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01 Jun 2017
by Terry Hearn
Do laser pens kill the fishing if used at night?
If a laser pen is used at night, does it kill the fishing?

“Like most anglers, I’ve found wildlife to be very useful at times but they can also be damn annoying. When they do aggravate me I found the good old laser pen very effective at scaring them off. I’ve also found in recent times that the little feathered buggers are starting to ignore them. Still on the light theme, I’ve also found that if a laser is used at night, it seems to kill the fishing stone dead. So, have any of the contributors found the same things? Are the ducks ignoring our deterrents and does it kill the fishing?”

Funny enough, my laser pens seem to be coming out of the bag more often nowadays, and I’ve also noticed that the birds are becoming more and more used to them.

I use two lasers, a standard red one for at night and a super bright green one for in the day. To be honest I’ve never been happy about using them but like many things in fishing they’re another trade off. In some cases it’s either get done by the birds, or laser pen them up and maybe risk scaring the carp away too. I can’t be sure whether or not carp are scared by lasers, but on some dark, enclosed waters I certainly suspect they might be, and as such I’d rather not have to use one if I can help it. Sometimes though they’re just the best of two evils.

When they were the lesser bright red colour I never worried so much, and like I say, when it comes to after dark use, red is still the colour I reach for. The newer green ones are super bright though, too bright for shining across a lake after dark and so I tend to use them through daylight hours, basically when red isn’t strong enough. One quick flicker of the green ones at night can be enough to make whole flocks of geese and every roosting bird for a mile take to the sky in a squawking, flapping panic, which I’ve got to admit is pretty amusing but I can’t see it doing the fishing much good.

Talking of birds getting used to lasers, I’m noticing that some of them are getting smarter in other ways too. Just recently I was watching the coots diving on my baited area, and as is often the way there was a seagull close by, waiting to nip in and steal whatever the coots came up with. Normally when that happens it’s just a squawking frenzy, but both the coots and the gulls seem to have wised up to all that.

Now a coot only has to be bombed by a gull once and it paddles a few yards to one side and starts diving on weed instead, even though it knows exactly where a lovely pile of boilies is waiting for it. All the while that gull is close by he leaves them be, after all, what’s the point in bringing one up to the surface if a gull’s going to nick it each time? Meanwhile the gull is sat on the surface some distance off, facing the other way pretending he’s not looking, until eventually the coot thinks it’s safe to paddle back over and down he goes. As soon as the coot’s under, the gull is up in the air and heading back over from afar like a bullet, just in time to snatch the bait out of the coots mouth again!

The frightening thing is, the birds on some of these lakes are clearly learning fast, so how about the carp? I can still remember fishing at Bushey Park as a teenager and seeing the first gulls grabbing my boilies as I catapulted them out. And as mad as it sounds, back then it was unusual and something to talk about… “You’ll never believe what happened earlier, a gull was only diving down and grabbing my boilies!” If you said that to the bloke in the next swim today he’d wonder where you’d been for the last twenty years.

Going back to laser pens, I’ve come across certain individual birds in the past that just aren’t put off by them at all, almost as though they can’t even see the beam. Tufties are normally the easiest to spook with a laser, but this summer just gone I had an unbelievable amount of grief from one particular, next generation, super laser-proof tufty that would turn up everyday at very first light and do me. It didn’t matter where I was on the pond, it’d find me, and even with the traps set in the margins it’d dive under up to ten-yards away and then bob up with a bait in its mouth right over the spot, invariably just as I was most confident of a take. This was during the height of summer, when it was too hot and sticky to go to sleep before midnight, and because of this one incredibly bold bird I used to have to set my alarm to go off before it had even got light. Even then I’d open my eyes to see the damn thing diving on me! I just couldn’t relax, it was like it was some kind of possessed, devil tufty, sent solely to destroy my traps. Seriously, I actually caught it once and stupidly put it back thinking it would have learnt its lesson. In the end I shot it.

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