Category Archives: News
Ross receiving a very generous offer from Dirk Huyskes of UCP BAITS. He has given 100€ to Fishabilityuk to help get the team on their way to The World Carp masters. Ross is at Carp Zwolle.
Thank you so much from everyone at Fishabilityuk!!!!!
We have been asked several times by some of our fly fishermen if it’s ok to fly fish for the Pike on the 18th of February at our gravel pits.
Fishabilityuk have no issues with this and will actively encourage this providing you bring along a suitable net and mat.
Wow. Fishabilityuk would like to say a massive thankyou to everyone
for all your kind and generous support in helping us to field a Team
for the WCM via the Golden ticket entry offered by the tournament
directors Steve and Sandy Bond. A simple thankyou seems too small,
So a little about us.
FishabiliityUk was formed some eight years ago with the sole purpose to help
veterans suffering from phycological and physical injuries to try fishing
as means of therapy, we try to run an event once a month for small groups
between 10 to 15 anglers free of charge, all of our members are unpaid volunteers and take no expenses.
Unlike some of the larger charities, we do not have a big pot money to dip into.
Without your support, we simply could not fund the costs involved to get the team
to such a prestigious event.
December 20, 2017 By Alex Miljus
Fishability UK Supports Ex-Forces with Fishing Therapy
Arriving at a secret private location for a day of fishing therapy with Fishability UK seems right given they’re all ex-forces personnel and these feels ‘Bond’-like. Peter meets a grinning Alex with a huge hug as he hands me a car pass “Morning Alex, stick that in your window so you don’t get towed. ”I follow him and the sound of banter to find Katy and Chris from Finygo chatting and laughing with some of the guys. “Fancy a brew and a hotdog?” Roger the Chairman and Co-ordinator asks me. Following him into the kitchen area I’m amazed at how well it’s organised and setup. I shouldn’t be though.
Fishing as Support
Fishability UK uses fishing therapy as a support mechanism for ex-forces personnel who find it difficult to rehabilitate back into mainstream activities. Everyone either has physical or psychological wounds. There are no paid members, no paid expenses, everyone is there to help each other. The biggest difference in the support they get from Fishability UK vs other forms of therapy happens naturally from being with like-minded people, the banter and fishing. They’re helping each other with everyday problems but in a quiet, peaceful surrounding. They can talk about things that happen to them – why they’re in the position they’re in, everyday problems too. They’re not judged. They’re with their peers. It’s a natural, familiar environment so the support can happen more easily than in a forced therapy situation. And all ex-forces with visible or invisible wounds are welcome to join at any event, free of charge. Even if they don’t fish.
I join the others outside and meet Ian Gemson from Smart Carping and now a Finygo consultant. Ian gives up his time to help the guys. He’s such a gentle generous man and his support helps the guys improve their fishing and in turn increase their confidence. Suddenly I see Bones walking towards me and find myself in a bear hug with the 6ft 6inch gentleman. I first met Ross, Peter and Bones at World Carp Masters 2016. It was there I learnt Bones was on HMS Sheffield when it was hit by an Exocet missile and destroyed during the Falkland’s conflict. He told me a little about his experience and to this day I am still in awe of what he’s achieved with his life. Fishing, Fishability UK and the guys have been a major support for him, along with his gorgeous partner. “You’ve never caught a pike? I’ll help you.” My worry quells as the big gentleman gets me one of his rods and sets me up.
When did it all Start?
“Several years ago, at Tyrwhitt House, we would spend two weeks there at Combat Stress, that’s where Frank, Bones and John started Tyrwhitt House Angling Society. Without Frank it wouldn’t have gone anywhere.” Peter later explains. “He’s an ex two para man and saw the impact a fishing environment had for him and others.” Frank would repair old equipment they’d bought at car boot sales, so people had tackle. They got Peter by encouraging him to paint and take photos, as he’d never fished. On his first day, he had to step in when both of John’s rods screamed off “It’s yours now, reel it in!” and with Frank’s help Peter landed a golden orfe! “From that point onwards, they got me hooked!”
