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FAMILY FISHING: JOE WALKER

I’ve always been an angler. Well, from the age of 10, anyway… which seems like ‘always’ at my age. I’ve been married for 32 years too, and we’ve raised two beautiful, independent and successful daughters. Work is demanding, time consuming, and not without a substantial amount of stress. And the pace of life never seems to slow down; it’s an endless litany of jobs to do, appointments to meet, niggles to overcome, and problems to navigate. All of which means the most precious commodity we have is time. Time is at a premium like never before, so should be treasured and used wisely and in a way that helps bring a bit of balance in life.

Fishing has always provided that sense of balance for me. That singular and total absorption in the activity itself provides a cancelling effect to all life’s deafening white-noise. Even if you are old enough to barely hear it over your tinnitus.

My wife, Diana, is by nature a far busier person than me, and has, I feel, always been a candidate for the soporific benefits of fishing. A trip or two out boat fishing, wherever we visit in the world, is something we’ve always enjoyed together, but the heavyweight and unrefined yomp and hurl of beach fishing in the UK in my earlier angling years was not so appealing to her. So for years, that remained a solitary activity for me.

Fly fishing, and then Covid, have changed all that.

My switch to fly fishing 16 years ago brought a more appealing view of fishing into the household. It tended to smell a lot less for a start.

Then Covid hit. The isolation of lockdown, and all the pressures that brought upon all of us, have had a real lasting impact. My eldest daughter, Alix, was on the Covid front-line as a respiratory trained physio, working in the Covid wards at the height of the pandemic. (My youngest, Krysten, had already taken the incredibly bold, and possibly prescient, decision to experience life in New Zealand for a few years). Diana, a truly social creature by nature, was forced to work from home in isolation as her teaching moved online.

Being apart, and being subjected to entirely new challenges, changes your perspective on life. So when the rules for outside activity were relaxed Diana decided, pretty much out of the blue, that she would come with me fly fishing. Not just once, to sit on the bank, but as an active participant, and with her own kit! Alix, who had already taken an interest in going with dear old dad just prior to the pandemic, now found the idea of the beauty and tranquillity of the river and shore as an antidote to Covid’s insidious non-clinical side effects more appealing than ever.

So I kitted them out, including Simon, Alix’s fiancé, who also elected to join our fledgling troop, and for the first time ever, I stepped onto the bank as a unit in a fishing family!

Since then, we’ve all had casting lessons (you can never have too many), bought way more gear and matching hats, packed picnics, poked fun at one another when flies get stuck in trees, exchanged hilarious photos of fishy successes (and epic fails), and shared that precious, precious time amongst ourselves. We attended the Orvis Beginners Saltwater weekend, where a thoroughly good time was had by all, and we have made plans; plans to travel, explore and experience, all through the lens of fly fishing.

Relationships, the best relationships, are forged by the bond of shared experiences. Fishing together has provided a wonderful new glue to forge those bonds with, and give us perfect balance. Well… as near to perfect as modern life will allow anyway. As for Krysten in New Zealand? I might have to work on her a bit yet. We’re visiting soon… so I’ll take a spare rod. Just in case.

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