We’re cel­e­brat­ing 65 years of Angling Times – who bet­ter to in­ter­view than our long­est-stand­ing reader,

Angling Times (UK) - - THIS WEEK -

STAN Gower has lived and breathed Angling Times all his life.

Prob­a­bly our most loyal reader, the 82-year-old from Wal­ton-on-Thames, Sur­rey has bought ev­ery copy from day one – and even fea­tured in is­sue num­ber four!

As part of our an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions, we spoke to Stan who told us how Angling Times has played a huge part his fish­ing life…

Q As far as we know, you’re our long­est-stand­ing reader. Why did you de­cide to buy it all those years ago?

SG: I was in­ter­ested be­fore it came out – I was 16 at the time and re­ally into fish­ing. It cost the equiv­a­lent of 4p so I thought I’d buy it, and I’ve con­tin­ued to buy it ever since. I’m now a sub­scriber as you know.

I used to keep all my Angling Times on an old chair, but even­tu­ally I had so many that the chair fell over!

Q How did your love of fish­ing start? Do you remember your first ses­sion? Your first fish?

SG: My Un­cle Bob, a keen an­gler, used to take me to the river on a Sun­day – I can see him now hold­ing his pole. That’s how I got into it mainly. We never used to catch much, but when we did it was a good fish. My first fish was prob­a­bly a perch, as they hang them­selves!

We used to go to a flood re­lief chan­nel on the Lea. The bank was a steep cliff and we had to lower our­selves down on a rope. It was only shal­low, but we used to catch stone loach and put them in a bucket. We then used them as live­baits for perch.

I used to go to a shop in En­field, Mobbs Tackle. John Wil­son was from En­field. I met him out in The Gam­bia. Nice bloke, good an­gler.

We made our first rods from army sur­plus tank aeri­als by sol­der­ing rings on to them. We used to fish the warm wa­ter out­let of the power sta­tion with a link leger for bream on bread. That was where I be­came friends with Ray Mum­ford, with whom I set up Tonkers AC – a tonker, by the way, is slang for a Thames dace.

Q Sixty-five years of is­sues is a long time. What’s changed in fish­ing over all those years?

SG: Well, with the com­ing of com­mer­cial fish­eries it’s all carp now. To be hon­est, my ideal fish­ing is on a river. There’s a lot more skill in learn­ing to trot a float. I live by the river, you see, and walk along it to get to my lo­cal tackle shop, but nowa­days I don’t see any an­glers – no young­sters ei­ther, which is a shame.

I fish the river there too and it’s full of fish! We do need more young­sters on the bank. Take Les Web­ber’s Angling Projects for ex­am­ple, I think it’s bril­liant.

Q Any stand-out angling moments for you over the years?

SG: Not re­ally, but then again at my age I don’t remember ev­ery­thing! I did do a bit of lure fish­ing once, in a PAC event in 1992. I remember look­ing at the tro­phy and think­ing: “Yeah, I’d like that!” Lit­tle did I know I’d be tak­ing it home a few hours later!

My proud­est mo­ment is prob­a­bly win­ning my Thames badges, five in to­tal, which were sec­tion wins for Tonkers AC. We came sec­ond one year and won a tro­phy. A guy on a mo­tor­bike turned up to present it! I also won the Mar­low Rose Bowl.

Q Any funny or out­ra­geous sto­ries from your fish­ing?

SG: It’s funny the things you can hook! Go­ing back to that Thorpe Park lure match with PAC, I was on a land­ing stage cast­ing, and man­aged to catch a pair of sun­glasses. I took them home and cleaned them up – they were Ray-Bans. I remember my son say­ing: “Christ Dad, they’re worth a few bob!” That’s just one in­ci­dent, un­for­tu­nately my old mind for­gets a few things!

Q What’s your favourite style of fish­ing or species? And do you have any angling am­bi­tions left?

SG: It’s got to be a river. I’m a float fish­er­man, a tra­di­tion­al­ist – al­though the older I get, the more I use a feeder. ‘Stan, Stan, the feeder man’ is what they call me! I’m an old Thames an­gler and still use old tac­tics like a bait-drop­per. They all laugh at me, but it works! I also use a 20ft float rod and cen­tre­pin reel, fish­ing off the rodtip mostly. I’ve also fished all over the world which I loved.

I was a rea­son­ably suc­cess­ful match an­gler in my time, and have had some spec­i­men fish too, no­tably two dou­ble-fig­ure bar­bel from the Roy­alty Fish­ery on float tackle – they went 11lb 12oz and 11lb 8oz. I’ve also had 6lb chub from there. I en­joy my fish­ing, that’s the main thing, just to stay healthy and carry on en­joy­ing it.

Q You say you’ve fished all over the world. Where have you been, and what was your favourite place?

SG: I worked for Bri­tish Air­ways for 24 years. I was lucky that I was in a job that I liked, and one that led to fish­ing all over the world.

I also won £10,000 through a work scheme. I al­ways was the sort of bloke that could fall down a toi­let and come back with a hand­ful of di­a­monds! I loved fish­ing in Zimbabwe for tiger fish, it was so ex­cit­ing. Our angling team at BA led us ev­ery­where –

Den­mark, Swe­den, Por­tu­gal, Spain, Bel­gium, and Hungary – all fish­ing trips where I met some lovely peo­ple.

Q I’m told you fea­tured in Angling Times?

SG: I’ve been in a cou­ple of times over the years. I was in the fourth-ever is­sue as a boy. I was in it in 1963 and more re­cently with a 50lb Nile perch.

Funny story that, I caught two or three but lost a mon­ster es­ti­mated at 100lb. It snapped my line, then jumped out of the wa­ter and shook its head. The lure came fly­ing out its mouth and, un­be­liev­ably on the huge ex­panse of wa­ter, we man­aged to re­trieve it. I still have it, too – it’s a red-and-white shad!

Q Lastly, what af­fect has Angling Times had on your fish­ing?

SG: A big ef­fect re­ally. I’ve won loads of gifts, such as my Daiwa team box which I still use today. I also won a Rapi­dex cen­tre­pin reel, which still has the Angling Times sticker on the back. More than that, though, it’s inspired me to get out and fish. It’s my mag­a­zine re­ally! I’ve kept loads of cutouts from the mag­a­zine over the years, al­though I look a lot younger back then!

Stan Gower: Prob­a­bly our most loyal reader ever.

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