With fishing tackle barely dry from the first event of the season at Horsham Lake the team from the East Kent Branch of the Masonic Fishing Charity were on the road again for the second event of 2018.  This time the venue was Monk Lakes at Marden on the 24th April. This was the first time we had been to this fishery, reputed to be the largest coarse fishery, on one site in the UK and the second largest in Europe.  The 45 acre site has nine lakes as well as a 2km stretch of the River Beult.  Our venue was Match Lake No 4, one of the original and therefore mature lakes, surrounded by well-established trees and shrubs, with a number of small islands.

Our guests for the day were the pupils, (sixteen in total), from two schools in East Kent.  The Bower Grove School, Maidstone, a state-funded Foundation Special School, and the Elms School, Dover. Both of which cater for the needs of children with learning difficulties and associated social, emotional and mental health needs and social communication difficulties.  This time both schools arrived in good time and were welcomed, briefed on safety, assigned to casters and proceeded to the lake to start fishing.

Quick, this way, I don’t think they’ve seen us!

Quick, this way, I don’t think they’ve seen us!

As with the previous occasion the Caster Secretary, Len Hopson, was concerned that there may not be enough casters to go around.  Also like the previous occasion there were just enough!  Len is concerned that with a list of about 60 registered casters he has difficulty in getting a team of 15.  He commented that it would be a pity to have to reduce the number of pupils we can take because of a lack of casters.  So, if you know of anyone who would be interested in becoming a caster, a hugely satisfying role, please let Len know, giving him a call on 01634 366080.  The role does not have to be restricted to Freemasons.  Neither do you need to be a top class angler!  On this occasion the daughter of one of the regular casters attended to observe and is now keen to become our first female caster!

One very happy angler!

One very happy angler!

The match fishing record for these Monk Lakes stands at 355lb with catches of over 100lbs quite common.  However, with the size of fish in Match Lake No 4 generally smaller than those in the other match lakes, expectations were considerably lower!  Unfortunately, and probably due to the heavy rain the night before and the ongoing threat of a storm, the fishing was not as fast and furious as expected!  Despite this there was a good variety of fish caught, including carp up to about 5lb, tench to 4lb as well as a fair sprinkling of roach, rudd, skimmer bream and a crucian carp!  Certainly enough to maintain the attention of the pupils who, by the end of the day, had become expert casters and handlers of fish!

Not bad for my first catch!

Not bad for my first tench, eh!

The usual BBQ lunch was followed by an eagerly awaited further short session of fishing which, with the threat of a pending storm now diminished, the weather seemed to improve.  At the end of this session the Branch Chairman, Peter Brooshooft, Past Deputy Provincial Grand Master, presented each pupil with a certificate of achievement.   Peter thanked the team of organisers, helpers and casters for all their dedication and hard work and special thanks were expressed by the teachers for the great day experienced by their pupils and to all the helpers for making it so enjoyable.  The smiles on the faces of the pupils said it all!  One of the pupils from Bower Grove was so taken with the experience that on her return to school she began compiling a list of those who would like to share that experience and go fishing.  From the numbers she is recruiting there may be a need for weekly events!

Almost there!

Almost there!

In conclusion, another highly successful event building on the opportunities for the Freemasons of East Kent to engage and interface with members of the public at different levels.

Don’t forget, the charity always needs help, contact Len on 01634 366080

Report and Photos from Mike Maguire
News and Media
East Kent Branch, MFC

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