Angling club lands silver celebration

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FISHING local rivers is being safeguarded for future generations by a club which this week celebrates 25 years since its formation in Ribchester.

For the 500 members of Ribchester and District Angling Club, the main aim in the current fishing climate is the conservation and enhancement of both stocks and waters in the area it covers.

Both have dropped in levels during RADAC's first quarter of a century due to environmental changes affecting rivers, and to the uninhibited drift net fishing practised worldwide which catches travelling salmon as well as the herring and mackerel trawlers are targeting.

"There used to be thousands of salmon in the rivers we fish - the Ribble, the Hodder, where we have permit swaps at Windermere and Tyneside - now we are lucky if we get one thousand in a year," explained RADAC secretary Derek Harwood.

But this dip in fishing fortunes is slowly being clawed back as the club pursues policies for conservation and for 'local fishing for local people.'

Membership covers 50% coarse fishing, 50% salmon and game fishing, permit swaps are with Windermere and Ambleside Angling Association, Tyneside Anglers and with Ribblesdale Anglers - "all useful as they extend the fishing opportunities for all our members," added Mr Harwood.

Brown and salmon trout are fished at Dilworth Reservoir, a new coarse fishing pond is coming on line at Barnsfold Reservoir on Beacon Fell thanks to the club's vice president Frank Casson - and a regular re-stocking policy is another major part of the angling club's year.

"We're active members of the Ribble Fisheries Association and, as part of its salmon propagation scheme, we and other members jointly breed 30,000 salmon every year," said Mr Harwood.

"This happens at the fish hatchery at Dunsop Bridge, and the fish then go into the Ribble and Hodder. With the latter river the scheme is all part of the Hodder Consultative which aims to restore the Hodder to its original glory."

The season for salmon starts on February 1, but following their stand on conservation, club members are not allowed to kill any catches before June 16.

Mr Harwood explained: "As part of the programme, we voluntarily only kill two each in a season - atlantic salmon are now in the top 10 of endangered species so it's important we do all we can to protect the spring runs of fish and conserve and help our rivers to recovery."

The club's first 40 members 25 years ago have now grown to 500 with a waiting list of 200 "and a healthy lady and junior membership of 25 and 30 respectively," said Mr Harwood.

Two-thirds of the 12-strong committee have to be Ribchester residents and it meets six times a year, holding its annual general meeting in November.

Mr Harwood, vice president Frank Casson, chairman Tim Booth and treasurer Peter Thornley are now looking forward to meeting up with founder and other members for the 'silver' celebration dinner this evening (Friday) at The New Drop Inn in Ribchester.