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It’s more than “Just fishing” – how I got hooked on the head space and mindfulness of angling

We first met Aisha Mohamed-Goodlett when she helped us to get fishing involved in Sport England’s ‘This Girl Can’ and ‘We Are Undefeatable’ campaigns to encourage more women to try angling. Aisha had been fishing with Angling Trust Ambassador Zenia Drury-Gregorek when they got talking about the way that fishing could really help anyone with things like anxiety, depression and stress.

For Mental Health Awareness Week this 10th to 16th May 2021, and with the focus being on “Nature”, Aisha sent us this very personal blog about how a really special activity has become more than “just fishing” and is for her and tens of thousands of others a powerful remedy for all sorts of conditions.

Here’s what Aisha says about her special experiences of fishing:

Fishing. When I initially thought of fishing, I never thought of it as something that I could do…

At the time I was in secondary school, consumed with schoolwork and recreational activities such as horse riding, cycling, music and reading. Whatever free time I had was spent either at family gatherings or meeting up with my friends. However this took a toll on my mind and body and I found myself needing some head space…

The first time that I was introduced to fishing was through my dad. My mum and I often tagged along, occasionally netting the fish. I never even thought that fishing would be something that I would enjoy, let alone getting any head space from it. I associated fishing either with being “boring” or playing with maggots! To me fishing was always ‘Dads Sport’.

It wasn’t until the summer of 2015 that all this changed.

While on on a family holiday I caught my first carp (…albeit small!) in a little Norfolk lake. I was overwhelmed with this feeling of achievement, excitement was running through my veins – I was ecstatic!

This was the turning point for me, I knew at that moment when I felt the fish on my line that I was hooked. So here began the challenge with my dad. Who would catch the bigger fish…?!

However due to educational demands, from 2015-2019 I rarely fished and all that time I could feel the pressure cooker in my head building up. I knew that I needed to get that “head space” back. So it was thanks to a trip down to Devon’s beautiful “Anglers Paradise” fishery holiday lakes in 2019 that I fell in love with fishing all over again. I rekindled my love for the sport and this time it was for good.

Fishing to me is like flight to a bird, it gives me freedom to be me and think soulfully. It is something that I will always hold dear to my heart, from the competitiveness of trying to beat my dad or simply trying to exceed my ‘PB’ (Personal Best).

Even just talking to other anglers about tactics and catches whilst gleaning valuable information about the lake and also discovering their much needed knowledge. Fishing when put in this context, is a feeling of ‘camaraderie’.

But you see, fishing isn’t just about catching fish; fishing is an opportunity to take time out from the world of uncertainty, to feel the wind on your face, to listen to the birds sing, to observe the wildlife or even listen to the water flowing like a fountain.

Going fishing is also a chance to unwind from the stresses of life, take quality time out to focus on oneself and also, to recondition our mental health.

Fishing has a huge range of benefits, from the physical aspect of playing a fish or trekking with your gear to the ideal spot, right through even to the mental health aspect of self achievement, giving our minds a sense of joy, and thus respite from the daily issues we all endure.

With the year we’ve just had, coronavirus has affected us all in our own personal ways.  Like the rest of those in this country who have been struggling, I’ve used fishing as an escape – to refocus my mind and reaffirm to myself that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

When I’m fishing and surrounded by wildlife and nature it helps me understand how important it is that we give our heads a rest and just allow ourselves to be consumed by all that fishing entails.

Aisha Mohamed-Goodlett, May 2021

Why not give fishing a go – you’ll be amazed at the health and wellbeing benefits it can bring you and all the family!
Angling Trust runs fun, safe and friendly Get Fishing beginner fishing events to learn to fish at

About Mental Health Awareness Week – 10th to 16th May 2021:
This year’s theme is ‘Nature’ and there’s a focus of connecting more people to nature – we think this an ideal opportunity to emphasise the positive benefits that going fishing can have, especially on people’s mental health and well being. Share your images/videos/or even sound recordings of the nature related to angling near to you (and how this made you feel) on social media using #ConnectWithNature and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek

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