Unfortunately I couldn’t attend the dinner at the House of Commons to say goodbye and thank you to Martin Salter: prior commitments stood in the way.
However, Martin knows how grateful I am for the dignity and authority which he has brought to angling representation at the place where it really matters.
As far as coarse anglers are concerned, Martin has been a real champion and there are no denigrators of our sport that haven’t felt his wrath and commitment by one means or another. Game fishing, which these days means largely fishing for artificially stocked fish, needs little assistance but the fisheries work that has gone on under his watch has undoubtedly improved the lot of migratory fish, and salmon numbers on most rivers are markedly higher.
Improvements managed under the Salmon and Trout Association have also made a huge difference and I know that Martin has given them his full support.
As for sea angling, there must be mixed views but from the experiences I have had they are such a split group of anglers that it seems they largely want to be invisible.
The one major criticism of angling under the current Government must be the abandonment of the proposed minimum landing size for bass but I know a huge swathe of sea anglers is against the raising of the limit, saying there are too many immature bass that could do with thinning out. The nursery areas that took so long to establish are, they say, mostly in estuaries, where huge numbers of small bass eat their way through all other species and are to blame for the current lack of flounder sport. I don’t know who to believe, so what chance does DEFRA have? I know Martin fought for the increase in MLS but the commercial argument - and maybe the words of those anglers mentioned above - held sway.
Of course Martin presided over an all-party angling group and that will continue whoever is in power. The Conservatives have pledged their support to angling and I have met Richard Benyon, Shadow Minister for DEFRA, who seems enormously supportive of angling.
Martin Salter will be a hard act to follow ¬ who has done his job on behalf of angling better? I don’t even know who did his job before he did; maybe it didn’t exist. His are large shoes to fill.