Izaak Walton’s famous book ‘The Complete Angler’ was a celebration of our sport, based on the central theme that angling is an art that transcends the objective of catching fish.
Angling then is the technique of catching fish using a rod and line; it is called “angling” because of the angle formed by the two. It has been suggested that the quintessential step of making fishing into a sport, rather than just a means of catching fish for food, was the invention of the rod. It is considered a sport, then when practised for enjoyment. Anglers sometimes attempt to catch only one type of fish, in our case the Carp, often limiting their equipment to increase the sport – Sports commonly refer to activities where the physical capabilities of the competitor are the sole or primary determiner of the outcome.
Since the beginning then, angling’s rules and traditions have been laid down to provide sport by imposing a certain level of difficulty. I think everyone would agree that there are far easier and swifter ways of extracting fish from a lake or river than by rod and line. Nets, deadlines, multiple hooked lines and explosives would all be far more effective than a simple hook,rod and line. (Admittedly the latter suggestion makes catch and release somewhat difficult!!)
Certain forms of fishing, such as fly fishing require a good level of technique to achieve any measure of success. Carp fishing too requires a considerable amount of skill to cast accurately and sufficiently far to be able to present a bait effectively to our quarry. The better anglers justifiably catch more fish. Setting the element of chance aside, I think most will agree a talented angler does do things differently from the average bod. If he catches more or bigger fish than his peers, he obviously has a greater aptitude for the sport than the average.
So I think then it is fairly easy to establish that we fish the way we do in the name of sport, and the intellectual stimulation and challenge, not just to pull the fish out of its natural habitat. I think we all get a great deal of satisfaction when we do it right and we catch well. You only have to look at an angling newspaper or magazine to see the number of cheesy grins behind leviathan carp to understand that we all get satisfaction in success. Modern rods and reels are better and perform better than at any time in the history of the sport, our understanding of bait, and fish behavior has increased over the last few centuries too. But when all is said and done, we are carrying out the same gestures and actions as our forefathers in the time of Izaak Walton.
Ok so this brings me onto the ‘Bait Boat’.
Here is a gadget, pilfered from Model Making and turned to fishing. It has absolutely nothing to do with “angling”, and takes any amount of skill, technique and talent out of the sport. It in fact takes us right back to before the Art of Angling became just that; an Art! – I have to ask the question; ‘Where is the Art in using a Bait Boat?’
What it effectively does, and I don’t dispute the effectiveness of these ‘items’ of tackle.. is give you loaded dice to play with. It evens up the field, so that if you are next to the mega long caster or the fine technician, who can drop a lead on a sixpence at 80 yards, you can play in the same league. Is this not deemed cheating in any other sport?
There are other non negligible aspects of these devices, such as the effect their presentation has on the fishing on waters that their see heavy use .It makes it very hard afterwards to tempt a carp by more conventional means. The fish get used to and wary of the fact that every pile of food they come across on the lake bed has a hook in it. For the carp anglers it becomes a case having to join the “pugwash club” if you want to be in with a chance. Furthermore, and this is what has lead to their being banned on many venues, is the abuse of certain users, poaching others swims or placing baits in areas and at distances where they have very little or no chance of landing the fish.
You will gather then I am not a fan, and I shall continue to hone my own angling skills to tempt the queen of our rivers; a stately, a good and very subtle fish… and hard to be caught.” Izaak Walton – ‘The Complete Angler’ 1653.
By: Gareth Watkins
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