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!
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 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
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
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!
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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