Salmon Fishing Techniques: Playing and Landing
Playing and Landing
Never, at any time, should the fishing-rod be pointed at a hooked salmon. During casting, a rod is a special sort of lever, but after hooking a fish it becomes a highly sensitive spring or buffer which protects the comparatively fine tackle from the strength of the fish. But it can only do its job if it is held correctly; that is with the line forming a 90° angle — or thereabouts — with the rod tip.
The angler soon develops the power of automatic observation. Bank-side bushes and trees are danger-points when playing a fish, partly because their roots usually extend into the water and partly because they prevent the angler moving freely along the bank. Other danger-points are when fences and hedges bisect the bank.
Most fish are reluctant to leave the pool where they are hooked, especially in low water. When the water is above average height the fish are of course more mobile and they show much less hesitation in leaving the pool. In conditions of high water, therefore, the angler needs to pay much more attention to his own mobility along the banks than when the water is low.
There are no hard and fast rules because rivers vary so much in size and character. On some rivers one can follow a salmon for two kilometres without once having to climb the bank. On other waters the angler may have to play his fish from the top of high banks fringing deep water.
Some salmon adopt a curious and dangerous trick of moving upstream at a very slight angle to the current, usually when below the fisherman, and thus `ottering’ themselves across the river. The angler thinks he is dealing with a quiet fish until, suddenly, he finds that it is a hundred metres away and nosing roots under the opposite bank.
Where possible, one should always play a salmon from below, so that it must fight both the rod and the current. Some fish of course refuse to stay above and shoot downstream, so that they have to be chased on foot. When a fish is downstream and there is no chance of getting below it, it can usually be `walked up’. The angler puts a good bend into his rod and keeps it well up; then he walks slowly and deliberately upstream. Three fish out of four will follow for many metres before starting to object.
The behaviour known as ‘sulking’ is usually caused by the angler being afraid of the fish. The salmon stands on its nose in the deepest part of the water and nothing will shift it. If the angler out-thinks the fish, however, by shifting the angle of pressure and keeping it constantly on the move then it will have no time to sulk. The angler must make the salmon work; otherwise he has lost control of the situation.
, as we all know, is difficult, more often bungled than performed neatly, and thoroughly hateful to many anglers. Gaffs should in fact be left to poachers and their ilk. The best way (and the safest way) of landing a salmon is to beach it. When beaching fish, always keep as far back as possible, for if the angler is well out of the way, the salmon will kick and wriggle its own way on to the dry stones. The tailer (a wire slip-loop which can be tightened over the fish) is best when the water is too deep for beaching. There is a tailer on the market with a trigger-operated noose which works unfailingly.