WDAC CURRENT NEWS AND INFO
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We're always updating our news feed to keep our membership up-to-date with Club news.
See this months news below as well as links to previous articles.
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For full details on how to join and the rates for 2020/21
Further details on all of our waters and concessions.
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Wildlife images courtesy of Hugh Miles.
WDAC offers our membership the chance to fish two trout waters, Winterborne Zelston and Rawlsbury
WDAC runs numerous matches across the calendar year, encompassing both stillwaters and the River Stour. Matches are also held on non-club waters.
JUNIORS PAGE: LIVE NOW!
A page of the website purely for our younger members.
We're absolutely delighted to be launching the new section of the website, tailored specifically for our junior members. Please take a look at the new pages on the link below:
The idea is essentially to provide a learning resource and engagement tool, where they can learn more about fishing and participate in various competitions for prizes.
The content revolves heavily around our sponsors, you'll see we've been very kindly granted permission to use video content from some of the very best in the industry. The Club would like to say a special thank you to:
Without the support and endorsements we've received, it simply wouldn't be possible to have such fantastic video content and the prizes we have on offer for our juniors to enter towards.
It's a resource that we intent to add to over time. You'll see we've kicked things off with an introduction to Packhorse. Further venues and video content will be added in the coming months to ensure we a library that's accessible to everyone.
If you have any suggestions for improvement, or perhaps some feedback from our juniors, please don't hesitate to contact us. We'll be very happy to hear from you.
Our new junior section
By Club Media Officer, James Nash
Next up from the Club’s committee is Secretary Stuart Hitchman.
1. Stuart, can you tell us a little bit more about your role as Secretary and what that role involves?
Primarily I look after the agenda and minutes of each committee meeting, documenting responsibilities and actioning our objectives. In addition to the administration of the Club I also undertake several other roles:
• Liaising with landowners with regards to the leasing of Club waters
• Updating and publishing membership books each year
• Venue maintenance and work parties
• Grant applications. The Club has gained over £42,000 of funding from the Angling Trust to improve the Club, something we’re extremely grateful for.
• Speaking to new members and dealing with new member enquiries as the first point of contact for the Club
There have been a number of additional projects I’ve had the pleasure in being involved with that don’t come under the role of Secretary. These include:
• Liaising with Sparsholt College with regards to the fish transport from Poole Park to Club waters
• Acting as an ambassador for the Angling Trust to encourage WDAC members to join
• In association with the Angling Trust, BPC and landowners, the construction works at Pinnock and Creekmoor Lakes to redevelop the sites for improvement and access.
• The annual Help 4 Heroes event at Kingsbridge. Sadly we’re very unlikely to be able to host the event this year in light of the social distancing guidelines.
• The stocking, feeding and monitoring of fish. As our EA liaison, this includes water testing for health safety checks
• Looking for experienced workman that can assist with work parties and essential maintenance of Club waters
• Reviewing some of the legal aspects of running the Club. We’re currently on the lookout for a solicitor who may be able to lend the Club a hand to assist in this capacity.
An interview with Club Secretary, Stuart Hitchman
By Club Media Officer, James Nash
What has the Club been doing since the lockdown?
By Club Chairman, Mike Hirsh
As everyone will understand, the Club has been facing unique challenges. The Club’s Committee focused, at the start of the lock down, on preparing the detail of the explanation to put on the website and to email to all Members concerning the closure of the fisheries, but at the same time freezing memberships. We achieved these decisions by circulating emails between the Committee Members and gathering responses, together with telephone calls which had to suffice because we could not meet.
The mind-set of the Club’s Committee members has been very positive throughout the lock down and, at a strategic level we have been clear from the outset.
We needed to ensure that:
• The Club’s financial position was as secure as possible,
• That the Club Members remained our focus,
• And that fish welfare should be high on the Club’s list of priorities.
• That we had to start to look at the issues arising, when recreational angling would be allowed again.
The Club froze memberships so that they were not expiring whilst Members could not fish. In short those with valid memberships on the 24 March 2020 will benefit from an additional two months of membership. This can happen because the Club is in a sound financial position. You can be confident the WDAC will continue to exist as a Members Angling Club, even if it takes a couple of years for society to get back to some sort of normality in everyday life.
