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WDAC offers our membership the chance to fish two trout waters, Winterborne Zelston and Rawlsbury



YOUR club needs YOUR help to report sightings of cormorants

It's critically important that we look after the welfare of our fish, for today and for tomorrow.



For full details on how to join and the rates for 2020/21


Further details on all of our waters and concessions.

WDAC offers our membership the chance to fish two trout waters, Winterborne Zelston and Rawlsbury



YOUR club needs YOUR help to report sightings of cormorants

It's critically important that we look after the welfare of our fish, for today and for tomorrow.



For full details on how to join and the rates for 2020/21


Further details on all of our waters and concessions.

WDAC offers our membership the chance to fish two trout waters, Winterborne Zelston and Rawlsbury


By Mike Hirsh, Club Chairman

Timely reminders and what happened at the AGM.

Last year at this time I wrote about how you can get caught out if the sun shines and you overheat. I reminded everyone to be wary of the sun’s rays and getting dehydrated.  This year it has been more about another couple of layers of clothing to avoid hypothermia! Days of rain, cloudy skies and windy conditions have meant that Spring has been slow in springing.  However, it remains a good plan to pack hats, water and factor 50; there is no point in ignoring what the weather might do to you.


Following the wettest winter since records began the aquifers are full which is good news. However, when further rain arrives it is not allowing the surface layers of the soil to dry out. That is not bad, if you are a gardener, but it is continuing to make life difficult around some of the Club’s waters. Edmondsham’s banks, trampled by the horses from the Heavy Horse Centre, when they escaped on Boxing Day, are uneven and still muddy in places and need extra care, if you are walking around. Trout stocking at Rawlsbury has required the ingenuity of Bob Spurgeon’s crate on wheels to take fish up the valley to the top lakes and across the field to Chapman’s.

May 2024

The winter migrant cormorants have left for the Continent and so, with that threat absent, Medley’s the top lake at Edmondsham has had its covering of bailer twine removed. This year, for the first time the twine has been carefully coiled on the west bank ready to re-use in the Autumn. Once the string was off, our Club’s President Brian Heap had to see how the fish were. All the fish he caught were in lovely condition and our young tench continue to grow. What was a surprise to both Brian and I were the number of roach he caught. Since this lake was drained in 2019 the Club has only stocked tench and crucian carp. Three years ago, there were a very few roach and now there are many more. It just shows how the best laid plans of fishery management can be changed by nature’s intervention.


Do also remember that we are approaching that time of year when there may be algal blooms and waters may change quickly. If you are worried by the change in a water please ring it in and we will check it. Losing fish due to a rapid fall in oxygen levels is something we try to avoid.

Photo 1: Trout on the move

Photo 2: Twine coiled at Medley’s for re-use in the Autumn.

Photo 3: Young chub for both Packhorse and Medley’s

In the Annual General Meeting Minutes which follow, under Item 9 there is a reference to proposed fish stocking and much of this work has been carried out in April and the first part of May. The proposal for chub to be put into Medley’s to control the fry has been carried out and, in addition some have been introduced to Packhorse at Kingsbridge to improve the winter fishery. They are already being caught at both lakes.


The carp promised for Julia’s at Edmondsham have also been stocked. The fish were all fully scaled commons in keeping with this ‘Estate Lake’ and are settling in. At Kingsbridge, Steve Neale and I took delivery of three carp weighing 20lbs, 22lbs and 24lbs which Steve carefully released into Packhorse. As explained in the AGM minutes, these fish are part funded from night permits.

Photo 4: 24lb carp stocked into Packhorse part of the envisaged stocking identified at the AGM.

In addition, the opportunity has arisen to stock some bream into Julia’s and this too is under way with some fish arriving very recently and more promised.


The roach boards are currently in place on the River Stour too.


From the perspective of the Club’s management, you will read that the Club’s Officers and Committee Members all stood for re-election so, for the present you have the same management team. Further, the Club also remains in a sound financial position.


