Sea fishing: Therapeutic effects of a beloved hobby

Stewart Calligan with a cod caught fishing on Tunstall beach, known for its carboniferous corals.
Stewart Calligan with a cod caught fishing on Tunstall beach, known for its carboniferous corals.
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I have to report the sad news that my wife passed away last month having dealt with a long and cruel illness. After obtaining the death certificate, registering the death, arranging the church, vicar, flowers, refreshments, cremation and newspaper notifications, et cetera, there was little time for self pity and feeling low. I have had tremendous support and my beloved fishing has come in very handy.

Fishing is a mind-filling therapeutic oneness with nature and comes highly recommended to anyone in my position. I chose one of the many recent calm, sunny days for yet another beach fishing trip. I need to be more settled before taking the boat out and perhaps that would be better done after the funeral as ‘There’s many a slip ‘twixt cup and lip’ that could not be dealt with when incommunicado five miles off the coast.

On this lovely June day there were many anglers and walkers on the Tunstall beach. I saw several fish being landed and soon had a cod on the beach myself.

It was tempted by a lugworm and squid cocktail on a pulley rig fished out as far as I could cast. This was followed by three lesser spotted dogfish and another cod but a junior compared to my first one.

The beach is fishing well for this time of year and smooth hounds up to 10lbs are being caught. Dogfish, ray and bass are also plentiful.

What is clear to me is that every year is different, just like each one of us are different. Every flower, every city, down to every grain of sand, are all different. This is the truly diverse way in which nature works and I suppose the way us mere mortals should marvel at the universe in which we live.

I digress, so back to the fish in the sea and in our rivers. I had to cancel my planned salmon fishing only to be told that the first year I missed going my fishing colleagues caught an 18lb springer and hooked two more, all in one session. Ah well, that’s life in the fishing world, as one can never tell when good fortune comes along.

Sitting on my fishing box as the sun is going down on the now deserted beach, I took in the hazy horizon, the waves caressing the wet sand leaving shiny green weed here and there covered with hoards of sand flies. Behind me I saw the sand against the greenery and the rich brown boulder clay occasionally giving up the secret fossils after a storm.

Tunstall is renown for its ‘carboniferous corals’; the soft bodied creatures living in shells, and Jurassic fossils. Ammonites (the snail-like ones), belemnites (those that look like bullets), devil’s toenails (shaped like giant toenails) and giant horsetail ferns (dinosaur food) all from around 250 million years ago, are all exposed, ready for the eager young boys and girls to add to their collections, just as I did.