“ANGLING TIMES HAS INSPIRED ME TO KEEP FISHING”
We’re celebrating 65 years of Angling Times – who better to interview than our longest-standing reader,
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.