A lot of Therapy Happens Without Speaking
“You can’t have fished if you’re asking me why it helps!” Says one of the guys laughing. “Look around you! There’s no one to bother you, it’s beautiful and you can relax.” That may not seem like a big deal. But it is. Some of the guys have PTSD, it can be very isolating, and they lose confidence often feeling incapable of achieving anything. Fishing therapy helps them, even in small steps, like learning to tie a knot. They learn to become self-sufficient, helping each other to fish better and sharing tactics. With it, their confidence grows. “There’s a lot of therapy here that happens without speaking. The acknowledgement comes from a look. You know, that person knows.”
Nothing Better than Like-Minded Banter
Most important is the humour and banter as they share tips around the bank. Anglers share a humour that’s similar to military humour. There’s a misconception in the military that mainstream don’t give a damn ‘they won’t understand you’. “Having you guys here means a lot. We can see you understand, appreciate us and you want to spend time with us” Peter says. Being around like-minded people and their peers is a familiarity that’s critical. It gives them a feeling of security and trust. “You guys join in the banter and the guys feel natural around you”. My face breaks into a huge grin as I see Ross “Oh so you are going to say hello to me?” he says as I’m wrapped in another bear hug.
Responsibility of Care
The Golden Ticket Fishability UK received from Steve and Sandy for WCM 2016 was a worry. Who do you send to make up the team? As much as it was an incredible gift, it came with a responsibility of care. There is a certain amount of care for each other, but mostly the duty of care is with the organisers, especially Roger. There’s a huge amount of pressure in traveling abroad not knowing the environment or the type of people you’ll meet. But when Ross, Bones and Peter went to WCM everyone there went beyond themselves to make them feel naturally a part of the competition and even help when they hadn’t brought enough bait for the giant lake.
This year Ross and Peter returned to WCM as marshals to help Steve and Sandy. We met Ross’s partner Rachel, an absolute angel with a wicked sense of humour. They helped as much as they could and at least as much as the others. I won’t forget the look on Peter’s face when he won a week’s fishing in France, a pot luck draw for the marshals. Everyone in the room could feel his shocked joy. “I’d never won anything before. Having gone through all the things I’ve gone through you never expect anything nice to happen again.” That same emotion was felt again as the South African team started singing Happy Birthday to Ross joined by everyone in the room. It wasn’t the special treatment, it was knowing he was one of us.
Money Helps but Your Donations Mean More
A few years ago, Tyrwhitt House Angling Society needed to become more official so Roger started Fishability UK to ensure they could continue fishing, sourcing insurance and with the right equipment so they felt safe, including the most well equipped first aid kit, fire extinguishers and a defibrillator. They raise funds, but they are only used to cover necessities like insurance, bait, food, tea and coffee. There are no paid members, there are no luxuries or frivolity. They’ll often drive each other to get to fishing venues as they can’t cover the costs of all travel. Money helps, but donations in terms of access to places to fish is invaluable. “By allowing us to fish a location, not paying for it but giving us free access to their property, that means so much to any service man because it means they want us there.” I ask Roger if they have to buy tackle and bait “Sometimes, we do get donations of tackle but it’s bait and terminal tackle we need the most. We could also do with another venue or two to fish, especially on the river, that’s easily accessible.”
Keep as Calm as Bones Catching Pike
Bones was the perfect teacher for me. While the banter never stopped, his patience saw my casting improve “Release the line just a little later”. We took turns trying to lure them using my fake roach. Roger looked on and gave me gentle encouragement. Bones told me more about what it was like to work after the Navy, trying to get back into the mainstream. The nightmares that he still has. “But my mind is calm when I fish. I’m relaxed and it’s often the most relaxed I’ll be, until I met my lovely missus. She is calm, she supports me, and I don’t feel as if what I’m going through is unusual.” My calm turns to excitement as I answer Bone’s question “Yep, I’m on!” I reel in the pike as Bones nets it for me and we get it onto the bank. Under his and Roger’s guidance I turn it over on the unhooking mat and straddle it so it’s safe. Roger shows me how to keep the jaw open as Bones removes the hooks and then returns him to the water. “If you stay calm, the fish will stay calm and it’ll help them to recover quickly when they’re back in the water.”
