Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

On Monday morning we are heading up to the RNLI training tank in Poole to fling ourselves in and see what happens

All hail the awesome RNLI for arranging what four of us are heading up to Poole to do on Monday, and what stands out for me almost the most here is that the principal thing that the RNLI want to achieve is oh so simple. They aren’t trying to sell fishing tackle, they aren’t trying to promote fishing holidays, and they aren’t concerned with fish stocks - nope, the principal reason that the RNLI are putting on this day for us is to help prevent anglers like you and I from dying if something goes wrong when we are out fishing………….

Kinda simple if you stop and think about it, but from my initial email to the RNLI in September last year to where we are now, if you dial down into the whole angler safety thing then from a shore fishing and then lure fishing point of view especially, one of the main problems we have is that we simply don’t know enough about what does and does not happen if you end up in the water. And that water is usually cold of course.


Go and search on Google for what happens if you fall into even a calm sea when you are wearing a pair of lightweight (breathable) waders for example - good luck. Same with what might happen if you are wearing waders, you’re dressed for fishing, and you are wearing an auto-inflate life jacket. Whatever your attitude towards increased fishing safety is, there is no getting away from how little information there is out there on what happens if something suddenly goes wrong and you end up in what might well be some cold water.

On Monday we are going to work with the RNLI at what sounds like the most incredible training tank up at Poole to try and dispel some myths and work towards some proper information - and this will revolve around the four of us repeatedly jumping into what I gather is a great big frigging cold pool/tank where they can simulate rough conditions and regularly carry out capsize drills on their inshore RIBS and other such joyful, cold water related activities. Everything we do will be filmed and photographed in order to gather media based information which we can then use to put out there via various channels - with this blog obviously being one of those media channels as such.

How many of you here wear lightweight chest waders when you go out fishing but have never actually been off your feet in cold water when you’re wearing them? Do you know what actually happens, and what’s the difference if you have a wading belt on or not? I don’t know for starters, and I really want to find out. I am wearing a lifejacket more and more these days for my shore fishing, but I want to know what it’s like when I go in and it auto-inflates for starters, and I want to know how well it helps me stay afloat the right way up and deal with the potential panic that comes with cold water shock. Thanks to the RNLI for so kindly getting right behind me and my recent interest in increased angler safet. We are going to get the chance to do a lot on Monday, and then have the opportunity to put all that information out there. I dread to think what bringing this day together is costing the RNLI (the tank for the day, camera people, editors, photographer, lighting, safety divers and so on), but as I said, their goal is to save lives and they have got right behind my initial approach to them. Thank you.


And when it comes to the fishing that so many of us do here - shore based lure fishing that puts us very close to or often actually in the sea - I can’t help but believe that the best way to help more anglers stop for a moment and think about how they might increase their own safety is to be armed with the facts about what does actually happen if you go in. Because Monday is based primarily around shore based lure fishing and so many of us are wearing waders these days, that is how we are going to go at this testing. You can find plenty of lifejacket testing online if you go looking, but to make it properly relevant to us anglers we need to go in the (cold) water dressed as we would be when we are out fishing.

Do any of you here use one of those Japanese style lure vests to carry your lures when you are out fishing, and if so, does it have some form of floatation in it? Do you know how this vest performs if you end up in the sea? Well on Monday we are going to find out. I believe the RNLI also want us to test out wearing a lure bag underneath a lifejacket - as indeed it should be worn so that the inflating of the lifejacket is not impeded - and then jump back in with the lure bag over the lifejacket to see what happens when the inflation is actually impeded. And so on. We’re leaving early on Monday morning to head up to Poole so there won’t be a blog post, but in due course I expect to be able to come back on here and talk about increased angler safety with some proper facts and videos and photos to back it all up and hopefully help in some way to get us resistant bunch of people to stop sticking our heads in the sand and ignoring the simple fact that we can very simply and not very expensively improve our chances of being able to go fishing again and not breaking our families’ hearts if something goes wrong……………….