Help Needed


At the AGM I asked for members to step forward to help with the running of the Club. The Club would benefit from some additional help and there is always room for fresh ideas. We would wish to strengthen our team and the particular skills sets we see as being useful are those who already work with children and then office skills; after all, whilst the Club is a not-for-profit organisation it only works if the volunteers run it efficiently!

In addition, if you have had practical experience in helping evaluate software packages or are generally interested,  the Committee would be delighted to hear from you. Please drop an email to the Club Secretary.


Tight Lines

By Mike Hirsh, Club Chairman

Annual General Meeting Minutes



Annual General Meeting Minutes

26 March 2024

Corfe Mullen Royal British Legion

Start 19:30


Entrance to the meeting was restricted to members only and there were 46 attendees.


Minutes silence in remembrance: To remember fishermen and friends who have died.

Mike Hirsh asked for a minutes silence to remember fishermen and friends who had died in the last year including Wally Welch, Hans Hoff the Club’s extraordinary trout supplier and Richard Slocock who was  there at the start of the Wild Trout Trust and did so much for trout fishing in Dorset.


Apologies: Apologies had been received from Brian Heap, James Nash, Nick Churchill, Nick Lawrie, Colin Hancock, Nigel Horseman and David Lynch.


1. Chairman’s Welcome and Report by Mike Hirsh (MH).


On behalf of the Committee, MH thanked all present for attending and advised:   Brian Heap, your President, who remains an important sounding board for the workings of the Club, has sent his apologies, and that makes matters slightly more complicated in arranging the elections for officers and the committee members, which is why in a short while you will be asked to elect Iain Scott as Chairman for the evening.


MH went on to say: In reviewing the workings of Wimborne and District Angling Club I believe it did really well in 2023. So, what do I mean by ‘did really well?’


First it means that the Club remained financially sound.  In January 2023 the Committee was rightly concerned about the impact of inflation and the rising costs of living and the effect this might have on Member numbers and thus income. We budgeted for a 10% drop in income rather than putting subscription prices up as we knew we had sufficient reserves to weather twelve months.

If the price of gas and electricity is spiraling and your mortgage monthly repayment is rising too then the cost of a WDAC subscription is bound to come under scrutiny.  In terms of the Club’s monthly indicators, the Committee receives a report from Jan, our Treasurer, and indeed that is a requirement written into the Constitution. We also receive a monthly report from Chris our Membership Secretary. It took until June for a clear financial picture to emerge and the figures started to look better. The Club’s finances for the year turned out rather well in the end.


Second, I consider for an Angling Club ‘doing really well’ must mean that members caught fish and enjoyed catching them.  It is important that in a relatively small not-for-profit private angling club, like ours, members enjoy being by the water of their choice and catch; and also can see or know that others are catching too. Sometimes it is not the size of the fish, but it is a species that takes you by surprise. However, it is inevitably the new Club record fish that make the headlines, and we had two in the year – The first was Rhys Philip’s 36 lbs. mirror carp caught from Alder Hills at the start of the coarse fish season; and the second was Steve Neale’s Pike of 28lbs 8oz from the River Stour just before Christmas, breaking a record that had stood for nearly fifty years.  However, on my visits to waters last year, I was personally delighted to see fish being caught of all sorts of sizes and species, giving real pleasure to their captors.


Third, we ‘did really well’ in keeping up the Club’s recent record of initiatives to attract new fishermen or attract returners to the sport. Perhaps the most obvious example last year was the Game Section open day in May, where we provided the opportunity for both young and old without any fishing experience, or only coarse fishing experience, to catch a trout. All those taking part were delighted and that included those giving up their time for the day to help and coach as well as the novice anglers; all of whom did catch trout. I wish to take the opportunity to especially record our thanks to Mike Bilson, who is not a Club member, but is a qualified game fishing coach, who played a key role in taking the lead at the beginning of each session.


