone who fancies spicing-up their angling experience by dodging molten lava while they fish, will find West Hawaii a red-hot spot. With some of the most active volcanoes on the planet, the warm coastal waters there are incredibly fertile.

Anyone mad enough to wet a line In West Hawaii will find a cornucopia of species there, from colourful oddities, to the likes of bonefish, barracuda and snapper. Just get ready to run or swim if you hear a rumble.

Namibia

shark

Fishing from the beach in Namibia
Image source: Shutterstock

The coast of Namibia offers some of the most spectacular shark fishing on earth. A nation once blighted by apartheid, poverty and war, thankfully, the political situation is less perilous now.

You’ll still have to keep your wits about you though, not least because of the searing heat of the sun, and the huge variety of hungry sharks there.

Chernobyl

chernobyl

Radioactive waters surrounding the Chernobyl power plant.
Image courtesy of Carlwillis via: Wikimedia Commons

Big fish including including wels and sturgeon dwell in the bleak industrial waters of Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union. But what happens to the fish when man-made catastrophe renders waters radioactive?

There are rumours of, and actual captures of strange mutants, like the catfish Jeremy Wade landed in River Monsters. And there are also hordes of zander, thriving due to the lack of human inhabitants. Just don’t hang around for too long: visitors must adhere to strict time limits to avoid overexposure to radioactivity.

Northern Norway and Iceland

ice fishing

Arctic conditions can be life-threatening. Image courtesy of Dom Garnett

If it’s extreme fishing weather you crave, rather than war zones, volcanoes or toxic death traps, Northern Norway and Iceland have some truly wild conditions and remote places to fish.

You wouldn’t want to be caught in an avalanche or freeze to death in a blizzard, but if you do survive the howling winds and freezing temperatures, there’s some unreal arctic char fishing in the mountains of the North. It’s treacherous territory, so a guide is essential, as is a giant corkscrew drill to get through the ice.

Britain

britain

Keep your wits about you, wherever you are. Image courtesy of Dom Garnett

We’re not joking. In terms of the annual number of fatalities, the risk of drowning makes fishing the UK’s most dangerous sport. And natural hazards aside, how many of you would consider fishing in the one of the tastier parts of London or Liverpool in the early hours of the morning?

Some of the areas of the country that get the worst press are in fact very friendly and have surprisingly good fishing; Birmingham, Glasgow and Plymouth are some of the best examples. Nevertheless, there are plenty of spots where you do have to keep your wits about you.

Fishing tips for risky places

  • Preparation is everything. A lack of drinking water or extremes of hot and cold are the biggest threats to your safety.
  • If you’re fishing abroad, a local guide always makes sense. He or she will be aware of the risks, and is your best chance of staying safe.
  • Don’t fish risky areas with fancy tackle or too much gear. Expensive kit left around will catch unwanted attention. Keep your tackle simple and be prepared to move quickly should you feel threatened.
  • One of the biggest dangers for anglers is to get too absorbed in the fishing. Always keep your wits about you, keep an eye on others, and anticipate what the weather is doing. Follow your gut instinct and listen to warnings the first time.
  • Always keep your phone and other essentials safe and close to hand. Pack a first-aid kit and keep an emergency bag of supplies. Mine always contains ID, antiseptic hand gel, a bottle of clean water, spare socks, a few calories and sunblock.

Further fishing adventures…

Casting a line from Arctic Norway to the streets of Manhattan, Dom Garnett’s most recent book “Crooked Lines” is packed with a host of great fishing stories, original illustrations, and features a foreword by Matt Hayes.  Order your copy for just £9.99 or as a £4.99 e-book at Amazon UK.
Crooked_Lines_Cover

Top Five Water-loving Dogs

man and dog

Some dogs love a day’s fishing almost as much as their owners
Image source: Shutterstock

Some dogs have an innate love of water and, with patience, can be trained to be excellent fishing companions…and there are other mutts, incredibly annoying four legged fur balls whose presence on the riverbank is a blight on your day.

If you like a hound for company, here are five breeds which, with the right instruction, will enjoy a day’s fishing without driving you and your fellow anglers to distraction.

1. Standard Poodle

poodle

Poodles love to play in the water
Image source: Shutterstock

Originally bred to retrieve waterfowl, the poodle gets its name from the German word pudeln, “to splash in water.” Poodles are still used as hunting and retrieving dogs, their famous “poodle cut”, an 18th century invention designed to make them more buoyant.

Standard Poodles love to impress their human families and get along well with children and other dogs. Intelligent animals, they’re protective, love to be trained, and often excel at dog sports.

2. Newfoundland

newfoundland

Newfoundlands are extremely strong swimmers and can withstand cold water
Credit: Jeremy Tarling. Image source: Creative Commons

A big-hearted dog that’s gentle, protective and loves children, Newfoundlands also have an affinity with water that makes them excellent angling companions.

In J.M.Barrie’s Peter Pan, ‘Nana’ is the Newfoundland employed by the Darling family to look after the children. In reality, Newfoundlands were a tough working dog bred to help fishermen by hauling nets, towing mooring lines and moving loads by cart.

With their double-layered coat, webbed feet and immense strength, Newfoundlands are superb swimmers which are also known for their courage and determination. One Newfoundland called Whizz was recently posthumously awarded an OBE for saving the lives of nine people during its lifetime.

