Having seen two news reports from regional newspapers in the past week concerning angling¬ related litter, I was reminded of a quote given to angling journalist Keith Elliott some years ago. It was along the lines of: “People aren’t anti-angling, they are anti-anglers.”
That really set me thinking and, do you know, this is a magnificent point. The pictures in question showed a duck with a treble hook on a trace inside its neck, where the bird had swallowed the thing hook-first, and the second was of a young male swan, maybe three years old, with a severed leg caused by tangling in monofilament. The duck survived, the swan didn’t, having to be euthanased.
I could put spin on both these stories: for example, where the duck was found was in an area regularly poached by Eastern European immigrants and the fact was, a single treble hook on a trace, swallowed hook-first, indicates that the hook could have been baited with something attractive to the non-fish-eating bird. Also, single-treble traces are less likely to be used by pike anglers ¬ although it was in an area fished by pike and zander anglers too ¬ so that could
Similarly, the swan was found on a canal where line heavy enough to work through skin, tissue and bone is unlikely to be used.
However, to do so would ignore the fact that a very high number of anglers have disgusting habits regarding litter ¬ and the price of fishing, or discipline, has nothing to do with it.
Beaches and piers are loaded with lug wrappers, discarded shock leader and tangles; canal banks that host winter bloodworm matches usually host a plethora of absorbent paper and little plastic tubs ¬ plus leam and groundbait bags; commercial fisheries have island trees festooned with lost line as well as the usual discards on the platforms, such as fag ends, groundbait bags, hooks and line, even odds and ends of elastic. Riverbanks are most likely to have beer cans and barbecues in summer, and while these may not be originally left by anglers, in my opinion walking past litter amounts to leaving it!
Even fly fisheries, where a day ticket can cost as much as £100, have car parks paved with discarded mono leaders and almost any groove or cranny on the bank will have a fag packet or pop can neatly folded and wedged into it.
Now people, we can prove angling has no ill-effects on the massive majority of fish that we catch and release. We can show that when we take a fish to eat, we dispatch it quickly and cleanly, so why would anyone be anti-angling?
Knowing what I describe above, it is very easy to understand why they could be anti-angler though. In the USA, Berkley, the line company, provides ‘line bins’, basically bits of tube about 4ins in diameter with a 90º bend at the top and a screw-off base. Line is stuffed in the top, and retrieved and disposed of properly, through the base.
What a potential sponsorship or business opportunity for some enterprising soul!