Fourth we strengthened and innovated operationally. For example, we organised training of key volunteers. There is a real tension between continuing working parties with volunteers and the Health and Safety hoops one is now bound to jump through. I wrote two risk assessments last year for doing some minor work on the Stour for Dorset Council our landlords, on one side of the River, and Cala Homes on the other.  We sent some of our key workers on a brush cutter course so the Club would have qualified working party members that can then manage others too.  More excitingly, we also sent Iain Scott to be trained about otters and how to get them removed from enclosed waters. Iain came back with a mine of new information about otters, which has already proved of value this last winter.


The Club purchased an Angling Trust water testing kit. Martin Dunn your Secretary is in charge of the kit and will explain what the Club is doing with it later (see item 11).


Lastly, we do not forget the mundane. If you look through the Committee’s minutes, your Officers try to make sure that routine work gets done. Trout get ordered and received at the two trout fisheries, repairs to locks happen as does WC emptying. New membership books are edited, designed and printed. Jan makes sure we pay rent and Chris has a continuous process for receiving membership applications and sending out new books to applicant members.


There is of course always scope for improvement.  Last year we held back on new capital expenditure initiatives, so there are some schemes not carried out and Iain and I can tell you of plans later (see Item 9). We also simply struggled, on occasions, to keep up with nature. Water weed, waterside weed and everything else grew like mad, boosted by a wet July, and so different from the year before when the drought brought some real heat and also slowed growth.


We have also failed to get new blood onto the Committee. I have written articles in the newsletter and talked to fishermen on the bank, but there are currently two vacancies with no members coming forward for this evening’s meeting to fill them. Every organisation, voluntary or not, needs new people to bring a fresh perspective, ideas, and energy and of course we always need skill sets – finance, media particularly Instagram, and practical skills too. So, I am not giving up on seeking out fresh blood!

We, of course, had some surprises, both good and bad.  A good surprise was that we had a gift of seven new trout rods to help with teaching, and this has also enabled the Club to loan out tackle to aspiring trout fisherman. The gift came from Peter Usherwood, a longtime friend and former member, and I have thanked him for his generosity.


Conversely, on Boxing Day residents of the Dorset Heavy Horse Centre escaped from their field, crossed the River Crane and did several laps of the Pinnock Lakes at Edmondsham, knocking down our electric fences and trampling the rain softened ground, leaving huge hoofprints. The Club is very lucky to have Nick Lawrie and his son Jack, who restored the otter fence a few days later, when the building industry, as you know, would normally have been on holiday.  When Edmondsham’s ground is less soggy Nick will carry out some restoration to the heavily poached areas and we are also pursuing an insurance claim.


Being Chairman of this angling club is a real privilege. However, I know it would all unravel very quickly if it were not for those other Club volunteers who work to ensure their own work areas and tasks are executed in the best interests of the Club with real skill, knowledge, and efficiency. I end my report, therefore, by thanking all those who have given up their time in 2023 to do voluntary work for the Club.


2. Election of Chairman for the evening.

It was proposed by Paul Baker and seconded by Jan Nightingale that Iain Scott be elected Chairman for the evening. AGREED with nobody against the motion.


3. Minutes from AGM held on 21 March 2023.


The Minutes were AGREED as a true record of events, as previously circulated in the May 2023 Newsletter and published on the Club’s website (and with copies available to the meeting).  Proposed Paul Flatters and seconded by Stuart Hitchman.


4. Matters arising from the AGM Minutes 0f 2023.


It was AGREED, without a formal vote, that there were no matters arising.


5. Change to the Constitution.


MH explained a proposed change to the Constitution to introduce a new section under Membership (which will be item 3k) to allow for the creation of a limited new class being a licensee. To assist the explanation a report was circulated to the meeting the key points being:

(a) The extent of the new class of membership would be restricted by the home address of the applicants, which would need to be in one of the new dwellings on the Oakwood Park Estate, and it would only be for the ‘Bailey’ stetch of the River Stour as identified in the current Membership Book at Map 17.

(b) The initial fee would be £10 and would be for five years and thereafter five yearly renewals would be free for as long as the resident lived in a qualifying home. A valid licensee membership will require both a photograph and a signature on the licence issued by WDAC; and the application form would be via the Club’s website.

