THE MEN BEHIND TROUT FISHERMAN
IT’S been enjoyable searching back through the archives. Past pictures brought back memories and reminded us of our sport’s, and this magazine’s, rich histor y. Strong characters and inf luential people have helped shape stillwater f ly f ishing into what it is today. Here’s some background about a few of them...
The man who launched Trout Fisherman magazine. After the momentum of Graf ham’s opening in 1966 and the growing stillwater scene via Two Lakes and Avington, Rutland Water opened. John argued the case for a stillwater magazine because Rutland really helped open f ly f ishing up to the masses. Coming from a newspaper background he knew the importance of being on the phone talking to people. Ever y chat led to a potential stor y or, in TF’s case, a feature based on a technique. He cultivated great friendships with the talented trout anglers of the day – Arthur Cove, Bob Church and (although aged only 17 at the time), Peter Gathercole – and John was, and is, a ver y good angler himself. Apart from gaining information, John was a terrif ic ghost writer and sub editor,
and made the information gleaned from the experts sparkle on the page. These early days were ver y exciting times indeed. Now the average guy could go f ly f ishing for trout and TF magazine ref lected this.
A ver y good coarse angler and f ly f isher, particularly with ny mphs, but really championed the idea of watching the leader for takes while f ishing static or with a ver y slow retrieve. The idea was pioneered by Cyril Inwood but after he died A rthur really took it on. Prior to this, ever yone retrieved f lies so watching the leader was a big breakthrough. Arthur would cast out with a long leader and if it t witched, he’d strike! It was said that he could see a leader move at 30 yards and, while possibly a little far-fetched, the point had been made. He developed many great f lies notably the Cove PTN. Arthur was straight-talking, abrasive at times and had a love of roll-ups a nd woodbines. He was Field Marshal Montgomery’s driver in W W2 and later earned a living selling maggots for coarse a nglers in Northamptonshire. A character who made a huge contribution with his book ‘ My Way With Trout’.
Originally a clicker (leather cutter) in a shoe company and another very good coarse angler who turned to the f ly. Bob started the Bob Church Tackle Company and received a phone call from a rather confident teenager who told him in no uncertain terms that his f lies were rubbish! Bob agreed because mass produced f lies at the time were quite poor. Peter Gathercole and Bob have remained friends ever since! Peter began tying for Bob and Bob often contacted him for new pattern ideas for his Angling Times column. Being a skilled leather cutter, Bob pioneered the leather f ly wallet which was hugely popular at the time. Bob then grew his business, teaming up with Peter Dobbs and also Bruce & Walker for rod creation. The Bob Church boat seat and drogues were popular. He was a member of the first England team to win the world championships. Famously met resistance when f irst entering the England fold because he wrote a column in Angling Times and was therefore deemed by some to be a professional.
First started contributing to the angling media when just 17 years old, via the Angling magazine edited by Sandy Leventon. Peter had come highly recommended as a f ly-tyer by Dick Walker but Sandy had no idea of how young he was! When Peter arrived at the off ice, a shocked Sandy made him address the
“Bob received a call from a teenager saying his flies were rubbish.”
office manager as Auntie Barbara! Sandy asked Peter for a f ly picture and that started Peter’s photography career, later contributing to both Trout & Salmon and Trout Fisherman. Peter’s written and collaborated on many books.
Again, a great coarse angler famous for catching the record 4 4 lb carp ‘Clarissa’. Dick loved to wind people up and his engineering background gave him the skills to develop tackle ideas and f ly patterns. He mostly fished small waters and really championed shooting heads, claiming that they were far less effort than a weight for ward line. A regular at Hanningf ield and Avington where he caught an 18lb trout, which was a British record at the time.
According to many, the UK’s most gifted match f ly angler. A keen coarse angler and golfer, Brian won back-to-back world championships in the late 1980s. He later left the stillwater scene to f ish for grayling on rivers.
Fa mously caught the UK’s fi rst ever 20lb trout (20lb 7oz) from Aving ton on September 16, 1986. It was br ief ly the record until a bigger one came from Loch Awe. Twenty- pound f ish aren’t that common even today. TF’s most experienced contributor to date having run a tackle shop, a f isher y, and g uided trips to A laska.
Trout Fisherman’s longestser ving editor, doing an admirable job for 19 years. A talented writer who rose to fame wit h his column in Angling Times: ‘The Dawn Patrol’. Collaborated on many books while also being a keen or nit holog ist. One of the sport’s tr ue characters. Sadly passed and sorely missed.
“According to many, the most gifted match angler the UK’s ever had. A keen coarse angler and golfer, Brian won back-to-back World Championships.”
An early article from Taff Price.
A beginners’ feature about fry feeders.
A bottle of brandy and a badge for Eyebrook’s first Troutmaster champion, Kenneth Shipton – 1979. Brian Lillie won a trophy and a cash prize in 2016. TROUTMASTERS WINNERS The first-everUK-caught20lb trout.PeterCockwill, Avington20lb 7oz in1986.
They shaped our future (from left), Peter Gathercole, John Wilshaw, Arthur Cove and Bob Church.
Cockwill predicts the future.
ChrisDawn Brian Leadbetter Dick Walker