How to keep the family happy and still get out on the bank!

I’ve lost track of the amount of friends I have whose fishing has dropped off over the years as they’ve got married, had kids, or taken on demanding jobs. Even worse than that, I know a few who’ve unfortunately ended up separating due to fallouts over time spent on the bank.

It’s a tricky balance, and I’m not for one minute saying that I always get it right, but overall I know that the amount of time I do get to spend on the bank is purely down to the way I plan my life away from it, in order to keep everybody sweet – wife and kids included!

Like many of my friends, carp fishing for me isn’t just a hobby or a pastime – it’s an absolute passion, an obsession that continues to grow with every year that passes. As such, it has always been a fine balance trying to get out on the bank as often as possible, whilst at the same time finding that more and more restrictions are placed on my fishing time due to family life – not to mention running my own business!

The key, as with most things, is careful thought and planning. I should point out at the start that my wife is pretty understanding; she’s known from the start how much I’m into my fishing, yet she’s no mug – if I don’t pull my weight at home she’ll soon let me know about it, so I always do whatever I can to ensure smooth passage, which after all, is the quickest way to obtaining the hallowed away pass!

People assume that because I work in fishing I must get to pick and choose when I go all the time – if only that were the case! I can honestly say that I’ve never worked as hard as I have since I’ve worked for myself, and the only way I’m able to do all the things I do is to work twice as hard at it, but even so, I think it’s safe to say my members get to spend more time on my own lakes than I do at the moment!

When we had Izaak, my first-born son, I knew things would change in relation to my time out on the bank – enough of my friends had hung their rods up for good for me to know I’d have to seriously rethink the way I approached my fishing – and I was right! Friday to Sunday sessions became a thing of the past overnight, as did my annual weeks away on various fishing trips, but that did not mean that I stopped fishing altogether – just the opposite.

Canal FishingOnce Izaak had been around for a while, I started to gauge the situation with regards to fishing. Big sessions were out, obviously, so I started to look at times where a window of opportunity might present itself. It soon transpired that the house was a happy, calm, and more importantly, sleepy, place from around 3am through 7am. As we were just coming into June you couldn’t have asked for a better time to get out for a couple of hours fishing and so I hatched my plan. With prior agreement, I would sort him out from when he went to bed, get him back down if he woke during the night, then would kip downstairs for a few hours until 3am when I’d quietly slip out for a few hours fishing whilst everybody was asleep.

It worked like clockwork right through the summer. I picked waters very close to home so that I could spend as much time with my rods in the water as possible, and in all honesty, I really enjoyed fishing these short sessions; relishing all the new challenges they offered up. I dabbled on a few waters I’d not fished for years and spent quite a bit of time on a local stretch of canal; the feeling I got walking that stretch of canal at that time in the morning will stay with me forever; the sights and sounds were amazing, and it was so reminiscent of fishing the canals as a child. Wherever I fished, I was always home for 7am, and was usually able to have breakfast ready and waiting for when they woke up… talk about brownie points! The key was to pick a time when I would not be missed, and then smooth the way before and after so that it wasn’t a problem. Did it require a good deal of effort on my part to fish like this? Of course it did, but if I wanted to carry on fishing then these were the lengths I was going to have to go to in order to ensure everybody was kept happy.

Izaak will be seven this year, and Violet, my daughter, five, and with each year that’s passed it’s just been a continuation of the same ethos – spotting the opportunities when they present themselves, and putting in as much effort as possible (at home and on the bank) to bring them to fruition, whilst those around you hardly notice the difference.

Most of the time now I just fish quick overnighters. I don’t go ’til I’ve done the dishes, bathed the kids and put them to bed (brownie points), and I’ll always be back in the morning not long after they’ve had their breakfast… again, picking a time that has the least impact.

Of course, it’s ever changing, and that’s the whole point. I’m always trying to effect changes that allow me to spend more time on the bank without upsetting the balance at home – if I can only do a quick overnighter without being missed, then I don’t push to go for 24hrs – much easier to do two quick overnighters per week and keep the peace. Yes, it’s more effort on my part, but the rewards speak for themselves.

I guess you have to be realistic, too. I knew that having kids would mean a lot less time on the bank for a good few years, and it has, but I’ve never stopped going and never lost the passion, and now that they’re both at school full time, things are slowly starting to swing back in my favour… so here’s to even more fishing in 2013!  

Last tip: if ever in doubt, stop off for flowers on the way home. Whether needed or not, I’ve found they always help!

Julian Grattidge
January 2013

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