Get Fishing is the Angling Trust’s campaign to get more people fishing more often. Each year we run hundreds of events for all ages and abilities. They are funded by the Environment Agency from fishing licence income
Read how Dad to be DJ Jack tackled the ‘Covid Blues’ by getting into fishing! You can too – here’s how…
Let’s face it, the year 2020 was pretty well… rubbish! The new virus, lockdowns and restrictions made life tough. For thousands though, a return to fishing meant a safe way to experience new adventures, get exercise and activity even during the pandemic.
Angling Trust Partnership Development Manager James Roche adds: “A whopping 100,000+ extra people bought an Environment Agency fishing licence to get back into angling – a mix of newcomers and returners seeking solace and satisfaction with friends and family at fishing spots all over the country. One of these was Jack Rigby. Many of you will be familiar with the way Jack’s journey took him back to the bank – but we particularly loved the way he told us just how fishing can help tackle the stresses of everyday life in the “new-normal” of Pandemic-UK.”
Here’s Jack to explain his story…
“It’s fair to say that the pandemic really hit me hard. There I was with a stressful job and a baby on the way, but at the same time with weekends full of fun – DJing with my mates.
When the pandemic struck I felt major stress. My work (…let’s say “demanding” in Public Relations!) got tougher than ever before. At the same time bars and pubs shut down meaning I could no longer DJ. My way of coping – and the source of all my joy – just stopped. Overnight. Just like that. Now, with a baby on the way I was doing all I could to help my wife shield from the virus too.
Coping with Covid
Like loads of people, to distract myself I got stuck into the chores… even wet vaccing carpets and yes, you know it – cleaning my car too many times to count. I’m sure you understand what it was like.
Despite keeping busy, I started to feel quite down about it all. You might even recognise that feeling too.
But what happened next was the key to “getting my mojo back”.
It was when my me and my wife were out by the Bridgwater Canal a place we walked near home on sunny days – just to get out of the house really.
I’d spend half my time peering into the water – pointing out the little fish – perch and roach – I recognised them from my old fishing days.
One day though that walk was a bit different. I can clearly remember the date – it was the 31st of May.
That was the day I spotted a big shoal of large fish. I knew straight away that they were bream, all good sizes and only a short walk from my house. I was so excited. Right there and then I actually remember wanting to run home and grab my old fishing gear that I’d not even touched since childhood!
The next evening it wasn’t just my wife that accompanied me on our usual daily walk… I’d proudly brought along a waggler rod too!
The anticipation of trying to catch one of that shoal of bream was amazing – in fact, I recognised that it was the same feeling I had not had since the start of March when I was heading out to DJ at nightclubs.
Would the float go under, would I hook one of those bream? Having fished canals as I kid, and knowing how tricky their wild fish can sometimes be, I was trying to stay grounded and be realistic.
…a right roach result!
A good hour went by and by that time my wife was starting to get a little tired of waiting around… “I’m getting bored now! I’m getting hungry now!” to which I replied – like most anglers would – “Just one last cast!”.
Ha ha – we all know what that means! It was on the fourth “Last Cast” that the little float’s slim bristle-tip slipped under the surface. A bit rusty, I struck perhaps a little too eagerly but… YES! I managed to whip out a small roach. FANTASTIC!
The walk back after catching that little roach… well, let’s just say I was elated!
A real Red-Letter Day
Over the next few days, I was so eager to get back out on the bank. I researched places to fish locally and found Partridge Lakes – it was the perfect venue for me, close to home and, the onsite tackle shop meant I could find all the little bits of fishing tackle I was missing but needed to get fishing again.
As I arrived, the place was busy with anglers for the Fish O’Mania qualifier. Nervously I asked a couple of them for suggestions on how to fish the pleasure lake.Straight away I got some great tips on bait and what to do. The advice was “…start on maggots and move to paste down the edge.”
Now, I’d hardly say I bagged-up that day, but compared to when I was a junior and on the lakes I remember fishing back then, this was a real red-letter day for me!
I landed 11 fish – what I thought was a common carp (…looking at it now, it’s an F1), a chub and several good-sized roach and bream.
Wow – I was hooked!
From Housework to Homework!
Over the next few weeks, going fishing became my genuine outlet to escape the stresses of work. A great distraction from not being able to DJ and a welcome break from the grim, incessant Coronavirus news at that time.
I had something new to research, something new that reduced my stress and something new which – importantly – focused my screen-time during my free time.
Over the last 18 years, it’s fair to say the sport has come on in leaps and bounds but there are three things which really stand out to me that make fishing so accessible to everybody…
Number One – Empowering Info:
For me, the main thing that’s changed is the wealth of amazing FREE info available to anyone looking to give fishing a go. YouTube channels such as Winning Ways, Tackle Gurus and Preston Innovations mean that after watching a few short videos, you’re empowered with the tactics to go and catch some fish. It means you don’t necessarily need an experienced angler to show you the basics – you can quickly understand the best rigs and approach for the type of fishing you’ll be doing. Social media also means you can get local knowledge that allows you to understand the best approaches on the different lakes, Get Fishing Top-Tip: Follow local match anglers’ catch reports to find what’s being caught where and the best baits and tackle to use.
