For those new to the sport – and those who should know better – here are 10 things you just shouldn’t do, the unwritten taboos of angling to avoid at all costs…
THOU SHALT NOT… SKYLINE
A real no-no on the match circuit, but equally applicable to pleasure angling. To skyline someone is to stand in their peg above their seated position and give the fish the chance to make out a large silhouette against the backdrop of the sky. So, if someone’s fishing in close, or up in the water, don’t come bounding over the horizon like the Jolly Green Giant.
THOU SHALT NOT… HAVE BITE ALARMS ON FULL VOLUME
Shocking as it may seem to some anglers, all buzzers have an off switch, and many have a mute button. So, please, for the sanity of those around you, use one of them. Setting your bobbins with the alarm still screeching is like playing a Nintendo in church.
THOU SHALT NOT… LIGHT UP THE WHOLE LAKE
Hands-free miners’ lamps are great for organising yourself at night, but do consider nearby anglers when using any form of after-dark illumination. A head-mounted beam of light points where you’re looking – and if you swivel to investigate a passing angler just remember not to blind them!
THOU SHALT NOT… OFFLOAD UNUSED BAIT
Much like failing to flush a public toilet, dumping a load of unused bait into your swim just before you leave can give the angler following in behind you a nasty surprise. By all means tip a few bits and pieces into the margins but unloading pints of maggots and kilos of pellets in the edge is poor form.
THOU SHALT NOT… GO IN THE VERY NEXT SWIM
To continue the toilet analogy, just like you wouldn’t squeeze into the adjacent urinal unless there’s no other option, you don’t plot up in the next-door peg on a small venue. It might be frustrating if the fish are there but give each angler some space and cultivate your own area, unless it’s the only peg left, or the space between you is large enough.
THOU SHALT NOT… PRY FOR INFORMATION
One of fishing’s most delicious sub-plots is the extraction of information from other anglers. Getting a tip-off is a key part of the sport, but how you delicately tease that information from a stranger is an art in itself. Don’t shout across a match to the angler in the lead, ‘what you catching on, mate?’ but do consider how you might phrase an open-ended question in another scenario that secures you the vital nugget of information that you seek.
THOU SHALT NOT… GIVE AWAY HOTSPOTS
A contentious one, but an issue that strikes to the core of angling etiquette. Helping other anglers is great, and those who are willing to share the secrets of their success should be universally applauded… unless it jeopardises the hard work of others. If you know your hotspot is still being fished by someone else, don’t assume it’s okay to spread the word.
You never know how much effort has going in to a spot from other anglers
THOU SHALT NOT… BE GRUMPY
We could all learn to be a bit cheerier on and off the bank – whether that’s in helping inexperienced anglers, dealing with dog-walkers and canoeists or evaluating the merits of other anglers’ catches. Remember, your dreams and benchmarks may not be the same as the next person’s.
THOU SHALT NOT… EXAGGERATE
It’s tempting to round up the ounces or deliberately forget to take off the weight of the sling, but falsely elevating the weights of your fish will do you no favours in the long run. And when you haven’t got your scales, it’s always best to estimate a cautious weight when recalling the capture to your mates later on.
THOU SHALT NOT… ABANDON YOUR PEG
Not a widespread problem, but a bone of contention in larger winner-takes-all matches. If you draw a poor peg in a match you’ve agreed to participate in, it’s only fair to fish it rather than slink off home before the all in – if only for the balancing effect it has on the venue as a whole and the advantage it would give to the adjacent angler.