Fishing can have great benefits for mental health and is still possible to do through lockdown – as Salford Friendly Anglers are keen to stress.

The recent lockdown has brought further hardship to everyone and with the chance of more lockdowns to come, now is a perfect time to get out on the water and catch some fish, or at least try to.

Club chairman Mike Duddy said: “The oldest active fishing club in the world: Salford Friendly Anglers’ Society, offers a free membership which allows fishing at most places in Manchester and Salford, also giving access to a helpful and inclusive group of anglers.

“The activity of fishing has helped lots of people get through the mental stresses of lockdown and isolation.

“Fishing is their safe place.”

Mike confirmed that now is definitely a good time to go fishing.

“It’s one of the things you can do that helps with mental health and get some activity,” he said.

“A lot of people think fishing is just sitting down, but a lot of anglers go spinning or fly fishing and put a few miles in during the day.”

Salford Quays. Photo credit: Salford Friendly Anglers’ Society

Although fishing is still allowed in the current regulations, the pandemic has posed problems to the club.

“The virus has been terrible for the club because we can’t hold any meetings and can’t hold any events, no matches, no clean ups, no work parties.”

The club prides itself on its friendships and social connections, which have been difficult to keep up with the restrictions.

“Especially in a time where there is lots of lonely people, it’s our big concern that a lot of these connections are being lost, because they can’t go out fishing with their friends, they can’t go to the pub and talk about fishing like we usually do.”

There are members of the club who are only able to go fishing with a group of friends, and others that just fish at organized events and these have both been stopped.

“We had an event scheduled for the beginning of November and we were forced to cancel it, even though everyone would be socially distanced because the law says we’re not allowed to organise a public event.”

Salford Friendly Anglers’ Society manage to keep going from donations which also helps maintain and restock the waters such as Salford Quays and River Irwell.

The perch whisperer. Photo credit: Salford Friendly Anglers’

“Salford Quays is a nationally acclaimed fishery, people come from all around the country to fish there because it has spectacular scenery as well as having specialist fish of many species.”

The angling club are very interested in the return of migratory fish to local waters.

“We’ve been working with the environment agency and United Utilities for years now to get salmon back into the River Irwell, which are currently getting blocked by the Manchester Ship Canal.”

The return of salmon would mean the first to be recorded in Manchester or Salford since 1856.

Fishing with family or friends can also be great for making memories, Mike remembers, “when I was about 6 me and my dad caught 3 pike and a perch and put them in a bucket to take them home to show my mum.

“When we got back my mum was out, the pike were thrashing around in the bucket, so we put them in the bath. The pike started chasing the perch around, so my dad grabbed the perch and put it back in the bucket.”

Mike has many more funny fishing stories, including falling into the water and his friends playing tricks on him, pouring worms down his back.

Anyone interested in taking up angling, can fish on any of Salford Friendly Anglers’ waters which cover most of the spots in Manchester and Salford.

For help or advice, join thei Facebook group where you will receive a friendly welcome.

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