Resources Section - club info and important news




Gold delivered to Edmondsham

By Stuart Hitchman, Club Secretary

The development of the top lake at Edmondsham as a valuable Crucian Carp fishery took a huge step forward with the recent arrival of stock fish. Courtesy of the Environment Agency a total of 400 pristine Crucian Carp and 300 Tench were delivered and released into the top lake at Edmondsham by the Fisheries Enforcement team and represent a significant milestone for the project. The fish came from the Environment Agency’s fish farm at Calverton, near Nottingham, and can be regarded as pure strain. Indeed the Club now has one of only twelve fisheries in the country proudly able to lay claim to holding A1 grade Crucian Carp.


Furthermore, the Environment Agency has promised to enhance the stocking with larger Crucian Carp early in the New-Year. The Club is extremely thankful to the Environment Agency at Blandford, in particular the Fisheries Enforcement Team of James Allan, Stuart Kingston-Turner and Rachel Moors. In addition to the stocking of the top lake some 400 Bream were released into the bottom lake, again courtesy of the Environment Agency.


The top lake is currently closed. WDAC plan to open it to fishing in late summer 2018 once the larger fish have arrived and settled into their new home.


Below are some fantastic images taken to record this milestone.



The fish arrive at Edmondsham from Calverton.


Jim Allan and Brian Heap release 400 Bream into the bottom lake


Gold bars….. 400 Crucian Carp are released into the top lake along with 300 Tench.


The privilege of getting up early and feeling your toes go numb

By Mike Hirsh, Club Chairman

On the last Thursday of the year I set my alarm for 05.50 and when it went off I struggled out of bed and got dressed in several layers to greet the deepest frost of the year.

I had to stop my car after about 50 yards to let it defrost a second time and then drove in the dark to Canford to meet Stu Davison. It felt odd carrying a gun rather than a rod, as Stu led the way along the north bank to a point where he was sure we would at least be well placed to watch for cormorants.


The River was full and rising, following the rains of the previous day, and the footpath was slippery with mud and ice on the puddles.  The problem with carrying a gun rather than a rod in real cold is that the steel of the barrel is so unwelcoming compared with a cork handle. My head torch lit my way, and Stu and I talked of the cold, the River and whether or not it might be fishable.


Having reached our destination at about 06.40 we got organised and then waited. The dark gave way to a half light that let us see in various monochrome shades. A heron flying close to the surface of the water came out of his reflection with that primeval pterodactyl like profile and honked at us. Behind, the grass in the field was white with frost and car headlights cut the dark in the distance. Then a fish topped, and then another and another- close to the bank just visible in the early light; fish were breaking the surface regularly. It was then we realised our mistake - no fishing tackle!    I would not have been minded to fish, as the focus had to be on scaring or shooting cormorants, but Stu was only armed with a starting pistol and a skeletal tackle bag and rod suddenly seemed the obvious omission from the equipment.


A kingfisher worked back and forth as the sun started to rise, an egret flew downstream and then gulls started to fly past us high up, using the River as a reference.


Standing in wet ground in minus 3 degrees centigrade is not something to be considered lightly, but despite my feet slowly going numb, I could not help but be glad to be out to and about by the River watching the day breaking – it is that childlike wonder of the new day. Stu and I continued to speculate about the likelihood of catching fish in that swollen flow, what tackle, what bait what would others do?


At 08.12 two cormorants flew up river using the bankside vegetation as cover, trailing behind four gulls. I got off a shot and missed, but it was sufficiently close for them both to take a decision not to return that morning.


Stu and I watched a large tree trunk that had run aground opposite, slowly roll in the current and then go off downstream, one branch waiving like that of a drowning man’s arm; clearly the River was continuing to rise. Still the fish topped.


At 09.00 we made our way back past emerging joggers and dog walkers. My prevailing thought was what a privilege it was to be out to watch a winter sunrise by that wondrous River.

Mike Hirsh

Brexit and the Price of Fishing for Trout

By Mike Hirsh, Club Chairman

When the UK voted on the 23rd June 2016 to leave the Common Market I recall the ‘battle bus’ painted in red with that slogan about saving £350 to put back into the NHS.


However, at no time did I recall a debate about implications for fishing in inland waters and in particular trout fishing.


I do recall a discussion with Cornish fishermen looking forward to being freed from the EU’s continued meddling in quotas and indeed looking forward to creating more jobs processing in fishing harbours that have been in decline for many years. I have recently heard concerns about how complex getting out of the EU fisheries agreement is actually going to be, but I can appreciate that in the long term commercial sea fishermen may be winners. However, I am not convinced that the jobs in processing will be  spin off – I listened to a radio programme recently that postulated processing may still be in Europe if that was the destination for the catch – it is frustrating not knowing.