Finally Get to Fish with Ross
After a hearty hot lunch cooked by Roger, Katy helps him wash and clean up as Ross teases me that I still haven’t fished with him. “Now’s your chance Alex!” I grab my chuffing large mat and net and I head off with him and Toby to checkout a few swims. At one Ross tries to fish out my long-nosed pincers from the water with my net, while I just try to stay upright on the floating pontoon. He laughs watching me freeze as he gives it a little wobble and helps me up onto the bank. We try a few more spots and get some knocks but not much interest. “Is that as far as you can cast?” Ross calls to me laughing. “At least I landed a pike, cheeky!” Ross and Bones were so generous giving me lures and spinners and boxes to hold them in. When I said it was too much I got that look “Really!”.
If you’re a veteran or know a veteran with visible or invisible injuries, someone suffering from long term illness or struggling with drink or drugs, they’re all welcome. They don’t have to fish, they can just enjoy the peace, the banter and relax in great company at any of the Fishability UK events in the South of England, free of charge.
The March event for FishabilityUK, with a flyrod, traditionally sees us at Albury Park by kind permission of the Duke of Northumberland fishing over the beautiful waters of Park Lake. The lake had been recently refilled and stocked after the winter recess, and was fit and raring to go.
Clients today included some new faces to flyfishing, along with some old friends who have been fishing with us since we started up in 2012. We were delighted to welcome Paul Oliver, currently undergoing rehab at nearby Headley Court, along with Dean Chilcott, attending the 6 week course at Combat Stress, Leatherhead. We also entertained veterans who came in to fish with us today from Chatham, Littlehampton, Alderholt and the New Forest.
Weeping willow coming into bud – lovely to be fishing as spring was springing today. Pleasantly mild, and a dry day too, a bit better than last time out at Fordingbridge, 3c and snowing!
Instructor John Blanks puts Dean through his casting paces in the morning.
Fishing chitchat with Dog on the point, a dominant fishing spot, with plenty of room on the backcast.
Rainbow trout were hard to come by today, staying deep and out of sight most of the time. This one fell to a pink lure fished at about 1.5 metres down. No surface movement to speak of today.
After supplying a superb breakfast of bacon rolls, Paul Sheppard, member at Albury Park gets a line out across the water.
Here’s JT, also a Park member, in charge of the excellent barbecue lunch, ably assisted by his sidekick Phil Waller. Great nosh guys, many thanks.
Dave Uttridge, resident at Mike Jackson House, works his nymph back through the mid depth, to a gallery of local wildfowl.
Paul Oliver, right, bags his first rainbow.
At this event, we also compete for the Steve Fisher Memorial Shield. Steve was a member here, and also an extremely keen guide and great friend to FishabilityUK who sadly passed away two years ago this week. His son Jacob presents Dean Chilcott with the trophy to the best improver today. Great casting Dean, many congratulations.
Many thanks to all guides, instructors and chefs for making today a great learning, gastronomic and social fishing event!
Next time, we shall be lake flyfishing a bit further afield, in Devon in May, as a response to some local interest down in those parts. If you fancy a day out on one of Dartmoor’s fine fishing venues, then please drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can build you into the day plan. Full instruction given, as always, if you are new to the sport.Watch here for further details.
Flyfishing in February is fraught with risk. Heavy rain often finds the venue in flood, whilst too much cold weather renders the lake surfaces icy and unfishable. Previous seasons have seen a number of trips postponed at this time of year.
We managed to fulfill a trip this year, but only just. We drove down in snow showers to west Hampshire to fish the delightful lakes at Rockbourne, starting temperature -1c and defintely the right clothes and not the wrong weather to make the most of the opportunity. We had three residents from Mike Jackson House (Alderhsot) with us today, and although conditions were extremely challenging, we ended up having a great day.
Rockbourne is a collection of small clearwater stalking lakes close to Fordingbridge, lying on a tributary of the Hampshire Avon. We were made very welcome by owners Peter and Lynn Spratt and staff, and after pre-fishing briefing and excellent bacon rolls in the chalet, we started staking out fish in the exceptional clarity. Fishing alongside us today were Poole and Wimborne Flyfishers, who were having great fun in an early season match.