3. Portuguese Water Dog

water dog

Bo, the Obamas’ family dog outside the White House
Image source: Flickr Wikimedia

Remember Bo and Sunny, the Obamas’ White House pets? Portuguese Water Dogs weren’t originally bred for high office, but for herding shoals of fish into nets.

Portuguese Water Dogs also retrieved lost fishing gear and acted as boat-to-boat couriers, carrying messages between fishermen.

Closely related to the standard poodle, this intelligent breed has webbed toes for swimming, strong legs and a wavy coat that repels water. Portuguese Water Dogs are content to stay close to their masters and can be trained to follow complex commands.

4. Labrador Retriever

lab

Labrador Retrievers love to swim
Image source: Wikimedia creative commons

The modern Labrador Retriever is a descendent of the St John’s Water Dog, a Newfoundland breed famous for its swimming and retrieval abilities. Benefiting from a dense coat that repels water and keeps it warm, the modern Labrador is the UK’s most popular family dog.

A Labrador’s soft mouth means it can be trained to retrieve fowl and fish, and because it’s intuitive and responsive to body language and hand signals, giving your Lab’ orders needn’t disturb your fellow anglers.

Labradors can sometimes be very intense around water, but you can avoid this by beginning their water training while they’re young.

5. English Setter

english setter

A loyal English Setter will even help to carry your tackle
Image source: Pixabay.com

English Setters were originally bred as bird dogs to point and retrieve game on English moors. Known for being affectionate, gentle, intelligent and social, they excel at a wide variety of tasks including pointing, retrieving and tracking.

These beautiful water-loving dogs mellow from about the age of three years and love human company. In fact, even more than most dogs, English Setters need to be with people and part of their owners’ daily lives.

An ideal dog for those looking for companionship and affection, your English Setter will love you even if you never catch a thing.

How to Make a Living out of Fishing

dominic garnett, professional angler

Could you cut it as a pro angler?

Ever considered turning your favourite pastime into a job? Fishing author and guide Dom Garnett presents a realistic rough guide to making your living from angling.

The good news is, there have never been more opportunities to make money from fishing, just don’t expect it to be easy because the sector has never been more competitive.

Here’s some advice to get you started.

What can you offer?

dominic garnett with big fish

You will need to be a passionate, competent angler to earn. Eye-opening catches can help, but the “professional big fish angler” is a complete myth!

Forget the myth of the “sponsored angler”, the guy who gets paid just to go fishing. If only it was that simple. You’re only going to make money from fishing by providing something that others want.

Professional angling isn’t just about catching big fish. A much better starting point is to ask: “What can I give to angling as a sport?”

Perhaps you take a great picture or can tell a great story. Do you have design or creative skills? Are you a dab hand with social media or digital marketing? Or maybe you have a deep understanding of the environment.

Guiding & Coaching

dominic garnett, fishing guide, with an angler

Guiding and coaching are the most realistic ways to earn from angling.

The most realistic and achievable way of making an income from angling is to take others fishing, by which I mean becoming a guide, gillie, skipper or coach.

Folks who teach others to cast a fly, who can charter a boat or who can provide some other direct service can all generate an income of some kind. But remember, guiding is not about going fishing yourself, but putting others first.

Get qualified. Schemes run by bodies like the Angling Trust are excellent, and fishing clubs also offer events and pathways to training. Gaining a recognised qualification puts you above board with first aid and insurance, and learning to be a better teacher means you’ll be able to give your guests a great experience.

Most guides specialise. Perhaps you live near some top class barbel fishing, or live in an area with lots of fly fishing. Or maybe you have a specialist skill and can share it with others. Many professionals attach themselves to a venue like a fishery or hotel, while others, from pike specialists to sea fishing experts, are more mobile. Work out what your strengths are and play to them.

I also know a few angling pros who make their living from coaching kids, a task that takes patience and paperwork, but what a wonderful calling.

Writing

angling magazines

Various magazines will take articles, but you need quality and determination.

Articles and books have been my mainstay for ten years. Writing about fishing is not brilliantly paid, but there remains a decent market for it. The magazines and weeklies thrive on content provided by anglers like you.

The key to success as a writer is to compose good quality articles and get them to the right people. Print titles tend to be the way to go to get paid. Many websites don’t pay at all or offer a pittance, although they can still be very useful for getting your work out there.

You must always think of your target audience, remembering to adapt and tailor your work to different styles and formats. Editors want to hear from you, but they’ll be off-put by dodgy English or material that’s a headache to work with.

If you’re new to the game, be prepared to be rejected. The vast majority of us have the ability to write, but it’s a craft that must be honed. Organise your articles so that each is clear, logical and free of glaring errors. Come up with a strong title and a punchy opening sentence, pay attention to word count and always check your work.

Getting friends to read and critique your output is always helpful. Choose those who’ll highlight your mistakes and provide honest feedback. Give your work a fair chance by taking pride in it, or an editor might simply reject it without saying why.

Finally, do also pay close attention to your photography. Even the best-written piece won’t be accepted if it doesn’t have decent pictures. A really arresting main image can sell your work every bit as well as a great headline.

Blogging

fishing and blogging

If you love to fish and love to write, blogging could be a good start

Blogging is huge and though it’s difficult to make money directly from blog posts, I can’t stress how important this skill is. Tweets and Facebook posts become ancient history incredibly quickly, whereas popular blog posts can remain popular for years and show up on search results far better than do social media pages.