However we do know a current reality is that imports are costing more because of the weakness of the pound against the Euro. The fish farm from which the Club buys its trout uses pellets to feed the fish manufactured in Holland. As a result the price of the fish is going up by 5 pence a pound from the first order in 2018. In turn this cost will need to be passed on to Members.


What remains unclear to us all is what the price trout pellets will be post Brexit. Maybe our supplier will have to turn to a British supplier to keep costs down. Maybe the Dutch supplier will find his export business folding as the UK is a major market and that may have dire results for employees we know nothing about. We live in uncertain times.


Mike Hirsh

Little Canford Ponds

By Stuart Hitchman, Club Secretary

I have noted the interest from members on the Club’s Facebook page with regards to the maintenance and up-keep at Little Canford Ponds. In light of the discussion raised I thought it would be prudent to identify the issues and highlight the works that have been completed over the last 12 months.


For those members that have not visited the complex the ponds become overrun with weed during the summer to the extent that it becomes almost unfishable. Decades of decaying leaf matter have resulted in the ponds becoming chocked with deep silt. Silt provides a vital nutrient source and shallow clear water facilitates rapid photosynthesis. In combination these factors are responsible for the prolific weed growth at the ponds.


Membership volunteers have accumulated hundreds of hours attempting to manually remove the weed. This has involved volunteers entering the water in wet-suits armed with landscaping rakes and fibreglass baths. Large work parties have been able to clear small areas, but these quickly become overrun with new growth.


The Club successfully secured funding to replace a number of the rotten platforms on the spit and install an on-site wheelchair friendly Portaloo. Volunteers have also successfully delivered angling coaching to specialist schools.


The ponds have proven extremely useful for promoting junior angling with an abundance of small silver fish present during the summer. The ponds allow the Club to provide coaching without overloading our more popular lakes.

The above pictures tell the story. Weed clearing at Little Canford is a huge strain on valuable volunteer resource.

Thoughts for 2018 - In which water is the Club’s biggest pike?

By Mike Hirsh, Club Chairman

When I was in my late teens I got the pike bug. I fished the RMC pits around Staines on the outskirts of London. I did not catch a twenty, although I did quite well with smaller fish.

One of my favourite books is ‘Pike’ by Fred Buller, it was he who collated a list of the 65 biggest pike caught in the UK and Ireland over 35lbs and my understanding of the pike’s habits and the fish itself are almost entirely shaped by Fred Buller’s writing. Scrutiny of that big pike list reveals at No 28 a fish netted from the Dorset Stour in 1909 weighing 39lbs 7oz. Whilst I believe the Stour is still likely to hold fish of 20lbs plus it would be a surprise to see something of double that size. Fred Buller recounts seeing a fish from Spettesbury (his spelling) in 1941 of 32lbs 8oz caught in the close season. In my view, the great pike are no longer there, in the main, because the salmon and sea trout runs are not the same. It is a common theme of most of the giant pike producing waters that, certainly for part of the year, migratory salmonids or trout are abundant. Of course, there are trout in the Stour and the odd sea trout and salmon too, but generally not at a high enough density to suggest easy pickings for a pike.


However, there is a possible exception to the paucity of salmonids related the stocking of triploid brown trout into the River Allen.  Each year the Allen receives a fresh supply of brown trout stocked by those with fishery interests upstream of Wimborne. It is inevitable that many of these fish will drop back downstream and eventually find their way into the Stour. Could this supply of trout sustain a big pike? I recall a very large female pike in the River Allen in Wimborne, above the Arrows Bridge, just upstream of the Rising Sun PH, it had an entourage of three small male pike. It seemed likely that this female was a River Stour resident that had swum upstream to spawn. I thought her weight was over twenty pounds and part of her diet could obviously have been hatchery bred browns. I have wondered from time to time about big pike at Baileys.


The single great exception to giant pike living on salmonids are those caught in the meres of East Anglia. These pike appear to have bigger heads and jaws than elsewhere, an adaptation which appears to facilitate them feeding off the bream shoals that frequent these waters.


Big shoals of bream of course exist in Club waters, largely stocked by the Club as at Packhorse in the Kingsbridge complex. The density of fish in this lake is high, the water is however permanently murky.  What does water with low visibility do for the growth rates of pike? One of the traits of the big fish list is that the waters seem to have good visibility, which must be an advantage for an ambush predator with forward facing eyes. However, there are also examples of very large blind pike surviving and indeed if one considers that the majority of a pike’s diet is dead fish, then the distinctive smell of a dead fish would surely help a pike scavenge such a water. About four years ago I fished Packhorse in late June with sea fish dead-bait and had a terrific run which ended when the hook hold gave. It could have been an eel or even a carp, but I am reasonably sure it was a very decent pike.