The six lakes at Rockbourne have individual and distinctive character, with a presentation of excellent quality trout of various spoecies stocked on a daily basis. Rainbows, browns, tigers, blues, sandies and even some arctic char! On our visit, the bag totalled over 100 fish, with the average fish bagging up at 3lb 8oz ! Impressive.
We were very grateful for catering laid on today by the fishery, bacon rolls at pre-fish briefing was followed up by a stunning chicken and asparagus pie. Top noshing!
Our three veterans on the day landed 5 out of 6 rainbows on their limits, a creditable performance given their limited time out on our local waters with a flyrod, and the cool temperatures which never climbed above 4c. Brrrrr!!!
Our grateful thanks again to Peter, Lynn, Simeon and Jeremy for a brilliant day which our veterans thoroughly enjoyed. Thanks also to Poole and Wimborne Flyfishers for their support during the day. We shall be back!
Next time out – Saturday 4th March – Albury Park – lake flyfishing again, fishing for the Steve Fisher Trophy. 10 confirmed participants so far, please send your appplications to fish to email@example.com
This is especially a great event for first timers with a flyrod, and there will be plenty of guides on hand to show you the ropes. Hope to see you there.
Our latest trip out with a flyrod took us back to the River Itchen at Winchester. A mild and dreary day with rain approaching gave us a sufficiently good opportunity to fish for the Lady of the Stream, and on our arrival at the waterside, we were cheered to see a good hatch of olives, a bonus for this time of year.
Fish were moving well to them in the mild conditions, around 12c today, and a great water clarity, thanks to the recent spell of cold, dry weather.
River level was much lower than on recent visits, and concerns across the South are already being raised over impending drought conditions for next summer’s fishing prospects.
Although fish were moving well through the day at the surface, takes to dry flies were somehow impossible to achieve. All success today came to the nymph, almost entirely to the GRHE. Best approach was with a tungsten headed pattern to get the fly right down. Using a pair of flies confirmed the ability to fish the floor of the river, with the fish hugging the bright Itchen gravel.
Rain intensified at around 3pm, and we knew we had seen the best of the day’s sport.
Grateful thanks to our hosts and guides today, and also to wish our charity friends and clients a Very Merry Christmas, Tightlines and a Prosperous 2017.
Next up with a flyrod, Saturday 11th February, venue tbc. Thereafter, Saturday 4th March at Albury Park GU5 9JA.
We have enjoyed a really lovely summer in 2016, and the warmth hung on just long enough for us to enjoy a fabulous day out in the Test Valley between Stockbridge and Romsey. We were giving a complete fishing package to veteran clients from Mike Jackson House, Aldershot and Tyrwhitt House Leatherhead, whilst targetting rainbows and browns in very clear water, and plenty of obstacles to claim a stray backcast.
We kicked off as usual with a FishabilityUK breakfast bap, whilst running through the day’s briefing, safety aspects, and how to get the most from the water.
We could see plenty of fish moving around, feeding confidently, so prospects looked really good, as did the fishing log reports in the well equipped lodge.
Small nymphs and dries should be doing the trick today, and as it turned out, small daddies and GRHE, down to tiny stalking bugs all brought very satisfctory results with 12 fish coming to the net through the day.
We enjoyed 1:1 guiding, with experienced anglers kindly giving their time up to support the cause and share the love of the sport. Everyone repeatedly commented that the venue was quite enough by itself to manufacture complete relaxation and seclusion.
The fish quality was brilliant, extremely hard fighting quality with a full set of fins
Weather was just right – 17c, mostly cloud, a glimpse of sun now and then, and showers so light, they didn’t even get our clothing wet. Perfect for flyfishing.
Many thanks to our guides who provided such a great day for our veterans today.
Next up for flyfish trips – Sat 10 December (River Itchen on the grayling), Sat 12 February 2017 (River Itchen again for grayling), Sat 4 March (Albury Park, Steve Fisher Memorial Day).
Tightlines til then, TH.