One of our favourite Instagram accounts, The Useless Recrimmercial (Adam Waites,, rips into the funny side of fishing. But that dark humour comes from having seen some shit. In The Mission Issue 42, he writes about bad fishing clients and the worst angler he ever guided. 

I had an amazing teacher in my final year of high school. In between the clichéd Dead Poets moments he showed a twinge of cynicism which made him just a bit more real than a silver screen portrayal. A gruff man, he used to line up a supply of worn tennis balls that would ping out across the classroom at furious speed towards any misdemeanour. He caught me reading a book under my desk one day. After the obligatory bouncer to the dome, he saw that the book was an old copy of Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. He told me I might as well return it to the library. I didn’t quite understand what he meant at the time.

“Read that again when you’ve had a little more experience of how bad people can be.”

Marlin in the spread!

bad fishing clients

In another life, I cleared the left teaser as a pack of white marlin revved in, lit up in electric blues. A Mongol horde, their arching brows showed a focused frown of anger and aggression, determined as they were to take out anything in sight.

Our guest, a woman, expertly dropped her fly in their path and the lead fish keyed straight in on the skipping, winding fly.

“FISH ON!” echoed the shout from up on the bridge.

Inevitably, Phil came barging across the deck.

“Get out my way and give me the rod,” he bellowed, pushing our guest back from the transom and wrenching the rod out of her hands.

As he settled into the rod and butchered the fight, his frantic attempts at retrieval were matched, concerto style, with his panicked and childlike screams of instruction. Scenes of Michael Scott (from The Office) in full flight could not match the comedy of this sight.

Between the huffing, the abysmal technique and the barely legible shouts, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

After making a 45-minute mountain of a five-minute molehill, the small fish was next to the boat, on the leader and away, seemingly none the worse for being on the other end of this deliriously mismatched equation. Lighting a fat gwaai and sitting back on the transom, Phil turned to us. With a huffing rasp and a seriousness borne purely of narcissism, he roundly announced:

“I told you South Africans I would show you how a real man catches a fish.”

I worked out the angle fairly instantly and my kick was easily placed. You know, he presented a large enough target. Spartan style. It was almost too easy. Gerard Butler himself would be proud.

Phil’s shocked little beady eyes seemed confused as he sank away into the depths. The mood on the boat lit up as everyone on board realised we would never have to fish with Phil ever again.

Who is the worst fisherman you have ever met?

Who is the worst fisherman you have ever met? There is a depth to this topic. It’s one I’m deadly serious about after a few years of guiding. I don’t mean a guy who occasionally sends his flies into the nearest willow or has the odd off day. I mean a man (because somehow it always is) who is the antithesis of the fishing spirit. It can’t just be a bad angler who knows it, either – those guys are very often the nicest guys on the beat and equally as often pick up some skills along the way.

It has to be someone whose lack of angling skill is inversely related to his misplaced confidence in his abilities. Once in your life you have to have the experience of meeting “THAT GUY”.

A wanker whose very presence causes Gaudian overwinds.

That guy who “can never find crew”.

That yokel thrashing up a pristine Berg ravine with a 10-weight.

The rich guy who thinks a fat wallet does a skilled angler make.

The muppet whose library of catches came from a drone drop.

In my case, “that guy” was Phil.

Read the rest of this story in The Mission Issue 43 below – free, always.

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