Honesty? The Best Or Only Policy?

John Bailey

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I was fascinated to read all the replies to this piece, and I think they are all valid and shed light on an important issue. Very many of us catch a whopper or two at some time in our angling lives, and it is as well to have in mind your actions thereafter.

I think we are generally agreed that if a fish is noteworthy, then it is a part of angling history and should be recorded in some way. However, it is important to report with discretion. Avoid being sneaky and losing friendships. Avoid looking smug in any photographs. By and large, I think most of us agree that shielding the fish itself is important, and that we should not subject it to avoidable further pressure if we reasonably can? Having said all this, catching the fish of a lifetime should be an exhilarating experience, and a fisher should be elated rather than traumatised by it!

Wild fish I think we agree are especially vulnerable. Many circuit waters and commercials have known fish anyway, and reporting the capture of one of these is not going to amaze anyone or be responsible for the specimen hunter stampede none of us endorse. Undue or increased fishing pressure can however severely disrupt smaller waters, especially on some species that overly vulnerable. I’m thinking of big pike that suffer from recaptures, or big wild browns in intimate streams, as just two examples out of scores. So what I am saying is that not all big fish captures are equal, and some are more sensitive than others. One of you quoted the idea of reporting a good barbel from the Trent as an example that is not going to harm anyone or any fish.

Somehow, the concept of what you pay, or are willing to pay, for a day’s fishing crept in. There is no right or wrong to this one and it is completely up to the individual angler. For what it is worth, I love the concept of paying a hundred quid a year to a North country fly club, and trekking off to some far-flung moorland for your sport. But you are going to find something similar in Wiltshire tough going, perhaps. Personally, though I do guide anglers, I use guides a lot myself, and never resent paying them for expertise any more than I do my plumber or electrician. I will never be as good as someone like Stuart Croft, and it is a privilege to glimpse into their world.

I hope this makes some shred of added sense to a topic that touches many of us at some time or another.
 

iainmortimer

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I was fascinated to read all the replies to this piece, and I think they are all valid and shed light on an important issue. Very many of us catch a whopper or two at some time in our angling lives, and it is as well to have in mind your actions thereafter.

I think we are generally agreed that if a fish is noteworthy, then it is a part of angling history and should be recorded in some way. However, it is important to report with discretion. Avoid being sneaky and losing friendships. Avoid looking smug in any photographs. By and large, I think most of us agree that shielding the fish itself is important, and that we should not subject it to avoidable further pressure if we reasonably can? Having said all this, catching the fish of a lifetime should be an exhilarating experience, and a fisher should be elated rather than traumatised by it!

Wild fish I think we agree are especially vulnerable. Many circuit waters and commercials have known fish anyway, and reporting the capture of one of these is not going to amaze anyone or be responsible for the specimen hunter stampede none of us endorse. Undue or increased fishing pressure can however severely disrupt smaller waters, especially on some species that overly vulnerable. I’m thinking of big pike that suffer from recaptures, or big wild browns in intimate streams, as just two examples out of scores. So what I am saying is that not all big fish captures are equal, and some are more sensitive than others. One of you quoted the idea of reporting a good barbel from the Trent as an example that is not going to harm anyone or any fish.

Somehow, the concept of what you pay, or are willing to pay, for a day’s fishing crept in. There is no right or wrong to this one and it is completely up to the individual angler. For what it is worth, I love the concept of paying a hundred quid a year to a North country fly club, and trekking off to some far-flung moorland for your sport. But you are going to find something similar in Wiltshire tough going, perhaps. Personally, though I do guide anglers, I use guides a lot myself, and never resent paying them for expertise any more than I do my plumber or electrician. I will never be as good as someone like Stuart Croft, and it is a privilege to glimpse into their world.

I hope this makes some shred of added sense to a topic that touches many of us at some time or another.
It certainly opened an interesting debate and it’s a tough one given that at one time or another, we have all been helped by the receipt of advice on where to go for the success we are after.

I myself have used guides and find their advice invaluable on a new water, especially when seeking salmon on an unknown river. I also therefore recognise the advertising that comes from a good capture which can help the guide themselves.

What is needed is honesty and integrity. I don’t like the lying about venues or locations because it’s unnecessary given the ability to simply be honest and say "I’m not willing to share the exact location other than..."

