With the topic of specific venues to fish becoming a pretty big talking point across social media right now, I thought I’d offer my thoughts on the subject for what they’re worth. To be honest, this is the first time since the summer I have felt compelled to add to my blog and being a pretty emotive subject, it may well stir an interesting response.
But firstly, did you really think you would click on the link and be handed a plethora of quiet hideaway’s previously only spoken of in hushed tones and that had been passed down by generations of anglers, each in turn sworn to secrecy?
Perhaps, you did. And I guess there isn’t really anything wrong with that. I mean, in 2017 you can click a link on the internet and be holding practically anything in your hands within twenty four hours and a few click's. That in itself is pretty smart, but has this made us all just a little bit lazy? Instant gratification is all well and good, but surely to work for something makes the end result far more rewarding. This is the point where I have to go careful, as working as a guide on the shore of the Bristol Channel, you could say that I’m offering that very same instant gratification at a price.
Yes, I am and I hold my hand's up that it is my business and have never tried to hide that fact.
But at the same time, the majority of my clients are fresh to sea angling and as a blank canvas can be shown practical measures to take their fishing in the right direction THEMSELVES . I’m talking about pretty basic stuff, but very valuable all the same and incredibly useful to build upon as the angler progresses through their fishing campaign. When the guided session comes to a close, that angler has to make his own decision’s and ultimately is in charge of his own destiny.
Unless said client is content to hone their skills by returning to the venue on which they were guided (and rarely they are), they will be faced with the challenge of seeking other venues and this is where the real work begins.
An enthusiastic new sea angler will undoubtedly head for the internet (reference source of instant gratification) to seek advice and soon becomes aware that social media platforms such as Facebook are full of experienced anglers. These are the guys who are regularly seen grinning (or not in some cases) whilst clutching, cradling or struggling behind a huge fish in pictures that they have chose to post for all to see. They’re pleased with their catch and rightly so. Who can blame them them? (note: eel picture is reasonable enough, but it was a mediocre fish on a quiet day and served a purpose for this blog)
But sooner or later, amongst the comments, there will be THAT question-
“Where did you catch it mate?”
More often than not, the response is a reluctant or even misleading one, leaving the chap who posed said question confused, annoyed and ultimately frustrated.
He probably wonders why he was met with such hostility...All he wants is the chance to catch a similar fish.
Let’s look at that response and see if we can work it out. The most successful anglers I know put a lot of time and effort into their fishing and that’s not just a recent thing. Twenty, thirty, forty years or more of fishing three or four times a week at the compromise of work and in some cases, even relationships. It’s only fishing, but to some, it is everything. They really have poured their heart and soul into it and the results show. Perhaps it’s little wonder they are not prepared to part with a location that has probably been the endeavour of a life time of effort, trial and error in the nod of a rod tip. Understandably, our new angler won’t relate to this for one second and that is where the problem lies.
Indeed, this goes a little deeper still. When I was a teenager in my local sea angling club, I recall the old salts regularly catching huge fish of many flavours. This was brought to my attention through word of mouth or maybe a tiny column in the sports pages of the local rag. Of course, THAT question was on my lips, but never would I have dreamed of asking outright. I guess it was a respect thing. You might even call it etiquette.
It seems that electronic social interaction has removed any inhibition and it is now perfectly okay, in the eyes of some anyway, to ask that big question.
Back to the Facebook picture of Mr Fisherman holding his prized catch though and you could actually liken that fish to any new acquisition. I have friends who are major car enthusiasts. They like new cars and often post pictures for all to admire online and I’m sure you might know similar people who post pictures of things that they’re enthusiastic about too.
When you’re done admiring that shiny saloon, dazzling engagement ring or grand new house in the country, do you ask them how much money it cost them? Of course not, that would be deemed rude and I hope you can see where I’m coming from with this analogy.
So far, you could still argue that the above reasons for not disclosing a fishing mark are a little wishy-washy and perhaps selfish even, but there are also a number of practical reasons why an angler may not want to see all and sundry trampling over his little bit of paradise.
Remember, not all venues are long shingle beaches that offer plenty of room to accommodate umpteen anglers. Space may be at a premium and there’s nothing more disheartening than arriving at the mark you have been planning to fish all week after a three hour drive only to find it occupied.
Another consideration is the fact that said angler may have access to private land and that this particular stretch of coast is inaccessible without crossing it.
Safety too is often overlooked and sheer enthusiasm to get a bait in the water could leave an inexperienced angler blind to the dangers at some locations. It would be fool hardy to send a new angler to anywhere that’s potentially dangerous so early in their angling career without further guidance.
I really could go on all night as this is a massive subject. I’ve neglected to go into detail about inconsiderate anglers who leave litter strewn in their wake, as quite frankly it’s been done to death.
As a foot note, I would suggest that if you are interested in fishing a specific area, take a look for yourself. You may have limited time and live several hours away, but how badly do you want that end result? Isn’t that a small sacrifice for something potentially special and actually an adventure all in itself?
The alternative is of course to go online and find someone who may be willing to help. Approach that person as you would in the real world, be friendly and don’t go wading into a page of ‘well done’ comments on a catch report by asking blunt questions. There are many anglers out there willing to help, but some won’t and that has to respected. Those that are willing to part with a little information may not give you the full story but it’s then down to you to piece together the parts of the jigsaw puzzle.
Consider joining a club where like minded anglers will work as a team. Once you develop an inside-out knowledge of your own patch, you will have some valuable information to trade with someone at the other end of the country and who will likely be far more inclined to offer you information in exchange for a little of your own.
And that really can work well.