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Unprecedented times

Locked down with no fishing, but philosophical about why

Unprecedented times; two words that have become very common recently and in a context I wish I’d never known, given the spread and severity of the pandemic that has surrounded us all.

We watch science fiction or disaster movies on TV often with a widely vaunted theme: something happens on a global scale and the population are forced into some form of isolation for the duration of the crisis, but never in a million years would anyone have thought this would become a familiar scene in real lives and not fiction.

Sadly, this is exactly where we find ourselves right now, watching updates on the news hoping for some form of good news or signs that we may begin to see any form of improvement, any form of indication that we may once again venture outside.

As anglers we all share a love of the “great outdoors”, happy whatever the weather ((OK, this might be in relative terms), and keen to enjoy and participate in the very hobby we all love so much: fishing.

Watching the wild world unfold around us, being part of the very surroundings were are in, immersed in the sport we love, and enjoying the benefits of being outside: fresh air, exercise, vitamin D, reduced stress (yup, again this can be relative depending on how the fishing outing is actually going!), more balanced serotonin levels.  What you might call a “normal, healthy pursuit.”

But we’re now in a position where we are not allowed to do this; our fishing temporarily put on hold along with the basic freedom to wander and explore the great outdoors in general, from a drive and wander along a local beauty spot all the way through to a full blow mountain hike and everything in between. Yes, we are allowed out to exercise for a very short period, provided we follow the guidelines and adhere to another two words that are common now but again never heard of before: "social distancing".

Jog, walk, cycle – “thems’ yer choices" at the moment.  But for good reason; quite simply in order to try and ensure you, yourself, do not become part of the problem.

Sadly, I’ve noted that some anglers have turned against others. As a bunch, we are generally law-abiding, but kind of don’t like to be told what to do at the same time. 

“Why can’t I drive in isolation in my car, windows closed, to a remote location. Fish all day without coming into contact with anyone else, then drive home again?”  Splendid isolation – no danger, no chance of spreading the virus. Maybe so, but not entirely; for the moment until travel restrictions are eased in some way, there’s no real way – short of what we have to endure just now – to prevent lots of people doing this very thing. Not just to fish but also to walk dogs, visit places, get out with the family. The option to fish in isolation is open to quite a few of us, but then how would you feel if another angler arrived, perhaps even from a bit of a distance away, to also fish in the same area? Yes, our countryside is vast and we can happily go long periods of time with no real chance of seeing anyone else, but you can’t guarantee it, though. And how far do you permit travel to be permitted before it is too far?  Some of us are lucky enough to live in wilder, less populated places with loads of open space, the UK is full of this, but for many others it takes quite a bit of travel.  So which one of us are permitted to head outside and fish, in splendid isolation, and which ones aren’t?

To be honest, I can’t truly say this is easy for me to stay inside, especially when we are directly at the start of one of the best times of the year. But is it truly such a small price to pay in the grand scheme of it all?  Yes, we might miss one month, three months, the whole season; who knows? I’ve missed fishing time before, through accidents and recuperation time, operations (following those same accidents), again being laid up not able to get out. Then there's work pressures, even just ‘life', and all the family stuff we all face.

Unprecedented as this one is, it will pass, and I hope we are all still around to get back out again and enjoy the very thing we love so much, the fish will still be there; let’s hope all of us are too.

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