THE SCARY TRUTH ABOUT FAZED FISH
How many fish does the average angler spook every season? The answer would probably shock you, warns Dom Garnett
YOU’VE just spotted it –surely one of the biggest chub ever witnessed in your entire life.
You keep down and try to steady yourself to make the cast. You daren’t breathe as you take aim and… the fish bolts, never to be seen again.
The experience of fluffing it up, making a clumsy cast or simply watching a fish make itself scarce is one every angler is familiar with. But do any of us have the vaguest idea exactly how many fish we put off each year without even realising it?
The instincts of fish, to say nothing of our own clumsiness, can be a sobering realisation on the bank. There are days when I’ve cursed the fact that I am a lanky, less-than-delicate individual with big, clumsy feet.
Any advantage I might have in peering over obstacles is swiftly negated, because to be truthful I’m an obvious threat to a fish.
Some species are particularly spooky. Chub are notoriously keen-sighted. Carp can sense bad vibrations quite easily, in spite of what the bloke hammering in pegs next door might have you believe. But even fish described as “greedy”, “bold” or even “fearless” can be fickle.
To give just one example, I’ve lost count of the times a good pike has bolted into the depths after clocking my presence.
Wild fish are especially sensitive to intruders, but I remain unconvinced that their stocked cousins are unfazed by humans either. On popular fisheries I’ve witnessed fish literally bolt when loosefeed was introduced, and yet some idiot still insists on hacking back bankside vegetation or standing bolt upright while gesticulating to their mates.
I might be no ninja, but experience has taught me the hard way to take more care.
After all, you can have the best tackle and presentation going, but scare your quarry and you may as well fish without a hook.
It seems a little odd, therefore, that anglers such as Richard Walker were obsessed with not scaring fish, and yet the modern angling world makes comparatively little mention of stealth beyond advice to dye your rig components.
Nor is it simply a case of wearing the latest camouflaged clothing. In fact, many experienced anglers would claim that this makes little or no difference.
Far more vital is the need to lower your profile and be stealthy. You might feel a bit of a prat moving in slow motion or even getting down on your hands and knees, but rather this than send the fish packing.
It also affirms the old wisdom of fishing early or late, or picking a dull or breezy day – is it any coincidence that these productive times are when fish are least able to detect us?
I’ll leave you with that thought; but if you must keep smashing in bank sticks and turning the radio up to eleven, please don’t set up next to me.
“Scare your quarry and you may as well fish without a hook”
You might feel a bit of a prat sneaking about, but many fish demand caution.