Number Two – Fabulous Fisheries: Now the fisheries themselves… These are a far cry from the local club waters and farmers ponds I used to fish as a kid! Clean toilet blocks, well-stocked tackle shops and cafes all make for a great day’s fishing. But, what impresses me most is how well structured they’ve all become, lots now including accessible pegs for those with disabilities. They’re also really well stocked with fish, so in the height of summer, it’s unlikely that anyone on their first trip will fail to catch a fish and get that euphoric feeling of being hooked on fishing that I re-discovered on that first trip. Get Fishing Top-Tip: Find a Family-Friendly Fishery and take everyone along for a few hours of fun – it’s a great afternoon out!
Number Three – Bigger and Better Fish! Finally the fish – when I was a boy I used to dream of catching a “double figure” carp over 10lb in weight! Now though they’re commonplace! Most fisheries have matured and are better managed to give you a real chance of doing battle with a big fish! Get Fishing Top-Tip: Check out this video from Get Fishing supporters Korum and Fanter Fishing to see how easy it is to catch big summer carp off the top.
From Baby Boy to Broads Beginners…
At the end of June, I welcomed my little boy Rory to the world, an absolutely magical moment. But it’s fair to say, life suddenly became full of the challenges of parenthood!
Sleepless nights, teething and everything that comes with being a parent plus working from home means getting out on the bank for a bit of fishing is just as important as ever.
Fishing gives me a real chance to just “switch off” for a few hours. During the summer, it also gave us something to do as a family which was also safe and within Covid rules.
I’d go out first thing in the morning, get set up and start fishing and later that day my wife would join me for a couple of hours, a stroll around the lakes in the sun, some lunch and a relaxing time reading a book next to the water while the baby slept.
We also managed a family escape to the Norfolk Broads for a week in August when things with Covid had settled down.
By day we’d make our way along the broads and in the late afternoons I’d get an hour or so to fish before dinner – brilliant. The best part of this was my two nieces ages 10 and 7 would join me at the back of the boat, taking it turns to catch roach, rudd and small bream!
This was a great way to introduce these two newcomers to fishing. The eldest is really keen to get back out fishing this summer if the new ‘Covid Roadplan’ allows.
…and Baggin’ Bests
Now – looking back there is so much to say – my life is filled with fishing and it’s a massive distraction from what’s going on in the world – fantastic. Here are some highlights from the end of the year…
August: It’s the end of the month and I’ve just had one of those days where everything I’d learnt from watching videos and spending time on the bank seemed to click. I’ve had a proper bagging session at Partridge Lakes and caught over 50 carp and F1s with what would of easily been over 100lb a day of fish, a real PB for me.
September: My PB’s have continued to keep coming and my targets are getting higher. I’ve even caught my first double-figure carp at Chester Lakes – a great fishery for anyone who hasn’t been. What I realise now is that’s one of the best things about fishing: You can keep pushing yourself – new species, new milestones, new fisheries – new challenges.
October: I fished my first match! Wow – this felt like a real big step up in what I was doing. Like most, I had some misconceptions… I expected a frosty reception from the regulars, but I must say, it was anything but that! It was Moss Farm in Irlam and Paul and Gary who organised the match made me feel very welcome – especially Paul so a BIG THANK YOU lads!
A Match Made in Heaven
Then – a turning-point: It’s my third match -I’ve drawn the peg next to the lake’s notorious “winter-flier” and – while I watch the guy next door bag up, I struggle to string together a few bites. It wasn’t until my middle line ‘down the track’ came to life that I really started to put a weight together. By the end of the match I had enough to take third place and win £40! Awesome! That was it – now I was hooked on match fishing too!
My plan now is to keep match fishing as well as mixing it up with some pleasure sessions. I really like the competitiveness of match fishing, and although I’m still very much a beginner, it provides me with progression – a nice way to set personal challenges. And having a set-time for ‘all out’ and coming home is good for my marriage, as like most, that Last Cast I mentioned earlier could quite easily go on into the early hours!
Get Fishing – here’s why!
For anyone thinking about giving fishing a go, I really urge you to get out there and get fishing! It’s a quick, easy, inexpensive and accessible way to:
Escape your screens!
Get some vitamin D.
Enjoy the peace of just watching your float go under or your tip go round.
Forget about the stresses in your life.
I can’t stress enough to anybody reading this, angling really has been such a huge benefit to me and my life. Please GO FISHING!
All the best!
The Angling Trust’s Get Fishing team are always really keen to hear from anyone who has recently got into fishing, whether you are completely new to the sport or got back fishing again just like Jack. Get in touch with our Partnership Development Manager James Roche on [email protected] and let us know your story.
For more info and details on how your club or fishery can get involved with the Get Fishing campaign – running events or helping beginners or people of all ages and abilities return to fishing please contact James for a friendly chat!