You can tell a lot about an angler by the type of fish they catch

2013-09-14 00:00

FROM Top Hooker to Hillbilly Hand Fishing, TV is constantly exposing us to new styles of angling and moreover, different types of anglers.

Shows like these raise the question: what is fishing? It certainly hasn’t always meant the social gathering of a bunch of like-minded individuals getting together to do something that they love.

Does fishing require an angler to tempt a bite out of a fish merely for sport? It may have started out that way when man first stood patiently waiting on the banks of some river for the glimpse of silver that almost certainly meant dinner, but fishing definitely isn’t only a matter of survival any more.

Fishing is the activity of catching fish either for food or sport. From its origins some 40 000 years ago, fishing has developed into a multi-billion-dollar industry. While angling has developed and grown over that time, so have the anglers.

Watching the shows that constantly stream on National Geographic is a bit like going to a dog show where you slowly start noticing that the dog owners often end up looking more and more like their dogs. Now, I’m not trying to say that a barbel angler looks anything like a barbel.

However, there does seem to be some correlation between anglers and the fish that they are attracted to. Spear fishermen, for example, are fit and lean. Perhaps this is merely because they need to be. Spear fishing requires a certain amount of physicality, after all.

Bank and boat anglers, on the other hand, can get away with a little bit of a boep.

Bass anglers are the football quarterbacks. In South Africa, we would think of them as the jocks. They wear their fancy tekkies, polarised sunglasses and perfectly manicured smiles. They are techno-savvy and nothing ever seems to get in their way. Bass men need at least 20 rods to catch one fish and when they hook into a fish, their delight is often apparent by their shouts of: “On dad”.

Fly fishermen, on the other hand, are the polished upper crust of society. They are doctors, lawyers and accountants. Fly anglers are generally well-spoken and polite men of the older generation who take pride in their ability to tie their own flies. Fly anglers wouldn’t be so brazen as to openly exclaim their joy at hooking into a fish, though you may hear a neighbouring angler softly congratulate his friend with a softly spoken: “Well done, old chap”.

Bait anglers are little bit more rough and ready, they don’t mind getting their hands dirty and often spend a night out on the banks of a dam with nothing more than their favourite camping chair and a flask of warm coffee. These anglers aren’t fond of boatmen though, so make sure that you keep your distance or you are likely to get a fright as their bait sails through the air and makes a crude splash half a metre away from you. One thing is for sure, those guys cast huge distances.

Hillbilly hand fishing is aptly named and little more needs to be said about the type of men that are attracted to this method of angling. Suffice to say that, if I was stuck on an island with nothing but the clothes on my back, I’d be hoping that this guy was with me.

Angling draws a diverse range of people, just as dogs draw a diverse range of dog lovers. We are not all the same. All anglers do seem to share some similar personality traits though.

For example, they love the outdoors and they tend to spend more money than they should when confronted with a tackle shop. And yet, if you put us all in a room together, chances are we wouldn’t all get along even though we all share this one patience-testing passion. It does strike me as a little more than coincidence that people of similar personality types or upbringing seem drawn to the same types of angling.

Whether fishing for pleasure or fishing to sustain a livelihood, there is one thing that all anglers share. For all of the many reasons that anglers find themselves out on the water time and time again, there is one thing that keeps all of us coming back and that is the thrill of pitting ourselves against nature and coming out on top.

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