Angling: Leeds and District initiative puts junior anglers at forefront and challenges other societies to follow its lead

Junior angler, Liam Matley, aged 10. PIC: Steve Fearnley
Junior angler, Liam Matley, aged 10. PIC: Steve Fearnley
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Following the Environment Agency’s lead and their recent changes to rod licence charges, Leeds & District Amalgamated Society of Anglers have made a massive statement to other clubs around the country.

At a recent finance meeting, officials of the 2,000-strong club decided to waive all membership charges for junior anglers under the age of 16, making miles of river, canal and lake fisheries free to all those wanting to wet a line for the first time.

With the Agency and Angling Trust making all the right moves to encourage youngsters to get out on the bank, the Leeds clubs’ proposals were passed unopposed at its recent AGM.

Looking at the proposal, I have to say the offer has no catches, and, on applying, under-16s will be provided with a personal named membership book and all the benefits of a fully-paid-up adult. Let’s hope other clubs follow Leeds’ lead; young anglers deserve it.

With over 1,400 anglers striving to make the final and over £40,000 in the total prize fund, Dave Harrel’s brainchild, Riverfest, has now, in my opinion, taken top spot of all competitions to win for the serious river match angler.

The 70 finalists taking part over last weekend read like a who’s who of the country’s finest, though the river proved a tough nut with some of the world’s best proved to be at least just mere mortals.

Held over two days on the prolific River Wye running through Hereford, the final showed even the best venues are only as good as conditions allow, with day one fishing to expectations and day two being almost ruined by an unexpected influx of cold compensation water that didn’t need to be released and came with no explanation.

The final result showed the importance of the draw bag, but particularly the tight margins of what’s needed to win at the top level. Shakespeare Super Team mates Mike Bedding and Sam Merry fought out a first-day peg-to-peg battle, with Bedding just coming out on top, putting 41-10 of bolo-caught dace and chublets on the scales to pip his neighbour, who weighed 41-04.

England international, Sean Ashby, won a hard second day with 26-10 to push him up to third overall, but, with both first-day leaders adding safety back-up weights approaching double figures to their first-day tallies, the pair stayed separated by just ounces at the top.

Bedding took the £13,000 first prize and coveted crown of Riverfest Champion 2017.

A drop to minus-3 degrees and a heavy frost greeted the 80 competitors to the latest Yorkshire Winter League, held on the Ouse and Ure. Despite the conditions, the river threw up its first surprise of the season with perch making up the leading weights. Leeds star, Steve Raper, fishing under the Mirfield banner, claimed top spot from just above unfancied Aldwark Bridge with ten good perch for 13-01.

All his fish fell to chopped worm feeder with a full lobby on the hook; his best fish weighed over 2lb.


Riverfest Final River Wye Hereford Day 1: 1, Mike Bedding 41-10; 2, Sam Merry 41-04; 3, Dan Ashington 36-10; 4, Pete Morris 36-01. Day 2: 1, Sean Ashby 26-10; 2, Deron Harper 16-00; 3, Mark Halsworth 15-12; 4, Lee Edwards 12-14. Overall Final Result: 1, M Berry 50-07 £13,000; 2, S Merry 49-08 £6,000; 3, S Ashby 37-14 £4,000.

Yorkshire Winter League Ouse/Ure: 1, S Raper Mirfield 13-01; 2, J Smiles Anglers World 12-12; 3, S Aldridge Airborough 9-08; 4, S Haigh Anglers World 8-05; 5, P Barron Tackle 2 U 7-10. League to date: Tackle 2 U 7pts, Mirfield 11pts, Barlby& Angler World 13pts.

West Yorkshire Wagglers AC Bank End: 1, G Hargreaves 33-08; 2, S Hobson 31-09; 3, J Brierley 28-12; 4, R Bennett 18-01.

Mirfield AC Altofts: 1, J Lastokowski 9-06; 2, T Rymer 7-10; 3, P Austin 7-08; 4, D Limbit 7-04; 5, R Jackson 5-10.

