There are good anglers, there are terrible anglers, and there are great anglers. I’m sure plenty of you could tell a tale or two about the guy that could catch fish absolutely anywhere, and just as many of you could amuse us with tales of a friend who couldn’t catch a cold, let alone a fish…?
But when it comes to the very finest anglers on the planet, you’d have to go a long way to find any better than this bunch. Nature has a way of refining such skills, and while they may not be much good with a multiplier, and they wouldn’t know one end of a spey cast from the other, they sure do know how to catch fish. Here are 20 of the finest natural born fishermen you’re every likely to come across:
They may not be everyone’s favourite bird, but they have a knack of getting food out of the most unlikely places. Although often scavenging, they also know how to catch their own fish, as I’ve watched on many an occasion (often while struggling to catch anything myself!).
Source: Beautiful Bird Pics
You can often find pelicans hanging around boat docks and jetties, hoping for a hand-out from a friendly fisherman, but that’s not because they can’t catch their own. They just know an easy meal’s better than one you have to work for. This is one of a series of pictures taken by Bill Majoros, which shows how agile these birds can be.
Otters eat around 10%, and in some cases as much as 20%, of their own bodyweight every day, diving to depths of up to 300 feet to catch their prey, which consists predominantly of fish and crustaceans. They use their immensely sensitive whiskers to detect small vibrations underwater and, despite preferring small-to-medium-sized species, have been known to tackle fish both longer and heavier than themselves.
Source: Dean Eades
4. Arctic Fox
When you think about an arctic fox, the word ‘fisherman’ probably won’t be the first thing that springs to mind. Living in extreme, cold conditions, however, means you have to be somewhat pragmatic – taking opportunities when they present themselves. If that means eating seaweed, so be it; if it means scavenging some stranded fish on the beach, no problem. It’s true, arctic foxes are not great anglers, but we love this photo, so it’s in there!
5. Polar Bear
Of course the arctic fox isn’t the only one who has to withstand the freezing North Pole, polar bears have a pretty tough time of it too. Although, like the fox, they’re not averse to a bit of scavenging, polar bears are also prolific hunters, which is a good thing when you consider they can eat 100lbs of seal blubber in a single sitting! The polar bear’s primary food source is the ringed seal, but they’re also known to eat, when they can find them, whales (usually already dead), walruses, narwhals, birds (mainly geese), bird eggs, fish and even the occasional caribou, if available. Having said all that, given the bear’s stature, it’s unlikely any of them would survive without a supply of their favourite foodstuff, the seal.
A while back I wrote a post about whether snakes could catch fish, having come across some photos that really surprised me. After a little research I was feeling pretty stupid. In hindsight, given the fact that there are over 2900 different species of snake, many of which live in the water and all of which are carnivorous, it stands to reason that some eat fish. Well now I know. In case you’re wondering, the best known fish eaters are garter snakes (sometimes called water snakes) and the highly venomous sea snakes. garter snakes are often kept as pets, but if you’re thinking about getting one, make sure you do your research before feeding them fish. Some species, like catfish, flathead minnows, smelt and some goldfish contain an enzyme known as thiamine, which prevents the absorbtion of Vitamin B1 (thiamine) and can result in seizures, loss of muscle control and eventually death.
7. White Bellied Sea Eagle
The white bellied sea eagle is from the same family as the bald and golden eagles, hunting its prey by day, sleeping at night and flying with a wingspan of up to 7 feet, but unlike its northern hemisphere cousins, it is only found in India, Asia and Australia. White bellied sea eagles are excellent fishermen, swooping down to pluck fish and other waterborne prey from the water, as shown below.
A coyote is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when picturing nature’s most accomplished fishermen, but like the arctic fox and polar bear, they are extremely versatile and capable of modifying their behaviour to take advantage of opportunities. They are predominantly carnivores and will happily take fish from shallow streams and rivers when given half a chance. You may not know this, but coyotes are closely related to the gray wolf (also called timber wolf) and, although quite small, they have been known to target small children.
Source: Gentleman Fisherman
I’m sure the dog owners among you will appreciate this picture. Although it’s perfectly enjoyable to fish alone, it’s usually even better with a friend – even if that friend has four legs and a wagging tail. More often than not, when we’re fishing close to home, you’ll find the family labrador nearby. It’s hard to tell what he makes of the fishing – if anything at all – but he certainly enjoys being out and about all day, just as much as we do!
Back to the real fishermen, and this one’s a true expert. Puffins catch fish by flying low over the water, locating likely prey, then diving in to seize their unsuspecting victims in their powerful beaks. They are short and powerful birds, with specially adapted wings that enable them to propel themselves underwater with a flapping motion. Interestingly, although there are three types of puffin (Atlantic, horned and tufted), they are only found in the northern hemisphere.
Source: Steve Waterhouse
Most of you will have seen footage of brown bears catching salmon, as the fish make their way up the waterfalls and rivers of North America to spawn. It’s a spectacular sight, which takes place every year. Bears are adept at fishing – they have the tools (long sharp claws and teeth), the patience and they know all the best fishing spots. And unlike some, for bears the fishing is never too easy. When the salmon are running in numbers, the bears will catch them at will, then eat only the most nutritious parts, including the roe and brain. In case you didn’t know the difference between a brown bear, a Kodiak bear and a grizzly, there is still some debate about it. By and large, however, the following is generally accepted: brown bears (scientific name Ursus arctos) are divided into several subspecies, which include Kodiak bears (also known as Alaskan grizzly bears, scientific name Ursus arctos middendorffi), inland grizzly bears (Ursus arctos horribilis) and coastal brown bears (also Ursus arctos horribilis). Although the subspecies vary in size, brown bears as a whole are second in stature only to their cousin, the polar bear.
