Volunteers championing the cause of the River Thames

Like many other anglers I have the great good fortune to have access to a stretch of river that is totally free to fish ¬ licence required, of course.

The sport is brilliant and there are miles and miles of it. The trouble is that it is free fishing. No one controls it, looks after it or defends our rights to fish it. Enter Thames Anglers Conservancy.

Another local angler, James Page, who goes by the pseudonym of ‘A Mushroom’ (cover blown mate!) decided that, following copious pollution from sewerage works, something had to be done.

Borrowing the name from the old organisation that ran the river from Staines to Teddington (Port of London Authority downstream, NRA upstream, before the EA was formed), the Thames Conservancy, he set about enlisting the help of others in recruiting members.

The group has just passed the 800-member mark - in under 12 months.
Membership is free because every officer is voluntary and money is raised by running events, also usually free but with a bucket passed around.

Some benefits are obvious already, with the TAC involved with residents’ groups, boaters (powered, rowed and paddled) as well as Thames Water and the EA. In a recent venture the club organised a pike-handling day at Walton on Thames. More than 80 turned up for tuition, 44 of them juniors who were all provided with a free set of forceps by Les Webber’s Angling Projects.

Other clubs were involved, namely the Walton branch of the Pike Anglers’ Club and the Osprey Specimen Group. Pike were caught and instruction on safe handling and unhooking was given, as well as demonstrations of how to fish, what tackle to use and descriptions of likely swims.

The EA was there, as were Thames lock staff - all in all remarkable co-operation and coordination.

Regular litter picks are held and the 200-black-bag mark rapidly approaches.

This relatively easy task holds the club, and angling in general, in great stead with the public, both local and visitors, of which the Lower Thames gets at least its fair share.

There is a full list of activities, with talks, shows and matches all in the pipeline. It may be parochial but anyone can log on to www.rivertac.org and see just how a similar group may benefit them.

It really does make sense.