Secretary, Stu Hitchman, masterminded the Club’s first ‘remote’ Committee on the 7 April using conferencing software. It was well attended and we dealt with the finance provisions, formally, under the guidance of our Treasurer Jan Nightingale.
The Committee then went on to deal with a plan for the feeding of both coarse fish and trout, which was then successfully implemented. (In this respect we took expert advice). Maintenance and security checking arrangements were considered as was water quality testing and this work was put in hand too. As the month progressed, the strangely dry and warm April raised real concerns about the potential for algal blooms, which happened locally elsewhere, but I am pleased to report did not happen on our waters. [The readings of dissolved oxygen at Pinnock Lakes, for example, were excellent].
The Committee, at its April meeting also considered the arrival of two rent invoices. I agreed to contact the relevant landlords to seek a ‘rent holiday’ in the light of the fact the Club could not use the waters and, I am pleased to advise, the approaches to the estates in both instances have proved successful and I am very grateful for the understanding way the matter was considered by the owners of both Kingsbridge and Edmondsham. Our landlord at Rawlsbury has also been very understanding and we have been able to agree an arrangement that reflects the late stocking of the lakes due to both the wet winter and then the lock down. The water was stocked in late May and elsewhere on the web-site there is an update by our Game Secretary, Nigel Horsman, on this topic. [There is also a photograph of the stocking taking place. Some may notice it shows me holding a beach-caster! I use this for helping fish swim off that otherwise may get stuck in the reeds on the side of the lake, not for catching].
James Nash, our media officer, worked tirelessly. If he did not do this for love, the Club could never afford to pay him! In addition to updating information, he has been developing the junior section part of the website, but has also spent a lot of time responding to queries on Facebook too.
There were a couple of reports of fishing despite the lock down. It was concluded that as these had been on the Club’s open waters they were a criminal matter, being a breach of the Covid Regulations 2020 and were for the police. Of course, it was simply absurd to have been fishing in breach of the regulations.
Our attention then turned to the practicalities of how the Club was to re-start angling. This was the main topic for our second ‘remote’ Committee Meeting on the 5th May. As a response to the Covid-19 crisis Jamie Cook, as Chief Executive for the Angling Trust (AT), wrote to the Rt. Honourable Michael Gove MP on the 21st April, with the support of other related bodies, explaining why recreational fishing should be an early candidate for the lifting of current restrictions. I and several other Members lobbied Michael Tomlinson our local MP, who after the Government had, indeed, agreed a relaxation on some outside activities, including angling, wrote a very positive reply to me and is certainly aware of the Club and the work it does.
The Committee agreed additional guidance and rules to assist the return. The drafting was based on the AT document, as published on that organisation’s website which contained 12 guidelines to apply once when the relaxation was enabled. The report before the Committee also identified, in part, action points, where appropriate, for individuals in respect of specific matters. For example, our Portaloos were unclean but not a Covid-19 threat. Ideally, they needed to be cleaned and sealed off. Our Treasurer had the task of resolving this problem, [because Jan was involved in sorting out a new cleaning contract when the lock down intervened]. The Portaloos have since been cleaned and locked.
Importantly, the Committee also agreed that initially there would be no tickets for guests and no night fishing. The suspension of guest tickets was based upon the premise that it was likely that there would be a pent-up demand to fish and it was only right that members have priority over guests. Night fishing was initially unacceptable for a number of reasons, but primarily because it was important to turn over swims more quickly in the first instance. In the event Club officers monitored fishing numbers at our key sites through May and into early June.
Following the announcement on Sunday the 10th May by the Prime Minister there was a scramble to make waters ready for the following Wednesday. In various places key Members went out to do work. There is, inevitably still some work to be done [and some we cannot recapture this year like weed control], but bankside vegetation was trimmed, notices put up concerning the additional rules and waters checked for safety. The Club also decided to delay some more major works, including the improvement of the car park surface at Kingsbridge to avoid disruption.
Chris, our Membership Secretary, was suddenly inundated with applications for membership. He continued to work through the latter part of May and not go fishing to keep up with the workflow from the applications from those who did not apply until it was known that fishing was going to start again.