(c) A licensee will not be a full member of the Club for the purposes of its constitution and will not be able to vote at an AGM or buy guest tickets, but could be a bailiff restricted to ‘Baileys.’  A licensee will need to comply with the Club’s rules so far as they would be applicable, and a copy to specifically cover this situation would be issued with the new style licence and will also be available to download from the Club’s website.


The timing for the introduction of this amendment to be delegated to the Committee.

This proposal was AGREED with nobody against the motion.


6. Nominations for Officers and the Committee

[President Brian Heap – is in the second year of his term]

The following officers were AGREED unanimously for the next year:


a. Chairman – Mike Hirsh

b. Vice-Chairman – Iain Scott

c. Treasurer – Jan Nightingale

d. Membership Secretary – Chris Crompton

e. Secretary – Martin Dunn

f. Match Secretary – Jim Finch

g. Game Secretary – Paul Baker

h. Welfare Officers [job share]– Sean Harris and George Frost

i. Media Officer – James Nash

j. Rivers Officer – Nick Churchill

k. Head Bailiff – Steve Neale


At 5(a) the Constitution advises that the Committee shall compose, in addition to the officers, seven members. There are, therefore, currently two vacancies in addition to those Members listed below, which were also AGREED unanimously for the next year.


l. Nigel Taylor

m. Mike Jepson

n. Nick Lawrie

o. Hugh Miles

p. Stuart Hitchman


7. Treasurer’s financial report 2023


MH explained that the final version of the accounts has been prepared in time for this Meeting and signed off by the relevant Club officers. [Copies were available at the Meeting].


The Club initially budgeted for a 10% fall in income for 2023 and there was in fact an 8.5% fall compared with the previous year in relation to receipts for membership subscriptions. However, several matters then contrived to improve the overall picture such that the Club has ended up with a surplus. These circumstances will not be repeated in 2024.


Work carried out to Winterborne Zelston in August 2022 by the building of a gabion wall was kick-started by the promise of grant from the Environment Agency. However, the grant monies were not received until January 2023 so this sum of £5022 went into the 2023 revenue account.


A number of proposed purchases did not go ahead, for a variety of reasons, but primarily because the Club’s Committee was circumspect about spending on discretionary items, due to the general National economic situation. Expenditure was reduced compared with 2022. Then, at the end of the year the cost of the new Membership books fell into January 2024. This cost was nearly £2k and reduced the expenditure under ‘Printing, Postage and Stationery’ for 2023, but it is now in 2024.


In 2024 the Club may well spend some of the money saved, safe in the knowledge that the Committee can continue to work from a position of reasonable financial strength.


However, the Club’s expenditure on the essentials of rent, stationery and related items, insurance and maintaining machinery, which is currently around 2/3 of membership income will keep rising. Some rents are linked to indexation measures of inflation and this, of course, has pushed up these costs accordingly. The Club will not be putting up subscriptions in 2024 but the Club’s officers will need to carefully review the situation towards the end of the year with 2025 in mind.


Last, There is an item in this year’s accounts reflecting the value of fish stocks increasing. This is not because we have bought a great number of fish in 2023.  A valuation of around £20k for the fish [in Edmondsham and Kingsbridge, which are really the only locations where WDAC can argue ownership], is an increase on the previous figure which was largely based on recent stocking. The Club has not carried out any netting or electro fishing to substantiate stocks, but we are aware that there is a substantial head of fish in both complexes. It is, however, inevitably a slightly arbitrary figure and I just need to emphasise that it has to be a guesstimate. We do need something realistic in the accounts, but with a recorded note at this meeting reflecting that uncertainty. I hope that is clear.


8 Membership report 2023


Chris Crompton reported that membership of the Club in 2023 was 821. [In 2022 it was 853 and in 2021 it was 866, back in 2017 it was around 530].

There were

435 Senior

206 OAP

172 Minor and Junior, which is excellent with the future in mind.

With 364 new members joining last year. It now seems clear that anglers do seem to oscillate between the three local clubs.


