How Well Do You Know Fishing Slang?

By: Robin Tyler
Estimated Completion Time
5 min
If a fisherman talks about a "chicken of the sea," which animal is he talking about?
Seagull
Seagulls are nothing more than scavengers in many people's opinion. They will be over in a flash as a fisherman starts working with bait. Seagulls are bold and will steal any scraps they can. They have even been known to swallow hooks with bait on them.
Walrus
Dolphin
Shark

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What is a "dog" in fishing lingo?
Whale
Seal
In fishing lingo, a "dog" is a seal. And fishermen hate seals. Why? Well, seals are intelligent and know that fish are easy targets, especially when caught in a net or on a line. Losing a fish to a seal makes fishermen angry ... very angry.
Hammerhead
Jellyfish

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A fish that has "come unbuttoned" has done what?
Swam away
Jumped off the deck into the sea
Come off the hook
Nothing frustrates a fisher more than one that got away, especially when the fish was already hooked. If it does manage to wiggle off the hook, the fish is also said to have "come undone."
None of the above

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While on a fishing boat, if you are told to "drop the hook," what do you need to do?
Start fishing
Sit down
Get to the steering
Throw out the anchor
"Dropping the hook" is a little confusing, but it means to throw out the anchor. Of course, this is only for fishing when you will try to catch from a set location and not by hauling lines behind you.

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If you see "foaming" in the water, what is happening?
Large fish are feeding on small fish.
"Foaming" indicates an area with a lot of fish activity. Larger fish are feeding on smaller fish, and all that movement to and fro disturbs the surface of the water. This is called foaming.
A whale is present.
Dolphins are mating.
None of the above

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What type of fish are "macks"?
Tuna
Mackerel
Mackerel are found the world over in both temperate and tropical climates. In fact, the name is applied to a range of similar fish throughout the world. They can be identified by their striped bodies and forked tails. Many other sport fish feed upon mackerel as their main source of food.
Barracuda
Albacore

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When someone spots "floats" in the water, what have they seen?
Squid on the surface that is spawning
Squid are interesting creatures, that's for sure! When they spawn, they come up from deeper waters and normally hang around near on the surface laying their eggs. And where you find "floats" you are sure to find fish!
A tiger shark
A sperm whale
None of the above

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In fishing slang, what is meant by "getting worked"?
The captain of the boat gives you all the tasks
Fighting a fish on the line
Actually, most fishermen love a fish to fight them. And while smaller fish don't put up a fight, if you hook a sport fish, you can expect to shed some sweat in your efforts to land the fish on the boat. This is to "get worked."
An early morning workout before fishing
None of the above

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When the captain says the fish are biting on the "leeward" side of the island, what does he mean?
The side with the deepest water
The side of the island that is sheltered from the wind
The leeward part of an island is the area that is sheltered from wind. Sometimes a leeward bay is a great place to fish. This is more of a nautical term than a fishing only one.
The side with the shallowest water
Around 10 miles from the island

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Can you tell us what a "fathom" is?
A piece of equipment used to hook a fish onto the boat
A unit of measuring depth
A "fathom" is simply a unit of measurement for the depth of a body of water. And it's easy to remember how deep a fathom is: 1 fathom the equivalent of 2 yards.
A certain type of fishing rod
None of the above

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A boat changing direction to "starboard" is going which way?
Forward
Right
A general nautical term as opposed to just fishing slang, "starboard" means right. So if fish are found off the starboard bow, they are to the right of the boat.
Left
Back

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Of the options below, which best describes the fishing term "buzz saw"?
To make a silly mistake
Another fisherman's line crossing yours
This typically happens on albacore and tuna finishing trips. Fisherman's lines can get crossed making it difficult to retrieve your catch.
A special way to tie your lure
None of the above

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Any clue as to what a "chummer" is?
A specific type of fishing reel
Someone who is getting sick overboard
Take a group of newbies out fishing and you are always sure to have at least one of these onboard. A "chummer" is someone who gets seasick and throws up over the side of the boat.
A species of fish
A type of boat

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What does it mean if a boat captain orders "chumming" to take place?
Throw fish offcuts, blood and bones overboard
Most fishing boats will keep fish offcuts, blood and bones in a bucket when fishing. This can be used to attract other fish, particularly sport fish or sharks, by simply throwing it overboard into the ocean.
Find a partner to fish with
Strap yourself in as the boat will speed to a new destination
None of the above

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A "coffee grinder" is what type of fishing equipment?
A fishing pole
A reel
Fishing reels come in all shapes and sizes. A "coffee grinder" is usually totally closed with a conical front section. When the handle is turned, it seems as if the fisherman is grinding coffee, hence its name.
A fishing net
None of the above

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When fish are "chewing," what are they doing?
Chasing smaller fish
Biting at the bait on the lines
"Chewing" is what a fisherman wants a potential catch to do. Fish that are chewing are taking nibbles at the bait on the end of a line. It's just up to the fisherman to strike and catch them!
Eating lunch
None of the above

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Can you tell us which of these options describes a "cattle boat"?
An overcrowded sports fishing boat
Sports fishing is a lucrative business, and some unscrupulous operators will take as many people as they can. Not only does this put those people in danger, it just means the finishing experience isn't as good as it could be, especially for a newbie.
A boat transporting cattle
A trawler
None of the above

