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IS FISHING A SPORT OR NOT?

By Chris Millar “The Highlander”

A question that has been a bone of contention for many years. This question can raise some eyebrows and stir up a lot of debate. To give a more logical explanation, let’s examine some points that make an activity a sport. What would you call a sport? The dictionary says:

a sport is something that needs physical exertion, something that requires a skill set and something that is competed by an individual or a team against another for entertainment.

Now let’s look at fishing. Fishing can include several different types: leisurely fishing involves taking a rod out to the shore and casting it into the water while you spend some quality time with your best buddy or your beloved ones. You can stick a bottle of wine in the water to cool as you laze along with an obligatory 6 cans of Leo. It can also be going out on a boat and basking in the sun with a few Singha (If you can afford a boat you can afford a dearer brand of beer 55555) your line out in the water and grabbing any fish that comes along. This doesn’t need any special physical exertion or skill set unless you try to understand how fish shoal, feed, or travel particular areas. Sport fishing on the other hand, unlike leisure fishing requires physical exertion. Imagine reeling in a Marlin over 100 kg into your boat. (Been there and wore the T-Shirt in Puerto Rico Gran Canarias) and believe me I fell asleep that night at a beer table in one of the loudest night clubs on the island for 2 hours – Still pulled later that night though)!

The more you fish the more you learn. It is not all about a fishing rod and some bait but I have watched many first time anglers batter my fish and weights…Many Many times, using the same bait and method. You have to know where, when and how to look for the fish. What bait and lure to use. Along with the technique to hold and pull the reel so that you do not lose the fish. It is all a skill that has to be perfected through regular training. And of course there is competition. You can compete to catch the biggest fish or the most fish…. that depends on you. You can compete with your fellow anglers or with anglers from other boats or even from other seas. The possibilities are endless. (Especially when there might be dosh in the pot.)

While fishing off the coast at Groomsport, N.Ireland with the Windsor Snooker and Fishing Club Belfast, it was decided to put 2 quid in each giving a pot of £22….Simple rules were: 1pt for a mackerel, 2 for a dogfish, 3 for a skate and 6 points for sand eels (reasoning behind this was that the first 3 were always caught but nobody had ever seen a Sand Eel)

I had kitted up the day before in Belfast with a simple sea rod and reel setup and asked the guy in the shop what the best 6 hook traces would be… It was something silver flashing with little green beads (Perfect for Mackerel or Herring which was the main catch where I was going) and might get lucky with anything else swimming about.

Imagine to my surprise 10 minutes after lines in when I pulled up every hook filled up with Sand Eels (The bait fish for the other main catches 555555555) – After 2 hours I had amassed the simple total of 114 points and my nearest rival had 16 points…I still chuckle to this day but that’s fishing and that’s sport and that’s competition for you.

This all boils down to the point that fishing is indeed a sport and not just an outdoor activity and from a health option I was totally knackered walking the rest of the team up to the Old Groomsport Hotel for beers and sandwiches… Not only did I lose weight carrying them and my gear up there but I lost an easy £22 (pounds) after I threw my winnings into the middle.

The boys still tell the story to this day…. “Millarmeister struck again”