As our regular fly fishing correspondent Roger Beck has been smitten down by a virus that has laid him so low he cannot put pen to paper, so to speak, you will have to make do with me this month. I am sure that we all wish him a speedy recovery and trust he will soon be back to his normal self.
Stepping into the breech so quickly I thought I would share a little story from my family history which I trust you will find of interest.
My grandfather John Goodall, who lived between 1876 and 1964, was an avid coarse fisherman and ran Goodalls Saddlers and Fishing Tackle shop in Shipley. When I say coarse I really mean he fished for trout and grayling with maggot rather than with the fly.
John suffered badly from asthma so he could not enlist in the Bradford Pals during the First World War but instead he supplied the horse harnesses to the cavalry which became a special and exempt service.
He was a member at Ilkley Angling Club before the war and during the conflict he noticed the terrible loss which the club was suffering. Members were away, some killed, some missing and some badly injured - subsequently this affected the club’s finances.
My grandfather initially financed the club’s rents until he managed to get his friends, including a good friend of his, Harry Ramsden, and some of the tackle shops in the area to help support the club and keep it running.
I think Mr Ramsden had ideas of battering fish rather than chasing them himself, however he did support local angling clubs.
After the war the surviving members returned and instead of thanking my grandfather for the work he had done, the committee decided to make the club membership open to Ilkley residents only. As my grandfather lived in Baildon this excluded him and he was ‘black balled’, but he never held a resentment and spoke little of it.
We are unsure of what happened after this decision but I do know that he fished the Ilkley stretch on a regular basis, in fact every Wednesday afternoon, which was half day closing in Shipley.
I assume he fished the water on a day ticket, as you can now, until the committee came to its senses and eventually allowed him to join.
Back in the 1950s I remember his last few fishing trips when my mother and I would drop him off by the footbridge and he would wander downstream to his favourite spot just above the sewerage outflow. On his return home he would put his catch in the kitchen sink so I could prod, poke and admire them. I think this is when I must have made the decision to follow in his footsteps.
He did stipulate in his will that his ashes should be scattered at his favourite spot above the sewerage works outflow with which we firmly complied. I still visit that spot and quite often have a word with him with a plea to increase my catch.
During the later part of John’s life my mother and father took over the running of the shop and I remember spending many happy hours with my hands in tins of maggots, feeling them squirm between my fingers, rummaging through all sorts of fishing tackle and sorting out the flies that had been tied and delivered by Hardy Bros. They sold no fly tying materials at all but the vast stock of hooks for coarse and game fishing always came from Partridge when they were in Redditch.
My mother, bless her, would always recount that my favourite fly was the Greenwells Glory which always held me in fascination.
Happy Days. And days I shall always treasure.