Angling for the big ’un

Ken Middlemist, Jacek Juszczyk and Jim French from Amble Sea Angling Club.
Ken Middlemist, Jacek Juszczyk and Jim French from Amble Sea Angling Club.

FISHING fans are in for a treat this summer, when a major contest will be staged along the north Northumberland coast to celebrate the visit of the Olympic Torch.

Amble Sea Angling Club is now casting the net for competitors to take part in an open shore contest on June 10, as part of the week-long Festival of Alnwick.

As bait, they are putting up the Big ’Un as a prize – a major trophy which has not been won since 1974 and is now being brought out of retirement.

The club already hosts an annual championship each January, but has come aboard for the community-led festival which will mark the arrival of the iconic Olympic flame on June 14.

It’s all part of a bid by the organisers to involve as many different groups and clubs as possible in the celebrations and showcase what the area has to offer, as well as leaving a sporting legacy for future years.

Ken Middlemist, president of Amble Sea Angling Club, said: “We’re very keen to be part of the Festival of Alnwick, so we want to put on an open shore competition as part of it. Angling is a big sport in the area and each year our championship attracts over 500 participants – it’s bigger than a lot of other competitions out there.

“At the moment, the club has about 60 members of all ages and abilities and is very successful. It has been going since 1974, when we held our first open which attracted 80 entries. At our highest point, in 1991, we had 987 at the open and although numbers have declined since then, they are still good and steady.

“This competition will be run with the same rules and cover an area stretching from the north pier at Seahouses to the pipe at Lynemouth south. There will also be classes for seniors, juniors, ladies and disabled anglers, with cash payouts and prizes depending on the number of entries.”

Ken is hoping the lure of the special trophy – known as the Big ’Un – will prove irresistible.

“It came from a competition, also held in 1974, at Seaham, which was sponsored by Newcastle Brown Ale,” he said. “The prizes included three cars and this trophy, which was won by one of our members, David Ferguson.

“When he left Amble and moved to Scotland, he donated the Big ’Un to the club, where it was left in a box. I think this will be the first time it has been up for grabs since it was won.”

Ken, of Lesbury, is no stranger to the world of rod and reel and was the last traditional fly-tying expert to be employed by the world-famous tackle manufacturer Hardys in Alnwick.

He also featured in the acclaimed documentary film The Lost World of Mr Hardy, which charted the company’s remarkable history from its foundations in the 19th century.

Ken and fellow angling aficionado Jimmy France are the only two original members left of Amble Sea Angling Club.

Over the years, their love of the sport has also helped raise considerable sums of money for good causes, including Charlie Bear, Macmillan Cancer Research and the RNLI.

For information, visit the club’s website at www.amblefishing.co.uk or email asac@amblefishing.co.uk

The contest is part of a wider programme of events still being mapped out, which will take place around the town between June 9 and 15. Groups which want to stage an event as part of the Festival of Alnwick can contact Karen Larkin at www.festivalofalnwick.co.uk