In today’s digital world, we’re invisible without an online presence. A blog puts you out there and gives you the freedom to talk about whatever you like, enabling you to build a relationship with readers and customers. Whether you’re a guide, a writer, a bait company or a photographer, your blog tells your story and engages with the people who use your services.

And don’t forget professional blogging. There are a huge number of companies and organisations now hiring bloggers, and the fishing world is quickly following suit. Well, you’re reading this aren’t you?

Fishing Books & E-Books

crooked lines by dominic garnett

Crooked Lines is my fifth book; but it has taken many years to develop my craft and build up a readership.

If words are truly your thing, the biggest single chunk of income you can make from writing about fishing is to produce a book; a daunting task and a subject in its own right. Suffice to say, you need a strong idea and a lot of willpower to make this happen.

I strongly believe the old saying that we all have a book in us. But the key to the success of any fishing book is how many readers it will appeal to. Whether it’s a great page-turning read or an insight into a special area of expertise, you need a solid theme and something compelling to capture the reader’s attention.

The most obvious route for the would-be-author is to try and get a publisher interested. Afterall, writing the text is only half the battle with any book. Design, layout, proofreading and marketing are just some of the other tasks you would otherwise have to take care of yourself.

Self-publishing is another option, but a major book project can be a nightmare without specialist knowledge and support. That said, if you do have an audience, along with the right skills and connections, you then have the advantage that you retain editorial control and keep more of the profits.

Last but by no means least, I should also mention ebooks. Kindle edition fishing books are still not vast in range, but times are changing and they do sell. You won’t get as many illustrations in a download and the writing has to really stand up to scrutiny, but ebooks can be great little earners. Once you’ve uploaded your book there are no printing costs, storage or overheads to consider either.

Both of my own ebooks, Crooked Lines and Tangles with Pike sell at a nice steady trickle all year round and interestingly, those who enjoy the Kindle edition quite often buy the “real” hard copy after reading the digital version. Above all though, ebooks are an exciting and underexploited area. Why not be one of the pioneers and give it a try?

Sponsorships and Angling Companies

dominic garnett's flies

Ever had an idea for a new product? I had many ideas rejected, before Turrall began producing my various flies for coarse species.

Many anglers seem to believe that being sponsored is the easiest route to a career in fishing. Sadly, this is seldom true. There are, admittedly, a heck of a lot of sponsored anglers out there, but most get free kit and bait rather than a salary. But seeing as most landlords don’t accept boilies or lures in lieu of rent, how might you go about getting a proper paid role?

If you have specialist knowledge or business skills, a job with a tackle company is the obvious route to take. Do bear in mind though that these days, companies are looking for all-rounders and not just those who can catch big fish or make a sale.

There is also the possibility to endorse or design products for a commission. Again, not easy but possible if you have an idea with sales potential and a company willing to listen.

Digital marketing is hugely important now, and lots of companies are looking for people who can provide films, blogs and other digital media. The trick, as always, is to identify a need, then tailor your products and services to meet it. Be warned though, the tackle world can bite, so be careful, pick wisely, and if you have useful skills don’t give them away for nothing.

Film, TV Work & Talks

filming with NatGeo

My “lucky” break with National Geographic came after many rejected efforts.

Television is a very tough world to break into, but it never hurts to make contacts and ask questions. From the outside looking in, professional TV anglers appear lucky but most faced years of trial, error and rejection before getting any kind of break.

I shudder to think how many of my ideas and emails were ignored or rejected, but eventually I made progress. Not to stardom, but to appearances on Sky Sports and National Geographic, experiences that were lots of fun, paid money and helped my career.

Just like selling features and articles, you need something fresh to offer film and TV people. You also need to be able to handle rejection and keep going. Any practise you can get will serve you well, like making your own videos or giving talks and presentations. And if your videos get stacks of views on YouTube you might even make a small amount of advertising revenue.

Fisheries, Fishing Shops and the “Front Line”

There are a heck of a lot of jobs in the wider world that might not be “living the dream” but do mean getting closer to it! Those who run fisheries and tackle shops or who work in conservation or protecting the environment are all linked to the angling sector.

Realistically, the “superstar” angling celebrity is one in a hundred thousand, and the guy simply paid to go fishing is a myth. However, if you have passion and are prepared to work hard and give something to the sport there are many roles that might work out. I wish you the very best of luck.

Some Further Tips:

dominic garnett angling tips

It’s always good to have a niche; blurring the lines between fly and coarse fishing has definitely helped me to offer something different and enjoyable.

  • Identify your strengths. Ask yourself what you can contribute into the sport.
  • Get qualified.
  • Get insured.
  • Be licensed and above board at all times.
  • Never work for nothing. If you have a skill, don’t give it away for free.
  • Specialise. If you go down the big fish and PB route, you’ll be one of many. Do something original.
  • Be versatile. For most of us, the only way to make a reliable income is to juggle different roles and jobs.
  • Stay positive. Help others, serve the sport well and you will be helped in return.

Further Info:

You can read more on the highs and lows of a professional angler in Dom Garnett’s books and regular blog at www.dgfishing.co.uk

All images © Dominic Garnett.

