Anglers hope to net new support over fish stocks

Doug Graham is asking for support from the council to help stock the River Wansbeck with trout to help support fishermen, and the heron and otter population.
Doug Graham is asking for support from the council to help stock the River Wansbeck with trout to help support fishermen, and the heron and otter population.

A LONG-SERVING angling group is looking to net extra support to keep the River Wansbeck stocked with fish.

Wansbeck Angling Association, which has been going for 100 years, usually puts 1,000 fish a year into the river, helping to support the ‘free water’ stretch in Morpeth.

But with a cost of £3.50 a fish, the association’s funds are running dry and this year the group has been forced to half its contribution, supplying just 500 fish.

However, with otters and herons returning to the river, demand has never been higher.

And now it is feared that without extra support, there will not be enough fish to go around.

Association Vice-Chairman Doug Graham said: “We need to keep the stocks up on the river to help the fishermen and the wildlife, which wasn’t there before.

“A few years ago there weren’t any otters and hardly any herons. Now there are five otters and a fair few herons and they are all eating the fish at £3.50 a go. We don’t mind that at all, in fact we would like to put more fish in the river, but we get no funding whatsoever from anywhere.

“Normally we put 1,000 fish into the river, but we have had to cut back because of a lack of funding. We are supporting the whole river at the moment and we would just like the council to put more fish into the stretch in Morpeth or give us the funding to do it.

“The rugby club has its field, the football club has its land and the Harriers have their track, everything like that is supported, which is good, but nothing is done for fishing. It’s a shame really.”

The ‘town water’ stretch in Morpeth, covering an area between Mitford Road and Low Stanners, is free to anglers provided they have an Environment Agency Rod Licence.

However, the association uses money from its members’ subscriptions to stock the section and also offers fishing days for children to learn about angling.

“If there are more fish in the river, more people might come into the town and spend an hour or two here, which would be good for the whole town,” said Mr Graham.

“All we are looking for is a bit of sponsorship to support that and hopefully we can get some funding in the future.”

A spokeswoman for Northumberland County Council said the club would be welcome to apply for support from its Community Chest grants scheme and any application would be assessed on its merits.

Morpeth Town Council also offers grants to support local clubs and associations.

Town Clerk Gillian Turner said: “We do give small grants of up to £200 to various organisations in the town and that is how this issue would go forward.

“The Wansbeck Angling Association can apply to the council.”