Thanks to Cotswold Angling’s Kev Hewitt for the following news item and photographs.
Fishing for the forces is a non-profit organisation founded by Bill Howell with the aim of providing a peaceful days angling for anyone who has been affected by operational duties, and there was no better venue than the tranquil White Lodge Lake which is set in the peaceful Wiltshire countryside. White Lodge is one of 60 care homes run by Barchester Healthcare and the lake is literally right outside the impressive care home. Although it is focused on the wounded, it is also open to all serving personnel and veterans. This is the first fishing for forces coarse fishing school in the UK and will be held on a monthly basis from now on with other schools for both coarse fishing and trout fishing being opened up nationwide in close proximity to all Personnel Recovery Centres across the country. A friendly get together for a day of relaxation beside a lake was the order of the day, and all the therapeutic qualities of angling makes it the perfect sport to get away from the world and just chill out.
The fishing got underway at 11am and the mentors from the BCA angling club were already set up in the swims ready to help. For most of the guys it was a new experience, a change to try their hand at angling and with a little tuition, each and every one of the soldiers got the hang of it in no time. None more so than Staff Sergeant Dean Williams who was into a fish within thirty minutes – and it was a good one too! The fish powered off pulling elastic from his 8m pole and the battle lasted over five minutes before a beautiful specimen ornamental carp of 9lb was netted by mentor Mick Flynn. This was a very early contender for the biggest fish trophy but all was to play for as there were also awards for the most fish and the biggest overall total weight.
Next to get hooked up was Rifleman Dan Parrack who was fishing the pole at 6m to a set of lilies where some good sized fish had been spotted earlier in the day. With a little help from mentor Sid Webb, the fish was beaten and she tipped the scales at an impressive 8lb 12oz, just 5oz off taking the biggest fish prize. Dan added four more small fish to his net during the day to tip the scales with a total weight of 9lb 4oz, winning the prize for the overall combined biggest weight.
Each and every fish was stunning but if there were a prize for the best looking fish it would have gone to LSGT Leon Peek who fished the waggler on maggots less than a rod length out to tempt a beautiful 6lb 4oz black & White ornamental carp. Mentored by Kev Hewitt, he also added a smaller carp to his tally for a total weight of 7lb 8oz, narrowly beating Alex Strong by 1oz. Alex fished the long pole to take an impressive 5 fish for 7lb 7oz helped by Fred Parker.
The prize for the most fish was taken by Rifleman Lindon Woodford with an impressive pole caught 18 fish for a total weight of 12oz. Mentored by Graham rose, quantity instead of quality!
The day went very well and everyone had a fantastic time and when it was time to pack up, even though it was raining, a few of the lads were keen to carry of fishing.
A massive thanks goes to BCA fishing club for all their hard work and all of the members who attended and not only mentored, but provided all of their own tackle. Another thanks goes to Cotswold Angling who provided all of the Bait for the event and committed to supplying the bait for all future events. Also to Malcolm McDonald and Barchester Health care for donating nine full coarse angling kits to remain on site at White Lodge for the use of military guests in future events. Helen Maiello regional director of Barchester Health care, teamed up with Steve Cousins , manager at white lodge care homes, to ensure everything was put in place to make the day run smoothly and thank you to White Lodge homes for allowing the venue to be used for such a great cause and providing a lovely buffet lunch. And of course most of the thanks goes to the brave forces who are willing to put their own lives at risk to keep our peace.