Fishing’s crappiest fish...
We’ve all caught fish that battle like a soggy towel. Are some species built to be beaten, or is our tackle just too beefy, wonders Dom Garnett?
EVER get the feeling that some fish you hook are totally outgunned?
For all of our preparation and anticipation in trying to locate, tempt and catch them, the actual fight of a hooked fish can be a bit of an anti-climax.
Bream are perhaps the ultimate letdown in the fighting stakes. The odd surprisingly fit one aside, the excitement pretty much ends after that wrap-around bite.
A few token heaving motions later and you have a slimy net and a fish that looks half asleep – not a hugely exhilarating experience, unless you’re a match angler.
Not that bream are the only dead-hearted fish. Many species can be disappointingly feeble, and this is especially true when they reach the sort of outrageous proportions we dream of.
Perhaps it is ironic, given the strength of tackle we use, but in the cycle of life the biggest fish tend to be old codgers, well past their best. Their younger, fitter and usually smaller relatives are far more likely to give us some genuine white-knuckle thrills.
Large perch, pike and even carp have all given me some pretty underwhelming fights over the years. I was so delighted to catch every one of them, their dire performances were instantly forgiven. But such experiences do lead an angler to think rather more deeply about the importance of size in comparison to qualities such as the fitness, beauty and condition of the fish we catch.
Of course, the fight (or lack of it) is also dependent on us to some extent. Any fish will fight well on the right tackle. On a 3lb test carp rod, that bream may as well be a wet sack. But on a delicate quivertip rod you might still get that deep, satisfying bend and a tingle of excitement. Possibly.
So where has the idea of light, balanced tackle gone these days? I hate to say it, but I strongly suspect that carp fever has a lot to answer for here. Whether you buy a match, specimen or feeder rod these days, chances are it has been beefed up to deal with the C-word – spot on if you love hauling out big weights but no way to do justice to old favourites such as roach, chub and, yes, bream.
Once again, it’s about the angler’s approach as much as the quarry. You wouldn’t pair off a 10-stone featherweight against the heavyweight champion. Perhaps this is why I’m less and less inclined to reach for the shark tackle these days, and more determined than ever to enjoy every fish I hook. READ MORE: Two dozen of Dom’s classic stories are available now in the book Crooked Lines, available for just £4.99 as an illustrated Amazon Kindle edition.
Tackle up sensibly and most fish will show their fighting qualities.
All slime and no strength – another bream hits the net.