As with most endeavors, fishing has a language that evolved with the sport to describe situations anglers frequently encounter on the water. Many of these phrases are too colorful to be used in print, and some might be unintelligible to people who don't fish.
Like regional dialects, they vary from location to location and even from boat to boat, so it's not uncommon to hear amusing new terminology when you travel to fish. You might notice that many of these are euphemisms relating to negative fishing experiences. It goes to show that anglers are people who have fun even when they're not exactly happy about it.
Here are some favorite angler idioms we've heard through the years.
Bait Chucker: Derogatory term used by fly fishers to describe any other type of angler.
"I think that bait chucker was jealous of my tweed cap."
Bank of Despair: The opposite of honeyhole, this is an area known for not producing fish.
"Man, I wasted three hours over there pounding away on the bank of despair."
Bird's Nest: A situation in which fishing line becomes so tangled that it resembles a bird's nest.
"Aw, man! Look at this bird's nest. I'm gonna have to throw out all this line and start over."
Bucket Sitter: Sometimes derogatory term for someone who fishes bait from the shore.
"Look at those bucket sitters over there sitting on their buckets and drowning worms."
Bush Hook: Usually used for catfish, this is a baited hook and line suspended in the water and tied off to vegetation above the surface.
"We could let our bush hooks soak overnight, but there's a chance some yahoos will get on the water early and steal our fish."
Chocolate Milk: A term describing water conditions of high turbidity.
"We were fishing chocolate milk after all that rain."
Damn Carp: A fish caught by an angler that is any species other than the intended target.
"I thought it was a big largemouth, but it's just a damn carp."
Dink: Synonymous with peckerhead, a dink is a very small fish.
"Look at this dink. It's smaller than the plug it ate."
Dreaded Frustrations: The downward spiral of being so flustered by your poor angling performance that you seemingly can't do anything correctly.
"I was slaying them until I hung my lure on the bottom. Then I broke my rod tip trying to get it loose, and the dreaded frustrations set in. I couldn't do anything right the rest of the day."
Easy Release: A fish that shakes the hook right at the boat. An easy release counts as half a fish in an informal fishing competition.
"Oh, well. Easy release. It was a little peckerhead, anyway."
Fish of the Day: A sarcastic reference for smallest fish caught on a given day.
"Ha! Nice one! That little dink might be the fish of the day."
Fishing for Squirrels: This phrase is used to describe the futility of an angler who continues throwing his lure into the trees.
"Dang, man, can't you hit the water? We ain't fishing for squirrels!"
Floaters: Catch-and-release fish that die upon release and float on the surface.
"When it's this hot, you've got to handle fish carefully or they'll end up being turtle food and floaters."
Glitter Rocket: A derogatory term for the fast fiberglass boats used by tournament bass anglers. These boats are often decorated with sparkly glitter paint.
"It'd be easier to crappie fish if these darn glitter rockets would quit blowing by."
Googan: A novice angler who is in the way or an unscrupulous angler who disregards the unwritten rules of etiquette.
"We were trolling and some googan drove across our stern and cut all our lines."
Green Weenie: A nickname for a straight soft-plastic worm used in bass fishing that is chartreuse in color.
"These fish won't eat anything today except the good old green weenie."
Last Cast: A phrase used to imply that it's probably time to stop fishing even though you're not going to.
"He said it was his last cast, so we'll be here 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 one on the water.
"Y'all can keep mucking around on the boat ramp. I'm going fishing! Leeeroooy Jenkiiins!"
Limb Bream: This is a stick caught by an angler who thought they were setting the hook on a fish. A particularly large specimen might also be called tree-pounder.
"The only things the boy could catch were limb bream and tree-pounders."
Mosquitoes: Derogatory term for jet skis.
"It'd be a lot more peaceful out here without all the mosquitoes buzzing around and scaring the fish."
Mud Dart: A billfish that dies when released and sinks nose down, presumably to stick in the mud on the bottom of the ocean.
"Keep hauling sailfish in the boat for photos, and you're going to keep throwing back mud darts. "
Noodling: A form of catfishing in which the angler gets in the water and sticks their hand in an underwater hole to try and grab a catfish by the mouth.
"Remember when Benny lost his thumb noodling? Yeah, he thought it was a fish, but he grabbed hold of a snapping turtle."
Pellet Pig: Derogatory term for fish that reach large size because of a feeding program.
"That yahoo thought he caught a trophy, but they've got those pellet pigs trained to eat hooks."
Penalty Box: An indeterminate period of time during which an angler will be unable to fish due to complications arising from poor fishing.
"Look at this bird's nest. I'm going to be in the penalty box for at least 20 minutes while I re-rig."
Reef Donkey: Derogatory term for greater amberjack.
"We were drifting baits for kingfish, but all we caught were reef donkeys."
Tax Man: A shark that steals the targeted species off the line.
"When the tax man showed up we either had to move or keep reeling in half-fish."
Yahoo: Refers to anyone on the water other than the anglers in the group using the term.
"We went to our honeyhole, but there were a bunch of yahoos already in it."
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 "the one that got away."