Children & Conservation
One of the questions I’m asked most often is why are people like me needed in the world of fishing? Why can’t I just carry on quietly fishing without the need to stick my head above the parapet? Well, today’s answer (and there are many others!) is because not only am I a complete “fishing junkie” but I’m also an independent, stubborn woman and more poignantly I’m a mother. I want my children to grow up in a world where there are still wild salmon spawning in our rivers each year. I want them to learn patience, respect for their quarry, to experience the thrill and anticipation of each cast, the joy of landing a fish and also learn to overcome the disappointment of losing one at the net! Surely these are great life skills for anyone to learn? Not to mention the health benefits of fresh air and exercise.
Women are seen as the caring sex, as mothers we nuture, we educate, we want to preserve things for future generation, and as mothers, aunts, sisters, we can encourage our children into the world of fishing. So too can fathers, my own having had two daughters always referred me as No. 1 Son and taught me to fish and shoot as soon as I could stand. But realistically mothers are, more often than not, left in charge of the majority of child care. Personally I’d far rather take my children to a trout lake or to the river to have a cast than take them to an indoor Playbarn or worse still watch them endlessly absorbed in a computer game.
A couple of months ago I watched as my son hooked his first fish on The Spey, a (very) wee brownie but the excitement on his face, the sheer innocent joy was something that I shall never forget. Of course in true fisherman style by the time he got to school the next day it was the size of a whale…. But the pride I felt as a mother was overwhelming. A further two hours spent on the bank as I watched him out in the boat determined to hook another, “a REALLY big one this time mummy” almost cured me of this but he was hooked. Hardly a day goes by now where he’s not out on the lawn after school practicing his casting (his own choice, I’m far from a “pushy mummy”!) or a weekend where he’s not badgering me to take him to the river. He truly has the fishing bug. No longer for him mummy’s hand-me-downs or cast-offs (pun intended!), he’s now the proud owner of a brand new rod, line, reel and fly box, none of which have broken the bank, all in it cost as much as a round of drinks and considerably less than a games console. The younger one is now clamouring for the same but I’m hoping this can wait a year or two……three mad fishers in the family might have the ghillies running for the hills...
There’s also the question as to why, when we’ve managed for many centuries without women guides/fishing ambassadors (or male ones!) do we need them now? Well, historically we HAVE had women in these positions, one of my biggest inspirations being Joan Wulff, herself a mother to two boys, but now in the days of social media and equality we’re becoming much more visible. And this can only be a good thing. As we face so many challenges with conservation, the need to limit and reduce (if not erase), pollution, predation and disease, the need for hatcheries and aiming to increase the numbers of fish returning to our rivers to mention just a few, we need as many people on board as possible. Not just existing fishermen but women & children too. We need to encourage more youngsters, otherwise who else is going to fight for our indigenous salmon and sea trout when we’re gone? We need someone to hand the baton on to and if we keep mummies, as well as daddies, interested in fishing and pique the interest of the next generation we’ll create a bigger team. It’s only through working as a team that we can get the change that’s needed to preserve not just the sport but a way of life, a livelihood for many and securing the continuance of such a majestic species for centuries to come. What better legacy could anyone leave than that?