A stiff breeze played down the lake from west to east. The
Arctic terns revelled in it as they soared with ease over the
ruffled water and made their diving bid to catch lunch.
Dozens of fishermen, young and old, eagerly lined the banks,
not so much to catch lunch, but simply to try their hand, in
almost every case for the first time, at getting a fish on the hook.
One youngster and his caster caught a staggering 56 perch,
roach and bream, another 50. But a lot of others didn’t get a
bite. Blame the wind, said some. That is fishing, we were told
It was also fishing with a massive difference: it was a Masonic
Trout and Salmon Fishing Club day at glorious Castle Ashby,
home of the Pro Grand Master, the Marquess of Northampton,
the patron, who also sponsored the event.
And it was a day when the club’s aim of bringing fishing and
countryside experiences to mentally and physically disabled
people was perfectly illustrated to another most welcome guest,
the Grand Master, the Duke of Kent. Both the Duke and Lord
Northampton happily donned the club’s cap and meandered
along the lake bank, speaking to everyone, young and old,
Mason and non-Mason.
The MTSFC, which in turn has spawned the Lodge of
Opportunity No. 9777, has in just a few short years extended its
reach to give more than 2,000 disabled young people (and some
older from day centres) an experience they will surely talk about
for many years to come.
Fishing days for the disabled began in Hertfordshire and
Middlesex. Now they are spreading across more Provinces.
Up to the close of their season in October, the club will have
organised 23 fishing days in 10 different Provinces from Essex
and London to Berkshire and North Wales.
While the Castle Ashby day was mainly course fishing, the
club’s roots are in fly fishing for trout. There were trout – a lake
was specially stocked with 200 of them for the day, and several
fly fishermen and their young charges – but only 199 of them
So, with Castle Ashby literally as the backdrop on a June day,
young Danny from St Neots was casting his line like a veteran
in the capable hands of Steve Moule from Southgate, north
London. Just along the bank was school friend Stephanie who,
it has to be admitted, did have a bit of a habit of casting her line
over Danny’s. But they stayed friends, and Stephanie and her
caster, Gerry O’Driscoll from the Square and Level Lodge in
Ealing, landed five perch.
Gerry summed up his day: “I have worked all my life and
you just plod on and you take no notice of some of life’s
challenges… doing this for the children makes my day.
Sometimes you go home and have a tear in your eye. Just to see
their faces at the end of the day makes it very important. There
are some people who take the day off work to come to a fishing
day like this. We are giving something back.
The Grand Master (centre) watches
the fishing at Castle Ashby
The Grand Master enjoys the day
with event host Lord Northampton
Web site created by Mark Griffin