Prehistoric fish and where to find them

Fossilised fish

Image: Shutterstock
A fossilised fish

Forget witches, wizards and suitcases full of fantastic beasts, the real world conjures up creatures so weird and wonderful they make your jaw drop. It’s from the oceans that the strangest of beings emerge, slimy and dripping; creatures that time forgot.

We’re talking prehistoric fish – swimmers that should be fossils. Here are some of the oddest and oldest fish ever found.

Coelacanth

Image: Everything dinosaur Fearsome but thick

Image: Everything dinosaur
Fearsome but thick

For a long time the Coelacanth was thought to be extinct 66 million years ago, but then in 1938 a fisherman caught one off the coast of South Africa. Thought to be the sole surviving member of a species dating back 400 million years, more recent studies have shown that the coelacanth has many more relatives than scientists realised.

A true living fossil this fish measures 2 metres in length and is a predator that lives in the deeps surviving off smaller fish and even sharks.

Considered critically endangered, the Coelacanth is armour plated and has a mouthful of sharp teeth, but for all its fearsome appearance, this is a fish of very little brain; its brain space being made up of 98.5% fat.

Alligator Gar

Alligator gar

Image: Flickr / FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute
We’re not sure this alligator gar would fit on your plate

The 100 million year old Alligator Gar species can weigh in at a very substantial 300lbs, and it’s not for nothing that it’s called an alligator.

With its razor sharp teeth, jaws like a car crusher and a naturally aggressive personality, you’d want to be wearing reinforced waders if you ever landed one of these.

Found in the waterways of Texas and Florida, the locals say the Alligator Gar is good eating. We think we’ll take their word for it.

Sawfish

Image: Sawfish conservation society Their saw is more sensitive than it looks

Image: Sawfish conservation society
Their saw is more sensitive than it looks

A creature with its origins in the Eocene 56 million years ago, all species of sawfish are today classified as either endangered or critically endangered.

The sawfish is notable for its long spiny saw or ‘rostrum’, but what looks like a dangerous offensive weapon is also a very clever food-detecting device which, because it’s covered in thousands of tiny sensors, enables the sawfish to detect the movement of prey in the water.

Mind you, you wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of a sawfish – a relative of the shark, this fish grows to 7 metres in length and will attack if provoked.

Frilled shark

Image: Sharksider Deep sea dwelling

Image: Sharksider
Deep sea dwelling

One bite from the frilled shark with its 300 teeth spread over 25 rows, and it’s game over for prey. One of the oddest looking fish we’ve ever seen, this denizen of the deep lives between 1000 and 5000 feet below the ocean waves.

Imagine how surprised commercial fishermen were when they caught one in waters off the coast of south eastern Victoria, Australia. At the time the fish, which evolved into its current form 80 million years ago, was thought to be the first live specimen ever seen. But in 2007, one was captured and transferred to a marine park in Japan, where it was filmed in captivity, though sadly it died within hours.

According to the Daily Mirror, a spokesman for the local fishing association commented that the catch was “Good for dentists, but it is a freaky thing. I don’t think you would want to show it to little children before they went to bed.”

Sturgeon

Image: Trout Unlimited An endangered sturgeon

Image: Trout Unlimited (under cc licence
An endangered sturgeon

Anyone for caviar? A prehistoric fish hailing from the the Triassic period, 248 – 208 million years ago, perhaps we should have spent more time preserving the sturgeon rather than harvesting it for its eggs.

Thanks to pollution and overfishing, Sturgeon are now more endangered than any other species of fish. Large specimens are rare, though if you were to find one, it could be quite big – the largest ever catch was made in 1827, a female measuring 24 feet.

But unless something is done to protect sturgeon from the poachers, the fish is doomed in Europe. Our advice – stick to eating lumpfish caviar with your Champagne.

What tackle do you think would work best for catching prehistoric fish? Let us know on our Facebook page!

When Fish Bite Back

fisherman in boat with pike under water

Image source: Shutterstock
Pike are known to be fierce

British rivers and beaches are becoming filled with threats. Giant pike, venomous weevers and even great white sharks have all been encountered in our traditionally safe British waters. But how much of a threat do they really pose?

While we agree with Richard Peirce that British waters possess the right conditions and plenty of prey for White Sharks, to date there is no documented evidence (photos, video, teeth, carcass, etc) of their presence here. It could be a bit of a stretch to state “…White Sharks have been encountered in our traditionally safe British waters.

We’ve been finding out what happens when anglers (and other people) come face to face with fearsome fish who aren’t afraid to bite back. Here’s our roundup of piscatorial perils.

Sharks

Blue shark in UK waters

Image source: Shutterstock
Blue sharks are one of 21 species that visit the UK

Did you know there are at least 21 species of shark in UK waters? Smaller species like the lesser spotted catshark are regularly sighted, while blue sharks and basking sharks prefer to visit in the summer months. Most encounters pose no threat to humans, but there have been occasions when sharks have bitten back.

Angler Hamish Currie was had a lucky escape when he landed a 7 foot Porbeagle shark. As he struggled to catch the giant fish, it lashed out and bit a hole in his steel capped boots!

The guys at britishseafishing.co.uk aren’t surprised by the attack:

“…porbeagle sharks do not take kindly to being caught on rod and line, and most injuries sustained by people are when the shark is caught and brought on board a boat.”

The good news? Very few sharks pose a danger to humans. The Shark Trust tells us there have been no reports of unprovoked shark bites in UK waters since records began in 1847. They go on to say:

“With so many sharks in decline, we believe that shark encounters should be seen as a privilege rather than a cause for alarm.”

