Violence was only seconds from erupting on one of the North- East’s premier barbel rivers last week as coarse anglers went face to face with game anglers in a bitter bankside row.
Respected Durham barbel angler Nigel Collins told Angling Times how fly fisherman threatened to ‘kick his face in’ unless he left the river – just the latest instalment in a campaign which has seen his tyres slashed and bricks thrown in his swim.
Nigel was taking two young anglers barbel fishing on a stretch of the River Wear he has full written permission to use when he was confronted by the two fly anglers, who challenged him and demanded to see his licence, even though neither were legitimate bailiffs. When Nigel questioned their authority, he was met by a torrent of abuse.
“They threatened to kick my face in and take my camera and ‘wrap it round my neck’. I was also told that they’d love to meet me down here on a dark night and it could have gone further had the landowner not intervened. It was utterly disgusting but it is only a small minority of individuals who believe they have more right to be on the river than I have, because they pay more to fish for their choice of species,” said Nigel, who also called the police to inform them of the incident.
But it isn’t the first time he has encountered trouble on the private stretch of river, which is also leased by Durham Rangers Flyfishing club, below Durham city centre.
“I’ve had my tyres slashed, bricks thrown into my swim when nightfishing and regularly get abuse thrown at me. It’s not what you want from a fishing trip and one day I may be forced to protect myself,” he added.
Nigel said that the latest incident was witnessed by Durham Rangers’ head bailiff, who was on the opposite side of the river.
However, when Angling Times contacted club chairman Dave Dickinson, he had not yet been made aware of the situation.
“I find it hard to believe this is the work of our members. As a club, we have never had a problem with coarse anglers and we lease some of our stretches to wellknown coarse fishing clubs from the area in winter,” he said.
Coarse and f ly angler Chris Noble is chairman of the Durham branch of the Salmon & Trout Association and described the incident as ‘most regrettable’.
“Surely there is enough room on all rivers for all anglers to coexist? Angling is a peaceful sport and there should never be conflict in-house. We have enough issues to worry about without this,” said Chris.