If you’re interested in fishing why not head on over to the Fishing Soopa Store and net yourself a bargain and if you’ve always thought of fishing as a ‘boring’ activity, read on and be prepared to be enlightened, it’s not just an activity, it’s a sport and a way of life.
Recreational fishing and the closely related (nearly synonymous) sport fishing describe fishing for pleasure or competition. Recreational fishing has conventions, rules, licensing restrictions and laws that limit the way in which fish may be caught, The International Game Fishing Association (IGFA) makes and oversees a set of voluntary obligations. Typically, these prohibit the use of nets and the catching of fish with hooks not in the mouth. Enforceable regulations are put in place by Governments to ensure sustainable practice amongst anglers. For example in the Republic of Ireland, the Central Fisheries Board oversees the implementation of all angling regulations, which include controls on angling lures, baits and number of hooks permissible, as well as licensing regimes and other conservation based restrictions.
The most common form of recreational fishing is done with a rod, reel, line, hooks and any one of a wide range of baits. Other devices, commonly referred to as terminal tackle, are also used to affect or compliment the presentation of the bait to the targeted fish. Some examples of terminal tackle include weights, floats, and swivels. Lures are frequently used in place of bait. Most types of fishing tackle are made in a professional manufacturing facility while others are hand made by hobbyists who find greater satisfaction in catching fish with tackle made by themselves. Some examples of hand made tackle include plastics from Fishing worm molds and flies. The practice of catching or attempting to catch fish with a hook is known as angling.
In addition to capturing fish for food recreational anglers also enjoy keeping a log of fish caught and submitting trophy sized fish to independent record keeping bodies. In the Republic of Ireland the Irish Specimen Fish Committee verify and publicize the capture of specimen (i.e. trophy) fish caught on rod and line by anglers in Ireland, both in freshwater and at sea. The Committee also ratifies Irish record rod caught fish. It also uses a set of ‘fair play’ regulations to ensure fish are caught in accordance with accepted angling norms.
One method of growing popularity is kayak fishing. Kayak fisherman fish from sea kayaks in an attempt to level the playing field with fish and to further challenge their abilities. Kayaks are extremely stealthy and can allow anglers to reach areas unfishable from land or by conventional boat.
In angling, it is sometimes expected or required that fish all be returned to the water (catch and release). The practice, however, is viewed by some with disapproval as they consider it unethical to inflict pain on a fish for fun or sport and not for reasons of capturing food. Anglers deny this charge, pointing out that fish commonly feed on hard and spiky prey items, and as such can be expected to have tough mouths, and also that some fish will re-take a lure they have just been hooked on, a behavior that is unlikely if being hooked were painful. There is also some research that shows certain types of fish such as catfish, do not have nerves around their mouth, most likely due to the fact that they eat animals such as crawfish that can pinch.
In a real sense, the suitability of catch and release is an ethical consideration and, as such, a science-based conclusion on the issue is unavailable. Scientific studies show a wide range of survival, depending on species, environmental conditions, fish density and research design (methodology). The difficulty of doing such experiments is closely linked to the fact that negative effects of being exposed to fishing gears develop over a long time. Keeping fish trapped over a long period of time creates a lot of noise which makes it hard to single out the effect of the catch from the effect of the chosen methodology. Nevertheless, several studies have now returned very high survival rates (95%+) for species caught on fly and lures, which generally tend to hook fish in the mouth and thus aid catch and release fishing.
Proponents of catch and release also contend that the practice is increasingly necessary in order to conserve fish stocks in the face of burgeoning human populations, mounting fishing pressure and worsening habitat degradation. Opponents would prefer to ban or to severely restrict angling, a suggestion most anglers find unpalatable.
Recreational fishermen can have profound deleterious effects on fish stocks in commercial lakes, this is due to anglers with poor knowledge of how to protect the fish from damage or stress once out of the water. The fish which suffer most are those of large, slow growing species such as carp. The only way for growing numbers of recreational fishermen to continue fishing is to reduce their impact on fish populations or to increase the fish populations (e.g. by restocking (although there are serious problems with restocking), habitat restoration, environmental flows). Catch and release, in combination with techniques such as strong tackle (to get fish in quickly, for release in good condition) and careful handling of fish help improve the chances of survival. Quick release lead systems such as the Korda quick release system or the E.S.P. variety can be useful tools for catch and release fishermen.
Barbless hooks may reduce damage to minimal levels, this is not always the case when fishing for bigger species such as carp where a barbless hook often moves around in the mouth whilst the fish is being played causing damage to the carp’s mouth, barbless hooks can reduce de-hooking time and greatly aid in catch and release. Many keen catch and release anglers use barbless hooks. Barbless hooks can be purchased, or created by crushing the barbs on a normal hook flat with a pair of needle-nosed pliers. It is popularly believed barbless hooks lead to more lost fish, but ensuring lures are equipped with split rings and keeping the line tight while fighting fish will reduce fish losses to levels similar to those of barbed hooks. Hooks known as “circle hooks” are also available to facilitate catch and release. The design of a circle hook is intended to cause less injury to the fish, allowing the fisherman to catch and release the fish without causing injury.
A recent phenomenon of recreational fishing are fishing competitions (tournaments) where fishermen compete for prizes based on the total weight of a given species of fish caught within a predetermined time. This sport evolved from local fishing contests into large competitive circuits, especially in North America. Competitors are most often professional fishermen who are supported by commercial endorsements. Other competitions is purely on length with mandatory catch and release, either longest fish or total length is documented with camera and a mandatory sticker, is more fair since it’s hard to weigh a living fish accurately in a boat.
Has that whetted your appetite? Maybe you can be lured on over to the Fishing Soopa Store to land a bargain, as well as supper!