There are jacks at Little Canford. I watched several on the afternoon of the last family fishing day, they were close to the surface and appeared to be hunting adult damsel flies, which was eccentric behaviour given the volume of small silverfish.  It follows that where there are many small pike the top predator keeping them in check will be a big pike – it is the survival of the fittest.  The pike’s appetite both in terms of quantity and size of prey has been inclined to be a matter of speculation. However, from evidence provided by Dr Kennedy in Ireland and some work done in Germany, as reported by Fred Buller, it is apparent that the pike’s preference for food size is for a prey of between 10 and 15 % of its bodyweight but this may go up to 20% and as big as 38%. So big pike eat big fish – the 53lb pike caught in Lough Conn by Jim Garvin in 1920 disgorged a 10lb salmon before it was weighed.


Research done at Windermere showed that a pike would maintain its own bodyweight over a year by eating its own weight + 40%. Pike offered food in excess of its maintenance requirements ate up to 3.5 times its own body-weight. Pike are also seasonal eaters at their most active from March to June.


One of the bye-products of modern trout fisheries are large pike. It is particularly true of the large English and Welsh reservoirs where special pike fishing days now take place in winter. Chew, Farmoor and Llandegfedd in Wales have produced huge fish including Roy Lewis’s Welsh fish of 46lbs 13oz. Another trait of the largest pike is that they normally come from large waters - loughs, lochs, meres and now reservoirs; or the big rivers with migratory fish runs.


Of course, the Club stocks trout at Rawlsbury and Winterborne Zelston. No pike has been recorded at Rawlsbury but there are pike in Zelston. I have had lively debates about the origin of pike at Zelston. I do not believe a hen fish swam up the Winterborne or that pike fry did the same. That leaves deliberate introduction or arrival as spawn on the feet of birds – in a way it is not important. For the last thirty years at least, there been a population of pike in Zelston.


It is the female of the species that grows to the largest of sizes. Male pike seldom get to double figures. However, crucially the female pike does not have to be large to spawn. A female pike may be fertile when not very large; so a three pound female could be able to spawn successfully and this may be true of even smaller fish.  The fish at Zelston must spawn successfully to keep producing the little pike that take anglers’ flies [the most complaints are between March and June when pike and trout fishermen are at their most active!]



The Zelston pike of 15lbs and its 2lb trout meal

I and a number of other current Members were part of a working party, which carried out the last electro- fishing and netting of Zelston. It took place in John Burden’s time as Game Secretary. A large number of small pike up to about a pound and a half were removed, but a big fish got away, and it is inevitable that the fry of that year were also not completely removed. Indeed, it is impossible to remove all pike fry (unless the lake is drained)


Later, in 2005 I caught a pike of over fifteen pounds, when clearing weed at Zelston and this fish was found to have a two-pound trout in its gullet.  This fish would probably have eaten a minimum of eight trout a year.  The Club could, therefore be growing a pike at Zelston as big as any in the Club’s waters, fed on the Club’s stocked rainbows. However, this is not necessarily a big problem. First, during the year there is clearly a mortality rate in the stocking due to disease and injury. Pike, out of preference, will eat dead or dying fish so having a pike inevitably means that the fish stock in the lake is healthier. Of course, a big fish will also predate the smaller pike. Many trout fisheries including Avington and Dever Springs have very large pike in their waters. I was once told that many years ago a pike of well over twenty pounds was removed from Zelston. Whilst this water is like looking into an aquarium, I am always surprised at how well fish hide in it; could there be another big pike lurking, I do not recall sightings of the 2005 fish before I landed it?

In the meantime the Club record remains at 26lbs.

The Failure of the Goose Line at Winterborne Zelston.

By Mike Hirsh, Club Chairman

Each year in Autumn Canada geese arrive at the Club’s Trout lake at Winterborne Zelston. The number of geese using the lake has increased over the last few years.


It was pointed out by some Members, quite rightly, that it is a bit of a nonsense to haul away tons of weed and try to minimise the impact of surface water coming off the adjacent fields, if there are around three hundred geese adding nutrients to the water every day for about six weeks. I was not prepared to risk upsetting our neighbours at short notice this year by the use of shot guns around the lake because of its proximity to housing and livestock. The situation was also complicated by the fact that at the time the Club had an undetermined planning application before North Dorset District Council for a storage container at the site.  It was important to avoid accusations, however founded, about the behaviour of Club Members and the Club needed to talk with key individuals locally. [I did, nonetheless get agreement from the Committee that guns may be brought on to the site with specific written authorisation to deal with the problem in the future if need be – Canada geese are not protected being rather like avian grey squirrels].


