Activity, Health & Well Being – Fishing – Dan’s Story

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Being Active to Help Mind and Body

I exercise to manage my mental health.  In a recent survey by Active Calderdale 76% of respondents agreed with this statement.  This is slightly more than those who exercise to manage their physical health (73%).

Last week was Mental Health week. NHS – improving mental health explains how being active is not only great for your physical health, but evidence shows it can also improve your mental well-being by :

  • Raising self esteem
  • Helping set and achieve goals
  • Boosting chemicals in your brain which can positively change your mood.

The best way to be active, is to find an activity that you enjoy.  Keeping Active during COVID -19 has lots of ideas for activities. In North Halifax we have Shroggs and Beechwood parks and numerous green spaces. Tennis, golf and recreational angling are now on the list of activities we can do. As of Monday restrictions will change slightly but please continue to follow the official guidance to keep yourself and others safe.

North Halifax Partnership’s, Dan Marnham tells us how fishing has become a vital part of his physical health and well-being.


Fishing for health – Dan’s journey

(Dan’s winning entry to Matt Hayes Facebook live show on Friday night photo contest)

As I sit here, mind running about 50 different things through it as to how I can sell something that quite frankly and understandably, just isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. I think the best approach is to take you on a short journey from the very beginning and where my love of the sport came about and how it became something much more important than that, particularly over the last few years.

Some of you may know me through the community work I am involved in within my role as a Ward Link Worker for the North Halifax Partnership and some of you may have just chanced upon this article so for the latter I think the best place to start is a quick introduction.

My name is Dan Marham, born in Halifax and  grew up in the small village of Mixenden, I’m an active person and enjoy walking, football, socializing with friends & family and you guessed it… FISHING!

The main purpose of this story is to share my personal experience of fishing and how it has helped me over the years so I’ll start with my first adventure.

I remember it like it was yesterday, 10-11 years old and my parents had recently bought me a small blue kingfisher rod which is still sat in my cupboard to this day due to the fond memories it holds. This rod came with a shiny red reel, floats, hooks and everything else you need to get started on your fishing adventures. Myself and a close childhood friend who I remain in contact with today headed down to the Hebble Brook which runs through a place known as the Dodge in Mixenden where we dug for worms to use as bait. Down the Dodge we found a spot with a steady flow and it was no more than 3ft deep at its deepest point.

With worm on the hook I released the bail arm on the reel, let my bait and float drop into the stream then we proceeded to watch with anticipation as the orange tip of my float moved gracefully into the distance. It took a handful of attempts and growing disappointment before it finally happened… The tip of the float went under the surface in the blink of an eye. I flipped over the bail arm in a panic and lifted the rod tip to feel the aggressive pulling of whatever had taken my bait.

What happened next is quite a blur, probably due to the excitement and emotion I felt at catching my first fish without any kind of help and being out fishing without an adult present but I was greeted by the sight of a small brown trout and I was ecstatic. Even writing about it now I find that same emotion is flooding back coupled with the visual replay of me and my friend high fiving each other, doing a merry dance and singing/shouting  in celebration at the side of this narrow stream. We probably scared every fish from Mixenden to Brighouse in our celebration and didn’t catch another that afternoon but I didn’t care and excuse the pun, but from that day forward, I was simply hooked!

Fast forward to today and fishing has become more than a hobby and even more important to me over the last couple of years, it provides a means for me to escape day to day life and put things into perspective should anything be troubling me. 2018- 2019 was probably one of the most testing times for me having lost 4 grandparents in such a short space of time, some when I hadn’t had time to grieve the loss previous because I’m the kind of person who wants to make sure everyone around me is okay first.

I found myself in quite a dark place around these times but as we often do in those moments, I just got on with it with support from friends, family and work colleagues who always asked if I was doing okay.

So where does fishing come in to this, rather than drag it out I will provide the key points provided by the canal and river trust and give my short take on each then finish up with a link to the article so you can look for yourself.

  1. Fishing keeps you fit – I’m not a driver so when I fish locally I always go on foot and can walk anywhere from 3 miles to reach my destination – Once there depending on my approach for the day I might walk around the lake in search of fish in what’s known as stalking. It might even be a walk along the canal.
  2. Fishing increases your vitamin D – Being someone who has to take a daily supplement due to vitamin D deficiency, fishing provides a fantastic way to be outdoors and enable your body to top up on Vitamin D.
  3. Fishing improves your concentration – Being outside and taking notice of the environment around you improves your ability to concentrate, according to research in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
  1. Fishing reduces stress – The biggest one for me! Whether I’m fishing alone or with my children, there’s just something about being outdoors next to a lake, river, canal or even the sea with nothing but bird song and the sound of nature to de-stress you.
  1. Fishing with friends – I’m fortunate to have a brilliant fishing buddy when I go away on longer trips and sometimes just having that someone to talk to can be a huge release. Not to mention the endless laughs… More often than not at my own expense but its in those little moments you tend to forget any troubles.

Further reading is provided on the canal and river trust website at https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/enjoy-the-waterways/fishing/places-to-fish/seven-reasons-why-fishing-is-good-for-you

A long term goal of mine is to establish a local fishing project where I can get dads and mums out on the bank with their children where they can spend some time making memories outdoors in some of the breath taking scenery that Calderdale has to offer.

So there you have it! I’ve tried to keep this as short as possible but I hope in reading this you may be inspired to pick up a fishing rod whether you head out alone or need a good reason to get your children off the consoles – Swap the Xbox for a tackle box even if it’s just occasional.

You could always do what I did and use the influence of YouTube to get the young ones to take part willingly. Check out some of our adventures on YouTube at The Noddy Carpers

And with that I bid you farewell and hope to see some of you out and about fishing in the future.

If you’d like to share how being physically active is helping you during COVID 19 please get in touch Suzanne.Straughan@nhpltd.org.uk.