13. Crocodiles and alligators
I love this photo. The croc (or alligator, I can’t tell from this pic?) is clearly ruining some angler’s day. Not only is the fisherman about to forfeit what looks like a pretty decent fish, he’s also in danger of losing his favourite lure. Still, if the alternative is landing and unhooking the croc, I’d say it’s a price worth paying. Fact: there are 14 surviving species of crocodile, ranging from the tiny ‘dwarf crocodile’ to the awe-inspiring saltwater croc. Guinness recently accepted a claim of a 7.1m (23ft), 2,000kg (4,400lb) salty living in Bhitarkanika Park in eastern India, but the difficulty of trapping and measuring it means the dimensions haven’t been verified (Wikipedia). In crocs it’s only the male that grows to such enormous sizes.
Source: Tittle Tackle
Ospreys are from a different family of bird to eagles (like the white bellied sea eagle above), but they share many of the same behaviours. Like eagles ospreys are raptors, meaning they hunt and feed on other animals. They also hunts by day and sleeps at night. But an osprey’s diet consists almost exclusively of fish and it has adapted various physical characteristics and behaviours, which have helped the osprey become one of the world’s undisputed fishing champions. Firstly, its vision has adapted to help it detect underwater objects from the air. Second, it has reversible outer toes and sharp spikes on the underside of its feet, which help it grasp slippery fish. It has backwards-facing scales on its talons, which act like barbs to help hold its catch; and, perhaps most remarkably, it has closable nostrils, which keep out water during dives. I’ve watched ospreys fishing in the Highlands of Scotland and it is truly a wonderful thing to behold.
Source: Mark Medcalf, 500px
There are 64 recognised species of heron, which include the birds known as egrets and bitterns. They are carnivorous birds, with long, harpoon-like bills than are perfect for spearing and catching fish. Amazingly, they are also known to use bait to attract fish. Fact: although herons resemble storks, ibises, spoonbills and cranes, they can easily be distinguished from these birds in flight, when they travel with their necks retracted, not outstretched.
Source: Beautiful Bird Pics
16. Seals and sealions
Although they’re awkward and clumsy on land, it’s impossible to refute the agility and elegance of a seal or sealion underwater. Although these animals are opportunists (like this sealion stealing a big fish from an unsuspecting angler), they depend on speed and manoeuvrability for their survival. They need to evade some of the world’s scariest apex predators, like orcas and great white sharks, and they need to catch fish doing what they do best – swimming. But don’t feel too sorry for them – seals and sealions may look cute and cuddly, but they are ferocious predators, skilled hunters and true killers in their own right.
Source: Daily Mail
Cats hate water, right? Not always. There’s a species of cat in South East Asia that loves it. Its official name is the ‘fishing cat’ (Prionailurus viverrinus) – a stocky, muscular animal about twice the size of a domestic cat. Now considered an endangered species, the fishing cat is a strong and eager swimmer, spending most of its life around rivers, streams and mangrove swamps, and is quite happy swimming for extended periods and over long distances, even underwater. Although they can catch their prey while swimming, they have most success by stalking and pouncing on fish, and other aquatic animals, from dry land or shallow water.
Source: Foto Community
Given that so many humans fish, it should come as no surprise that our closest relative, the orangutan, also knows how to fish (sadly, like many people I know, they’re not very good at it!). Orangutans are the most intelligent of all primates and, like our own ancestors, they are opportunistic foragers. This particular individual, photographed in Borneo, “had seen locals fishing with spears on the Gohong River. Although the method required too much skill for him to master, he was later able to improvise by using the pole to catch fish already trapped in the locals’ fishing lines.”
You don’t get a name like that without being able to hold your own on the riverbank; or so you might think. Funnily enough, although many species of kingfisher feed on fish, others do not. Birds like the shovel-billed kookaburra, for example, feed on the forest floor, using a specially adapted beak to dig through the forest floor for prey. Nevertheless, those that do fish, do it in style. A beautiful, colourful bird, kingfishers usually hunt from a fixed perch, spying their prey from above, then swooping down, seizing a fish in their long, sharp bill, and returning to the perch to eat it. By and large, you’ll never see a kingfisher’s nest in the branches of a tree, as they prefer to burrow and nest in tunnels.
20. The bottlenose dolphin
Last but by no means least is the bottle nose dolphin.
Source: Marjie Goldberg Photography
Of course it isn’t only the bottlenose genes that produce great fishermen – every species I can think of puts most other animals (and humans) to shame – but the bottlenose dolphin has been known to take it one step further. Take, for example, the amazing bottlenose dolphins in Brazil, which have been cooperating with human fishermen for years – actually signalling to the humans when they should cast their nets, as you can watch in the following amazing short film:
Or how about this other group, which have learned that a fish flying through the air is far easier to catch than a fish underwater.
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