The Global FlyFisher
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The fish calculator
If you want to lie about your catches, you might as well do it properly. Here's a story about how not to do, and a tool to help you.
On a beautiful autumn day about 10 years ago I met a fisherman on the coast of my home island Zealand. I had been sitting with my good fishing buddy Henning drinking a cup of coffee, squinting into the low autumn sun and enjoying the calm feeling you have in your body when the worst fishing fever is over, not cured by catching but simply by being out.
The fisherman came walking along the beach and stopped about 100 yards from us. He stood there for a while and rocked on his heels, and then he sent his little lure out over the water with a slight tip of the hand. After a few revolutions on the reel, his rod bent to the cork and a fat trout leaped of the water about 30 meters away.
- Son of a bitch, Henning said, in this precise manner expressing how unfair we both found it that our efforts had been crowned with little success, while this newcomer only needed a single cast to hook a fish.
While the fish was fought and the angler netted it, we devoured the last coffee, packed the mugs and got up to take a closer look. It turned out to be an escaped sea farm rainbow trout at just about 3 lbs. Not pretty, but still a fish.
- A rainbow! That's quite surprising. I've been fishing for 10 years... in that time, I've caught about 2,500 sea trout, but this is my first rainbow.
- Well... yes, it... well, have a good day!
We found it hard to reply to such a statement, and we walked quietly along the beach without saying much.
Three-quarter of a fish per day
I will not deny that it is possible to catch 2500 fish in 10 years. It is absolutely within the physically possible. But I will still doubt that a relatively ordinary Danish fisherman could have taken that many trout in 10 years. It may not sound difficult, but let's just break out the calculator.
10 years is the same as 3650 days - roughly.
2500 divided by 3650 is equivalent to 0.7, or three-quarters of sea trout per day.
Of course that is not an impossible average.
At that time I think that I myself caught about three quarters of a sea trout or a little less on the average fishing day - in all modesty.
But three quarters of a fish a day every day? Every single day... without exception... for 10 years!
I will allow myself to be a little skeptical.
If we take an ordinary fishing season there will be many days where you can't fish. Wind, torrential rain, heat - not to mention that very physical barrier we get here now and then - ice! Some winters there is no fishing at all. Look Bambi, the water is stiff!
If we assume that the fisherman above can fish all weekends - Saturday and Sunday - and also imagine that he can have two or three additional fishing days a week, we end up with maybe four fishing days a week or just over 2,000 fishing days in 10 years.
Then he would have to land at least one trout on every fishing day and one day a week he would have to land two. Four days a week, every week year round, regardless of the weather, family, illness, mood, work (if applicable) - not to mention the presence of fish.
We can extrapolate that further: three weekly fishing days require one and a half fish per fishing day. Fishing weekends only - every Saturday and Sunday - means 2.5 fish required each fishing day. A skunked Saturday will require five fish the next day to hold up the average. A skunked weekend means that ten fish must be caught the next weekend and so on.
How many times a year do you catch ten trout on a weekend?
If you fish as I did - which at that time was surprisingly often, when I take my work, my family and the Danish weather conditions into consideration - you would still not get out more than two or three times a month.
This undeniably leads to some dire requirements if the quota of 250 fish per year is to be met... a year may contain 30 fishing days, and that sets the target to over eight fish per fishing day. I remember a few times where I've caught eight trout in a day - and then I count the smallest ones too.
I once had ten skunked trips in a row. Of course such an unlucky streak could easily be remedied with a single day with 80 fish, which just underscores that it takes something of a man to catch 250 fish a year. And to do it for 10 years in a row. I sincerely have my doubts.
250 fish per year isn't even stretching it. I have met fishermen who freshly reported that they caught 5-600 fish in a year. If you're a competition angler or a coarse fisher fishing for roach with bait... maybe. But the average Joe with a fly rod. Hardly.
I am a nice person who won't in public say that anglers lie. As I have shown above, it is not physically impossibility to catch 2,500 sea trout in 10 years, and I'm sure there are people who catch several hundred fish a year.
The recipe is simple: spend almost all days on water filled with fish and be very skilled... and lucky too.
I've have heard of places where you may at times catch dozens of fish in a day and a hundred in a week. I haven't tried it myself, but I know fishermen who have personally experienced such a bonanza. Such catches will of course make the year's quota easier to reach. But very few of us have the opportunity to go such places, and then not several times a year.
Real life numbers
I happen to know almost exactly how many fish I have caught in the last 10 years, because since 2003 I have registered every single one in a system that I have made for myself and my fishing friends.
I have had 601 fishing days during these 10 years and caught 822 fish, which I consider a very decent number of fishing days and an OK number of fish.
This only includes all my home water species, and the real number might actually be a little higher, because some trips are not registered in detail like my trips to BC, Iceland and the Caribbean, which have been quite productive.
If I look at coastal trout only and don't count garfish, which are typically quite numerous, and also exclude pike, perch, ide and other species, the number is about half or 451 fish to be precise. That's counting all coastal trout including escaped sea farm fish and even the smallest fish I caught and released.
And I fished quite a lot in certain periods of that decade - some years clocking up to 70-80 fishing days - and was at times pretty lucky with my catches, even though there were plenty lousy and skunked days too.
But I'm still more than 2,000 trout short of 2,500 for the decade.
A modest wish
Seen in that light I just think 250 sea trout a year for 10 years sounds unlikely. Call it envy, because I would love to catch 250 fish a year.
With that modest wish, I will let the matter rest.
As a service to the readers, I have made a small tool that you can use for your own calculations. Find it in the top of the article.
The calculator will try its best to give you the numbers. Simply enter your numbers - trips per year, fish per trip, number of years...
Every time a number changes, the remaining numbers will be calculated based on the change. The system prioritizes the number you just entered, and varies the rest accordingly.
Say for example that you claim to have caught 4000 fish the last 10 years and that you are fishing 180 days a year. Then you must have landed at least 2 fish... every second day... for a decade.