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Family Fishing: "Daddy, play Tom"

Partnering with Orvis UK at this year’s Orvis Saltwater Fly Fishing Festival 2023, James Cuthbertson of Lakedown Brewing Co. reflects on what the festival itself means to him and his daughter, how it has shaped their memories, and how their fly fishing journey has founded a friendship between them like no other.

With the likes of YouTube seeming to grab the attention of most kids these days, it was great to get into the car last week and my nine year old, Katie, say to me "play Tom" when we got into the car last week. The Tom she was referring to was Tom Rosenbauer of Orvis. Jeepers I thought, he's no Harry Styles, but I can roll with this. If it was her mum, I'd have thought this was a trap.

This fascination for fly fishing and all that surrounds it, was ignited from last year's Orvis Saltwater Flyfishing Festival, when she accompanied me down to Selsey, armed with her Orvis practicaster...and lots of back chat. Ok, ok, I didn't win. Ok, full disclosure, I didn't catch anything, but we had the best time. It was time away from the iPad, it was time to bond,  it was time to make memories...even if it was just how bad dad was at fishing...but it mattered not a jot.

The great thing about kids, other than that one day they might be famous and save you from having opted out of the national pension scheme when you were 21, is their positivity, even if it is misplaced. But in all seriousness, was that really 28 years ago? Christ. 

Inspired by Tom's soothing tones, Katie and I have embarked on many a fishing adventure. I remember as a 12 year old, spending my entire Summer holiday fishing, leaving home before my parents got up and returning before sun down, not because they were lazy, I was just mad for it. There were a few memorable moments. The main one being a friend casting a Shakespere 'Big S' lure...into the back of his neck! Waiting times in A&E weren't what they are today...otherwise he might still be there.

Anyway, fishing is the thing that the two of us share, the thing that we bond through, the thing that we chat about what happened at school that week and talk about the things she worries about...it's our time.

We're fortunate enough to take our fly rods to some pretty cool places, not like Patagonia cool, but Hayling Island cool and Lakedown Fishery cool. But to be honest, we could be fishing in a multistory carpark, it matters little. I get to look into her eyes without the reflection of the iPad, get to laugh out loud when I get my fly caught in the tree and get to spend time together. We've learnt a lot about the wellbeing around fishing in recent years, not least from the legends that are Mortimer and Whitehouse, and for those of a certain age, John Wilson...I still laugh at that time he dropped the Pike and it broke his rod.

So for now at least, I think we have a few more Orvis Saltwater Flyfishing Festivals in us, with Katie laughing at dad's inadequacy, before she takes over the reins and maybe one year she'll be the champ. Till then, we'll be grateful for what fishing gives us...special moments, the occasional fish, but always great memories.

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