Until we are advised by Government differently, we are bound to continue social distancing at all times and a minimum of two metres will be observed between all people on Club waters (except for people in the same household, parents of juniors/minors who are not from the same isolation household and carers for the less able). We will also need to be sensitive to, and avoid conflicts with, non-fishing members of the public where there is public access.
The key message is that every Member will need to consider others with sensitivity and in the way we have all recently had to become accustomed. Social distancing and extreme care with hand hygiene are the new normal and it is no different fishing.
The waters were, initially, very busy and are still being well used. However, having monitored all our waters the Club’s Committee has now permitted night fishing, in accordance with the Club’s normal rules except on Packhorse at Kingsbridge. Guest tickets can again be purchased.
At the June ‘remote’ Committee, the key matter was to consider how the Club would bring back match fishing. Essentially, we have adopted the advice published by the Angling Trust but Jim Finch, our Match Secretary, has also made special provision for dealing with match monies.
I have been out and about since we re-opened our fisheries. I have been really delighted with the behaviour of all those fishing. Everyone has been diligent in meeting the new guidelines, but in addition all have been just obviously pleased to be fishing again; it is plain that in terms of individual well-being fishing presents a great opportunity–it really is fishing with a smile.
2. Which is your favourite Club venue and why?
Without a doubt this would have to be Medleys at Pinnock Lakes, Edmondsham. As many of you will be aware, the top lakes was drained, desilted and has undergone a major transformation into our new dedicated A1 crucian and tench venue.
I find Medleys the best venue to relax and unwind, enjoying the peace and tranquillity of the beautiful remote Dorset countryside. The venue is underused in the main – if you’ve yet to sample the delights of Medleys, I would strongly recommend you give it a try!
3. What’s been your highlight capture from a Club venue since you first joined?
This is a tricky one as a few spring to mind.
My proudest moment would be the match win at Packhorse last year, landing 134lb of carp in just three hours. Tactics on the day involved the pellet wager at 20-30m range from the bank. 11mm banded pellets were used as hookbait, utilising a little and often feeding strategy of 6mm pellets. Baits were presented 12-18 inches below the surface and I went through three pints of pellets throughout the session.
In 2018 I was fortunate enough to fish with Club committee member Nick Churchill in one of the Club’s river series matches. I landed just over 9lb of lovely roach and in doing do reminisced about fond childhood memories fishing on the Thames.
Lastly, how could I forget the 29lb ghost carp I landed whilst fishing on Poole Park, as part of the transfer of fish from there to Club venues. What a stunning fish and what a fight!
4. If you could go fishing with any angling personality, who would it be and why?
I will concur with Mike on this one, it would without a doubt have to be Chris Yates. Unlike Mike, I’ve fished on the same bank as Chris, but not with him in person. I would love to watch his approach and learn from the watercraft experience he has gained over many successful years of fishing.
5. Can you tell us about any changes for 2020 within the Club?
The main item would be the resurfacing of the new car park at Kingsbridge. There is still work to do to improve this aspect of the venue.
With a restricted return to fishing during the Covid-19 pandemic, now is not the time to orchestrate this – members would be unlikely appreciate further disruption to their fishing than they’ve had already. It’s in the pipeline though for the near future.
6. Tell us an interesting fact about yourself that we may not know!
I’m a trustee and ambassador for ‘The Bowra Foundation’, a charitable trust formed by Mark Bowra. Mark and I served in the armed forces together for many years. Sadly, Mark suffered a major stroke a few years ago. The Foundation journeys his long road to recovery, raising funds for people who have suffered with neurological injury. Mark’s an inspiration to everyone who meets him.
Part of our fundraising activities this year will see us undertake the 1000 challenge – covering over a 1000 miles cycling, hiking, swimming and canoeing. The original concept was to complete the challenge between Lands’ End and John ‘O Groats. Due to the Covid 19 situation we will instead complete the challenge from a custom designed ‘BowraBunker’ in a way that maintains social distancing and keeps participants safe.
