Fishing & Anxiety

Fishing & Anxiety – By Katie Dowe.

I believe fishing has helped my anxiety but I’m sure has also contributed to it as well. Going out in the wild where it’s calm, quiet and low stimulus has had a huge impact on my anxiety. I have found it to be quite meditative. We should break down anxiety for a moment and show you how it relates to what I’m talking about. Anxiety is a sensation that our body manifests into symptoms. These symptoms can be a wide array of things. Including fast heart rate, shaking, nausea, crying, being silent, disassociated, reclusive, etc… I could name off a huge list but everyone’s anxiety affects them differently. From my experience nausea, crying and avoiding things are my telltale signs.

When I started fishing I was so anxious to go alone. I was afraid someone would yell at me for doing something wrong or be made fun of because of my casting. Hell, even just being a girl in fly fishing made me anxious. I had this idea that men would look down on me for fishing. Which in reality all of those things happened. Thankfully they happened when I was a more confident fisher-woman. I’m glad I dealt with my anxiety on the river when I had only me to rely on. Many tears were shed on my local riverbanks… from snagging bushes, snagging bottom, breaking lines, not catching fish… all of these things that someone needs to go through to learn and appreciate the art of fishing.

The small things that used to give me anxiety don’t give me anxiety anymore. But I have found that trying to achieve personal goals in fishing has brought up those old feelings again. Now for different things. I’m sure most people can relate to trying to achieve certain goals in their fishing pastime. Whether it’s casting better, catching a certain species of fish (like myself…damn steelhead), tying better, exploring more etc. Social media has ramped up the anxiety of trying to attain things or be better than. I know we can’t always believe what we see on social media but it does pull at the heartstrings When you work your butt off to reach a certain goal and it feels like it’s easier for other people. Like if that doesn’t cause anxiety in it’s self I don’t know what else would.

I know for myself I have felt this way when it’s come to fishing. Of course, I get down on myself and wonder if I should keep putting myself through all the thoughts. But at the end of the day, I always try to remember that fishing brought a lot of purpose to my life, hell even a lot of peace of mind. I’m eternally grateful for fly fishing, it saved my life. I just know the feelings I have fishing nowhere compare the feelings I had before getting into fishing. It’s definitely made my anxiety much better and my quality of life amazing (not every day but close).

At the end of the day sometimes we need to self-reflect on why we love fishing, how it made us feel?, what did it improve?, what’s the core reason we getting up so god damn early, bushwhack, fend off wildlife, fall, cry, get mad, lose fish, break rods…. I think we’re all trying to find a bigger thing in the world and a tug from Mother Nature here and there makes us feel a little more whole.

Katie Dowe

Hook and Vice Ambassador and hairdresser from Vancouver Island who is in love with the wild. Katie’s favorite Hook and Vice cap is the Traditional Camo Trucker – Hook.

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