Urban Dictionary might provide a wealth of street smarts while navigating the concrete jungle, but when you step into the bush and take to the river, you might have to learn the lingo. Knowing which side is starboard and what side is port is easy (port and left are both four letter words). However, after you plug deep into the various dialects, it can bewilder the bilingual.

Without going overboard, here are 20 terms that will help keep you afloat:

 

  1. Feather Flickers – Elitist fly fishermen who are strictly catch-and-release anglers. “Purists” would be a more polite term, but considering how much space they take up in order to create a drift, why bother?

“I couldn’t squeeze in anywhere; there were feather flickers taking so long to cast that the run will probably be over by the time they get in a decent drift or two!”

 

  1. Anchor Yanker – A drift boater that pulls anchor every time you try to pass him so he can make the first cast into every hole on the river.

“He just landed a fish, so we figured we’d let him have that hole to himself, but when we tried to pass him that anchor yanker decided we should go down the next rapid side by side.”

Is it a rubber necker? An anchor yanker? Still too early to tell . . .
  1. Rubber Necker – A drift boater that is constantly looking over their shoulder to see if you’re trying to pass them.

“The rubber necker spent more time looking at us than his bobber. You’d think there was a checkered flag at the next ramp!”

 

  1. One Trick Pony – An angler who uses only one tactic.

“There are two tools in his boat: one is on the oars, and the other is the only tool in his tacklebox because he’s a one trick pony.”

 

  1. Gear Chucker – An elitist gear angler that frowns upon feather flickers, has a serious case of blood-lust, and uses enough bait and scent to leave an oil slick on the surface of the river.

“You can’t even get a decent drift in that hole anymore because the gear chuckers came through and filled it with lead, braid, and fish carcasses.”

 

  1. Googan – Derogatory term for a novice angler that has no clue what they are doing, or intentionally makes fishing difficult for the anglers around them.

“This googan was using a sturgeon rod for trout fishing, snagging bottom every other cast, and wading out in the water to stand on top of the fish. Whoever his mother is should be put on birth control!”

100 percent googan.
  1. Combat Fishing – When the river gets crowded to the point that aggressive behavior often becomes the norm.

“The feather flickers were taking up so much space that the gear chuckers just started casting over their lines. There were googans everywhere, too; it was combat fishing at its worst!”

  1. Fish Whistle – A marijuana pipe with magical powers that lure in fish.

“We didn’t get a bite all day until Russell busted out the fish whistle, then it was fish on!”

 

  1. Pilgrim – A newcomer to a popular fishing area.

“As if the combat fishing was bad enough, this Pilgrim walked right into the hole and started questioning how many, what drift, how deep, what color, and what pattern – like it was some kind of an interrogation.”

A Pilgram stands back and watches a coastie net a pig for the author.
  1. Squirrel Hunting – Casting into the trees.

“I wanted to make a cast into that spot, but this googan had his line out across the river squirrel hunting.”

 

  1. Zoo – An area that commonly becomes a combat fishery filled with Pilgrims and googans squirrel hunting and blowing smoke at their neighbors with their fish whistles.

“There was a ton of fish being caught up by the deadline, but some googan posted about it on Facebook, so now it’s a zoo.”

 

  1. Coasties – Anglers who live near the coast and frown upon visitors fishing their local waters. Although it can be used as a derogatory term, they have taken ownership of the term and use it in their everyday language.

“The best thing about fishing the tributaries is the lack of coasties acting like they own the river.”

 

  1. Flatlanders – A derogatory term used by coasties to describe visitors from the valley.

“This spot used to be a well-kept secret; who told these flatlanders about it?”

 

  1. Wood Shampoo – The act of directing a blow to a fish’s head with a stick to render it unconscious prior to bleeding it out for harvest.

“The damn thing was squirming all over the place until we gave it the ol’ wood shampoo!”

See the notches in the handle? Classy.
  1. Fly-Curious – When a gear chucker takes an interest into transitioning to a feather flicker.

“It’s not like I’m going to sell all my line counters and trolling gear, I’m just a little fly-curious!”

 

  1. Hawg/Pig/Toad – Ironically, all names describing a fish, but a big one.

“It’s pulling drag like a hawg! Oh man, look at that pig! Get the net, this thing is a toad!”

The author with a toad.
  1. Scale spitter – An ocean-fresh chrome salmon with scales that are delicate and often come loose from the fish during a battle.

“Look at that scale spitter, she’s covered in sea lice!”

 

  1. Boot – A sea-run salmon that has spent some time in freshwater and given up its chrome appearance. These fish have developed tougher scales for spawning, and their skin has toughened up like leather. Harvesting these fish is often frowned upon by coasties.

“Hey flatlander, are you going to tag that ol’ boot? Gross!”

 

  1. Zombie – A salmon that has successfully spawned, expending more energy than it has consumed, and has basically began rotting alive, showing open sores.

“Look at that old zombie swimming along the bank; it’s only a matter of time before that thing is crawdad food!”

 

  1. Notellum Creek/Upper Nunya/Wishyanu River – Fake names of waterways offered by coasties as an answer to nosy flatlanders on the Internet who want to know where they’re catching fish.

Notellum Creek, the Upper Nunya and the Wishyanu River are where I’ve had the most success; good luck out there!”

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Top photo by Eric Sundstrom; combat fishing pic from Facebook; other images by Randall Bonner

  • Ordinary Guy

    Makes me homesick for my old Wishyanu river in Oregon, I was dreaming about her last night again. Thanks!