Barnard Castle Angling Club mystified by sudden drop in membership
THE future of a dale fishing club is to come under the spotlight after a third of anglers quit in the last year.
Membership of Barnard Castle Angling Club has dropped from 130 to about 90.
Officials say that while there is no imminent threat to the club, it cannot continue in its current form unless there is a dramatic increase in the number of members.
The club pays thousands of pounds for extensive fishing rights along both banks of the Tees from the old railway viaduct to the north west of the town to the Abbey Bridge waters to the east.
Angling club secretary Frank Harrison said that with fewer members, the club faces difficult choices in the coming months.
He said options include trying to attract new members, putting up membership fees or as a last resort, giving up some of the water.
“We don’t like to put up memberships fees. Our fees are £40 a year for seniors and £6 to £7 for juniors,” said Mr Harrison.
“We are one of the cheapest clubs around, but when you are paying out about £4,000 in rent, losing 40 members is a big blow.
“We are looking for members young and old – but youngsters especially.
“Someone has got to carry on the club. The committee members are all over 65.”
He added: “If we give up water, we can sustain a club of 90 members, but that would then mean restricting it to those in the town and having a waiting list for those outside.
“It is a tricky situation that the club is facing and something we have never encountered before, but if the worst comes to the worst, there will still be a club.
“A few years ago, we had more than 200 members and now we are down to just 90.”
He added: “I don’t know why we have lost so many members in one go.”
Mr Harrison said one possible reason was that with successful cricket, rugby and football clubs in the town, there were plenty of alternatives for people to choose from.
Anglers can fish all year round on the Tees at Barnard Castle.
The salmon season runs from February 1 to October 31 and trout from March 22 to the end of September.
Course fishing is allowed from the beginning of June each year to the following March 15 and anglers can go after greyling most of the year.
Subject to restrictions on the various fishing beats, anglers can use fly, bait or spinners.
Mr Harrison said fishing in the Tees offered good sport.
“I don’t go out expecting to catch fish – just for the sport. I can cast a fly to my heart’s delight.
“I really enjoy pitting my wits against the natural trout and I’ve been down the river at 10pm catching salmon par.”
Decisions about the future of the angling club will be made at the annual meeting later in the year.
In the meantime, for more information about the club, fishing on the Tees, or signing up, contact Mr Harrison on 01833 690768 or 07827 623300.