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Keeping fit for fishing

Long hikes to distant lochs through rough terrain and heavy weather are worth the effort, but keeping fit is an important part of that process


The hard work done: ready for battle.
The hard work done: ready for battle.
The reward: a 3-pound trout from a high and remote loch.
The reward: a 3-pound trout from a high and remote loch.
A message for anyone making the hike: this is the fly that worked.
A message for anyone making the hike: this is the fly that worked.

There was a time when I used to hit the gym in order to prepare for the trout season ahead, which used to draw some strange looks when I explained what I was ‘training’ for.

It’s not as daft as it might seem though, and something I’m most certainly going to rectify this coming close season, as keeping fit can certainly have its advantages for the trout angler. Physical fitness can help concentration, means you’re able to range further and certainly helps you recover quicker afterwards.

OK, I must admit that when out fishing the ‘draw of the water’ usually keeps me switched on enough, that same ‘draw’ pulls me much further distances than I ever initially intended to fish, and as for the after recovery, well let’s just say that’s why I live in Speyside – malt whisky country.

That said, a recent wee foray into the hills with float-tube on my back had me breathing ‘out of my backside’, especially as it involved a bit of a climb.  Normally I’d get past the ascent in good order, but this time let’s just say I needed more than the usual amounts of ‘breathers’. In fact, at one point I did consider turning back, only to note how hard the return route would have been. Put another way; I was well past the point of no return. Well, not until I’d grabbed a spot of angling first.

Searching out the furthest and wildest waters has huge rewards though: tranquillity, peace, beauty and sometimes, some rod-bending fish. Not usually, but I know this particular water, well north of Lairg, and know it’s worth the hardship to get there.

At least I had a few hours sitting in my big, comfy, inflatable armchair to look forward to and recover from the stresses of the hike and the fishing turned out to be excellent as well. Before too long though, it was time to hike back, but it always seems easier heading back (not least of which is the fact it’s often downhill…).

So before I fully admit that I’m not as young as I used to be (not that I’m old either, I hasten to add) and maybe it’s time to slow down a bit (no chance!) and pick waters closer to the road (again, no chance!) I do have to concede that I’d better prepare a wee bit more for next year than I have for this.

All that said, one thing that doesn’t leave you is the feeling of achievement you have when you get back, and just how enjoyable that first wee beer is once your back home. Despite the hardship and hard yards, it’s not long before you’re itching to do it all again.

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