9 A summary of forward plans for projects and for stocking




Iain Scott (IS) reported that for some year officers have been looking at how to improve Julia’s, the lower lake at Edmondsham. We had a proposal to drain and dredge it and create an island with the material. However, we have drawn back from that scheme, for a number of reasons, including that because of cracks in the east bank between the lake and the R Crane that emerged in the heat wave of 2022 the Club is concerned not to compromise its stability.


We have just completed a successful discussion with the Estate about a wet dredge from the west bank (the field bank) and this should go ahead later this year. The material will be stored on site and then either landscaped or removed.


MH advised that further to his report about the Heavy Horse Centre escapees in his review of the year, that money is being put in the budget to enable the remediation work to be carried out at Edmondsham around the lakes to deal with the hoof damage, but this will have to wait until the ground is dry enough to get machinery working on it. At present it is just too muddy.


In relation to Kingsbridge, IS explained it is the intention to construct a new double size disabled persons platform on Packhorse close to the new car park. The Club has landlord’s consent and is pricing the work to include appropriate approaches to the platforms.


MH advised, that subject to obtaining planning permission it is the intention to replace the existing worn out hut and lean to store with a replacement building that it is envisaged would provide a better, and lockable, store, a room of not dissimilar size to the existing hut but then in addition an open under cover area so that fishermen can sit out in shade, which from a health and safety aspect is becoming ever more important. (sketch drawings are available). It is the intention to site it further to the east than the existing hut to enable a vehicle to pass it.




IS advised that the Club has access to some great fisheries with a variety of species, but that does not happen by accident. Unfortunately, fish don’t naturally recruit as fast as we would like, so we have to add stock of various year groups to bolster and develop these populations. We also need to review existing stocking to see if another species may be useful.


On this last point, with regard to the top lake at Edmondsham, Medley’s, it is concluded it does need predators to keep in balance the large numbers of small crucian carp and tench. The proposal is to stock a shoal of chub, which will be most unlikely to spawn, in the absence of running water. They will also predate small crayfish. In the same lake it is also the intention to stock a few large tench (something which it was intended to implement last year but for the difficulty in securing suitably sized fish).


In the lower lake, Julia’s it is intended to top up the existing carp population with about forty additional fish of between 5 and 12 pounds.


At Kingsbridge the Club will introduce three large carp (20 pounds plus) into Packhorse to add interest to the existing resident carp population. This will be funded in part by night permits.

The EA has recently written to the Club with an offer of fish over the next three years as part of a national offer from the EA fish farm at Calverton. The Club is using this as a catalyst to discuss with the EA the opportunities to re-stock our River with some barbel, but to also try to obtain some other fish for the Club’s lakes, such as silver fish for Julia’s. IS was not particularly optimistic about the opportunity for River stocking as the EA is really centred on replacements for fish that have been killed because of pollution.


IS also explained the advantages of installing roach boards on the Club’s stretch of the Stour and thanked Hugh Miles for his help in this respect.


10 Crayfish in Club Waters – Edmondsham and Rawlsbury (MH)


The Club obtained a licence last year to trap with pots at Rawlsbury to investigate the density of the signal crayfish population. In recent years these crayfish appear to have arrived from the headwaters of the R Stour.  Two pots were set in Chapmans and two in Cowleaze. The results were that 122 crayfish were caught in total, which is just over five a week; hardly a high density. The Club will not be trapping this year but may in the future to monitor this population and a more detailed report is available upon request.


Since the dredging in 2019 of Bailey’s, the top lake at Edmondsham, it has been noted that crayfish have moved into this lake too. As part of discussions with EA officers at Blandford I raised the matter of setting traps here too. There was more reticence on the part of the EA officers for this venue, due to concerns about whether or not there might be co-habitation with the native, white-clawed crayfish. The Club has currently no intentions to trap here.


11 Water Testing on the R. Stour part of the national Angling Trust initiative – Martin Dunn


In July last year the club in partnership with the Angling trust started testing the water condition of the River Stour in Wimborne. The Club will be taking readings once a month for 24 months from 2 sites. One 5 metres above the Wessex Water Sewage Treatment Works outlet and the other about 50 metres downstream of the A31 road bridge.


