2500 sea trout! - 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. - Global FlyFisher

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2500 sea trout!


Published Jan 6th 2014

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.

By

A whole lotta fish

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.

2500 trout
- 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.

As it so often happens, we started to chat with the fisherman. It became a short chat. A statement shortly into the conversation made Henning and I look at each other behind the back of the happy catcher and lift our eyebrows slightly.
It happened when the fisherman said:
- 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!

  
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10 fish per day
OK, that takes some days out of the fishing schedule, but that aside you would have to have no life, no family and no work.
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.

Bonanza
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.

My own numbers - all included


The fish calculator

Fish per day

Days per year

Fish per year

Years

Fish in years

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.
The calculator will try its best to give you the numbers. Simply enter your numbers - trips per year, fish per trip, number ogf 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.

Tight lines!



User comments
From: Jan-Ole - Full name and email anonymized  Link
Submitted February 21st 2014

Hallo martin,

a useful tool indeed. It will help me in future to become a beter liar and in this way to tell better stories. :)

It would be useful to be able to put into the first field something with a comma...

Rgds,
Ole


From: Bob · bobpetti·at·gmail.com  Link
Submitted January 17th 2014

First of all, Martin - the photos of the fish in this article are stunning. Wow! What a thrill it must be to encounter fish like those. As for numbers - I just don't measure up. I get out maybe three times a month during Spring, a couple times over the Summer, and maybe a few in the Fall. What's that - twenty? Enough to keep me happy, but hardly enough to be an environmental impact. 2500 fish? Not in my lifetime. And that's ok with me. I'm easily satisfied.


GFF staff comment
From: Martin Joergensen · martin·at·globalflyfisher.com  Link
Submitted January 13th 2014

Pit,

Pictures and/or trustworthy witnesses does it for me too!

I have a couple of times heard fantastic stories and seen the pictures, and I have no reason to doubt people there. The problem is those guys who casually in a conversation over a beer mentions how they can "easily catch 30 fish in a day".

That always makes my alarm bells ring, because I have personally never fished with anybody who single-handed caught 30 fish in a day - and I have fished with many skilled anglers in many places all over the world where there were MANY fish. Even in British Columbia, wading knee deep in pink salmon that go up the river in millions, catching 30 fish in a day would take some work.

Again: it's not impossible, it just requires fish, skill and luck.

Martin


From: pit · alepitrenz·at·yahoo.de  Link
Submitted January 13th 2014

Hallo Martin,
this man was obviously a professional fisherman. He is usuall fishing in a boat with a net behind. He did not mentioned how he catches fish. He could be a man that plays throwing and catching one seatrout with his friend. So you can catch a fish a hundred times a day easily. Once I have met a guy at the river Rhine in Cologne. He told me he could catch 20 to 30 pike-perch within a few hrs. I did not believe him and he offered a bed. I accepted and I lost a barrel of beer. He took me to a place when water was still high. Some Baby pike-perch were caught in a little puddle. with the smallest lure I have ever seen he caught these 2baby pike-perch 20 times within an hour. Since I dont bet any more on numbers of fish caught. I ask for pics and witness.

thight lines and my Story is not a lie.
Pit


GFF staff comment
From: Martin Joergensen · martin·at·globalflyfisher.com  Link
Submitted January 11th 2014

Mike,

You are so right: it depends on what you fish for. I have been fishing on streams, for grayling especially, where I couldn't do anything wrong, and was able to hook a fish in every cast in periods. I have seen streams where a better dry fly fisher than myself could pull out brown trout by the dozen and I have see small cuttthroats cruising in mountain lakes so consistently that you could catch a fish every five minutes for a whole day with an ant pattern, some patience and a bit of skill.

And on such waters a 10-20-30 fish day is absolutely possible and actually quite likely if you know how to take advantage of the situation. If you have access to a place like that on a regular basis, there's no doubt that you can produce a pretty high number of fish per trip, and if there's enough trips in a year - and in a decade for that matter - 2500 fish is easily reached.

But in my part of the world, when fishing for sea run browns in the salt, I can't in my wildest fantasy imagine an unbroken row of 20 or 30 fish days. One really fantastic day now and then, but not regularly, even if you live close by the best water and can fish often. Weather, wind, seasons, water conditions and the fact that the fish have a whole ocean to disperse in makes that an unsafe bet.

Talk to salmon and steelhead anglers, people who pursue permit and tarpon or other more fickle fish, and I'm sure you will hear a similar opinion, but on a pond full of panfish, a spring creek stuffed with rising brownies or a Norwegian stream with schools of grayling... bring it on!

Martin


From: Mike Hogue · mhogue·at·twcny.rr.com  Link
Submitted January 11th 2014

So much depends on what and where you fish. I can trout fish and catch 10-15 fish most days. I can smallmouth fish and catch 3-5, maybe 8 fish? Bluegills? I can almost always catch 20.Then again, I have been fishing the same lake off and on for about 10 years. I can go salmon fishing and I think I caught an exact total of 9 all season. Some years salmon fishing. Nothing. I have fished soft hackles and had days of 40-50 trout, those are very, very, very few.

One day I think they must have stocked some jack salmon. I caught a ton. I literally lost count. They were all exactly the same size, 5-7". I kept fishing. I caught dozens and dozens. I also fished only a dry fly. I've never done that before, after or since.

One of my friends hit it right on the Beaverkill with his brother one day. They both caught like 2 dozen fish. One brother wanted to go, the other said," No way! This river owes me. I'm staying until I fall over or they stop biting."

