Keith Arthur: Are we nearing the end of river fishing?

Doncaster and District AA is only one of hundreds of clubs that, like many of our rivers, are either dead or dying.

One of the strengths of the old angling clubs came from the waters they controlled, mostly rivers. Now, if the river has any decent barbel in it, it will be syndicated at a price ordinary clubs can’t afford.

The other strength was transport: in the days when cars were scarce, the club charabanc got the anglers there for their one day on the bank, with matches on their own, and other clubs’ waters. Now everyone has a car, or a mate who will pick them up.

Clubs cannot offer anglers more than commercial fisheries and many clubs now run matches on commercials, but they are not the old traditional clubs, more like match groups – a sort of travelling open match. Without good water holdings, fisheries that contain either barbel or carp, most clubs will not survive.

And on that very subject, the historical Thames fisheries around Windsor are being removed from the control of the local clubs and being syndicated, thanks to the fishing rights of Eton College waters being taken over by a private individual.

Apparently, a deal has been done with a famous Berkshire coarse fishing syndicate with lots of the Kennet under its control, and memberships of £100 will be offered to individuals.

Apart from a few decent swims – and I mean a few – that are long walks, the fishing is generally poor, with the opposite bank controlled by Civil Service AA, which is a much better option.

In fact, one club gave up the fishing on a close-by stretch some years ago and even the local clubs won’t take it for a pittance, such is the lack of demand.

I don’t wish the syndicate well on this matter, nor do I wish them luck because they are doing a group of local anglers that have worked on their river for many years – some fish nowhere else – out of their sport.