Fishing the Tees
Fishing the Tees

WE’LL be back as soon as we can.
Anglers are hoping to be able to return to their sport after cases of coronavirus peak.
The Angling Trust has asked the government to consider relaxing fishing restrictions as soon as they feel able, pointing out that the sport is largely solitary, and is a good form of exercise, as well as being mentally beneficial.
In the meantime, to protect the NHS, we should all refrain from fishing. The Angling Trust is keen to work with the government and the NHS to get the country moving again as soon as possible.
Angling puts about £2billion a year into the British economy so will play a part in helping to revive the nation as soon as restrictions are lifted.
In the meantime here’s a lighter look at a serious situation.
While the government is doing what it can to look after all sections of society, they have missed one out – the antisocial.
I am a member of a rather exclusive – and elusive club – the “Get Away From It All” society.
My hobbies are fishing in remote rivers and climbing the Wainwright fells of the Lake District. I have 38 of the 214 to go.
For years I have left the house hoping to see hardly anybody. The quieter the River Tees and the Cumbrian Fells are, the better.
Social distancing is an art form – a skill honed over the decades. Like-minded people excel at it.
But now the government has ordered everyone to become a member. They didn’t even have the consideration to ask us.
Keeping two metres away from people is not real social distancing.
Maybe it’s a first step for beginners – but nobody can consider themselves an expert until the gap becomes far bigger than that.
When fishing the Tees, for example, most contact with fellow anglers takes place at much greater distances.
If you see someone fishing a pool, you move to the next pool. If you must speak it’s often from high on the bankside path as you go past, hollering down such questions as: “Much happening?” or “What flies are they taking?”
Sometimes anglers converse across the river. That’s real social distancing – the width of the Tees between you.
I know the chief medical officer Chris Whitty is doing his best – but two metres!
And people are misinterpreting his advice on taking daily exercise outside the home. Surely it is advisable – not compulsory. But now everyone’s doing it.
It’s playing havoc with we anti-socials. Speaking to the occasional dog walker or rambler was fine, but now we can’t have a solitary walk, because the woodland and riverbank paths have become the domain of everyone. True, they are keeping two metres apart, but we are overrun with social distancing beginners.
And they say such annoying things like: “At least we can enjoy this lovely weather. It’s a good thing this didn’t happen in winter.”
I couldn’t agree less. I wish the year would stop turning. Why can’t it be spring when this is all over, so we can enjoy the best of the trout fishing? We could then have summer in the autumn and autumn in the winter. Just for one year.
And even in the house there’s no peace. My wife used to go to the gym. Zumba, step aerobic and pilates classes to her, are what fishing and fell walking is to me.
But she has brought her classes into the house. Now her instructor appears online in what was the dining room – it’s now a gym.
I am writing these notes through a constant thumping beat, with muffled orders through the closed door of “Get your knees up to your chest,” and “stretch those hamstrings.”
Solid enough advice to fitness enthusiasts, but hardly conducive to writing an angling column.
And it’s inconsiderate of those gym lovers to hail the advances of the technological revolution that enables them to continue group exercise.
I won’t be singing the praises of technology until it has evolved far enough to move the River Tees and Scafell Pike into my house or garden.
And I’ll tell you what else is bugging me.
During the Foot and Mouth crisis, which hobbies were most affected? Angling and fell walking. We had to stay away from a disease that affected animals.
Now that we have a virus that affects humans, and are ordered to keep well apart, I naively though that the rivers and fells would be open and we would be left alone to enjoy our own space. Wrong!
So roll on the day when this is over. Back you all go to the offices, pubs and gyms, and leave isolation and social distancing to the experts.
Seriously folks, stay safe. Fishing will return.