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Fishing

Fall for this peaceful pastime, hook, line and sinker, as we explore lakes, rivers and the sea for the catch of the day.
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What to expect

Modern day recreational fishing can be enjoyed in both saltwater and freshwater. Angling is a word to describe all fishing with a rod and line and will likely be the most accessible option for your group. Alternative fishing techniques across the world include spearfishing, hand-gathering and netting.

The Angling Trust, the governing body for angling in England and Wales, supports the interests of coarse, game and sea anglers. You can also learn more by speaking to the Environment Agency.

Coarse anglers are those who return all of their fish to the water and don’t take any home to eat. This is a freshwater pursuit and most people will find that they have a river, lake, canal or pond nearby that’s suitable for the pursuit.

Game fishing is also a freshwater activity. Game anglers are however permitted to take home fish to eat and will therefore be on the lookout for slightly different types of fish.

Finally, sea fishing is the saltwater option of the three and encompasses all of the fishing opportunities off the coast. Regular sea fishing will require a developed understanding of the marine landscape including tides and rocky coastline features, as well as the migrational habits of fish at sea.

All three angling options present exciting opportunities for people to work on some technical skills like knot-tying and casting, while developing patience and an appreciation for the outdoors.

What you’ll learn

All types of fishing require attention to detail and patience. You’ll need to think carefully about how best to prepare bait that’s suitable for the type of fish you’re looking to catch and the environment you’re fishing in.

Once you’ve done this and cast your line, it’s important to remember that there’s a degree of luck involved in fishing. You might’ve done all your calculations correctly and found a great spot with lots of fish, but you may need to sit tight and wait for a while before you catch that big one you’ve been waiting for.

Fun facts

The great fish-hook of Māui is one of the most iconic images in Polynesian culture. The tale goes that Māui created the Hawaiian Islands by catching his great fish-hook on the ocean’s bed and pulling, while convincing his brothers to paddle as hard as they could, as the islands rose up out of the water.

Handy hints

  • Get to know the etiquette. Different types of fishing environments come with a different set of behavioural expectations. Generally, the best thing to do always is to keep your distance from others who are fishing. If you’re unsure of how you’ll be expected to behave, especially if you’re visiting a site as a small group, be sure to speak to the site manager or a local club about any questions you may have.
  • Keep those hands clean. Not only is it important for your personal hygiene, but fish have a great sense of smell. If there’s an unfamiliar scent (like you!) on your bait, then you’re less likely to catch anything.
  • Wear sunnies. Pop on some sunscreen and consider investing in polarised sunglasses. Polarised glasses will help protect you from the glare that comes off the water and help you see a little better into the water to spot fish.
  • Look out for fallen down trees. Lots of fish like to hang out near sunken structures. For some it gives them a chance to feel safe, and for others the chance to hide before an ambush. Look out for spots where it’s possible to fish nearby.

We’re reworking our safety guidance for adventurous activities to make it easier to understand and follow.

In the meantime, before you try fishing, review the guidance on water safety here.

Reflection

All kinds of fishing are famous for being reflective activities. In fiction, fishing trips are famously used as a chance to escape the business of daily life and spend time looking inward, or to simply not think too hard about anything.

Leaders should encourage groups to make the most of this opportunity for a meditative experience and see how their body and mind feel afterwards. Do they feel calmer or more rested?

Safety

Poles and long objects

Be careful when moving poles or long items. Take care if the ends are sharp. Have appropriate supervision for this activity.

Gardening and nature

Everyone must wash their hands after the activity has finished. Wear gloves if needed. Explain how to safely use equipment and set clear boundaries so everyone knows what’s allowed.

Sharp objects

Teach young people how to use sharp objects safely. Supervise them appropriately throughout. Store all sharp objects securely, out of the reach of young people.

Near water

Manage groups carefully when near water. The guidance on activities near water will help you to keep your group safe.

Water games and activities

Be careful when doing activities with, in, or near water. Check surfaces and reduce the risk of slipping where possible. Make sure you have appropriate supervision for this activity.

All activities must be safely managed. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.