Creating a more relaxed mind – by fly-fishing!

Well, it’s been a long time coming but I’ve finally managed it. Twice inside one week!

One of the battles I’ve had since being licensed as a Reader (Lay Minister) has been to make time for my hobbies – any of them. Since we went into vacancy that battle has become even harder, for all sorts of reasons. There is always so much to do in Christian ministry, so many urgent tasks that appear to need attention (preferably yesterday!)

I’ve been working with my spiritual director to have more ‘creative spaces’ in my life – times where a (much neglected) craft activity gives my brain space to ‘free wheel with God’. Success has been very limited, though I did make my husbands Valentines card. It seems that often my creative spaces end up being times when I bake cakes for the family or catch up on some domestic chore, and nothing gets made.

3 Rainbow Trout from John OGaunt 13th April 2011

For the last two years I’ve talked about going back to a hobby I started with my Father years ago – fly-fishing. Last year I even bought a Rod License, then the vicar left and I never used it 😦

Well, with much encouragement from the family (who all like eating the proceeds), and my spiritual director (who fancies a go herself) I’ve been fishing twice in the last week, and even more importantly yesterday I went fishing on my own: at 42 I set myself free from parental oversight and went fishing on my own.

It’s a tough life fly-fishing – NOT! Almost always, fly-fishing lakes are set in the most beautiful places, surrounded by God’s created world in all it’s glory:

John O’Gaunt fishery at King Somborne in the Test Valley is Dad’s regular haunt – and somewhere I must remember to take some photo’s of something other than fish. It’s not on the river itself, but spring fed still water within a few hundred yards of it. Unadvertised from the road, you have to know where it is as well! I might have caught 3 trout (between 2.5-4.5lb each – the fishing here is relatively easy) but just as much joy came from the March Tit and the female Sparrowhawk, Little Grebe (Dab chick) and Great Crested Grebe (as well as the usual duck and coot).  I also had early sightings of Hirundinidae but whether they were Swallows, or Martins I couldn’t tell – they were passing through fast and I was meant to be concentrating on the end of the line!

Pair of Mandarin Duck at Vale End, Albury Fisheries

Yesterday I went somewhere different – having discovered late last summer how close Albury Estate Fisheries are to my in-laws (less than 15 minutes!) If anything, this is even more beautiful if a little less tranquil because the main road is rather close to the lakes. The fishing is also not as easy – I suspect the stocking levels are lower, and some of the fish have definitely got wise to what us fishermen are up to. But don’t let that put you off. The fisheries are stunning, and once again full of wildlife (as well as in some cases being stream fed, so you get Brown Trout as well as Rainbow). Yesterday between Weston and Vale End I saw Orange Tip, Red Admiral and Comma butterflies, saw multiple Buzzard, Little Grebe, Mandarin Duck, Swans and Geese.

2 Trout from the Albury Estate Fisheries 18th April 2011

I also managed a brace of trout, a Rainbow in the bottom of the Weston Lakes by the stream inlet, and a smaller fish with markedly more spots in the river fed pool at Vale End. I now have 2 trout tickets left to use another time – the Albury pricing system makes fishing more cost effective for those on a budget, which with one teaching income we definitely are!

So among all the fish and the wildlife, where was God in all this. Well, a very great awareness of his creation first and foremost and also of our need to care for that creation – I’ve not yet met a fly-fishery that isn’t very careful and caring of wildlife management.

The most startling thing however was how little I thought of ministry: my focus on the fishing and the wildlife was complete (beyond the odd text-message to tell the family when I caught a fish!) I simply didn’t think about other things. Today I’m wondering if this is good or bad, but despite the concentration involved in the activity itself (and an aching arm this morning) I do feel mentally rested, more so than for a long time. Surely, that can only be a good thing?


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