Verulam Angling Club
AS an avid pescetarian, fish is very often my dish of the day. Whether it be a meaty tuna steak or a delicate dover sole, I go crazy for a good piece of fish and have no doubt already eaten more than my fair share of the watery world. So, encouraged by th
AS an avid pescetarian, fish is very often my dish of the day. Whether it be a meaty tuna steak or a delicate dover sole, I go crazy for a good piece of fish and have no doubt already eaten more than my fair share of the watery world. So, encouraged by the current trend to 'grow your own', I decided to don my wellies and join the Verulam Angling Club to fish for my own.
My destination was the Riverside Road fishery, a beautiful maze of tree-lined lakes which I've never stumbled across before despite living a stone's throw away. What a delight it was to discover that hundreds of delicious trout were merrily swimming away within fishing rod distance of my bedroom window!
My sister Elise (a carnivorous being who happily turned pescetarian for the day) and I went along to the Verulam Angling Club Open Day to suss out the fishy scene and we were taken under the wing of member Keith, a jolly fellow who took us on an extensive tour of the lakes which the club dug out themselves 50 or so years ago.
First stop was the trout lake, where we were to try our hand at fly fishing. My instructor David (who once caught a 13.8lb rainbow trout, don't you know) took me through the basics: drag the line out of the water, flick your wrist to a 12 o'clock (or was it 1 o'clock?) position, let the line elegantly trail behind you, then flick it forward and watch the hook plop gently into the water. Simple, right?
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Well I can safely say that the Morgan sisters aren't natural anglers. Being rather a feeble soul, my line and its colourful little artificial fly (complete with sequins and glitter to attract the fanciest fish) tended to flop sadly mid-air and Elise even managed to whip her instructor's name tag off with her wild attempts.
But after an exhausting half hour lesson we had both managed to land a few lines without taking anybody's eye out and, to reward our valiant attempts, Keith treated us to a bit of Riverside-smoked trout. It was by far the tastiest trout I've ever had and, as a keen cook, I was pleased to hear that I could smoke my own fish at home using only a bag of wood chips, a biscuit tin and a grill.
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After prising ourselves away from the barbeque, Elise and I continued our tour with Keith, taking in the wonderful scenery and wildlife as we went. "The best thing about fishing", Keith declared, "is getting to see Mother Nature at work" - from kingfishers to otters, herons and even stags, Keith and his fellow Verulam Anglers see them all right here in St Albans every week.
I was impressed by how diverse a range of people fishing seems to attract - it's not just cloth-capped men looking for some peace, but also women, children and even the odd painter, who just enjoys sitting by the anglers and taking in the scenery. George, a little boy desperate to catch a carp, told us that he preferred fishing even to football.
Although I'll never have the desire to bag the biggest carp or the shiniest salmon, there's definitely something to be said for trying to catch your own supper and, if nothing else, there's nowhere more idyllic in St Albans to spend a sleepy Saturday afternoon.
When? Every day
Where? Riverside Road Fishery at the bottom of Riverside Road, St Albans
How much? �65 p/a plus a sign-up fee
Contact: The club's secretary on 01502 471731