Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

How much do you need to go fishing, or is fishing a drug and we are hopeless addicts?

In mid-May I will have been married to my wife for twenty years, and we have been together since we were both 19 years old. In a lot of respects we have grown up together, and therefore she has known about and lived with my fishing obsession from day one. It’s what I do, and the only times me going fishing ever becomes an issue is either when I am horribly overtired and grumpy because I have been fishing too many strange night hours especially, or I try getting out of some prior engagement because the conditions are suddenly looking really good - how many times has my wife been asked “where’s Henry?”. To be fair though, work has and does take me away a fair bit. I come across far too many blokes who talk about asking permission to go fishing, or building up brownie points and other such crap, and I don’t understand how a relationship can work like this. Surely we all need our own interests as well as all the stuff we do together? I love my wife and two girls more than life itself, and they know me as a husband, a father, but also as an utterly obsessed angler…………..

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Now I love spending as much time as possible with my wife and girls. We do loads together as a family, and with two girls who are into things like sailing, running and surfing, we do what many parents do a lot of - running children around to various events and training sessions and what have you. Yesterday evening was a good example - one girl heads off for running training and the other girl has a sailing race. All this plus obviously having to annoyingly work like everybody else cuts into available time to go fishing, but one thing lure fishing for bass and living close to the sea does give me is the chance to do a lot of shorter sessions at what I think are prime times. Not having to even think about live or frozen bait supplies means I can literally grab my rucksack and lure bag, lift a rod out of my rod rack, strap it to my epic Berlingo, and be off. Very early mornings, evenings, hell I work for myself so I can often nip out locally when things look good - and of course there’s night lure fishing these days.

Which I reckon has probably changed a lot of people’s bass fishing for the better, and in a bunch of different ways as well - if that is you can handle either the lack of sleep, or the messed up sleeping times. All those night hours when regular people are asleep, but us nutters can be out fishing and not impact on work or family time. I am far more of an early morning person than a stay up late at night person, but when it comes to fishing I can generally be whatever person is required to take advantage of the tides and conditions. My wife might not agree with me, but I reckon I am pretty good at handling a lot of messed up sleep. One thing I can never manage to do though is catch up on any sleep during the day, but that’s the way I’m wired (oh how I wish I could catnap like my dad can), and whilst I am loathe to admit it, perhaps my wife does sometimes have a point when she “raises the issue” that I am “occasionally” being grumpy and overtired. Hell, I’m a bloke, and when do we ever get it wrong?!

But how many times do you need to go fishing? How many fish is enough? Note the word need here, because for a lot of you reading this I am guessing you are very much like me - you need to go fishing. Obviously we want to go, but for a lot of anglers there’s this physical need to be out on a coastline or a river or a lake, trying to catch a few fish and beat nature at her own game which of course we all fail at a fair amount of the time. I didn’t grow up near the sea and I will never, ever take it for granted that since the age of nineteen I have lived very near the sea here in the south west, but yes, in many respects this has been my life for more than half my life now - and going out fishing is generally a very easy thing to do. Sometimes I go fishing a lot, and sometimes I don’t. The reasons vary, and sometimes it comes down to not completely having that buzz about going out fishing again and again - it comes and goes, and if I think about it then seasons and weather conditions most likely have a lot to do with it, but when you’re in that zone of wanting to get out there fishing as much as possible then I would argue that how much you need to actually go is kind of irrelevant. You just need to, end of. For sure I do my best to catch some fish, but I am not a numbers or mine is bigger than yours kind of angler. Nope, I just need to go fishing because it’s who I am.

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Take earlier this week for example - I went three nights on the trot, and the only reason I didn’t go the fourth night in a row is because the weather blew up onshore and messed things up a bit. They weren’t particularly late or long sessions, but it’s not getting dark now until at least 9.30pm and I managed to fit these sessions in and catch a bunch of bass into the bargain - which kinda does it for me. My old record if you like was fourteen night sessions on the trot, and that included having to also go drop-netting for prawns and doing my peeler crab traps to get the bait (all at night). My wife (then girlfriend) had just moved down to Plymouth to live with me, but she had chosen to move down at just the wrong time of year and the late autumn ray and cod fishing was just kicking into gear. I remember literally passing out due to sheer exhaustion after those fourteen nights, but I caught a heap of fish and my girlfriend became my wife and she is still my best friend on earth and I love her to bits. I am an angler though. I can’t help it, but if you are like me then you will accept that it’s something inside us which we are powerless to control - we have to go fishing like a junkie might need their fix. Fishing is my drug I suppose. You all have a good weekend, and may you be as sweet-tempered as I always am after not nearly enough sleep!