What makes a good fisherman?

Expert angler Donnie Morrison snagged the silverware of the Dolly Duncan Cup recently.
Expert angler Donnie Morrison snagged the silverware of the Dolly Duncan Cup recently.

Some might say having a great knowledge of the water you’re fishing is the most important aspect.

I remember once being walked along the Creed by a notorious poacher who showed me every salmon lie on the river where he had gaffed a fish.

I certainly do not recommend his method but sometimes there is no substitute for knowing where the fish lie.

Others may say it’s the fly you use that is the most important aspect of becoming a great fisherman. I must admit, after years of selling hundreds of different flies, that all seem to have caught a salmon at some time for someone. I have become less worried about the fly that I use and give more thought to the size and depth the fly is fished.

Are the weather conditions are the most important thing to take into consideration if you want to master the art of fly fishing ? I must say when it comes to salmon fishing in particular there are conditions that immediately make your chances much greater. What are these? Well a good solid day of rain before you fish is highly desired by most of us and then a good breeze on the surface of the water is another. If these things happen together then a good day’s fishing can usually be anticipated.

Someone might say it’s down to the expertise of the casting of any individual. Well good casting has definitely got to be desired but only a couple of weeks ago I teamed up with an experienced fisherman and accomplished caster friend and an absolute beginner to engage in some boat trout fishing. It struck me that the beginner hooked three trout although spending most of the afternoon untangling his line while my expert casting mate hooked only one fish! Make of that what you will.

After giving some thought to all these things I still wondered what makes someone a good fisherman. After many years of fishing with lots of different people I have come to the conclusion that attention to the above details alone do not necessarily make a good fisherman.

So what does?

In my humble opinion these are 10 virtues that make a truly commendable fisherman:

1. Someone who is as happy if you catch a fish than if he gets one himself is a good fisherman.

2. Someone who realizes silence is sometimes a joyful sound while sharing a boat on a remote hill loch is a good fisherman.

3. Someone who knows when it’s time to take over the oars is a good fisherman.

4. Someone who allows you to fish the water on your side of the boat when a dorsal fin appears in it is a good fisherman.

5. Someone who shares his flask and sandwiches when you have left yours on the side board is a good fisherman.

6. Someone who respects your desire to have two working eyes when you get home is a good fisherman.

7. Someone who moves on well upstream when he spots somebody else on his favourite pool is a good fisherman.

8. Someone who moves out of his favourite pool to let those coming behind him have a cast is a good fisherman.

9. Someone who picks up all his rubbish and takes it home to the bin is a good fisherman.

10. Someone who gives his prize catch to his fishing buddy who has had a blank is a good fisherman.

I suppose to sum up, I’ve concluded it’s not catching lots of fish that really makes someone a “good” fisherman but excellent etiquette and manners in the boat and on the bank is an absolute must for any aspiring angler if he ever wants to be labelled a “good” fisherman.