What it’s like to be able to fish again

Paul on a frosty autumn morning fishing for Chub on the Littlemore Angling Society stretch of the River Thames in Oxford.

By: Paul Calow, Temple Cowley resident

Having been a fisherman for more than 30 years, angling has become so much more to me than a simple hobby to be enjoyed at the weekend, when the weather is warm and sunny. Sure I can think of little else I’d rather be doing on a summers evening (maybe barbecuing with family and friends or drinking cool beers in a local pub beer garden) but it’s important to me these days more so because it provides an escape from the stresses of work (I run my own business from home) and it is without doubt great for my physical and mental well-being. It gets me out of the house and into the countryside where I can relax in peace and in isolation. It also provides me with challenges and a sense of achievement that are very different to those I face elsewhere in life. It is not an exaggeration to say that it is essential in keeping me happy and healthy.

I’m a member of a number of local Angling clubs, including the Littlemore Angling Society, Abingdon & Oxford Angler’s Alliance, the Tenchfishers, and the Angling Trust and I often fish the River Thames from Godstow through the city and out the other end through Kennington, Sandford and Radley.

As such I recently wrote to my local MP to encourage her to review and support a report drafted by members of the Angling Trust, which was subsequently submitted to Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove, the Fisheries and Sports Ministers, and many local MPs throughout the country. This report clearly sets out the means by which recreational fishing could safely be permitted during these unusual times, and outlined the many significant benefits to both wellbeing and the economy that Angling provides without having a detrimental impact on government efforts to combat COVID-19.

You’ll be hard pushed to find an angler out there that doesn’t feel strongly that our beloved sport is the ultimate social distancing activity. Simply put, large crowds and successful fishing don’t mix.

Thankfully It appears that the government agrees with this sentiment and from 13th May angling has officially returned, on lakes, ponds, canals and reservoirs at least – the coarse fishing river season reopens on 16th June – and many minds and souls are glad for it.

I for one look forward to getting back on the banks of my local Stillwater, escaping the real world and its stresses and strains, if only for a few hours a week, finding solace and solitude and maybe finding a few plump tench or wily old carp too.

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