Main pic: My newborn “Personal Best” Emilia shares the same dreams as me…
Our Partnership Development Manager Dean Asplin blogs about a life-changing personal best and its impact on his approach to catching big fish…
I’ve been an obsessed angler for over 30 years now. I’ve fished for everything from silverfish as a youngster through to wels catfish on the mighty River Ebro. Even as a youngster I felt a drive to catch large specimen fish and therefore I guess it was inevitable that I was going to become a carp angler.
I’m lucky enough to have been with my long-suffering partner (…and now lovely wife!) Nathalie since my early twenties. Therefore, she understands (…er, puts up with!) my need to go fishing regularly. She sees how stir-crazy I get when I don’t go and when my restless pacing starts wearing a hole in the carpet she’ll say, “Just go fishing will you!”.
Me with one of my favourite summer carp captures
Like other people my age, for the past few years I’ve felt the paternal clock ticking. Well, in January my time finally arrived with the birth of our beautiful daughter Emilia who despite weighing in at a modest 7lb 3oz, is still a new PB.
Up until then my family and friends kept telling me how “life as I knew it” was going to change dramatically. Because of this, I don’t mind admitting that the selfish part of me became slightly worried about my angling passion, not to mention my state of mind!
I love my new family and wouldn’t change any part of being a dad, but nowadays it’s still so important to grab a bit of “tranquillity”. I count that as time when you can get away from emails, social media and other annoying tech. It’s well recognised that finding this time-out is a major boost to one’s wellbeing, and I’d strongly support that.
Although, it would have been easier to say “Right, I’m going to hang up the rods to be a full-time dad” how long could I keep it up before the theme tune from CBeebies burnt a hole in my brain and I lost touch with mates, sick of hearing about my darling baby’s bowel movements!?
Me fishing the Ebro. Can you recognise the well-known angler at the tail end…?
I soon realised that wasn’t for me, I was just going to have to find a way to carry on fishing. Of course, I knew this was going to be a difficult juggling act what with work, a new baby and a 15-year-old relationship to consider. So, I decided it came down to what I wanted to achieve, and what would give me my “Fishing Fix” during my now precious fishing time.
A winter pike caught during a quick post-work session
For a lot of anglers, this might simply be spending a few hours drop-shotting on a local fishery – the chance to get a bend in the rod and maybe a big perch. I did give this a try and with some success, however my dream to catch monster, uncaught carp still had a hold over me as much as it did before I became a father.
Now that Emilia is a bit older, and even though time is extremely limited I’m still driving to my special venue for a quick session in pursuit of “the impossible”. That’s because for me it’s never been about catching large numbers of fish (although there’s nothing wrong with that) it’s about getting to finally slip the net under that one “special” fish a year.
Yes, I know that I’m lucky to have a very supporting wife and an easy-going child, but I want to get the message across that your fishing life doesn’t have to end when you become a parent. Anglers are lucky to be part of a sport that has so much to offer. From short explosive bursts of activity like lure fishing for pike, to the more sedate cast of a fly rod, or downtime at the bankside while bivvied up for a target fish.
And yes, you will need to be prepared to go that extra-mile when times allow between family commitments. For example, when Emilia drops off to sleep I’ll use that time to drive to my venue just to bait up. On other occasions fatherhood meant traveling light, arriving in the dark and fishing through until work/baby duties beckoned next morning.
I learned that this is actually a great advantage as you can often slip into a quiet unoccupied corner or if you can locate fish on your arrival the chances are they are there to feed not just to layup and avoid bankside disturbance or to rest between feeding spells. In fact, I wish I’d discovered this years ago!
My amazing wife Nathalie – mum and sometime angler!
Becoming an angling parent has reminded me that life is all about balance, so if we’re not neglecting our new family’s needs then what’s wrong with mum or dad making a bit of time-out for ourselves? Especially when that time helps escape work’s stresses, and recharges our physical and mental batteries. You’ll feel better for it and if you go fishing and that special fish turns up too…? Well, what a bonus!
Obviously, it helps if your partner is as supportive as mine and I’m very grateful to Nathalie. So, on that note, “Is it alright if I go fishing now please?!”.
Want to learn how to carp fish or where to take your family fishing? Contact me and I’ll put you in touch with your local fishing coach or let you know where one of the Environment Agency funded ‘Get Fishing‘ events I help organise are running near to you.