The Committee members have already been discussing bird scarers for the top lake at Edmonsham to keep cormorants and herons away once it has been stocked. Having consulted Paul Nicholls, I thought I might make a prototype for WZ and see if it would keep the geese off. I sourced some 220lb b.s. yellow Dacron and bird scare heliographic tinsel and then spent three nights trying to glue tinsel to the line. The highpoint of this exercise was my wife arriving to find the house so full of glue fumes that she was convinced I was high and insisted on doors and windows being opened, notwithstanding the awful rain and gale.


I delayed stringing this line deterrent up as the tail end of those hurricanes blew through and in the event it went up on the day the water was restocked in October. It was strung on the diagonal (118 metres from south- west to north-east).  It definitely seemed to work, but did its installation coincide with the migration of the birds away from the water?

Anne who lives next to the lake thought that it was a bit like Christmas coming early, when I offered to take it down if she got fed up with it. [Anne has been a terrific support this year- letting us have access to her electricity supply, allowing the Club to deliver the landing stage replacement beams to her address and providing drinks for those on working parties – if only all our neighbours were so kind].


The problem has been that the tinsel is not strong enough and much has simply torn away, leaving the thin yellow line – it is therefore not fit for purpose and will shortly be taken down. If anyone has old CDs then that is what is needed for the second prototype – please leave any you have in the shed at WZ and I will collect them.


The good news is the lake is filling and there are trout in the lake to catch. On of over 5lbs was caught in the second week of November and there are others of that size sometimes in plain view.


In 2018 there will be a better strategy to shift the geese.

Supporting our local tackle shops - 10% off for WDAC members!

By James Nash, Club website administrator

It's becoming an ever-increasing cut-throat industry - angling shops up and down the country competing with an ever-growing army of online retailers. Online purchasing is now the way of the world and shows no sign of slowing up. For some industries, the day will come where the respective high-street retailers disappear altogether.


In our industry though it's a little bit different. Popping to our local tackle shop is not just about buying products; it encompasses a lot more than that. We discuss venues, tactics, we catch up with the guys that run the shops and listen to the news about what's going on and where. We hear of the trails and tribulations of local anglers and find out the local gossip!We also buy fresh livebait, which isn't really possible online currently.


Some products will continue to be bought online. There's no escaping that. But there are still plenty of products to buy locally that support our tackle shops and keep our localised industry going. The recent 'Black-Friday' marketing sums up the methodology of some of these online companies. Products, sometimes being offered at lower than trade price, encourages consumers into repeat buying behaviour. A similar tactic is used by the large supermarkets - loss leading products for those who are interested. Whilst this potentially offers us as the consumer a short-term bargain, it does nothing to support the local people here in Dorset and Hampshire that have been established years before the online companies were conceived.


There's nothing wrong with buying online, we could just maybe pause sometimes and ask ourselves 'can buy that product locally?'. If we can, then we are doing a great thing in supporting the angling community in and around our own club waters.


Both Wessex Tackle and Purbeck Angling have kindly supported a 10% discount offer for all WDAC members. This runs for the duration of your membership - just remember to provide your membership book when making your purchase. Grab yourself a Christmas deal or two!

Tackle shops local to WDAC:

  • Wessex Angling (Poole)
  • Arthur Conyers (Blandford)
  • Castaways (Parkstone)
  • Purbeck Angling (Wareham)
  • Christchurch Angling (Christcurch)
  • Ringwood Tackle (Ringwood)

01202 668 244

01258 452 307

01202 739 202

01929 550 770

01202 480 009

01425 475 155

Richard Barlow has caught yet another big fish this month!


During a session on the Stour at Wimborne Richard slipped his net underneath this superb 5lb 12oz chub. Good angling and congratulations to Richard.


Even more impressively, Richard has also netted a near 30lb carp and a 2lb+ roach in recent weeks, all three of which were from club waters!





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What's happening over the coming months....

>>  We're delighted to announce that the Club now has access to five day tickets at both Orchard Lakes Fishery as well as Revels Fishery. See our venues page for more details.


>>  Our new for 2018 Annual Photography Competition has now launched. A designated page on the website is now live. Get your entry in for the chance to win a free annual membership.


>> Have a look at our new fish safety section from the main menu. Designed to provide  fundamental information on how best to target and land large fish. Have a read and if you think we can add any info, please get in touch.