Sadly I have known those who take it a step further than that by rehooking a captured fish to get a sales shot ostensibly showing how effective a given item is or by massively inflating the number of fish caught. The trouble being that word eventually get's out and their reputation is forever damaged.

At the core of this is the individual and what drives them. I used to weigh or measure every decent fish I caught because I was driven by how big the next one would be and my own personal best achievement. I even held a lake record for a period of time until the next lucky person caught the same fish a few ounces heavier. I think at that point I realised how shallow my approach was.

Today I couldn’t tell you the weight of my biggest fish because I haven’t weighed one in years. I only measure a fish when in a competition and so haven’t done that either for a couple of years. Instead, my self gratification from fishing comes from the challenge of actually catching one. I am not to fussed about it’s exact size. Small, medium or large by MY standards is all that I measure by memory alone. That raises another point. I genuinely don’t care how many someone else gets or how big. I measure my own success against my own efforts and am just as happy when a friend catches as when I catch, especially if we have been working out a new location together.

I don’t really get the numbers game either and am somewhat bemused when I see reports of 20+ trout from a stocked trout lake. To me that just says there was little challenge and I get bored at such places! That doesn’t mean it is wrong, it is just what makes me tick. That brings me to my last point; we shouldn’t judge others enjoyment against our own. We change ourselves through our fishing lives. I can remember the excitement of rushing home to tell my mum the first time I caught over 20 minnows in a day. I doubt I would get that excited today by the same catch over a number of hours! The point made about fish welfare and safety is therefore the best one. A far better reason than pride.

Don’t get me wrong though because given the opportunity, I will capture the moment with a grip and grin myself if something I consider a little special comes my way. It makes for a nice memory on those stormy winter evenings when I browse them in front of a roaring fire while reliving the sights, smells and sounds of the day...

D2D2C581-E88B-4EF7-AD63-0EF39A559F42.jpeg

The location? Of course I’ll tell you, it came from the River Itchen...
 
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JohnH

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Something I wish I'd mentioned earlier to bear in mind is what is now called the optics, ie how does this look ? There are those out there who are sceptical about what we do; there are those who are opposed to it. While we may think they are misguided or don't know the whole story, they are entitled to their opinion. You might just about have got away with something along the lines of "...s*d off and mind your own business..." up to about 1980; no longer. Everyone with a camera in their mobile phone is now potentially a journalist, and attitudes change. No need to be neurotic about it, but always use best practice with the welfare of the fish paramount.

Jason70 made a shrewd reference upthread to the barbel boom of about 20 years ago. I recall seeing a photo of Adams Mill in either a magazine or book of those days, and thinking what a terrible look it was for angling. Hordes of guys tooled up in full SWAT team mode lining the banks of a pretty small river; it's the Ouse downstream of Newport Pagnell. Chris Yates's comment about some anglers declaring war on the fish is appropriate !
 

BobP

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The reasons why chalkstreams are expensive rivers to fish is because of their rarity and their place in fly fishing's history. Chalkstream mileage will be measured in scores while freestone rivers will be measured in thousands.

Anglers the world over will know about the Test & Itchen et al, but very few will have heard of the Mole in Somerset, the Teign or Dart in Devon, the Monnow, the Artro in Wales and many hundreds of other similar rivers.

If someone is prepared to travel all the way from San Francisco to fish the Test with all that that entails it is because he has read about the river and the personalities that have walked the banks; people like Halford, Marryat, Skues and H.S.Hall who invented the eyed hook that we all use today and the influence they had on fly fishing. More modern men too, like Kite and Sawyer, and who doesn't have a Pheasant tail Nymph in their box whether they fish chalk rivers or freestone?
 

BobP

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This is nit picking and brings nothing to the thread but... nobody has heard of the Mole in Somerset!


Andy
The whole of the previous page was all about how much it costs to fish the chalkstreams compared to other rivers. I merely pointed out why that is. I assume you are now going to go through all the other posts upthread on this aspect and tell them they are nit picking.
 

bobmiddlepoint

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The whole of the previous page was all about how much it costs to fish the chalkstreams compared to other rivers. I merely pointed out why that is. I assume you are now going to go through all the other posts upthread on this aspect and tell them they are nit picking.

Sorry Bob you have the wrong end of the stick!
I was nit picking over your geography, there is no river Mole in Somerset but there is one in Devon.


Andy
 
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