As with most activities, fishing has a language that has evolved with the sport to describe situations that anglers frequently encounter on the water. Many of these phrases are too colorful to print, and some may be incomprehensible to people who don’t fish.
Like regional dialects, they vary from place to place and even boat to boat, so it’s not uncommon to hear fun new terminology when traveling to fish. You may notice that many of these are euphemisms related to negative fishing experiences. This shows that anglers are people who have fun even if they are not really happy about it.
Here are some favorite angler idioms we’ve heard over the years.
Bait thrower: Pejorative term used by fly fishers to refer to any other type of fisherman.
“I think that baitcaster was jealous of my tweed cap.”
Bank of Despair: Unlike honeyhole, this is an area notorious for producing no fish.
“Man, I wasted three hours there pounding on the shore of despair.”
Bird’s Nest: A situation in which the fishing line becomes so tangled that it looks like a bird’s nest.
“Oh, man! Look at that bird’s nest. I’m gonna have to throw out that whole line and start over.”
Baby sitter : Sometimes pejorative term for someone fishing bait from shore.
“Look at those bucket keepers over there sitting on their buckets and drowning worms.”
Bush Hook: Usually used for catfish, it is a baited hook and line suspended in the water and attached to vegetation above the surface.
“We could let our hooks soak overnight, but there’s a chance yahoos will get in the water early and steal our fish.”
Chocolate milk: Term describing water conditions with high turbidity.
“We were fishing for chocolate milk after all that rain.”
damn carp: A fish caught by an angler that belongs to a species other than the intended target.
“I thought it was a big big mouth, but it’s just a fucking carp.”
Dink: Synonymous with peckerhead, a dink is a very small fish.
“Look at that dink. It’s smaller than the cork it ate.”
Dreaded frustration: The downward spiral of being so pissed off by your poor angling performance that you can’t seem to do anything right.
“I was killing them until I snagged my lure on the bottom. Then I broke the tip of my rod trying to get it off, and the dreaded frustrations set in. I couldn’t do anything well the rest of the day.”
Easy release: A fish that jerks the hook directly on the boat. An easy release counts as half a fish in an informal fishing competition.
“Oh, well. Easy release. He was a little jerk, anyway.”
Fish of the day : A sarcastic reference for the smallest fish caught on any given day.
“Ha! Attractive ! This little dink could be the fish of the day.
Squirrel fishing: This phrase is used to describe the futility of a fisherman who keeps casting his lure into the trees.
“Dang, man, can’t you go in the water? We don’t fish for squirrels!”
Floats: Catch and release fish that die upon release and float to the surface.
“When it’s this hot, you have to handle the fish carefully or they’ll end up being turtle food and floaters.”
Sparkle Rocket: A pejorative term for fast fiberglass boats used by tournament bass anglers. These boats are often decorated with shimmering glitter paint.
“It would be easier to fish the shit out if those damn glitter rockets stopped blowing.”
Gougan: A troublesome novice angler or an unscrupulous angler who disregards the unwritten rules of etiquette.
“We were trolling and a googan came through our stern and cut all our lines.”
Green Weenie: A nickname for a soft plastic straight worm used in bass fishing that is chartreuse in color.
“These fish won’t eat anything today but good old green weenie.”
Last cast: A phrase used to imply that it’s probably time to stop fishing even if you’re not going to.
“He said it was his last casting, so we’ll be here for another half hour at least.”
Leroy Jenkins: Derived from an internet video game meme, this exclamation is used in kayak fishing when you race ahead of your fishing buddies to be the first on the water.
“Y’all can keep snooping around the boat ramp. I’m going fishing! Leeeroooy Jenkiiins!”
Bream: It is a stick caught by a fisherman who thought he was putting the hook on a fish. A particularly large specimen might also be called a tree-pounder.
“The only things the boy could catch were sea bream and rammer.”
Mosquitoes: Pejorative term for jet skis.
“It would be a lot more peaceful here without all the mosquitoes buzzing around and scaring the fish away.”
Mud Dart: A billfish that dies when released and sinks from its nose, presumably to get stuck in the mud on the ocean floor.
“Keep carrying sailboats in the boat for photos, and you’ll keep throwing mud darts.”
Noodles: A form of catfishing in which the angler enters the water and puts their hand in a hole underwater to try and catch a catfish by mouth.
“Remember when Benny lost his thumb making noodles? Yeah, he thought it was a fish, but he caught a snapping turtle.”
Pork with pellets: Pejorative term for fish that grow to a large size due to a feeding schedule.
“This yahoo thought he grabbed a trophy, but they’ve got these lead pigs trained to eat hooks.”
Penalty box: An indefinite period of time during which an angler will not be able to fish due to complications resulting from poor fishing.
“Look at that bird’s nest. I’m going to be in the penalty area for at least 20 minutes while I re-rig.”
Reef donkey: Pejorative term for greater amberjack.
“We were drifting bait for trevallies but only caught reef donkeys.”
Tax specialist: A shark that steals the targeted species on the line.
“When the taxman showed up, we either had to move or keep bringing in half fish.”
yahoo: Refers to anyone on the water other than the anglers in the group using the term.
“We went in our asshole, but there were already a bunch of yahoos in there.”
Assorted terms for large fish: toad, hawg, pig, monster, biggun, lunker, slob, beast, giant, whopper, donkey dong, slab, doormat, wallhanger, bruiser, stud, bucketmouth.
Although some of these terms are species-specific, they are mostly interchangeable and generally used to describe “one who got away”.