Outdoor Pursuits: Learning to Fish

Learning to Fish

Have you ever considered learning to fish? If you enjoy being outdoors and want to take up a family pursuit that any age can get involved in, fishing might be the answer.

What is it?
This ancient sport dates back some 40,000 years. But there are practically as many ways to do it as there are species of fish. The sport encompasses everything from standing at the end of a pier with a bucket on a string, to heading out on a trawler with all the kit.

Why we love it?
Learning to fish isn’t everyone’s dream activity, granted. But those who love it say it’s all about the chance to get outdoors and experience nature. For families used to haring around the city the slow pace is a rare treat. Plus it gives parents the chance to really spend time with their children and bond well away from any other distractions. It’s remarkably satisfying to catch something and really rewarding for kids.

Where to go:
Few children – or adults, for that matter – have the patience to sit for hours waiting for a bite. So the trick is to go to a well-stocked lake. There are restrictions on where you can fish, but you’d be surprised how many places are open to all. There are plenty of free fishing sites on the River Thames, for instance. Or you can head out to a rural fish farm, many of which have junior lakes geared up for children.

When to go:
May to October. or on the freak March weekend when it’s balmy. Whenever the weather’s warm enough in other words.

In the kit bag:
You’ll need a fair bit of stuff: poles, floats, lines, weights, hooks and… maggots. This can all be picked up reasonably cheaply but you’re far better off renting until you decide whether fishing’s for you. Children under 12 don’t need a rod licence, but parents do. You can pick one up from the Post Office from £3.75 per day , but it’s another good reason to go to a fishing lake, where everything like that is covered.

Find out more:
Contact your local Environment Agency, who’ll show you how to set up a basic fishing rig, how to catch fish and put them back. They’ll even offer kids some free tuition. There are plenty of places to head to on the Thames if you are learning to fish. Out in the Kent/Sussex countryside, meanwhile, there’s Hawkhurst Fish Farm, Hampshire is chock full of trout lakes, we love Meon Springs with its dedicated children’s pond. And at the other end of the UK, the Highlands and the Lake District are prime fishing country.