Getting skunked sucks. I had a few good days this summer on the Norfork in Arkansas. I think I caught 20-30 on dries one morning and maybe 30-40 on soft hackles.

Have to find the fish and keep fishin' if they are biting. I once got 20-25 smallies in a day. I got to 15 and wanted to quit, I figured I better keep fishing because I will not do this again anytime soon.


From: Pike · Pike007·at·seznam.cz  Link
Submitted January 11th 2014

Martin, I remember one trip to west coast of Sweden. I caught 20 fish per 6 days, one guy caught the same number and this guy landed more than 100 fish. Really, no lies, I fished almost directly next to him. In previous post I talked about Denmark.
Vanuz maybe knows him, he can confirm it.
He is very skilled flyfisher and performs very well on local water too. To be honest, these very high numbers of fish cannot be caught whole year, as I mentioned before we usually arrive in the best periods of the year and fish whole day.
It makes sense in the less productive part of the year we can be happy if we catch for our five fish per one week trip.

Ps: I am always very happy if I land 5 or so fish per four days :-)


GFF staff comment
From: Martin Joergensen · martin·at·globalflyfisher.com  Link
Submitted January 11th 2014

Pike,

60-80 sea trout in 4-5 days sounds like a true adventure! If it's per angler it's simply out of this world. If it's between them, it's still a very decent result.

I'd sure like to fish where these guys fish.

As I write in the article, I have a very accurate log of fish caught during the last 10 years. The log holds solid data for 6-8 of the guys I fish with, and has statistics from 1224 coastal fishing trips amounting to 3583 full fishing man days if you multiply by the number of anglers that were on each trip.

On these almost 3600 fishing days the catch was 2973 fish (all included, not only bright sea trout, but also small fish, kelts and garfish). So that's less than 1 fish per man per day and a little more than 2 fish per trip no matter how many guys were fishing on the trip.
In the 10 years I recorded our fishing, we have two "best" days with 27 fish - one day between 4 guys, the other between 5. Then we have a couple of 20 fish days, a couple with 18 and a couple with 17 and so on. In 10 years.
And it's worth noting that more than a third of all the trips were skunked trips with no catches at all, no matter how many we were, trying to lure a fish from the ocean.

Now, my friends are not novices or inexperienced, but generally know what end of a rod to hold on to and know what they are doing. When sea trout are around, sea trout are caught. It just so happens that quite often sea trout are not around...

As both you and I say, it's certainly possible to have constant record catches if all factors are in your favor. It's just very unlikely, even if you have the time to spend, which only few people have.
.
I am not saying that your friends are lying or exaggerating. I hear stories from people I trust about such trips every year. But it's different stories from different people from different years and not the same person repeating the stunt trip after trip, month after month, year after year.

Martin


From: Pike · Pike007·at·seznam.cz  Link
Submitted January 11th 2014

Martin, some friends of mine are able to catch 60 - 80 fsea trout per four or five days. It seems that 250 fish per year is nothing impossible. But they fish usually in best time of ther year ( march - april, september - october) and usually whole day. But some years "only" 20 or 30 fish are caught within 5 days, some years less. So 250 fish per year is very tough challenge to reach for normal fisherman who goes to work, spends time with his family etc. And repeat these 250 fish ten times........
So I agree with you, it is not impossible but only some of us can fish as much as possible in best periods of the year.


GFF staff comment
From: Martin Joergensen · martin·at·globalflyfisher.com  Link
Submitted January 8th 2014

Nils,

Thanks for your comment.

16,000 salmon is a pretty hefty number! Using my little tool and taking into account the short Icelandic season of 90 days puts rather a big pressure on the angler in question. Let's say that the fish were caught during a 10-year period. That would give an average of almost 18 fish per fishing day, all 90 days, every season for all 10 years. Not a single day missed out! No illness, no blown out waters, no cars breaking down, no birthdays or burials! Only fishing.

For the sake of realism (or what you'd call it) we could give this guy 20 years to obtain the goal. He'd still have to catch at least 9 salmon per fishing day, three months in a row, every season for two decades - come hell or high water!

That is indeed pretty impressing ...and maybe not totally true...

Martin


From: Nils · nj·at·ranga.dk  Link
Submitted January 7th 2014

Nice and different article!

I have my own experiences with some people claiming some catches that are out of this world here in Iceland. I fish a lot here, MUCH more than most other anglers here. I fish many of the best rivers and mostly have very good catches. So I know what is possible for one person to catch in a season. It is Atlantic Salmon Im talking about here.

I have two funny stories. One is about a guy claiming he had caught over 4000 salmon. These person is a guide so I already was wondering when this guide should be catching all these fish when being a guiding all season. But I got the answers myself when I was with this person for two weeks. After this period, he was telling people that he had caught 124 salmon. The fact is the this person was guiding these two weeks and did not catch any salmon, I was there! So either this person wants to make a name by lying or the does not know what is coming out of his mouth.

Another remarkable story is an angler claiming over 16,000 Atlantic salmon. The season is 90 days here in Iceland and this guy has a family, work and is also guiding. Im not judging here but MANY people ask me about this and I don't have the answer. I know that even though I fish and catch a lot, I will never come near this number in my life

Rasmus Hansen calculated on these 16,000 salmon and it could be interesting to hear a comment from him.

My fishing has over the years just developed into enjoying more and more when me and my friends have some action. These people who have a need to stand out a talk about some crazy numbers simply don´t interest me. This is not what fishing is about. But if people ask my about my fishing, I will tell them but try to be a little humble and show interest in others fishing.

Best regards from Iceland

Nils



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