Magnet fishing, an ecological and recreational hobby


Magnet fishing, have you heard of it? It's an activity that involves using a powerful magnet to retrieve metallic objects from the bottom of bodies of water. It's both a way to clean up waterways, make unusual discoveries, and have fun with family or friends. In this article, we'll explain everything you need to know about magnet fishing: its origin, equipment, regulations, advantages, and disadvantages. Follow the guide!

What is magnet fishing?

Magnet fishing is a practice that dates back several decades but has gained renewed interest in recent years, especially thanks to social networks and YouTube videos showcasing the finds of magnet fishermen. The principle is simple: throw a magnet attached to a rope into a body of water (canal, river, lake, pond, etc.) and then pull it up to see what it has caught. One can find a variety of items, including coins, jewelry, tools, weapons, bicycles, scooters, cars, and even safes or motorcycles!

Magnet fishing is often compared to metal detecting, which involves using a metal detector to locate buried objects underground. Both activities share a love for treasure hunting, curiosity, and the joy of discovery. However, magnet fishing also has specific features that make it unique and original.

What equipment is needed for magnet fishing?

To practice magnet fishing, you essentially need two elements: a magnet and a rope. But be careful, not just any magnet will do! You need a neodymium magnet, a highly powerful material that attracts ferrous objects from a distance. There are different types of neodymium magnets, based on their shape, size, and strength. This includes single-sided magnets and double-sided magnets, with the latter being more effective due to having two magnetic sides. The strength of a magnet is measured in kilograms or newtons and generally ranges between 50 and 500 kg. The more powerful the magnet, the more it can attract heavy or distant objects, but it also becomes harder to detach. Therefore, it's essential to choose a magnet based on your needs and skill level.

As for the rope, it should be strong and resistant since it supports the weight of the magnet and the objects it brings up. It should also be long enough to reach the bottom of the water and flexible enough not to tangle. Nylon or polyester ropes with a length of 10 to 20 meters and a diameter of 6 to 10 millimeters are generally recommended. It's crucial to securely attach the rope to the magnet, either by tying a strong knot or using a carabiner.

In addition to the magnet and rope, it is advisable to have some accessories for magnet fishing, such as:

  • Gloves to protect hands from cuts or splinters.
  • A bucket or bag to transport the found objects.
  • A tarp or mat to place dirty or wet objects.
  • A knife or pliers to cut the rope or release the magnet.
  • A backup magnet in case the first one is lost or stuck.
  • A compass or GPS to navigate and mark interesting spots.

What are the regulations for magnet fishing?

Magnet fishing is an activity that is not clearly regulated by law and can therefore raise questions or conflicts. It's important to note that magnet fishing is not considered fishing in the strict sense, as it aims to capture objects rather than fish. Consequently, it is not subject to fishing regulations, which typically require permits and adherence to quotas, sizes, fishing periods, and zones.

However, magnet fishing can be likened to archaeological excavation since it may unearth ancient or historical objects. In such cases, it is subject to archaeological regulations, which require declaring any discoveries to the Regional Directorate of Cultural Affairs (DRAC) and returning objects belonging to the national heritage. It is forbidden to excavate without authorization on classified or protected sites, sell or destroy found objects.

Additionally, magnet fishing may be subject to regulations regarding the fluvial public domain, which concerns watercourses owned by the state or local authorities. In these cases, it is essential to adhere to navigation rules, safety regulations, environmental protection, and respect for property. Prohibitions include obstructing boat traffic, damaging infrastructure, polluting water, or claiming ownership of found objects. It may be necessary to obtain prior authorization from the manager of the fluvial public domain, such as Voies navigables de France (VNF), the Coastal Conservatory, the Autonomous Port, or the Municipality.

Finally, magnet fishing may be subject to common law regulations governing relationships between private individuals. In these cases, principles of good faith, proper conduct, and respect for property must be followed. It is prohibited to magnet fish on private property without the owner's consent, cause neighborhood disturbances, violate privacy or image rights, or claim ownership of found objects without knowing the legitimate owner.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of magnet fishing?

Magnet fishing is an activity that has many advantages but also some disadvantages. Here is a summary of the main positive and negative points of this practice.

Advantages of magnet fishing:

  • It's an ecological hobby that helps clean up water bodies by removing metallic waste that can be harmful to aquatic fauna and flora.
  • It's a fun activity that provides pleasure and excitement with each outing because one never knows what will be found. It's also an opportunity for unusual, sometimes historical or valuable discoveries with sentimental, cultural, or financial value.
  • It's an accessible hobby that doesn't require special skills or expensive equipment. All you need is a magnet, a rope, and a bit of curiosity to get started. It's also an activity that can be practiced anywhere.
  • It's a social hobby that can be enjoyed with family or friends, fostering exchanges and sharing. Participants can share anecdotes, findings, tips, or even set challenges. It's also a way to meet other enthusiasts by joining magnet fishing groups or associations.
  • It's an educational hobby that allows learning about history, geography, physics, chemistry, or biology. Discovering the origin, dating, composition, or function of found objects, as well as observing the diversity of aquatic species, is possible through magnet fishing.

Disadvantages of magnet fishing:

  • It's an activity that can be dangerous as one may encounter sharp, rusty, toxic, or explosive objects. Caution is required, with the use of gloves, avoiding touching unknown objects, and contacting authorities in case of doubt. It's also necessary to be aware of drowning, falling, or electrocution risks and follow safety guidelines.
  • It's an activity that can be illegal as it may be prohibited or regulated depending on the locations, objects, or circumstances. Prior research is essential before magnet fishing, including obtaining necessary permits, declaring discoveries, and returning objects belonging to heritage or others. Adhering to the rights and duties of magnet fishermen is crucial, ensuring no harm to the environment or other water users.
  • It's an activity that can be frustrating as one may find nothing, or find uninteresting objects, or even lose or get the magnet stuck. Patience, perseverance, and optimism are necessary, and discouragement should be avoided in the face of uncertainties. It's also important to be content with what is found and not have excessively high or unrealistic expectations.

Examples of recent finds:

Magnet fishing can lead to diverse discoveries, ranging from everyday objects to historical items. Here are some examples of recent findings:

  • In France, a magnet fisherman discovered a medieval sword in the Seine.
  • In Germany, a magnet fisherman found a treasure of Roman coins.
  • In the United States, a magnet fisherman discovered a cannon from the American Civil War.

Magnet fishing is an exciting activity that can lead to remarkable discoveries.

Magnet fishing is a hobby that is increasingly appealing to people because it offers numerous advantages: it's an ecological, enjoyable, accessible, social, and educational activity. However, it also has some drawbacks: it can be dangerous, illegal, and frustrating. It's crucial to be aware of the risks and regulations and adopt a responsible and respectful attitude. If you adhere to these principles, you can fully enjoy magnet fishing and perhaps make extraordinary discoveries!