From broken rods to bait mishaps, most anglers will have had an accident or three in their time. But what are the real textbook ways to cock up your day’s fishing? Dom Garnett examines the pick of an embarrassing bunch...
There must be 101 ways to break a fishing rod. Catching your prized possession in the car boot or door is perhaps the classic. If you happen to snap the thing on a large fish, at least you have a decent war story! Most of the time, though, you not only feel like a right plank, but then have the ordeal of casting around to see if it can be repaired or replaced.
Disaster rating: 9/10 Embarrassing and potentially costly!
The great bait escape
If you think it’s tricky enough storing sealed bait in the family home, just try leaving the lid off your maggots! If they get wet, prepare for a mass prison break and quite possibly divorce proceedings. And woe betide anyone who forgets about that tub of peeler crabs or worms for a few weeks.
Disaster rating: 6/10 Not as bad as breaking your best rod, but your other half might beg to differ!
Hands up who has never fallen into the drink? We’re not sure we believe you! It’s embarrassing at the best of times, and potentially dangerous. In fact, this particular mishap almost ended my angling career before it had even begun, when I slipped into the Thames aged three. Afraid we’d never be allowed to go fishing again, my dad told me that this must never be mentioned to mother. A bit like the Official Secrets Act, several decades passed until she found out. Well played, John Garnett!
Disaster rating: 9/10 Be careful out there. With around a quarter of anglers unable to swim it’s no laughing matter.
Lost car keys
You’ve just had a great sesson on the river. You reach into your pocket and… oh Lord, where the heck are they?! Of all the mishaps on the bank, this is one of the most critical. Especially if you’re in a remote location! In my case, it was in the middle of nowhere on a Somerset drain. The next day I even went back with a hired metal detector! If you think catching fish can be tough, try scouring two miles of nettles. I looked so dejected that the hire company didn’t even charge me, which is one consolation.
Disaster rating: 9/10 A massive headache – but also a valuable lesson to stow your keys where they can’t be lost.
Forgotten or broken landing net
You get to your peg with kilos of bait, several rods and everything in perfect order. Then you look into your stink bag and realise you have nothing to land a fish with. Or, even better, you manage to snap the handle. Arggghhh! The solution is either a long drive home, or grovelling to neighbouring anglers. Or having to beach or hand-land your catch.
Disaster rating: 7/10 At best it’s a pain. Sod’s law says you’ll hook some real net-fillers, too!
What is it with waders? They never seem to last more than a couple of seasons of regular use without springing a leak or seven. This alone isn’t always a huge issue, because pinpricks can be sealed. Fortune isn’t always so kind, however. There’s nothing quite like that surprise, icy sensation around one’s nether regions when you’re winter grayling fishing.
Disaster rating: 7/10 No fun at all. Unless you like singing soprano!
Angling is littered with cautionary tales for the careless on this score! You’re casually tackling up when there’s a sudden plop. If it’s not your mobile phone, you can guarantee it’s your favourite reel. Unattended pole sections are another classic, prone to rolling into the lake and leaving you red-faced. Or there’s the rod that gets dragged in by a carp or barbel – that’ll teach you not to pay attention!
Disaster rating: 8/10 Depends on the item, but you’re liable to either take a swim or buy a costly replacement.
Hell or high water
You’ve planned it for ages, that special annual trip to your favourite river. At the eleventh hour, the weather turns biblically awful and suddenly it’s a write off. Sparkling water becomes chocolate milkshake. Or the weather is so blisteringly hot, you may as well swap the rods for a beach towel.
Disaster rating: 5/10 Not the end of the world, just very annoying. The moral of the story is always to have a plan B and C!
Do the local swans hate you? Perhaps you never saw that bull at the back of the field? Or perhaps some other “locals” took a liking to your bait? As much as we love wildlife as anglers, animals can be a right nuisance. Sea anglers should be extra careful when gulls are about, or you can forget that mackerel supper. That said, tame creatures can be almost as bad. Most notably, at one particular trout fishery in Devon, a friend lost a three-pound trout to the owner’s pot-bellied pig!
Disaster rating: 5/10 Annoying, but usually avoidable. Respect wildlife, or else!