Henry Gilbey
Cape Cod - 1010.jpg


Henry Gilbey blog

I go fishing because I need to, but how on earth do you explain that all-consuming need to non-anglers?

We were with my folks for the weekend the other day, and whilst they are the most fantastic parents who have always supported me and my two brothers in what we do with our lives, they do not fish and I credit my awesome grandmother with introducing me to fishing when I was seven years old. My folks gamely used to watch those TV programmes I presented and they even used to subscribe to Sea Angler magazine until they asked me if I minded if they didn’t anymore because it wasn’t really their thing! You either fish or you don’t, and fishing in some form or another has kinda ruled my life since I was a nipper…………

But how do you explain the fishing thing to people who don’t fish? Like many of you reading this I am sure, it’s pretty simple for us - I need to go fishing. It is within me and I need to go fishing to feel truly alive I guess. Sometimes I fish a hell of a lot and sometimes I don’t, but when I am in one of those going a lot periods, I just need to go. If there’s a sniff of decent conditions and tides I’m plotting my next few hours out on the coastline. I can’t help it and I don’t bother churning it around that much in my head because it’s what I am and it’s all I have ever known.

So the other week I think I fished at some point on every day or night of the week until we were with my folks on the Friday evening. I had a decent week with a bunch of bass etc., and whilst I have never counted how many fish I might catch or keep records of their sizes, that going fishing and trying to catch and being around the sea is I suppose a relentless need within me and indeed many of you. There are fish about, the conditions are good, the tides are favourable, so how can you not go? I chose where to live and tried to make a living rather than went for a proper career and lived where work required me to be, and at the core of this decision was my need to go fishing.

It’s a weekend when we are all together, but I need to go out fishing. Sure, I want to go, but I think I need to more than I want to. It’s like a suffocating feeling on my chest knowing that there could be some good fishing not far from where I am and I don’t want to miss even the slightest chance of getting at it. Sure, I’ve been out every day or night in the week and caught fish, but that’s not the point. I don’t give a stuff about numbers of fish. It’s the need to go fishing that is within me, like an itch that never quite goes away I guess.

I can’t help it. I check the tides, check the weather, and announce that I shall be disappearing for a few hours on the Saturday. Sure, I want to spend time with my family, but fishing is calling and I can’t ignore its calling. I could try, but it’s better if I go and scratch that itch and get it out of my system for a few hours. My wife doesn’t fish but she understands that I happen to be a human being who just needs to go fishing like I need to breathe, but naturally my folks asked me why on earth I needed to go out fishing again when I had fished at some point on every day or night of the previous week?

So I think about it, and to be perfectly honest I don’t really know what to say. Sure, I can come up with any number of reasons why the whole fishing thing so floats my boat, but how do I explain that crushing feeling in my chest that is my need to go out fishing because there could be some fish around? I’ve caught a bunch of fish that week and it’s not as if I actually need to catch anymore to make myself a better person or anything like that - but there’s that need to go, and it’s been a part of me for as long as I can remember. I am thinking of a location that I reckon might throw up a few bass and the thought of not being there at a certain state of tide gnaws at me.

Drugs were never my thing at all when I was growing up. I gave up drinking when I was 18 (boarding school!), but I never dabbled in drugs at all as I just couldn’t see the point when life was so damn cool anyway. Why the hell would I want to get out of it when I wanted to be living it? Anyway, I tried to explain that gnawing need to go fishing to my folks as what I imagine a drug addict might feel - I get the fishing high everytime I go, but it’s never quite enough to quell the urge or need to have some more. Doesn’t matter how many fish I might or might not catch. Doesn’t matter if they are the biggest fish or the smallest fish, because sure as dammit I am going to physically need to go out again.

So I go out fishing for a few hours, have an absolute blast catching a bunch of bass on weedless/weightless OSP DoLive Sticks (I can’t get enough of that direct connection when a bass hits a soft plastic fished like this), and then I get back in time to watch the England v Australia rugby with my dad. I went fishing, I got my fix, I know in some respects my going could be construed as selfish, but how does an angler explain the addiction if the person you are explaining it to has never felt that gnawing urge to go? I have a fantastic afternoon and evening with my family, I’ve done my fishing, but the urge never goes away.

Yep, how could I not? There’s fish out there, the conditions are still good, and that need not to miss out on the chance at some good fishing is gnawing away yet again. I worked out a way that I could nip back out there for a few hours on the Sunday and then meet my family for lunch in a pub. How could I not go fishing again? It’s who I am and I can’t help it………..

And here is my work that is in the new issue of Sea Angler that is out this week. I am over the moon that they have published my feature on Hendrik, the guy who hand makes the most incredible lures.