All anglers are overweight, middle-aged men. Except, of course, that they aren’t

2013-03-30 00:00

THERE are many misconceptions about fishermen. The most obvious is that all fishermen are male. Though you wouldn’t guess it from the term given to participants of the sport, they aren’t.

Women have been fighting for equality for decades. They gathered together and marched through the streets braless with their arms raised. As a result, they managed to change the terminology of fishing itself, along with earning the right to vote, which is equally important, obviously. However, fisherwomen don’t exist: they are now referred to as anglers.

Anglers are often portrayed as overweight and balding middle-aged men who use fishing weekends away as an excuse to go drinking with their friends. This is not the case. Although that is not to say that you won’t find a forty-something fisherman with a beer resting on his belly on the edge of Alberts this Saturday, because chances are that you will.

Fishing has long been considered the lazy man’s sport and while it may not take as much energy as cycling up the Karkloof road in your tightest ski-pants, it can leave you dreaming of falling face first into your bed at the end of the day. The opinion that the bigger the boep, the better the fisherman may have been true once, but it certainly isn’t anymore.

Angling is a growing sport and the fish are under more pressure than they were 10 years ago. Anglers are a new breed of fishermen. They cannot rely on the fishing always being better from the comfort of a well-padded deck chair, and having the biggest boat no longer guarantees an angler the biggest fish.

Rather, anglers must test their skills as they go in search of new methods of finding the biggest fish. They must walk further, stretch farther and sometimes perch precariously off the edge of a ledge as they dangle their lure over the open water, hoping that they won’t lose their footing.

Competitive angling takes finesse. It requires a deft touch and the ability to persevere in even the most trying of circumstances. It certainly isn’t for the lazy.

The biggest misconception is that fishing is all about luck. Luck knows no creed, no colour, no gender or political agenda. It is equally available to us all because, as the saying goes, we make our own luck. Contrary to popular opinion, luck is not a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It is not something best left to the fairies and leprechauns. The luckiest guy on the water is often the most prepared guy on the water. As Gary Player once said, “The more I practice, the luckier I get”. Luck is home-made.

Labels cannot define us. If anything, stereotypes are there to be broken. We must be as adaptable as the fish that we seek to lure on to the ends of our hooks. There is no set mould that an angler must fit to be successful. What’s in a name after all? A fisherman by any other name would still smell like fish.

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