In F.I.S.H.I.N.G. the filmmakers study the anglers’ world above the water, and the fish underneath it. The film includes some stunning shots of pike and sea bass, carps and red eyes, but also shots in the North Sea, of plaice and cod, shipwrecks, ghost nets and mackerel.

In F.I.S.H.I.N.G the camera does exactly what the angler does in mind; look into the world underneath the water, right into the fish’s territory. It is a mysterious world that appeals to one’s imagination, perhaps precisely because whatever is taking place underneath the water is different, unknowable. The fact that in an ordinary ditch impressive pikes are hunting, swallowing bass with the same ease as they would put away a duck chick or moorhen … or six-feet monster catfish in the river … that is the world anglers like to relate to.

The relationship between anglers and fish is a complicated one. Especially for amateur anglers who refuse to eat the fish they have captured. They say they respect fish, and quite often they use barbless hooks to minimise damage. The fish’s wellbeing is also in the anglers’ own interest. Better fish stock means a greater chance of catching fish.

Organisations such as Sportvisserij Nederland and RAVON are continuously monitoring the Dutch waters, investing best efforts to improve fish stock wherever necessary. As the water becomes clearer meeting European directives, the fish stock changes, which is always a good thing for amateur anglers as a staff member at RAVON explains in the film. The amount of exotics (species that do not originate in the Netherlands) has increased impressively, especially in previous decades.

The question as to whether fish are exposed to any amount of pain or stress when they are caught is obviously discussed in this film. Different opinions exist. Studies are being conducted at the Radboud University of Nijmegen and one of the researchers shares his point of view with us. The answer to the question as to whether fish experience stress or pain is yes, they do. This is evidence by research. Now, how fish experience pain and stress, and whether their experience is similar to that of humans, cows or dogs for instance, remains a challenging question scientists are unable to answer.

Whoever has watched F.I.S.H.I.N.G will see the fish’s world in a different light. And also the Netherlands that, as far as possible, is presented from the perspective of the angler and the fish.