How many fish does the av­er­age an­gler spook ev­ery sea­son? The an­swer would prob­a­bly shock you, warns Dom Gar­nett

Angling Times (UK) - - SOUTH -

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.

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