Here in Scotland, fishing during the pandemic has been subject to many of the same restrictions which govern travel and social distancing. Clearly, for our clients, for the company and for the owners of the fishing, this has caused many cancellations, much frustration, disappointment and economic hardship.
Now, with the roll-out of the vaccines, there is finally some hope on the horizon. There is the expectation that soon the restrictions will slowly start to be relaxed and fishers can return to the rivers and lochs of Scotland. With this burgeoning optimism, it seems a good time to evaluate the very real personal health benefits of fishing in Scotland.
The physical health benefits of fishing during the pandemic
It is a common misconception amongst those who are not anglers, that fishing is a largely passive pastime, involving long periods of time sitting by a loch or a river, staring intently at a float, waiting for a fish to take your bait. For some types of fishing, this is not far from the truth. However, in Scotland, this could not be further from reality. Here we are targeting Atlantic salmon, wild brown trout, grayling and pike. While spinning is allowed, the vast majority of the fishing is by fly-fishing only.
Fly-fishing in particular, involves varying degrees of physical exercise over prolonged periods, throughout the day or even through the night. There is the repetition of casting, the potentially long walks along the riverbank, the rowing of boats on the lochs and the wading. Many of these activities build core strength and provide low-impact aerobic exercise. In addition, these are all practised in the fresh air of Scotland’s amazing landscape.
The sound sleep one enjoys after a day on the river or loch, is testament to the physical exertions. But, for the avid fisherman, you are so absorbed by the sport that the fact that you are burning calories and building strength, never crosses your mind!
The mental health benefits of fishing during the pandemic
Another misconception frequently made by non-fishers is that this is a solitary pursuit, enjoyed in perfect isolation. Now this can be the case, but more often than not, fishing is very much a social activity. Either way, the mental health benefits of fishing have long been acknowledged.
There is something very therapeutic and restorative about spending time by or on water, surrounded by the peacefulness and beauty of the natural landscape. It serves our mental health well for the mind to wander and appreciate the pure, simple beauty of Scotland’s countryside. However, it is not the case that the brain is simply resting as we fish. That is nonsensical. By necessity, all the gentle thought processes that go into selecting the right fly, casting, reading the river and observing the nature, leave no room for the “real world” issues that bring us stress and worry. Furthermore, the physical release of endorphins, should we be clever enough to cause a fish to take our fly, is very real and very addictive.
Fly fishing is the very epitome of social distancing in a physical sense…..
We must be spaced well enough apart to fish effectively. The closeness to others is derived from that shared emotional experience, rather than physical proximity.
The prohibition of fishing during the pandemic, has denied us the opportunity to exercise our bodies and minds in this way. The fact that we yearn for the start of every new season is proof in and of itself, that fishing in Scotland is something that we “need” to do, as well as something we “want” to do.
If you’d like to learn more about fishing in Scotland please do not hesitate to get in touch.