The fly-fishing instructor on how she turned her love for the sport into a livelihood, and her role in encouraging more women and children on to the water

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t fish. It’s in my blood; it’s what I know. My entire life revolves around it, from work to weekends spent on the water as a fly-fishing instructor and even the decor throughout my house. It was my dad who introduced me to the sport as a five-year-old girl. On one of my first-ever fishing trips, I caught a beautiful 8lb rainbow trout on a newly opened small stillwater in the Scottish Borders, and that was it – I was hooked.

The years passed and while friends were going shopping or recovering from a big night out at the weekends, mine were spent fishing with my dad. Saturday nights I might make it to the pub with friends but as they went off clubbing, I’d head home. The last thing anyone wants ruining a Sunday fishing trip is a hangover. Anglers often say that fishing is more than catching fish, and it’s true. Fishing is as much about getting outdoors and enjoying being in nature and the people you’re with as it is relaxing and unwinding. Fishing is a great stress reliever.

Fishing foundations

When I founded my business, Fishing For Everyone, in 2005, the original aim was to encourage more ladies into the sport. As an angling coach, I began teaching mainly ladies and children but men too. There’s nothing more fulfilling than seeing the face of a novice when they hook into their first fish. It wasn’t until the age of 19 that I joined the fishing tackle industry full time, working for Orvis before moving to Hardy & Greys and then Farlows, where I am now.

Fly-fishing instructor Lucy Bowden with one of her catches

Fly-fishing instructor Lucy Bowden believes in giving back

The years spent in the industry have opened my eyes to the fishing world we’re in. I’ve met so many interesting and inspiring people along the way, including my husband. In July last year I married Howard Croston, a double World Fly Fishing Champion. Howard also works in the fishing tackle trade, and we often fish together. However, spending the day on the water with a world champion can make anyone feel like a novice.

The fishing world giving back

The Fishing For Everyone Ladies Fishing Club was founded in 2010 to further encourage women. Every month we held an event at a local water, with me coaching, for those who had never fished. We always enjoyed a good hearty lunch and plenty of chat. With support, some of the members qualified as angling coaches themselves – something I’m extremely proud of. Because I wanted to give something back, in 2013 my involvement began with Fishing For Heroes. This is a fantastic charity that supports military veterans suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder by taking them fishing. The first fishing competition we ran raised more than £5,000.

I was overwhelmed by the support and went on to run more competitions. Today I am the lead coach in the north of England. It’s a privilege to spend time with some of the ex-service personnel who have given so much for their country. The purpose of the days is for the veterans to relax, immerse themselves in the outdoors and hopefully catch a fish or two. There’s always friendly banter and the guys wind each other (and me) up all the time. I take my fishing responsibility very seriously: I am dedicated to encouraging more people – especially women and children – into the sport. To anyone interested in trying fishing, I say go for it – and tight lines.

TOP TIP: Timing is everything. You don’t need brute strength to cast a fishing rod that has been designed to do a job for you – otherwise, you could easily carry a wooden stick with a line attached to it.

Click here to read The Field‘s article on how to get your children hooked on fishing.

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