Chairman's Report 2011

Paul DalrympleWelcome, another new season is upon us and no matter how long you've been a fisherman, it comes with the annual expectation of a memorable catch, or the challenge of outwitting a specimen fish, a personal best, a club or even a national record. Fishing, if nothing else is an escapism where many things are possible to even the most modest angler and many a fine catch have been taken on Association waters since the inception of the angling club almost 60 years.

Fishing is not just about catching fish, it's about being 'out there', on the bank, having an enjoyable day or night, in pleasant surroundings, with or without companions, doing your thing and going home at the end of the session adequately satisfied. The fish you catch are just a bonus, a reward for getting it right on the particular day. Some days there are no fish to weigh in, but this will not necessarily be a big disappointment to the dedicated angler, merely a challenge to do better next time out.

At Poppy Hill lakes we have one of the best, if not the best, open membership club waters in the region. It's not just the fish stocks or the wide choice of fishing options that the venue offers, it's as much about the surroundings that you're fishing in, the flora and fauna, the comfort of well constructed swims, the tranquillity and general ambiance of the whole site. This doesn't happen by itself, its high maintenance, and never ending commitment from the Fisheries Manager, his fisheries management committee (FMC) and a handful of volunteers that make Poppy Hill what it is today. There are never enough people to do all of the work that's needed around the site every year. Take the opportunity to put something back into the club by simply volunteering a few hours of your time a couple of days a year. If more members were willing to do this, the Poppy Hill complex could be even better.......your club needs YOU, please put forward and have a go. You never know you might even enjoy it! A big 'Thank you' to Len, his team and to all of you who volunteered your time during the past season.

After what appeared to me as a rather nervous, unconvincing start as our leading body, the angling trust have finally felt their feet, grown some teeth, and are starting to make themselves heard within the marbled halls of DEFRA and Whitehall. To enable them to provide a voice for all anglers and fishing clubs, to protect and enhance our sport, they need funding. The majority of this funding needs to come from membership fees and, although LGCAA contributes a reduced annual fee to the trust for every one of our members, the support from individual anglers is the lifeblood of their existence. Although it's £25 for individuals to join this year, I would urge everyone to make the effort if they can afford it. Without them or somebody like them protecting our sport fishing will decline in the UK and ultimately die. I know it's another fifty pence a week out of your pocket, but it may well be the best investment you'll ever make, a national body is the only way of securing anglings future, please show you support and join.

Unfortunately Len Butcher, one of the clubs founder members passed away in March 2010. He was like Brighton rock, except the core was LGCAA through and through. If you've fished at Poppy Hill you would probably have met Len, if you fished the 'Canal' you must have met him. I'm pretty sure he has been a member of the association for 58 consecutive years, the best part of the last two decades almost exclusively spent fishing the canal lake. Not only was he a gentleman, he was a great lover of angling in general and Letchworth Angling club in particular. In his will, he bequeathed the club an enormous generous donation, the biggest single gift the club has received by a mile and as part of that bequeathment a memorial bench will be placed along the west bank of his beloved canal.

Len Leroux our Fisheries Manager will expand on the significant events and the past years' exploits with a particular focus on the Poppy Hill complex, in his following report.

The saga of the Public Bridleway running through the First Lake at Poppy Hill continues to remain unresolved. Although we have gathered some very detailed evidence and have received some encouraging local support, a legal argument still needs to be won before the bridleway can be diverted, or removed from the lake. Behind the scenes there is a lot of effort and hard work being put into this long running and important campaign.

Although things appear to have moved at a snail's pace over the last decade or so the last 12 months have, in my opinion, seen a significant in the County Council's attitude to resolve this issue as a matter of priority. I'm now more optimistic than ever that a definitive answer will be forthcoming within the next twelve to twenty four months. That still may seem a long time away to many of the membership but, I can assure you that after 13 years of discussions, disputes, letter writing, meetings and Public Inquiries, that this would be viewed as a fast track decision if it's delivered within this timescale. We are doing everything we can to meet this goal and will continue to support the new Central Bedfordshire Council's recommendation that the bridleway be removed from the lake.

To accommodate this, there may be a need for some temporary clearing of pathways and some minor re-arrangements to the parking area during the new season. This will be to allow limited public access along the line of the current bridleway and will be with LGCAA consent. Notices of any changes will be displayed prior to the changes taking place, please read them carefully and comply with them. The only access point that could possibly bring anglers and public together will be a short length of fenced pathway running through the car park along the causeway between lakes 1 & 2, terminating just before peg 4 on the first lake. Members of the public will be allowed access along this route if they so wish, they are not allowed on any other part of our property where they could come into contact with anglers. Should any senior member of the association suspect non members (i.e. the public) are roaming around or are trespassing on our property, please show your current membership book and politely request to see their membership book. If they cannot produce a current membership book, or a perfectly valid reason for being on our property (e.g. collecting a junior member), then you can legitimately request they leave or if you feel appropriate, escort them off the property. Please avoid conflict of any kind and always report this type of incident to a Bailiff, committee member or officer of the club.

My first year as Chairman has passed incredibly quickly and I would like to thank all of the GPC members, FMC committee, Bailiffs and work party volunteers for their hard work and support over the last year. We know there's still much to be achieved, particularly at Poppy Hill, but let me re-assure you that the club is in very safe hands and every effort will be made to enhance the angling on LGCAA waters, even in these quite difficult economic times.

I hope you enjoy your Association waters.

Tight Lines
Paul Dalrymple

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