But there is one species of shark whose presence triggers more alarm than most. And it could be coming closer.

The Great White

Great white shark head

Image source: Shutterstock
The great white shark-coming to a coastline near you!

Cornish birdwatcher Brian Mellow is convinced that he saw a great white off Cornish coast last summer, when a wave crashed over the fish, revealing its profile. He told the Express:

“I’ve seen other sharks before and it wasn’t a basking shark, or a mako shark or a porbeagle.”

Commercial fishing boats and divers in Scottish waters have also spotted potential great whites. Witnesses include two divers who were circled by a very large shark that was much bigger than any porbeagle.

“We had no idea what it was, but we estimated it at 13ft to 14ft long. We had never seen a shark anywhere near that big. It made us very nervous. We got out of the water as quickly as we could,”

Could there really be great white sharks in UK waters? Richard Peirce, chairman of the Shark Trust, believes that British waters possess the right conditions and plenty of prey:

“The real surprise is that we don’t have an established white shark population, because conditions here mirror those in parts of South Africa, Australia and northern California. Research has shown that white sharks tolerate water temperatures in a range which would make British waters perfectly suitable for this species.”

Perhaps we’ll be seeing more sightings in coming years. The Suffolk Gazette’s shark attack parody story would have us think so!

Giant Pike

Angler in cap with pike falling out of hands

Image source: Andrewblackfishing.co.uk
The pike that bit back

In August 2016, coarse fishing blogger Andrew Black was injured when the large pike he caught decided to get its own back:

“I had caught a twenty and was doing a self-take- just as the camera clicked the pike flipped and I somehow caught it tail up / head down, just before it went ballistic and started to thrash around mouth open and clamped on my leg, ripping my trousers in the process!”

Water skier Daniel Blake was bitten on the foot by a pike while waiting for a boat on Llangorse lake in Wales. Llangorse is known for its giant pike and James Vincent of Britain Explorer believes that they may have inspired the mythical tales for which the lake is famed:

“It’s said to be the home of a mythical creature, Gorsey the afanc. Afanc is Welsh for lake monster”

Indeed, in 1846, an angler reported catching an enormous Pike weighing 68 Pounds (31kg) while fishing on the lake. It’s an unsubstantiated claim, but if true, this pike would still hold the worldwide record for the biggest pike ever caught.

But Pike don’t restrict themselves to attacking humans. In 2015 a huge Pike attacked a swan on an Irish lake. The attack was brutal, rupturing the swan’s eye and ripping its lower bill from its face, as well as tearing its throat. Gruesome.

Weever Fish

Weever fish in net

Image source: British Marine Life Study Society
Watch out for weever fish

In the summer of 2000, Jo Foster was walking through a metre of water on Crantock Beach near Newquay, when she suffered an excruciating sting. The culprit? A weever fish which left three puncture marks in her toe:

“The pain responded to hot water treatment, subsiding not immediately but after 20 minutes. However, the wound swelled up and 2 operations, the second requiring a 6 day stay in hospital”.

Alexandra Connolly endured a similar fate on a beach in Ireland when she waded into sea and suddenly felt like she’d been punched on the foot:

“While hyperventilating, my mind began trying to work out what had happened. I decided that I’d been stung by some creature with a nerve toxin venom and that I would soon begin to die.”

The pain subsided, but Alexandra had to take antibiotics for several weeks.

Weever fish are normally found on beaches in summer and are sometimes mistaken for small pouting or whiting. The fish uses its venomous fin spines to defend itself and capture prey.

Usually buried under the sandy seabed with just its dorsal fin visible, the weever’s sting is very painful. But the venom can be treated by bathing the affected area in the hottest water you can stand. Expect the wound to swell, and always seek medical advice.

Blood-sucking lampreys

Man holding lamprey

Image source: The Environment Agency
The lamprey is making a comeback

Fishing Tails blogger Sean McSeveny recoiled in horror when he landed a lamprey while fishing on the River Frome. But why was he so reluctant to handle this unusual fish?

To start with, lampreys look pretty terrifying. Growing up to a metre long, their permanently open mouths contain a disc of razor sharp teeth and a powerful sucker which they use to suck out their victim’s blood.

These prehistoric creatures have also been known to attack humans, so Seans’ comment of “this thing will give me nightmares” is understandable.

Record numbers of lampreys have recently been recorded in UK rivers. This might be concerning, but in fact it’s good news. Not only do they keep rivers healthy by processing vital nutrients, but their revival signals a huge improvement in water quality, which is good news for all species of fish.

But the boost in the lamprey population isn’t just down to cleaner rivers. The removal of man-made weirs, and the Environment Agency’s use of lamprey tiles have opened up 12,500 miles of English rivers, enabling fish to migrate much more smoothly. Lamprey tiles are inexpensive cones which help the fish to swim upstream using their sucker-like mouths as anchors. Fisheries expert Simon Toms is optimistic:

“Now that water quality has improved and some of these barriers have been removed we are seeing lampreys return to the upper reaches of rivers such as the Ouse, Trent, and Derwent, where they were absent as recently as 30 years ago.”

