I guess the signs that I'm not quite as young as I used to be have long been evident. You've only got to look at my passport. Between 1989 and 2007 I travelled almost everywhere all the time and the passport pages were showered with visas from four continents. Now though I'm more stay at home which is good news and bad news. Perhaps 2014 though will make me stir my stumps a bit. There are two reasons for this.
First up I've just had an exhilarating email from a mate who tells me he's off up to the River Garry just north of Fort William on 14th January. He'll be fishing for an early Salmon on 15th 16th and 17th probably the beat where he picked up a twenty-seven pounder on opening day not that far back. OMG! The Garry in January. The place terrifies me in April or May. It's a wild threatening river and my hat goes off to him for tackling it in temperatures that could be diabolically low in snow or in gales. This is the sort of thing I'd have done just a few years back.
The second truly tragic thing that has made me think hard is the recent death just after Christmas of one of my best fishing friends. It's made me realise that life is for living. Mind you perhaps I don't have to go to the ends of the earth to tick things of real interest and massive involvement off the list. I've said before how my East Anglian rivers are for the first time in years producing proper big spellbinding wild Brown Trout. You can tell them because they are differently coloured as well as their fins and shape both being immaculate. They're massive fish they're massively difficult to catch and I can see myself being up and about very many dawns once spring arrives.
I've also just had an email from Dominic Garnett with the list of entrants for his Fly for Coarse competition that he ran through 2013. I notice on the list there isn't a fly-caught barbel. I've talked about fly-caught chub before on this site but believe me to take a seven or eight pound barbel on a nymph is one of the most thrilling things you'll ever do in this country. Back about ten years I was picking them up with some regularity from the River Wye but I never quite got my head round it. I'm going to this summer. I'm going to camp there till I nail till I know exactly what I'm doing this time. This is really something big in my life and it could be in yours too.
I'll be spending time in Spain of course where I've got a little cottage. I want to come to terms with the Andalucían Barbel on dry fly and particularly on the big Black Bass of the lakes around me. And I've still got one or two big trips left in me I think. Or hope. I cannot bear to think that I won't visit Greenland again. Or Mongolia. Think very carefully about your own 2014 is my advice. Our fishing is precious and our lives especially so. It really makes no sense to me to waste a second of either.
The face of Mr Crabtree Goes Fishing televison series John Bailey is a multi-discipline angler writer and photographer.