The NAFAC AGM and Thames Fishery Consultative Council Seminar held on Saturday 17th February at Oxford Brookes University was a huge success attracting around 100 anglers from organisations as far afield as Yorkshire, Kent and the Lake District. The event is now so popular that it has become one of the major events in the world of fisheries and angling.
During the AGM the Executive Chairman, Martin Read, paid tribute to the organisation he had inherited from the late Terry Mansbridge and thanked the National Council for the way it had worked to maintain the momentum of the organisation, despite the huge hole left by Terry’s sad and premature death. Secretary, John Williams reported continued growth with a healthy bank balance and more than 400 Associate Members, giving it the largest club membership in the UK.
The morning session of the Fisheries Seminar focussed on two main topics -Restoration of Rivers and Canals in the Thames Catchment and the Water Resources required to supply a growing population in the same area.
Discussion of the proposed Cotswold Canal linking the River Thames at Lechlade to the Gloucester and Sharpness with its links to the River Severn and in particular its impact on the Trout and Sea Trout of the River Frome was quickly linked by the audience to the restoration of the Kennet and Avon Canal and its impact on the River Kennet and attempts to restore the river to its former glory.
Martin Wagner of Thames Water described how, by 2030, population growth in the South East would lead to a shortfall in supply of water, despite water saving, leak cutting etc. The three most likely solutions were de-salination, re-use of treated effluent and a new reservoir near Abingdon. It was the latter proposal, which could provide 4 square miles of water space and four miles of bank and the potential for some very big fish, which was of most interest to anglers. Martin welcomed input from the audience which suggested that TW consider the need to accommodate coarse angling on this new reservoir. He offered to take on board future input from angling. Comment by angling clubs and organisations was welcome and should be made to him before 31/3/2007. (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
The afternoon session was dominated by a light-hearted but spirited debate between “Mr Crabtree and Peter” about the impact of Carp on the long–term prospects for angling. Despite his increasing years and waning angling ability, “Mr Crabtree” easily persuaded his audience that “Carp would lead to the demise of angling as we know it”.
The last session was for many the highlight of the day, with noted angling historian, John Essex, giving a talk on Angling Baits through the Ages and demonstrating that all the latest “secret” angling baits had actually been in use since the 16th Century!