THE FISHING SEASON KICKS OFF – AT LAST!
2019 did not get off to the best start for the East Kent Branch of the Masonic Fishing Charity. For the first time in its ten year history the ‘traditional’ first event of the year at Horsham Lake, Upchurch, had to be cancelled due to an administrative ‘hiccup’ by the guest school.
Unfortunately, the proximity of the school’s Easter holiday made it impossible to rectify the situation. Licking the wounds from this disappointing start the team descended upon Monk Lakes at Marden on 23 May. This was only the second visit to this fishery which, with nine lakes on 45 acres, is reputed to be the largest coarse fishery in the UK and the second largest in Europe, and one which, we hope, could now be a regular feature in our annual programme.
Whether it was the disappointment of the cancellation of the first event, the weather, or the venue we shall never know, but the event attracted a full complement of ‘casters’ much to the relief of Len Hopson, the Caster Secretary! This was also a relief to some other members of the team who were ‘denied’ their chance to demonstrate their skills (or lack of) as anglers! As with our first visit last year, our venue was the attractive Match Lake No4, one of the original and therefore most mature lakes, surrounded by well-established trees and shrubs, and dotted with a number of small islands.
Our guests for the day were the pupils, fifteen in total, from two schools in East Kent. The St Anthony’s School, Margate, a Foundation Special School and member of Kent Special Education Needs Trust, and the St Nicholas School, Canterbury, a state-funded Community Day School. Both schools catering for children with profound, severe and complex learning difficulties needs. The latter also catering for some pupils with physical disabilities, epilepsy, autism and sensory impairment.
The pupils, their carers and teachers arrived in good time, welcomed, supplied with caps, eye protection and water and, after the usual briefing on safety, were assigned to casters and proceeded to the lake to start fishing.
As with the previous visit to this venue, the fishing got off to a fairly sluggish start. With catches of over 100 lbs quite common on these lakes expectations might have been running a little high! However, with the limited time available, the size of fish in Match Lake No4 generally smaller than those in the other lakes and the inexperience of the pupils, those sort of weights were never going to be matched. However, also like last year, as the day progressed the fishing go better and a good variety of fish were caught, including a carp of around 10 lb (double last year’s best), as well as a fair number of roach, rudd, skimmer bream and (allegedly) tench and crucian carp! There was certainly enough fish caught to ‘catch’ the attention of the pupils who, by the end of the day, had added fishing to their repertoire of acquired skills!
The ever popular and eagerly awaited BBQ lunch was followed by an equally eagerly awaited further short session of fishing which saw the sport continue to improve.
Following this session the representative of the Provincial Executive, Richard Wingett, Assistant Provincial Grand Master, presented each pupil with a certificate of achievement.
We are particularly grateful to Richard who stepped in at the eleventh hour and fifty fifth minute, to represent the Executive. Richard thanked the team of organisers, helpers and casters for all their dedication and hard work in making the day a success. Special thanks were also expressed by the teachers for the great day experienced by their pupils and to all the helpers for making it so enjoyable. No thanks were necessary as the smiles on the faces of the pupils said it all!
Although not a problem on this occasion, the Caster Secretary, Len Hopson, is concerned that with a list of about 60 registered casters he has difficulty in getting a team of 15. 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!
NEXT EVENT: The next event for the East Kent Branch of the Masonic Fishing Charity will be held at Chart Fisheries, Chart Sutton on 11 July.