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Does competition destroy angling?

In both the worlds of lure and bait fishing, I often ask myself one question: what place does competition have in this beautiful hobby, do we need angling tournaments, world cups and other competitions just because it is considered a sport?

As a lifelong angler, my journey began beside my stepdad, casting baits and lures from the age of three all over Germany and Denmark. Those early years, filled with shared moments and silent understanding, shaped my view of fishing as an activity steeped in camaraderie and mutual joy more than anything else. If we caught a fish, we both went home content and sometimes I do not even remember who caught which fish. We fished together.

Growing up, starting to fish with friends and colleagues, different experiences along the road have further shaped my view.

I especially recall a fishing trip in Norway where a colleague began keeping score of our catches. This moment of turning a shared activity into a competition was surprising and off-putting. It very much led me to value fishing experiences and companions where the focus is on 'we' rather than 'me against someone else'.

For me, fishing is about coming together, celebrating each other's successes, and fostering a sense of community.

However, the more I started fishing with anglers who either fished in competitions of any sort or represented certain brands in the tackle world, the competitive side of angling often was pushed into the foreground of getting together, even amongst friends.

This transformed the nature of many sessions on the bank, and the shared joy was overshadowed by a tally of catches, turning companions into competitors.

There is no worse session than catching fish after fish, but the buddy you're out with is extra miserable for you!

This shift, subtle yet significant, led me to ponder the implications of competitive fishing in general.

Across the pond, in the high-profile tournaments of America, competitive fishing takes on a different (in my point of view surreal) scale, with millions of dollars in prize money. Here, fish are often treated as mere trophies, valued for their size rather than respected as living beings, fish handling is usually shocking and the ethical considerations of such practices are troubling – from double-figure Large Mouth Bass (illegally) kept in underwater tanks, Walleyes being filled up with lead weights, to huge Pike being tied with ropes beneath the water, as seen in some European competitions.

As usual, money makes people do crazy things; in these cases on the back of the the fish and the hobby.

Another (almost funny) example is, when in 2013, a Guernsey angler stole a 6kg Seabass from a local aquarium to win a Beach Casting competition...I mean really...

Contrasting with this, there are positive examples of competitive fishing that emphasize social interaction and environmental responsibility.

Light Rock Fishing (LRF) in the UK, for instance, focuses on the social aspect of the sport. Competitions like the Big LERF celebrate various achievements, fostering a community spirit. These types of competitions usually feel much more like a social get-together and prizes are given out for categories such as 'smallest fish' 'most interesting catch' etc. A different approach to competitive fishing and in my eyes, the way forward.

Also, the sustainability aspect of competitive fishing, particularly in tournaments, cannot be overlooked. The overfishing of certain areas and the unnatural, high-density stocking of water bodies to benefit competitive anglers often come at the expense of the ecosystem.

These practices highlight the need for a more balanced approach to fishing competitions, one that respects both the environment and the shared nature of the sport.

In conclusion, while competitive fishing has its place, the essence of the sport lies in the shared joy and respect for nature. It's about fishing together, not against each other, fostering a spirit of camaraderie and environmental stewardship.

Let us remember that the true catch is not just the fish, but the shared moments and memories we create along the way.

Tight lines,



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