My fishing addiction began when barely six years old. A net on a cane and a jam jar was all I needed. Wellies on and mother in hand I’d go in pursuit of abundant (little) sticklebacks in the Hogsmill, a small chalk stream rising from the Surrey village of Ewell.
Then one day, and I remember it well, I caught sight of a small trout. Time stood still. Lunging with a net would have been a waste of time, a rod was needed.
And so my desire to fish properly was born. Life evolves but the urge remains; you’re hooked for life. It’s driven me crazy at times!
Before moving to Sussex I’d fished the Thames and many other waters, but now the Arun and Western Rother are my fishing haunts.
I like the Arun but I’m hopelessly in love with the Rother which runs through surely some of the loveliest countryside in southern England. It’s a river that must be protected for future generations.
That’s why I was one of the founder members of the Arun & Rother Rivers Trust (ARRT), formed to help protect these precious habitats.
The Rother is in fact a tiny river, more a stream really, yet home to most varieties of both coarse and game fish (apart from Salmon: one day maybe?).
There’s the river’s famous (large) Chub for which it held the British Weight record in the 1950’s. Add Dace, Roach, Perch, Pike, Gudgeon, Eels, Bream, Sea and Brown trout, plus the occasional Carp and you can say it has them all.
Anglers often target specific fish, setting themselves a challenge. Fly fisherman seek Trout and the Grayling now returning to our waters.
Whilst currently top of the list for coarse anglers are Barbel, introduced to ‘our’ river some fifty years ago and now populating the mid/lower Rother.
But I’m happy just to go fishing without targets. Lots of smaller fish keep you busy and one never knows but just a few feet away could lurk a large Pike or one of those lovely Barbel.
As chairman of Petworth & Bognor Angling Club, one of the largest fishing clubs in the area, I exhort everyone who shares my passion to encourage youngsters to have a go, to join an angling club.
This way we can ensure a healthy number of anglers not only to fish these beautiful rivers but to cherish and protect them for generations to come.