We take 5 readings - 1. Phosphate 2. Nitrate 3. Ammonia 4. Temperature 5. Solids (Electrical Conductivity).


We use the kit which comes from the Angling Trust which is in this yellow box.

When we have taken the readings, I enter them into an App on my phone called Epicollect5 and when complete for both sites I download onto the Angling trust results page.


This is a brief description of what the chemicals are and where they come from:


Phosphates enter waterways from human and animal waste, phosphorus-rich bedrock, laundry and cleaning wastewater, industrial effluents, and fertilizer runoff.

Nitrate in water can be a result of runoff or leakage from fertilized soil, wastewater, landfills, animal feedlots, septic systems, or urban drainage.

Ammonia can enter the aquatic environment via direct means such as municipal effluent discharges and the excretion of nitrogenous wastes from animals, and indirect means such as nitrogen fixation, air deposition, and runoff from agricultural lands.

Solids (Electrical Conductivity) Electrical conductivity measures the ability of water to conduct an electrical current. The higher the concentration of dissolved charged chemicals (also known as salts) in the water, the greater the electrical current that can be conducted.

Temperature Is of course temperature of the water.

The Readings for our stretch are:


Above Outlet

Phosphate between .14ppm and 0.67ppm

Nitrate steady at about 5ppm

Ammonia between 0 and 1.22ppm

Solids between 486 and 665ppm


Below Outlet

Phosphate between 0.17 and 1.67ppm

Nitrate steady at about 5ppm

Ammonia between 0.03 and 1.29ppm

Solids between 484 and 699ppm


Good Readings

Phosphate good reading - 0.077 > 0.306ppm.

Nitrate good reading - 0.75 > 1.5ppm.

Ammonia good reading - 0.3 > 0.6ppm.

Solids above 300ppm water companies will not use as drinking water.


Latest report from Angling Trust, as of December 2023, is that there are 641 anglers from 240 clubs taking readings on 190 rivers. There have been over 400 test kits distributed and over 3800 samples have been taken.

Testing results so far found that 83% of rivers failed phosphate standards.


The Angling Trust has called on Political Parties to be clear on how they intend to reduce river pollution.


12 Questions/AOB


Those present at the meeting raised questions and issues as it went along rather than leaving a number of matter s until the end.


Some of the key matters raised included:


a) The use of circle hooks rather than trebles for pike fishing. In this respect there appeared to be a general agreement in favour of circle hooks and it was thus identified a future topic for an item in the newsletter.

b) The weed cutting at Winterborne Zelston using a weed boat and whether it had been a success, and whether or not it may be used elsewhere such as at Edmondsham. In this particular respect the cut will be evaluated, particularly concerning speed of re-growth before decisions are made about elsewhere.

c) The best way to improve Edmondsham including a more substantial otter fence, which divided opinion and whether, or not, the issue in Julia’s was really weed rather than depth of water. It was advised that the proposed dredging (see Agenda Item 9) was not the once and for all solution and the whole ecology of the lake would be kept under review.

d) The R Stour and its pollution and loss of fish, including micro indicator species such as bullhead and brook lampreys as well as caddis fly larva was a strong topic. These species no longer being found in any numbers in the weir pool at Canford.  Part of the blame was put on predators particularly otters, but it was pointed out that the otters’ activity on the River Crane had not led to the demise of these indicator species, which therefore tended to put the focus back on pollution. The range of pollutants being regularly monitored is still small and it may be that other chemicals might be doing the real damage. It may well be that those concerned with the R Stour’s quality could put pressure on both Councils and the Water Companies because of the need to monitor the River in relation to the proposals for the Stour Valley Park. The Club, in conjunction with others clubs using the R Stour will be likely to make representations in this respect and MH advised that the new BCP Council development plan has just started its final pre-enquiry consultation process and those interested should go online to read it and make representations if they feel moved to do so.


Meeting terminated at 21.35pm.






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