And if we still haven’t convinced you to look differently at these terrifying fish, there’s one final nugget of information that might persuade you. They make brilliant pike fishing bait. Andy Webster of Pike Angler explains how:

“Lamprey can be used whole or in sections. A neat tip is to use them almost whole with just the last inch cut off of the tail. This allows the blood to seep from the bait and leave a scent trail for the pike to follow.”

Lampreys are tough skinned and very bloody, making them perfect bait for pike.

Razorfish

Beach covered in razorfish shells

Image source: Shutterstock
Don’t put your feet near razorfish shells!

Razorfish are actually shellfish, named because their half shell resembles a cut-throat razor. They normally burrow 18 inches into the sand on the edge of the low-tide mark. Fish love them, and they make great bait, but expect pain if you step on one!

One of the worst recorded cases of razorfish injuries occurred on a Devon beach in 1998. 800 people cut themselves on the shells! 14 ambulances rushed to the scene and 30 victims were hospitalised. The experts from the British Marine Life Study Society explain why this unusual event took place:

“Razorshells live buried under the sand, but will rise to the surface of the sand to feed. Many of the Razorshells seem to have died during the heatwave leaving the sharp remains of the shell above the surface of the sand in the shallow water.”

It pays to check underfoot when you’re enjoying a summer beach holiday…

Have you experienced any fearsome fish attacks? Tell us your stories. Head over to our Facebook page and get posting.

Fishing Superstitions

 

Image: Maritime Museum

Image: Maritime Museum
There’s a long list of things NOT to do on a boat

Leave all your money at home. Never take bananas on board, and don’t mention the word ‘pig’. Generations of anglers have depended on beliefs like this to give them a sense of control over a powerful ocean.

Sea fishing is still one of the top five most dangerous jobs in the UK, which might explain why it remains steeped in superstition. We’ve plumbed the depths of the blogosphere and our Facebook page to discover some of the most famous.

From God to gore

Priest holding cross over bible

Image source: Shutterstock
Fishing is rife with religious superstitions

The familiar phrase “may God bless this ship and all who sail in her” may sound like a prayer, but the accompanying custom of smashing a bottle of wine over the bow of a new vessel has pagan origins. Experts at the Royal Museums in Greenwich tell us that launching ceremonies in the past were much more grisly than today’s, often involving human sacrifice:

“The Vikings, for instance, used to sacrifice a slave to win the favour of their sea god. But with the introduction of Christianity, this custom was dropped, and a goat was offered in the place of a slave.”

Christianity is also responsible for a raft of unlucky fishing dates. Superstitious? Then you should avoid fishing on Fridays, as it’s the day when Christ was crucified. The first Monday in April is also out of the question, as it’s believed to be the day when Cain killed his brother Abel. And never fish on December 31st, as it’s thought to be the date when Judas Iscariot hanged himself.

Even the clergy were considered to be unlucky. According to Morag Skene from The North East Folklore Archive (NEFA), if a fisherman passed a priest or “sky pilot” on the way to his boat, he’d either turn around and go back home, or risk impending doom.  Scottish blogger, Ian Kenn, elaborates:

“Once on board, even the mention of the word minister would have upset the spirits of the sea so if there were any references to vicars, priests, ministers or parsons it would have been done under the guise of something such as “the man wi’ the bleck coat.”

The fact that priests conducted funerals didn’t do much for their reputation as bringers of misfortune either.

Food and drink

Bunches on bananas

Image source: Shutterstock
Bananas are banned on board

Meals at sea were always accompanied by a side order of superstition. The saying, “pass salt, pass sorrow” stems from the belief that fishermen shouldn’t pass the salt cellar from one man to another without putting it on the table first. And even the humble loaf wasn’t immune, as Fishing Arts blogger, Stephen Friend, explains:

“Cutting bread and then turning the loaf upside down was said to anticipate the boat turning over and sinking.”

Bananas on board also brought bad luck. Steve Williams explains the background to this superstition on Facebook:

“Apparently donkeys years ago a cargo of bananas were being transported overseas and through bad weather the ship capsized and all people on board drowned. The only thing floating were bananas, that’s the old story.”

But is this just a story? Facebook follower Roger Tipple is convinced that bananas spell bad luck:

“I went pike fishing on a boat and near the end of the day I was blanking whereas my boat partner had a few good fish. I grabbed my food bag a saw the misses had packed me a banana which I slung away as soon as I saw it next thing I know I’m into a good fish which turned out to be 19.2 and the biggest fish of the day. Moral of the story DON’T TAKE A BANANA.”

Facebooker John Deans suggests a more logical explanation:

“The actual reason is bananas turn other fruits bad so all the sailors got scurvy. That’s why bananas shouldn’t be kept in the fruit bowl either.”

According to superstition, as well as being careful about what they ate, fishermen needed to be careful about how they ate. Stirring tea with a knife was strictly forbidden, and one should never cross one’s knives on the galley table!

On board

Trawler boat in stormy sea

Image source: Shutterstock
Could superstitions prevent storms?

The superstitions began before a trawlerman even set foot on his boat. In his book, SUPERSTITIONS: Folk Magic in Hull’s Fishing Community, Dr Alec Gill tells the story of six children in the Casey family, who helped dad Fred pack for his three-week trip. His own superstition meant that once something was put inside his bag, he couldn’t take it out or he’d never make it to sea:

“Eager little hands, innocently, dropped toys into his bag, and many a time Fred went off to Bear Island with a load of useless (and embarrassing) junk.”

