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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.