In an ever-shrinking Army it is becoming increasingly difficult to get soldiers released for sport. Getting fresh blood into the Federation has been given top priority and was taken on as a job by Ben Worley. Events like this have been held on a much smaller scale but have been limited in numbers. This is a combination of geographical location as well as expense and availability of mentors. Getting the word out to the field Army has been difficult. Ben utilised the skills of Jamie Nairn who using the chain of command drummed up a great deal of interest. Ben approached the Officer Commanding the RMASFC Mark Harrison to see if it was going to be viable to use the club waters for the event. After some consultation with the head bailiff Danny Lee it was agreed that this would be allowed.
Not only was permission given to use the club waters but H and Danny were prepared to give up their own time to help out. As well as this other members of the club were sought out to act as mentors on both days. As the Federation could only provide a handful of experienced anglers this was a real boon allowing us to almost double our numbers for both days. There was so much interest in the end people had to be diverted onto the Spring meeting. So, for the meagre fee of £15 soldiers and officers could come along for the day get some tuition a spot of lunch and learn all about the Federation and its many benefits. Also, Adam Sinclair came along to inform anglers about the Services Dry Fly water. This stretch of the river Avon is chalk stream fishing imagined and was home to the most famous of river keepers Frank Sawyer. There were several river anglers present who found the presentation most useful.
As I work in the grounds of the Academy it was easy to come along and lend a hand. The photos in this blog entry were all taken on the Saturday. The reason for this was the Wednesday conditions could not have been worse. A really cold snap the night before ensured a pretty chilly start to the day. To compound the matter the rain was unrelenting and came down fairly heavy most of the day. I was to spend my day on the main lake in the boats. The lake itself is not particularly deep so a floating line would suffice. I had paired up with a young lad from Northern Ireland who had been a lifelong fisherman. I was really pleased that he caught a fish fairly quickly as it was a pretty miserable day to be on the water. Not many around us were catching fish which is a little frustrating as I know how well this water can fish. Lunch could not come quick enough and a hot brew was most definitely welcome. There was a good spread laid on for the boys and the table was cleared by the end. The guys then had a presentation about Services Dry Fly and the Army Angling Federation. It was during the presentation that we sat inside looking out at what was the nicest part of the day, typical. The afternoon started well I was out with a soldier from the famous forty twa! Of course, I was well out by the time he had joined but we knew some of the same arseholes…lol. The rain came again in the afternoon intent on getting us completely soaked. Still despite the conditions the lake was kind and gave up another fish, rightly so the boy had come all the way from Inverness after all! Despite the weather there were plenty of smiling faces at the end of the day most had managed at least one fish and that seemed to have made it all worthwhile.
Talk about chalk and cheese, what a difference a couple of days can make. The Saturday dawned with stunning blue skies reaching out across the Academy. What a fantastic back drop for a day’s fishing. I was supposed to be walking round taking photos but we were one short for the boats so found myself back in the driving seat. This day saw many more experienced anglers that have been serving but were unaware of the Federation until this event. I shared a boat with a fairly experienced chap who cast a lovely line and couldn’t half catch fish. I hope that he will return to the Spring meeting and swell our ranks. At lunch, it was much the same detail as the previous day a lot more smiley faces about mind it’s amazing what a bit of sunshine will do for your day. In the afternoon, I was freed up to wander for a bit with the camera and got the chance to speak with a few of the anglers. The even had been very well received by all accounts with several commenting on the very informative presentations at lunch time. Time will tell on how effective the events have been but to have gotten so much interest I can only hope it bodes well for the future of fly fishing in the Army.
The Federation owes H and Danny a great debt of thanks for all their assistance over both days. They were kind enough to also provide a number of mentors from their club that made the event possible. Thanks also to the members of the Federation that made the effort to travel in some cases some considerable distance. Of course, many thanks to those anglers that attended either of the days, with guys travelling from as far afield as Inverness there are sure to be more events of this ilk in the future.