Kippax Park Winter Series Lapwing: 1, A Rymer 52-05; 2, M Grant 39-10; 3, B Rymer 37-04; 4, J Wake 29-13.

Mark Turner Open KP Lapwing: 1, N Rymer 20-08; 2, B Brown 14-04; 3, B Clark 13-00.

Moor Monkton Pools: 1, M Green 19-02; 2, A Bolton 17-03; 3, S Bolton 12-03.

JT Rodgers Round 5 Lindholme Loco: 1, A Brooks 54-12; 2, A Jackson 35-00; 3, R Richardson 28-08.

JT Rodgers Round 6 Brafferton F1: 1, S Phelan 83-08; 2, D Gunby 79-11; 3, A Jackson 54-04.

York DAA Fulford: 1, C Burton 8-10; 2, D Hardy 7-12; 3, D Grace 7-08; 4, C Turbitt 6-10.

Ripon Streams River Ure: 1, J Bass 4-00; 2, S Beckwith 2-11; 3, D Forkin 2-01.

Fryston Winter League (Viking Hawk): 1, R Roebuck 44-01; 2, G Vause 20-11; 3, R Evans 15-05.

Viking Saturday Open (Hawk): 1, D Sawyer 61-10; 2, G Watson 46-09; 3, K Wetherall 16-14.

Match Diary


Viking Saturday Open: Deer Pond, 24 pegs, £16, contact 01405 785206.

Kippax Park: Saturday Open, Lapwing or Osprey, contact 07967000746.

Poppleton Saturday Open: pools £15, draw cafe 10am, contact Roger 01904737279.

Birkwood Farm Fisheries: Emily’s or Oscar’s, draw 8.30am, contact 01924 892251.

Woodlands: 72 pegs, tickets £18, contact 01845 520110.

Oaks at Sessay: 50 pegs, tickets £17, contact 01845 501321.

Langwith Lakes: 60 pegs, tickets £16, contact 01904 431874.

Moorfields Farm: 54 pegs, tickets £16, contact 07710817150.

Fleets Dam: 50 pegs, tickets £15, contact 01226 292579.

Birkwood Farm: 60 pegs, tickets £16, contact 01132 80609.

Tollerton Ponds: Open Match all ages, (Kingfisher 20 pegs, Coot 18 pegs, Heron 32 pegs), contact 01347 838115.

Anglers World Winter Series: River Ouse/Ure, contact Stan Haigh 07542700743 or Dave Miles 07867680479.


Leeds & Liverpool: Kirkstall, contact Roger Movley 01132 772215.

Listerhills: Leeds & Liverpool Canal, contact Eddie Harrison 07518721051.

Woodlands: 72 pegs, tickets £18, contact 01845 520110.

Oaks at Sessay: 50 pegs, tickets £17, contact 01845 501321.

Langwith Lakes: 60 pegs, tickets £16, contact 01904 431874.

Oak Tree Leisure: 50 pegs, tickets £15, contact 01347 810686.

Poppleton: Sunday Open, 50 pegs, draw 11am cafe, contact 07425 146677.


Woodlands: over-50s, 30 pegs, tickets £15, contact 01845 520110.

Langwith Lakes: over-60s, 30 pegs, tickets £10, contact 01904 431874.

Tollerton Ponds: over-50s, tickets £16, contact 01347 838115.


Kippax Park: over-50s, draw 10am, tickets £10, contact 07967000746.


Leeds & District: Moor Monkton Pools, draw 10am, contact 07967000746.

Birkwood Farm Fisheries: Emily’s or Oscar’s, draw 8.30am, contact 01924 892251.

Woodlands: 72 pegs, tickets £18, contact 01845 520110.

Fleets Dam: 50 pegs, tickets £15, contact 01226 292579.

Tollerton Ponds: open match, all ages, contact 01347 838115.


Poppleton Lakes: Thursday evening, draw car park 5pm, pools £11, contact Roger 01904 737279.