Following a magical adventure to Argentina and ahead of her guided tours season commencing at home in Yorkshire, Hollie-Ella caught up with dedicated angler and this edition’s cover star, Marina Gibson.
Following in the footsteps of her mother, devoted fly fisher Joanna, Marina Gibson has dedicated a significant part of her life to the pursuit of every type of fish across the world. The pair recently returned from a trip to Argentina, which, Marina tells us ‘was a magical adventure. I count myself very lucky to experience such magnificent places with her.’
Mother and daughter stayed at the family-owned Nervous Waters Lodges, known for their unique style and prime fishing locations. Beginning at Kau Tapen on the Rio Grande in Tierra Del Fuego, which is home to some of the largest sea trout in existence, Marina describes it as ‘Every angler’s dream to hook into one of these behemoths.’
From there, mother and daughter headed into the luscious landscape of Cordoba, spending three days at the charming David Denies shooting lodge, Pico Zuro. ‘I enjoyed the dove shooting immensely, in part due to the beautiful open-air hides as much as the physical and mental challenge. It was important to keep up my concentration.’
As well as boasting excellent shooting facilities, through The Maria de la Esperanza Mission, the lodge supports the local community, by providing food (in the form of doves), fuel, building supplies and school materials to children’s community centers. ‘We didn’t fall head over heels for Argentina just because of the sport, we fell in love with the culture, scenery and the characters we met along the way.’
Spring is an exciting time in the angler community, as it sees the start of the main season with aquatic fly life such as the early Upwings, March browns and Olives appearing, and riverbanks springing to life with primroses, bouncing lambs and birds nesting overhead.
Talking of her love of watching the shift in seasons especially on British waters, Marina enthuses ‘The scenery is ever-changing throughout the year and there’s no better person to document this than a fisherman on the water.’
Talking of her first fishing experience Marina’s passion for both her sport and the out-of-doors lifestyle it brings is clear: ‘I’m eternally grateful to my parents for introducing me to the outdoors and all its wonders. The times that stick out are always those with family and friends… Getting lost on a boat in Maine, hooking into my first ever sea trout, and promptly losing it. Fishing for clams; landing my first Atlantic salmon, and then my second, just ten minutes afterwards!’
As well as a UK Ambassador for stalwart outdoor brand Orvis, Marina is also a face of their ‘50/50 On The Water’ campaign, which aims to inspire and celebrate women in the sport. Discussing the hurdles of getting women on the water, she is nevertheless encouraging: ‘I’ve seen more traction over the last year than ever before. Initiatives like the 50/50 really do encourage women to get involved. It’s hard enough for anyone to take up the sport, so the industry and fishing community must welcome newcomers, regardless of age, sex and ability.’
Proud to be part of our Spring Edition, Marina is a keen advocate of protecting the planet’s water systems for future generations. ‘Anglers are quite often the first to see when something is out of balance and the state of our river systems is alarming,’ she tells me. ‘Recent estimates suggest a shocking 60% of European rivers and lakes are already in a degraded state, with matters worsening year on year.’
Travelling regularly for her sport has, Marina tells me, revealed just how essential the world’s waterways are to our existing way of life. ‘Fishing opened my eyes to the importance of conservation. The rivers are our countries’ arteries, the streams are its veins, without them the landscape cannot survive and nor can we.’ When I ask what individuals can do to help, she recommends supporting the ‘ProtectWater’ campaign, which is taking a stand to protect European rivers and lakes, with the aim of ensuring unhealthy systems are restored by 2027.
Before launching The Northern Fishing School in 2019, Marina had been guiding ‘all over the place’ for over two years. ‘I was longing for a base for myself where my clients could experience fun-filled, educating days outdoors and on the water. Based on the Swinton Estate the school offers a go-to, safe haven for learning to fish. They cover the basics, from how to get into fishing, to advice for those looking to hone their existing skills. For Marina though working with novices is clearly her passion: ‘I want to inspire an audience that hasn’t necessarily been fishing before, particularly families and children, to spread the joy of fishing.’
Due to its image as a male-dominated sport, seemingly requiring expensive equipment, many women remain on the fence about fishing. What does Marina advise for anyone wanting to give it a go? ‘If you are feeling inquisitive about fishing, it’s more than likely for you. Once you jump over the first hurdle and have your first day out, you’ll be hooked…line and sinker!’ she adds with a grin.
Asking if it is best left to those with a good deal of patience, Marina is quick to talk me round: ‘EVERYONE needs patience in the beginning’ she insists, ‘because it’s hard work and takes time and perseverance to reach a
certain level with casting. Once this falls into place though, it gets exhilarating, relaxing, and rewarding all at the same time.’
When it comes to salmon or trout, she doesn’t hesitate: ‘I’ll always choose salmon over trout, but only because Atlantic salmon are very dear to me. They’re having a tough time at present and wild stocks have been in decline for many years.’
I am impressed to learn Marina is a certified ‘Fly Fishers International’ (CI) Instructor and 1st4sport Level 2 coach. Rightly proud of her achievements in the field, she tells me getting her FFI was ‘The biggest achievement of my life. It challenged my knowledge and taught me so much about fishing and casting.’ Led by her mentor Chris Hague, she spent almost three months practicing both in her garden and on the water, before taking the notoriously intense full-day practical and theory exam. ‘Chris really put me through my paces. He pushed me to my limits and beyond, but I owe it to him for helping me.’
Changing tack-le, if marooned on a desert island, with one person, I ask who Marina would choose? ‘Zac Efron,’ comes the surprising answer. Laughing at my puzzled expression she continues ‘… apparently he loves fishing, so he’s a keeper!’
After living in London for six years, Marina made the leap north, to the heart of Yorkshire: ‘I’m a country girl through and through and really appreciate waking to the sound of our local woodpecker each morning.’ Her ideal Spring Sunday involves waking up to a house full of her friends, before packing rods, hampers and dogs into the car and heading out for a day on the River Ure.
Beaming when I ask after Sedge, Marina’s own dog, who she rescued from Romania via a website called Seven Strays, just after his first birthday. ‘Sedge the Ledge is amazing! He loves adventures with me and sulks when I have to leave him to travel.’ That was almost four years ago now, and today, the pair are clearly happiest together, pottering along the riverbank, Marina with a fishing rod in hand.