And the superstitions followed fishermen on board. Upturning a hatch cover or sleeping on one’s stomach was also forbidden, as these actions could apparently cause the boat to turn over and sink. Superstitious fishermen never wore a watch on board either, nor did they take money to sea. Blogger Steve remembers:

“If they went to sea skint, they would have a good and successful trip. I can recall my grandfather talking about kids scrambling for money when the sailors threw their loose change into the air for the expectant and waiting children prior to setting sail.”

Facebook follower Rob Moore also recommends leaving one particular piece of equipment at home when you go fishing:

“Don’t bring the scales. Always blank when I bring the scales.”

Do you have any gear you think is cursed?

Women

Golden figurehead carved on boat

Image source: Shutterstock
Female figureheads keep the sea calm

Women weren’t welcome on board fishing boats, but they were responsible for keeping their their men safe by following superstitions on the day of his departure. Wash your husband’s clothes on the day he left for sea and you could cause him to be washed overboard. Wave him goodbye and a wave might sweep him away.

Women were also advised to avoid calling out as their husbands left for the dock and going down to the dock to see him off was not an option. Some women left their tea pot or ash pans full until the next day for fear of washing their husbands away!

But despite all their efforts, women could still cause misfortune. In particular, red headed women, who were believed to bring bad luck to a journey. Happily, if a fisherman did happen to meet a flame-haired female en route to the dock, there was a solution. Aberdonion, Eddie, who blogs at The Doric Columns explains:

“The bad luck could be avoided by speaking to the person before they had a chance to say anything.”

Once on board the fishing vessel, woe betide any fisherman who allowed a woman on board. According to author Mark Riley this was because the god of the seas is a beautiful female who doesn’t like men to pay attention to other women:

“Having a woman aboard makes her angry and she will stir up the ocean creating great waves to destroy the ship and all aboard her. If a woman was aboard and the sea became rough, the woman aboard should take off her clothes baring her breasts as this would calm the sea once again.”

This is why bare breasted female figureheads which often adorned ships were supposed to keep bad weather at bay.

Animals

young rabbit on grass

Image source: Shutterstock
The rabbit’s sacred roots led to superstitions

According to blogger Ian Kenn, the word ‘pig’ has always been considered bad luck for fisherman. The names ‘curly tail’ and ‘turf rooter’ are much more preferable:

“It was believed that mentioning the word “pig” would result in strong winds and actually killing a pig on board a ship would result in a full scale storm. If the word sow or pig is mentioned in the hearing of a fisherman, he cries out “caul’ iron” (cold iron).”

One possible reason for this superstition is the fact that pigs possess cloven hooves like the devil. But boars were also venerated by the ancient celts, and many Welsh stories feature magical boars.

Ever heard rabbits referred to as mappies or lang ears? If you’re a sea angler you’ll probably know that the word itself shouldn’t be mentioned on board a fishing vessel. But why is this? In response to NEFA’s Morag Skene talking about superstitions Dr Patrick Roper explains that rabbits and hares seem to be interchangeable and that before the rabbit was introduced, the hare was regarded as a sacred animal by the British:

“Among other things it was thought to be able transform itself into all sorts of different creatures, especially witches.”

It doesn’t help matters that hares are born with open eyes, which supposedly gives them special powers over the evil eye.

Fishermen also believed that they should never kill a gull or albatross. These birds were thought to carry the souls of dead sailors and to kill one would have resulted in the loss of the soul it was carrying.

Lucky hat?

Angler wearing cap and sunglasses holding fish

Image: Eat Sleep Fish
Pete Tyjas in his new ‘lucky hat’

Pete Tyjas, editor of ‘Eat Sleep Fish’ isn’t superstitious at all. Oh, no. Not at all. Apart from one thing – his fishing hats:

“It takes time to break one in and if I’ve had a bad day on the water I never wear it again.”

It was a difficult time when he realised that his favourite trucker hat just wasn’t warm enough. He tried out the one in the picture above, which his wife Emma had worn a few times but he hadn’t broken in himself. How did he fare?

“the day went really well, we caught fish, had some fun and any bad mojo doesn’t seem to have rubbed off on the hat”

The picture shows his first catch of the day, so Pete’s relieved. However, the Facebook thread released a flood of ‘lucky hat’ comments from ESF’s fans. More than one angler confesses to having up to three lucky hats. How many do you have?

How to improve your luck

Full moon in black sky

Image source: Dave Lane
Does a full moon mean fabulous fishing?

Many superstitions instil fear but apart from the right hat, there are plenty of other ways to add a bit of good luck to your voyage. To begin with, it’s always been considered good luck to sail on Wednesdays as the Norse God Woden was seen as a protective towards mariners.

Iron is thought to be a lucky metal, so fishermen nailed horseshoes to the mast as protection from bad luck, bad spirits and even witches. You could also increase your chances of a good catch by ensuring that your nets are “salted in” at the beginning of the season. This often took the form of a blessing, and a sprinkling of salt.

Pop a silver coin under the masthead of your boat and you’ll enjoy a successful voyage. Other good luck charms included pieces of fur, or the wearing of a single gold earring. This was supposed to improve your eyesight and guarantee a decent burial if you ran out of luck at sea.

