All I want for Christmas is a fishing rod

Seven-year-old Jonny Chambers with his first-ever carp, caught from Stemps Pond, Walberton, for Petworth and Bognor AC
Seven-year-old Jonny Chambers with his first-ever carp, caught from Stemps Pond, Walberton, for Petworth and Bognor AC

ANYONE of a certain age who goes fishing, or wished they could, knows the title Mr Crabtree Goes Fishing.

This well-loved book written by a great angler and artist Bernard Venables was published by the Daily Mirror back in the 1950s.

In the difficult days following the war, rationing was still with us and for youngsters, the pleasures of the time were mostly spent in the great outdoors, climbing trees and playing in the streets and open spaces were the norm.

It was a far cry from today’s world of computer screens and changing technology in which the pressure on children to succeed outweighs the time to be outside and to enjoy the natural world.

This goes for adults too – we always seem to be running against the clock. So if you are stuck for a Christmas idea... how about fishing, or angling if you prefer?

Most fishing clubs are well-organised and have a variety of local waters to fish. The sea is on our doorstep and is a good place to start, however many prefer to stick to the rivers and ponds.

Why fishing? To start with, its origin is hunting for food. Time has moved on and today all the fish are returned unharmed from where they are caught – this may sound daft to some people but if we ate what we caught there would be no fish left; not only that but most freshwater fish are very unappetising.

The fun is in the catching, while the scenery and countryside in this part of the world can evoke a sense of calm and well-being, and trying to catch fish with different baits, different methods, floats and feeders is a skill that captures the imagination.

Who can recall those days when, as a child, they ventured to their nearest river or pond to go fishing?

If you were fortunate to have done that, the desire may well still there, even if has lain dormant while we grew up, started working, married and raised a family.

Having met numerous anglers a similar tale emerges: when approaching a greater amount of leisure time, that urge to go fishing again is back on your mind; fond memories flood back.

“But things have changed a bit since my days,” is heard, but apart from today’s modern tackle, the base skills remain the same.

So even if you are a hard-working bread winner, and perhaps you didn’t try fishing as a kid, that’s not a reason not to give your own children the chance to give it a try, also go yourself, get outside and if you catch a fish you are likely to want to catch another and are hooked.

I have been fortunate enough over the years to have made a lot of friends and learn so much from my fellow anglers at my club, Petworth & Bognor Angling Club ( and we are lucky to have a great variety of very different venues including ponds and long stretches of both the river Rother and Arun.

Sadly like most fishing clubs we don’t see so many youngsters taking up the sport these days, and we would like to encourage everyone to give it a try – all ages are welcome and what a different and unusual present.

You can download a membership application form online, or pop into one of three angling shops in the area: Arun Angling in Angmering, Tropikoi in Bognor and SAS in Donnington.

They can sign you up on the spot but have all the tackle and gear you need, plus sound advice on where to fish.