Steve Pope Barbel Fishing

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Angela – My soulmate forever

The following piece was written for our fishing magazine, The Barbel Fisher, it was my regular article that I have submitted twice a year for the past twenty five years. I have tweaked it a little for inclusion here so that my family and friends who may not have read it can do so now.

I will be putting a lot more content on this part of my website mainly for family but also for others who have experienced the pain that comes when you lose the one you love.

My life has changed irrevocably and so too has my outlook towards fishing – forever.

At the beginning of April 2019 while I was in Australia my wife, who I have been with since I was just seventeen, passed away. This was totally unexpected, there was no warning. One day we were sitting on Bondi Beach, watching the surfers, enjoying the sun – a few days later and my world was totally destroyed and I found myself caught up in the ultimate nightmare.

The shock has been enormous, still is and I doubt that I will ever recover from it. I may eventually learn to live with this new situation that I find myself in, come to terms with it in some way, there’s no choice – I have to. Perhaps I will eventually learn to accept it but I will remain broken for the rest of my days.

This is as bad as it gets.

The support from my close family and many friends has been incredible and without it I doubt I would be able to find the strength to carry on, they give me the purpose I need to motivate myself on a daily basis. I won’t lie to you, it is incredibly difficult to convince myself I have to keep on keeping on.

Purpose is now something completely alien to me, I don’t know what it means anymore. We kid ourselves that we know why we do the things we do and I’m no different, it’s how we get through each and every day. What I understand now is that most of what I have done in my life was really for others and that the person who I really existed for is no longer here. The devastation that leaves is difficult to explain but it’s a part of my daily life now.

You can understand my situation but only those who have experienced something similar, been through it, will really know how I feel.

Keeping busy is an essential part of my daily routine now, it numbs the pain and stops me from sliding into a deeper depression, grief is a powerful set of emotions that left to its own devices basically runs riot in your head. I don’t say that lightly, it’s exactly how it is.

This is where fishing has been a personal salvation because for me it really is a way of life that has now taken on an even greater significance.

There is no doubt that fishing is a very selfish hobby, I mean that not in the harshest sense of the word but I’m making the point that it can be all consuming for the participant and so it follows that it will impact on others.

It isn’t just the actual act of going off on your own or with friends for a day on the river, in some respects that’s the easy part.

No, it really is far more than that, well it has been for me that’s for sure and I’m certain I am not alone.

But there is a rider, going fishing on my own is not an option, not for the forseeable future anyway.

The reason for that is obvious, I would be spending hours alone with thoughts and memories running through my head unleashing that riot I predicted earlier and I would end up an emotional wreck.

Fortunately my fishing in recent times has not been about me, it involves others and it is they who I will lean on, tap into and relate to as we spend countless hours on the river in conversation and pursuit.

It is a wonderful way for me to leave one world and enter another ; a world that is completely different and it is one place where my mind can find some kind of solace.

So you can see how my fishing really is about so much more than catching, being there or smelling the flowers, it is a kind of therapy, it is where I find my personal counselling if you like.

The loss of my wife is the worst experience of my life.

I’ve lost both parents at an early age, I’ve lost best friends, I’ve endured the ramifications of losing a large business with all the upheaval that involves but nothing and I mean absolutely zero compares to losing the person who has been by my side for practically all of my time on this planet. My wife was my anchor as I traversed all those stormy seas.

I have been questioning the way I have led my own life these past thirty years, my fishing life , because without the support of my wife I would not have been able to have devoted so much time to what is in effect a hobby, and nor would any of you reading this who share their lives with a partner.

I, we, owe so much to our better halves.

When I look back through my diaries, when I read the many thousands of words I have written, when I recall the countless fishing adventures I have enjoyed I am now reminded of the amount of time that meant I was actually away, both physically and mentally. Unless you have chosen to live your life alone then all those things can only be done if your partner agrees, as I said we owe far more than we realise to them.

Years ago I wrote a piece where I said that fishing was ‘the other woman’, I was absolutely right and in a particularly prescient mode at the time, so none of us can complain too hard whenever our partners might take umbrage about us perhaps spending just a little too much time on the river.

My wife rarely complained, for that I’m eternally grateful but today I wish I had spent more time at home with her because now I can’t and I have no desire to spend every available moment out fishing.

Like most anglers I didn’t involve my wife Angela in my public fishing life, she didn’t attend the shows and talks and that sort of thing, to be honest that was my call because she was a very attractive lady and I was very protective. This was my world.

But obviously my personal fishing life was different and I would always seek her approval for anything I wrote because she was a trained journalist and could write superb poetry, she had a natural gift for words whereas I have to work at it.

I’m going to miss the texts, the facetiming when I’m on the river, the cup of tea when I returned home, the five bar gate being open and the outside lights on when I pulled into the drive late at night in the pitch black – no street lights in the Welsh hills.

I will miss her more than words can say and I’ve expressed much of my emotions by writing since my world came to an end.

There is no truer saying than ‘ you never know what you have until it’s gone’.

How the rest of my life will unfold I haven’t a clue.

I will commit myself to a great deal of fishing during the summer months, as mentioned previously it now becomes as important to me as a form of therapy.

My interest and commitment to the Barbel Society is strong, after all it has been a major part of my life for the past twenty five years and my wife always supported me in that. I will spend a great deal of time with my three daughters and my grandchildren, that is where I find a purpose, where I can be of use.

I feel my personality has changed, I’m a different person now, half of me has been ripped away and I don’t know how or what that will be replaced with, I’m hoping it will be compassion, caring, those almost spiritual characteristics which I sometimes lacked, that is the balance my wife gave me for fifty years and which will I’m sure now become part of me.

I’m struggling to come to terms with what is my new life, it isn’t a life I wanted and as I write this it isn’t a future that holds a great deal of happiness.

Barbel fishing will remain a big part of that life but there is a new perspective, some aspects are just not that important anymore, indeed a great deal of lifes seemingly significant features have become irrelevant.

Writing has proved to be a catharsis for me, this piece finds me releasing my emotions, baring my very soul, I think that is clear.

I hope you don’t find this uncomfortable, this is me now.

My head isn’t in a place where I can relate fishing tales or tactics and post fishing pictures but one day that muse will return, in the meantime I wish everyone well for what is the beginning of a new year and my sincere thanks go out to everyone who has contacted me privately or through social media, your support has been a great comfort to me.

All the very best,


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