RNC students enjoyed the crisp outdoors during winter 2014, taking part in the College Angling Club. Dreamstore, a charity that supports the aim of opening fishing activities to all, has generously provided a range of equipment for use by the RNC anglers.
Some members of the club have been fishing for a couple of years, others were new to the pastime and learnt skills such as baiting the hook with maggots, casting the line from the rod, and reeling in a fish. They also had to help each other reach the fishing pools through some rather boggy ground at times, due to the wet winter weather.
Barry Morris, Lead Pastoral Support Officer (and Chief Angler), said: “Angling engages the senses in a way that offers both a challenge and absolute achievement, making it an ideal outdoor activity for those with visual impairments.”
The RNC/Dreamstore Angling Cup for 2014 was won by Lucy Conn, the Club’s only female angler. The fishing season is closed in early spring, so we will have to wait to find out who will win the cup from Lucy when the Angling Club resumes.
Dan asked me two years ago, if he could go on a fishing trip that I was organising. Back home in Cardiff, Dan had sat with his uncle while he fished but had never had a go due to his visual impairment. Dan was determined that he would be as good a coarse angler as his uncle. We worked on casting techniques on the first trip out, and Dan had the bonus of catching two small carp. On subsequent trips we looked at different reels. He liked the Abu closed face but they were not very good at handling the bigger carp, so he stuck to the task of the fixed spool. When he wasn’t fishing, Dan studied magazine articles, and worked through some information I gave him, starting from the laws of angling, through to the environment and water cycle. Dan could manage a short pole if the light on the water was right, and was the first person to catch on the RNC club pool, in fact he caught in excess of 35 fish in two hours. Dan was also active in helping me to get an accessible portaloo for the pool, which we are awaiting delivery of.
Dan left the college last June, and went back to Cardiff. I caught up with him at the college presentation day, and he told me the news that I had wished for. Dan told me he was going fishing once per week with his uncle using some rods and reels I had given him. He said he is now catching more than his uncle and felt very proud of this achievement.
1 November 2011 and the RNC Angling Club witnessed the final element to a lake loaned free of charge for the Club’s use. We have taken delivery of an accessible portaloo donated by ‘Andy’s Loos’. Coupled with a £500 donation from Cargill Meats Europe, we will be able to have the toilet serviced, repaired and emptied for the next couple of years.
Rose Cottage Lake belongs to Herefordshire College of Technology. The College has given us the use of this lovely water containing tench, perch, roach, chub, gudgeon, plus a few old and wise carp. The Environment Agency installed a roadway to the lake, a strong gate and turning circle, plus level paths to 3 accessible platforms with rails. Although the lake cannot be accessed independently, as the heavy gates would be a challenge to open, the rest of is great and ideal for RNC Angling Club use.
The Club can now offer fishing sessions to all at my college. And we have a queue of lads, as well as young ladies, some of whom are wheelchair users. This completes a year of hard work by all mentioned, plus staff at the RNC.
A huge thank you from RNC Angling Club to everyone involved.
Barry Morris, RNC, explains the value of angling to the College’s work:
The following is from a young man that I take fishing, for enrichment as well as part of his bronze duke of Edinburgh award. I won’t include his name here, as this was very personal to him. His whole family, apart from one brother, are visually impaired. He has never experienced anything like this before, and has formed a bond with his sighted brother for the first time thanks to fishing.
My brother asked me if I would go fishing with him at Christmas. So I said yes. We went to a pool near our house. It was nice as loads of the people fishing came to have a talk with us. We didn’t catch anything, but had to ‘fish’ out a dead bird. The fishing was fun and my brother showed me how to use his rods and that. First time that I had done anything like this with my brother. It made me feel good. He showed me how to fish without an alarm. It was pretty good.
Arthur describes his angling experience.
This activity fostered the real sense of the word, enrichment. I was given high quality coaching which, by the end of the session, gave me the ability to cast the fishing rod, fire a catapult containing bait, reeling in the line, catch a roach, and generally pick up on the vast experience of the instructor.
Before returning the roach to the water, Barry the instructor held the little creature within the palm of his hand and described its colouring, fins and other physical characteristics.
I found the whole experience educative and calming. The environment was for the most part tranquil, apart from fractious sounding geese. The environment was very safe and I felt secure. The best thing about it is that I got to do things which I would not otherwise have done. I think that this activity should be encouraged and made more accessible to more students.
Zack’s mother describes her son’s first fishing trip with his dad:
I just thought you’d like to see a couple of pictures of my blind son, Zack, fishing and the first ever fish he has caught.
He managed to catch four carp in total.
To begin with, his dad Lee got him to sit next to his rod and have the line in his fingers so that when a fish took his bait he could feel the line through his fingers.
Then Lee got him to keep his hand on the top of the rod and feel the vibrations through his hand.
He put the bait on the hook (which Lee held), and cast out himself. Lee struck into the fish for him but Zack reeled them in on his own.
He loved being able to fish with me and we are so proud of what he accomplished.