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A Personal History From Bob Garnett

A personal history from Bob Garnett

Settle Anglers were  founded in 1920. Sadly, the earlier Association  records have been lost but –

My earliest recollection of Settle Anglers goes back to 1953 when I was just 10 years old and along with my father we were invited to fish at Morley’s Hole for Pike by the late Charlie Lawson. Alas I suspect most if not all of the Pike have now gone from Morley’s Hole and The Deeps. We did catch pike that day but they were then very common from Morley’s Hole to Cow Bridge at Long Preston. In those days apart from spinning, live minnow was the most popular method for catching Pike, we caught the minnows in an old wine bottle with the raised cone centre knocked out of the base, a cork in the top and bread bits inside. In the 50’s I did have access to fish in the becks and other farmers owned water but my great desire was to fish on Settle Anglers waters so I set about trying to become a member. In those days there were no application forms as such, it was up to a prospective member to find an existing member to propose you and then all names were put up on a large portable blackboard and the names read out at the AGM to the attending members for their examination and consideration to accept or reject. In those days there were rarely more than two or three vacancies each year and when I was accepted in 1957 the subscription was £5 and no entrance fee.

I have been told by another member that when the subscription was increased from £3 to £5 in the 50’s three members resigned immediately because of the increase – hard to imagine these days.

In the 1950 – 60’s there were no Salmon passes at Settle or Locks Weirs so they could not ascend any further than Devils Pool and usually settled in the pool below the main road bridge where one or two (that’s all) were caught every year. The hatch of fly was in those days prolific and the rise of trout especially on a summer evening was something to behold, I am sure that we did not then have the same thoughts on catch and release that we have today, as a rule any good fish of a pound or so would be taken but there never seemed to be a shortage as there was much more water in the river and far less predatory birds and farming chemicals. A good flood would last a week with good fishing condition’s, a bag limit of 10 fish was the rule then.

Back in the 50’s fly fishing for the average person was an entirely different proposition than it is today, first it was silk fly lines and mucilin grease, flies were generally purchased for a few pence each, fly tying as we know it today was in its early days . Materials were usually from the wild, Partridge, Woodcock, Grouse, Starling feathers, Mole skin, Hare’s ears and rabbit fur. I remember one of our then members Mr J Walsh who was a very keen Fly dresser used to keep and breed bantams for their capes, obtained by breeding exact feather colours for the “Greenwell’s Glory”, “Furness Cock” and “Badger Hackles” – the birds would be in their prime condition and 4 years old when killed, those hackles were like spring steel fibres and floated for ages – no silicone floatant’s in those days.

The committee then were very forward thinking and would purchase any fishing in the locality that they could and I remember being shocked when the Barnstead fishing’s were purchased for £750, but looking back I feel really grateful that so much water was secured. It has made our association what it is today, a low rent, stable and strong club with low subscriptions which attracts new members wanting to share in our fishing.

The President was, proudly, in the early days pleased to provide and present a new Trout Fly Rod to the person who caught the heaviest brown trout each year and members at the AGM looked on with awe as someone else won a rod that they would have loved to own. Rods were relatively expensive then when compared to income. Another unusual rule we had was that no fishing was allowed between Settle road bridge and Penny bridge (Gasworks) on a Sunday.

One of the greatest and most prolific changes in the history of the association was the purchase of the Arnford Fishing, Settle Anglers then became the owners of a salmon water of some standing as well as a great trout and grayling water. It was purchased because, at that time,  the weirs at Settle restricted Salmon movement upstream; the Salmon arrived in April/May and   the pools retained fish most of the season – in those early days members would account for over 100 Salmon a year.

I can remember one evening when five rods were fishing in the Sleeper Pool and the corner pool below, all were playing salmon at the same time, unfortunately for some not all were landed. The salmon still are in this area and quite a number are caught when conditions prevail but now with the salmon passes on the weirs at Settle many fish move through and on up to Horton in Ribblesdale and above.

The latest acquisition of waters was on the River Wenning at Clapham. Our President Mr A Price,  not only managed to purchase the Hazel Hall fishing but alsosecured the lease on the opposite bank. To complete the portfolio on the Wenning the lease of the Ingleborough Estate fishing was agreed and also the purchase of several hundred yards of water adjacent to Clapham Wood Hall. This gives us some 3 miles of continuous fishing.

These waters although a little more inaccessible provide anglers with some peace and solitude in lovely surroundings and maybe the chance of a good Sea Trout.