One of our Facebook fans Colin Wakeling reckons he has the best luck when he fishes by the light of a full moon:

“Defo, I’ve had four 40lb plus carp ,all caught on a full moon phase. Couldn’t believe it, but it’s in my catch book. So, when the moon is full I try to get out fishing. Daft not to.”

Which fishing superstitions do you follow? Head over to our Facebook page and share your stories.

Five Rainbow Trout Feasts

Got too many trout in your freezer? Bored of your usual recipes? Or just fancy a different way of preparing a trout for your evening meal? This blog post takes a look at some great alternative recipes for cooking rainbow trout.

One for the pot - a rainbow trout destined for the dinner table

One for the pot – a rainbow trout destined for the dinner table.

We have all had times when far too many trout fill our bass bag – either from a small fishery that prohibits catch and release, or maybe a fly fishing competition on a reservoir where a bag limit had to be weighed in. There are other times of course, when it’s just nice to keep a fish for dinner if you fancy one. The main thing is rather than waste these trout by throwing or giving them away, you can cook and prepare them in a way that tastes great.

Fresh-caught and fresh-cooked

Two dead trout on chopping board

Image source: Shutterstock
Simple ingredients help bring out the fine flavour

Rainbow trout is delicious steamed or baked, whole or filleted. Some even prefer it to salmon because of the lighter taste and lower fat content.

We’ve got a few tasty rainbow recipes for you, but of course the first thing you’ll need to do is gut and clean your fish. It’s essential to get rid of the guts and gills so it doesn’t taint the flavour. The quicker you do this, the better. Many fisheries have facilities on site where this can be done – plus it also stops the wife from moaning about the mess in the kitchen too! Our preferred way to gut a trout efficiently is shown on the video below:

Trout on an open fire

Two trout in tin foil

Source: sortedfood.com
A tasty treat in just 5 minutes

After a long day on the water, you want to be able to get your meal as quickly as possible. Sorted Food reckons one of the best things to cook on an open fire is fresh fish:

“It cooks quickly, tastes incredible and is not only healthy but pretty impressive looking.”

Just season your trout with lemon, fresh parsley and salt and pepper, wrap in foil, and chuck it on the barbecue or grill. Five minutes later, you’re ready to dine. Maybe add a nice salad to up the healthy factor.

Pan Fried Rainbow Trout

Plate with trout and asparagus

Source: Local Honest Simple
Impress the Mrs with this simple gourmet option

If there’s one culture that really knows its trout, it’s the Scots, and Caledonian chef, Graeme Pallister, has worked in some of Scotland’s top restaurants over his time. He says he’d prefer trout over salmon any day:

“I find the lovely sweet, soft flakes of fresh trout irresistible – but it’s also man enough to take on some strong, acidic flavours.”

You’ll need to prep the seasoning and sauce in advance. A mix of fresh herbs, garlic and lemon with white wine and chicken stock (tip: use a stock cube) is easy to get ready early in the day, though.

Make a few 3mm deep incisions in your fish before pan-frying, and give it just a couple of minutes in the pan on each side before you serve up with some asparagus and boiled potatoes. Simple, but delicious.

Smoked trout

Smoked salmon

Source: Country Skills
An overnight success for smoking trout

If you’ve got the patience to wait before eating your day’s catch, smoking your trout makes a delicious option. Craft and sustainability blogger, Kate, from the Country Skills site goes into great detail for the process, but it really amounts to just a few steps.

Make a cure of 1/3 sugar and 2/3 table salt and put a thin layer at the bottom of a non-metallic dish. Place the fish on top, and then another good coating of cure on top of the fish.

Weigh down the fillets to help draw water out – you’re aiming for around an 18% water loss. Take care to avoid putting anything metallic in direct contact with the curing fish. Then put the salted fillets in the fridge.

Kate does detail the cold smoking process, which she describes as “culinary alchemy” but assures that it’s cheap and simple. A cardboard box, a rack or two, and a smoke source will do just fine. It’s a little more intense as a process, but the added flavour to this luxury dish is worth the effort of making it with your own two hands.

Thai baked trout

Two trout with chilli and lime

Source: Brixton Blog
Get the taste of a Thai beachside barbecue

So far, the most exotic we’ve gotten is a bit of smoking – what about those who prefer their fish with a little more bite? From the multicultural haven of Brixton, and Amy at Feeding Franklin, comes this treat to take you to the Thai beachside.

We’ll skip the parsley and head instead for chilli, ginger and coriander. Pop these into a pestle and mortar and grind into a coarse paste. Split open your fish and fill the cavity with your paste, saving a little to spread on the outside.

Then, line a baking tray with enough foil or baking parchment to cover the fish, and place them on the tray. Add a couple of tablespoons of water to keep your fish moist, and bake at 180 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Get ready for a flavour explosion.

Barbecued trout with prosciutto

Trout wrapped in bacon on grill

Source: British Trout
Don’t wait for summer to chuck these on the barbie

The Scots might know their trout, but the Aussies know what makes a good barbecue, and this barbecued trout recipe comes straight from Antipodean chef Pete Evans.

It’s another beautifully simple recipe. Just wrap your fish in prosciutto, adding a sprig of thyme inside the parcel. Then grill for about four minutes on each side. Looking for a bit of extra flavour? Cook with some mushrooms and garlic to add some more taste.

What next?

There’s little more satisfying after a good day on the water than getting home and sampling the fruits of your labour. Bon appetit – and remember share your favourite fish recipes on Facebook