Coarse Fishing

The River Wharfe upstream of Hebden Suspension...

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The term Coarse Angling (aka Coarse Fishing) originated in the United Kingdom in the early 19th century. Prior to that time, recreational fishing was a sport of the gentry, who angled for salmon and trout which they called “game fish“. Other fish were disdained as “coarse fish“… This is the area or aspect of fishing where most anglers start out and I was no different from the majority. Angling is the highest participation based pastime activity in the UK, if not the world.

Early Fishing Days: On the front page of this section I mentioned how I first started along the angling path. Like many others, it was all about those halcyon days of lazy summers. Spending time in the countryside, enjoying the scenery and leisurely catching the odd fish or two. The kind of days that many of us look back upon with fond memory. I started that aspect of my formative years in the Oxfordshire countryside and subsequently moved to Yorkshire just prior to my teens.

It was the river Wharfe (near Hebden, North Yorkshire) where I had my first introduction to Yorkshire Dales fly fishing however, my coarse fishing experience and knowledge also progressed to new levels. In my early teens I was a year book holder with various clubs. These included the Bradford AA, the Leeds ASA and the Skipton Angling Club, or their forerunners. During those years I spent nearly every spare hour I had on the banks of either, the River Wharfe, the River Aire or, the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. The quarry in those days were roach, perch, pike, chub, barbel and grayling. I netted reasonable examples of all of them but then as now, the draw of angling to me has always been the process and not the actual catch.

Home & Abroad: I have fished in all the UK countries and several further afield but like Martin Bowler, there is a kind of magical draw for fishing in my native homeland…

“Fishing abroad is like having an afair and doesn’t mean much, but fishing at home is like marriage, something you’re in love with forever” (Martin Bowler)

My Fishing Today: With the development of day ticket lake venues, my coarse fishing on rivers has tailed off to some extent, sometimes I even find it hard to recall the last time I dangled a line from a river bank. I think the shear convenience factor of commercial venues probably has a lot to do with that.

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