Borwick Development Solutions Ltd.v. Clear Water Fisheries Ltd 
Last September I wrote an article on a decision made in the High Court Chancery Division, from the civil court in Manchester, which sought to alter the basis of the law about fish stocks and who owns them. This decision was subsequently challenged in the Court of Appeal and the outcome has just been reversed in a rather unsatisfactory manner.
You may recall that, Borwick Development Solutions Ltd was the former owner of a commercial fishery on a freehold site close to junction 35 of the M6. The business failed, it appears, because of a loss-making investment in an on-site café. Receivers were appointed in 2016 and thence sold the site to Clear Water Fisheries. During the sale process the Claimant had raised the matter of the fish stocks but that had not prevented the sale.
The Court of Appeal issued a judgement on the 1 May 2020 where Lord Justice Peter Jackson concluded that on the facts of the particular case, Borwick Developments Solutions Ltd had no rights to the fish. In essence this appears to be because they had no rights to access the fish, as the land and therefore access to the lakes had been sold. All three judges considered there were varying degrees of sense in the lower court judgment by Judge Hodge QC and the test to apply to the ownership of the fish as set out in the original judgement might apply in terms of a general test of ownership. However, the appeal court judges were all in agreement that once the land was sold there was no right to go and get the fish from the lakes. That right was lost when the land was transferred to the new owners.
So what does this mean for the Club? This new position is that there is some doubt about who may own fish in enclosed waters on a commercial fishery. So in terms of good practice it is still likely to mean, over time, WDAC will need to reconsider the terms of the Club’s leases and licences in this respect. If, for some reason, it came to moving fish, because it is believed fish are owned by the Club, then the Club needs to do it before giving up the relevant lease.
Who owns fish - part two
By Club Chairman, Mike Hirsh
Lock Down, a strange term but we soon came to understand what it meant, especially us fisher people. Those of us old enough to remember the proper close season have been through all this before, month after month of nothing, checking and re-checking things over, ordering new stuff, until June 16 arrives, then bliss.
We are short of copy for the next Newsletter the Chairman says, go away and write something!
After staring at a blank sheet of paper until my head began to hurt I decided to pump up the tyres on my tackle trolley only to be accused of, ‘playing with my fishing tackle again’ so I slunk off to my bookcase and opened my copy of George Brennands, ‘Fishermans Handbook’. Written 70 years ago it holds stacks of really interesting information on all aspects of Game and Coarse fishing. There’s good advice on trolling deep lochs for salmon or the ideal line for luring the fabulous trout of the Test or Itchen, and just about everything in between.
Things were different in 1950s when he wrote about split cane and greenheart rods, gut casts, oilskins and the first threadline reels. Essential tackle items always seemed to include a hip flask or two, cigarettes and matches. No mobile phones for George. In 1950 he thought the term Coarse Fishing was remarkably out of date as tackle and techniques used by the then coarse fisherman was anything but coarse. He highlighted the problems of class distinction that prevailed in the sport in that the, ‘lower income groups’ tended to fish for roach, dace, chub and barbel whereas the ‘higher income groups’ found their pleasure in luring some form of game fish. He noted a 2lb chub when cooked was a thing of horror and lethal bones whereas a 2lb fresh run sea trout was food of the gods. Good to see this snobbery doesn’t exist nowadays.
Alongside my books I keep all the precious clutter that builds up over the years and is, impossible to throw away. There’s the beautiful and never used brass priest with a stags horn handle presented to me on my retirement, a never used bar of fishermans soap, an unopened bottle of Coventry Arms Fishermans Ale best before the end of April 2005 and Bob Nudds cassette tape, Maggots in Ya Catapult, circa 1995. Better run it through the Sony Walkman again to keep it in perfect working order ready for the Antiques Roadshow. Well, all this stuff needed a good checking over, a light dusting then carefully replacing on the shelves.
Hooks tied, floats painted, rods and poles polished, reels oiled, bait tubs washed. Flies tied, fly line cleaned, even a clean towel in the bag, I am ready.
End of week three of my twelve week period self-isolation, only another nine to go, what a coincidence, that will be Tuesday the 16th of June.
Note to self, check the wormery next week.
Things to do whilst locked down
By Club President, Brian Heap
'Tinca tinca' caught by Stu from Pinnock Lakes