Nostalgia: Angling for Yorkshire’s ‘stolen fortnight’

It has been overtaken now by exercise, golf and bowls, but for many years angling was the most popular participation sport in the country. And as these pictures from the archive bear witness, its appeal for adults and children alike can be traced back well over a century.

23rd February 1935:  A group of monks from the Fort Augustus Abbey go angling on Loch Ness which is famed for its mythical monster. References to a monster in Loch Ness date back to St Columba's biography, 565 AD, where Adamnan describes St Columba preventing a creature in the Loch eating a Pict. More than 1,000 people claim to have seen 'Nessie' and the area is a popular tourist attraction.  (Photo by Reg Speller/Fox Photos/Getty Images)
23rd February 1935: A group of monks from the Fort Augustus Abbey go angling on Loch Ness which is famed for its mythical monster. References to a monster in Loch Ness date back to St Columba's biography, 565 AD, where Adamnan describes St Columba preventing a creature in the Loch eating a Pict. More than 1,000 people claim to have seen 'Nessie' and the area is a popular tourist attraction. (Photo by Reg Speller/Fox Photos/Getty Images)

The watershed date in its modern history was 1878, when anglers in Sheffield – of whom there were many thousands – petitioned one of the city’s MPs, the manufacturer AJ Mundella, to persuade parliament to introduce a close season for coarse fish, which would protect their numbers.

The Mundella Act provided the foundations for the fishing calendar that endures today, with the three months from March 15 off limits.

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The exact dates were the subject of a bitter dispute between the Sheffield contingent and their London counterparts – and for some time after the turn of the last century, a north-south divide opened up a loophole known as “Yorkshire’s stolen fortnight” which allowed Northern anglers to resume coarse fishing on June 1.

July 1926: Five children inspect their catch after a day's fishing in the Serpentine in Hyde Park, London. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

Today, an around 2.3m anglers regularly go coarse fishing.

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circa 1912: A sea angling festival in progress on Marine Drive, Scarborough. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
October 1923: Miss M Coats and Miss L Ponsonby fishing on the River Tay in eastern Scotland. The river is particularly renowned for salmon and trout fishing and is a popular tourist attraction during the fishing season. (Photo by W. G. Phillips/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)