How fishing helps older adults
31st October 2017
When it comes to maintaining health as people grow older, hobbies are often a fun and thoughtless way of staying mobile. One of the most popular hobbies is fishing and it is easy to see why it has so many devoted followers. Speaking to clubs and people within the industry, it is clear the camaraderie and positivity that comes from the pastime is one of the reasons why it is so popular among older people.
Waterways crisscross the UK and allow people from across the country to enjoy matching their wits against river or sea, and with so many different disciplines under the fishing banner, there is sure to be something that suits everyone’s tastes and abilities.
Though winter may not seem to be the prime time for people to try their hand at fishing, with a warm coat and a dry day, it can be just as enjoyable as the height of summer. Occasionally it is even more pleasant due to the lack of crowds.
Being out in nature
An inability to fish inside means any amateur or enthusiast has to spend some time outdoors. These are often in beautiful spots of countryside and along stretches of the UK’s most picturesque waterways. Though these may not seem friendly to those who rely on mobility equipment, such as stair lifts designed for the elderly, there are clubs up and down the country that take accessibility into consideration and do their utmost to ensure their members enjoy a full experience.
Not only does fishing allow people to get to improve their skill, but also learn about their local area and stay in touch with the seasons. Budgie from Christchurch Angling Club recounts the unity of a fisherman with the countryside:
“It's true to say that angling brings us closer to nature; in some ways we almost become part of it, not merely spectators and the old cliché about angling being about more than catching fish, well, that's certainly true too. Anglers become the eyes and ears of the riverbank, first to notice a water quality concern, an injured swan, a drowning sheep or the ominous spread of an invasive species of flora or fauna.
“We're some of the first to notice the changing of the seasons, the first buds of spring, the call of the cuckoo, the migration of the swallow, the first autumn winds and the initial bite of winter.”
Many people try fishing growing up, but those who consider it a regular hobby are on the rise. This means there are extensive and supportive communities out there ready to welcome new members. Many local angling shops are a great way to be introduced to the fishing society as well as being keen to advise about the local area and equipment.
After a serious accident, Budgie was concerned about what awaited him regarding the social side of fishing, however, any fear was misplaced:
“I needn't have worried about what might be waiting, inner peace, camaraderie, new friendships, a sense of belonging, a lot of laughing and even a little trailblazing are nothing to be afraid of. I joined Christchurch Angling Club, amongst others, employed ghillies rather than carers, stopped fishing for tiddlers in farm ponds and spent three days a week over the next 10 years fishing for whoppers, on the Hampshire Avon for chub and barbel and on the lakes too for carp and tench.”
Staying active and outdoors has a great impact on both physical and psychological health. Not only are people encouraged to go outdoors, once arrived, the relaxed pace of the sport allows those less mobile to have a well-earned break.
Spending extended periods of solitude in nature can also have a positive response on mindset. Simon Crow, editor of Carp-Talk lists the relaxed element as one of the major positives:
“There are lots of great positives from angling, such as: being outdoors, spending lots of time with nature, fresh air, relaxing by a lake, spending time chatting with fellow anglers.”
According to the Substance authors, fishing provides the active learning opportunities that elicit “a sense of purpose and motivation, increase opportunities for achievement and boost self-esteem.”
This coupled with the encouraging impact of socialising means fishing could be the perfect hobby.
Many people struggle in retirement due to a lack of goals. Having had a career or raised children, life prior to retirement can be very goal orientated, meaning many people spent significant periods of time working towards the next promotion. Without this structure, retirement can leave some feeling unnerved and lacking measurable achievement. Fishing helps to overcome this as each catch, even though it is released, is weighed and measured – thus success is tangible. Though Budgie felt it was enough to be in nature, he recognises the need in others to compete:
“I was content to pit my wits with the river, but if I'd needed more competition, I could have joined the match men and fished for prizes.”
Simon agrees that the competition element is important:
“Competition [can be important] if you wish to fish in that way, a sense of achievement if you've caught a target fish, earning money by turning your hobby into a job, and winning prizes in angling competitions.”
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