Are all fishermen liars? Tom Scholey seems to think so!
John Keats once wrote, “beauty is truth, truth beauty.” As accomplished a poet as he was, I’m guessing he never tried his hand at fishing, as in my experience anglers are among the most accomplished liars on the face of the planet! Telling ‘tall tales’ is almost synonymous with our public image. How many times does a none angler ask you how big your latest catch has been before breaking into laughter as they expect you to come out with some massively exaggerated tale of landing Jonah the whale?
In the world of match fishing, being economical with the truth is particularly rife. After all, there is money at stake, and making sure that no one catches on to your ‘secret’ rig or bait, can be the difference between continued world domination, and falling into the realms of despair - or that is how some people seem to see it anyway!
Thinking back to my club fishing days, I remember secrecy being just as rife at this level as it is in the world of top-flight match fishing. If somebody could secure a gem of information prior to a match by making a phone call to a venue expert, then it was kept extremely quiet. Prior to the match, people would often comment how little we knew about what to expect for the forthcoming day. When it came to the post-match pint, the truth would out however, and those basking in the warm glow of glory would invariably have had some ill-gotten gem of wisdom up their sleeve!
To be fair, having youth on my side back then meant most anglers were quite open with me. Once I started winning a few matches several of my streams of information seemed to dry up though!
Last weekend saw the last round of the Fred Kaye Individual League on the Stainforth & Keadby Canal. I’m pleased to report that my travelling partner Matt Godfrey came out on top, and after the match I managed to get caught up in a conversation between him, and some of the league's other top anglers. Listening to how they talked about fishing was similar to watching several top poker players playing for a million dollars. Each was keen to read as much as possible into what the other anglers were doing, while giving as little as possible away themselves. If I heard the phrase ‘I don’t know’ uttered once, I must have heard it a hundred times, and if anybody would ‘know’ then it would definitely be one of them!
I would never criticise any angler for keeping things to themselves, though. After all, with the expense of modern fishing, gems of information are often hard-earned. Why should they just be given away for nothing? There are of course, those who moan about other anglers ‘holding things back’, but you generally find that these are the worst culprits themselves at other times! It is important to remember that fishing is just a game.
What I do find strange, is how open and honest top anglers are when you shoot features with them. Considering that the same people in a match situation often behave like they belong to some kind of secret society, when you take them out of a competitive environment they will bear their hearts to the world. I would go as far as to say that I often can’t believe just how much they do give away. And it's just as well really, or I might find myself out of a job!
For my part, I doubt anybody would be interested in anything that I did at the weekend, as I didn't catch very much at all. My 6-11-0 net wouldn’t have even made halfway in the section. That said, I did draw in a particularly bad area, and though I perhaps should have caught 9lb or 10lb, I think even the mighty Matt would have struggled to win anything from where I was. The only saving grace was that I managed to beat Preston’s Mick Vials off the peg to my left. The fact that Lee Kerry almost doubled my weight from the peg to my right would of course preferably be omitted from the story - but I just know that if I don’t write it here it would find its way into his next column in Match Fishing! In our game, you see, there is no way of avoiding the truth!