All an­glers are over­weight, mid­dle-aged men. Ex­cept, of course, that they aren’t

Weekend Witness - - Sport - With Kezia Fitzsim­monds

THERE are many mis­con­cep­tions about fish­er­men. The most ob­vi­ous is that all fish­er­men are male. Though you wouldn’t guess it from the term given to par­tic­i­pants of the sport, they aren’t.

Women have been fight­ing for equal­ity for decades. They gath­ered to­gether and marched through the streets bra­less with their arms raised. As a re­sult, they man­aged to change the ter­mi­nol­ogy of fish­ing it­self, along with earn­ing the right to vote, which is equally im­por­tant, ob­vi­ously. How­ever, fish­er­women don’t ex­ist: they are now re­ferred to as an­glers.

An­glers are of­ten por­trayed as over­weight and bald­ing mid­dle-aged men who use fish­ing week­ends away as an ex­cuse to go drink­ing with their friends. This is not the case. Although that is not to say that you won’t find a forty-some­thing fish­er­man with a beer rest­ing on his belly on the edge of Al­berts this Satur­day, be­cause chances are that you will.

Fish­ing has long been con­sid­ered the lazy man’s sport and while it may not take as much en­ergy as cy­cling up the Kark­loof road in your tight­est ski-pants, it can leave you dream­ing of fall­ing face first into your bed at the end of the day. The opin­ion that the big­ger the boep, the bet­ter the fish­er­man may have been true once, but it cer­tainly isn’t any­more.

Angling is a grow­ing sport and the fish are un­der more pres­sure than they were 10 years ago. An­glers are a new breed of fish­er­men. They can- not rely on the fish­ing al­ways be­ing bet­ter from the com­fort of a well-padded deck chair, and hav­ing the big­gest boat no longer guar­an­tees an an­gler the big­gest fish.

Rather, an­glers must test their skills as they go in search of new meth­ods of find­ing the big­gest fish. They must walk fur­ther, stretch far­ther and some­times perch pre­car­i­ously off the edge of a ledge as they dan­gle their lure over the open water, hop­ing that they won’t lose their foot­ing.

Com­pet­i­tive angling takes fi­nesse. It re­quires a deft touch and the abil­ity to per­se­vere in even the most try­ing of cir­cum­stances. It cer­tainly isn’t for the lazy.

The big­gest mis­con­cep­tion is that fish­ing is all about luck. Luck knows no creed, no colour, no gen­der or po­lit­i­cal agenda. It is equally avail­able to us all be­cause, as the say­ing goes, we make our own luck. Con­trary to pop­u­lar opin­ion, luck is not a pot of gold at the end of the rain­bow. It is not some­thing best left to the fairies and leprechauns. The luck­i­est guy on the water is of­ten the most pre­pared guy on the water. As Gary Player once said, “The more I prac­tice, the luck­ier I get.” Luck is home-made.

La­bels can­not de­fine us. If any­thing, stereo­types are there to be bro­ken. We must be as adapt­able as the fish that we seek to lure on to the ends of our hooks. There is no set mould that an an­gler must fit to be suc­cess­ful. What’s in a name af­ter all? A fish­er­man by any other name would still smell like fish.

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