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Often seen in the ocean, what is "bush"?
Old fishing nets
Seaweed
Seaweed is found all over the ocean and in various forms. Sometimes, fish could be nearby -- but be careful, it could snag up the boat engines!
Octopus tentacles
None of the above

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When a fisherman complains of "snagging," what has gone wrong?
The fish got away.
He managed to get his line caught up in kelp or seagrass.
Getting your line snagged in kelp or seagrass is no fun. In fact, instead of trying to sort it all out, many people will just cut their line, unless their favorite lure is still on the end!
He got drenched by a wave.
None of the above

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In fishing slang, what fish would a "chovie" be?
Swordfish
Sailfish
Anchovy
Anchovies are versatile fish, brilliant to use in cooking and even better as bait when trying to catch large fish. You can even use frozen anchovy in this regard.
Grouper

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A fisherman "soaking their bait" is waiting for what?
A bite from a fish
In an area where fish are not that active, once a fisherman has cast in his line, he is said to be "soaking his bait". This means he is patiently waiting for a bite from a fish.
Their bait to start to rot in the sun
A beer
None of the above

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When a fishing line "sawed off," what exactly has happened?
A shark bit it.
The line was broken by the hull or anchor rope.
There is nothing worse than losing a fish to a "sawed off" line. And it can happen so easily, especially when you think the fish is close to being landed. Just a little bit of friction on the hull of the boat, especially as the fish gets close to it, can cause a line to snap.
A seagull snapped it in two.
None of the above

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If someone called you a "sinker dunker," what would you be?
An experienced fisherman
A novice who catches a big fish straight away
"Sinker dunkers" are novice fishermen who have brilliant luck. They are called this because as soon as their line hits the water, they somehow catch a big fish.
The captain of the ship
None of the above

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On long trips at sea, someone has to be the "galley bitch." What exactly is that?
The skipper
The person in charge of navigation
The cook
Any trip at sea that is more than a day is probably going to need some who can cook. This person is affectionately known as the "galley bitch." Of course, fish might be on the menu every day!
The deckhand

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You don't want to end up in the "green stuff," that's for sure. What is it?
A cold sea
No question, even on the calmest of seas, safety while fishing is of paramount importance. Anyone ending up in the ocean is bad news and will require the crew to spring into action to get them back on the boat as quickly as possible.
Old discarded nets
A school of jellyfish
None of the above

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Which ocean fish is known as a "flattie" in fishing slang?
Halibut
Why are halibut called "flatties"? Well, it's simple really. They are a flat fish that live on the ocean floor. They have evolved so that both of their eyes are on top of the fish with their mouth on the bottom near the ocean floor.
Mako shark
Blue whale
Red octopus

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If someone on a fishing boat calls out that they are "hung," what does it mean?
.They have hooked a massive fish
A bit of a sexual innuendo, but on a fishing boat, if you shout you are "hung" it means you have hooked a really big fish.
They are tired and need a rest.
They need a new line.
None of the above

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When someone reels in "trash," what have they caught?
An old boot
An undesirable fish
Things never go completely perfectly when fishing. You may think you have a great catch on the end of the line, but after reeling it in, it's a fish that you simply aren't looking for. This is known as "trash" and usually gets thrown back or used for bait.
Old fishing lines
None of the above

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If you caught "whiskers," what fish would you be pulling up?
Catfish
"Whiskers" are good old catfish! These fish are noted for their long feelers that protrude from their mouths. Catfish are found all over the world, including America, Europe and Asia.
Barracuda
Yellowfin tuna
None of the above

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In fishing slang, what is a "tangler"?
A fish found in the Atlantic ocean
Crossed lines
A person trying to fish on an overcrowded boat
Sometimes paid fishing can get a little crowded. Trying to fish on these excursions can be difficult, especially for a serious angler. These poor souls call themselves "tanglers" as their rigs often tangle with others once the fishing starts.
None of the above

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When a captain wants the boat to change direction to "port," which way is it going to go?
Backwards
Right
Left
A general nautical term as opposed to just fishing slang, "port" means left. So if fish are found off the port bow, they are to the left of the boat.
Forward

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Someone asking for a "stick" on a fishing boat wants what piece of equipment?
A hook
A reel
Fishing line
A gaff
Large fish are difficult to get onto the boat. They cannot just be pulled up using the fishing line. To land them, a special tool called a gaff is used. This is a hook that is put into the body of the fish, allowing it to be pulled up onto the boat.

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When fish are biting on the "windward" side of an island, where will you find them?
The side of the island that is is not sheltered by the wind
The windward part of an island is the area that is not sheltered from wind. This is a well-known nautical and sailing term, not just fishing slang.
The side with the shallowest water
The side with the deepest water
None of the above

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On a big fishing trawler, what is the "slammer"?
A jail
A refrigeration unit where caught fish are kept
Trawlers are massive fishing boats that are at sea for long periods of time. Any fish caught must be refrigerated; otherwise, they will go bad. They are kept in big refrigeration units that are often called "slammers."
The kitchen
Sleeping quarters

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If a boat was near a school of "scooters," what fish would you see?
Sole
Catfish
Barracuda
Barracudas are ferocious fish! Long and sleek, these fish have sharp teeth that can cause real damage. Some barracuda species can grow to more than 5 feet long. Incredibly, barracudas can swim up to 27 miles an hour in short bursts.
None of the above

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