So here it is, people… the first blogging post on the first website of the first fishing club formed on the Wandle for more than 100 years.
(And not before time, some people might say. We think they’re probably right).
How did we get here? Without going into too much detail right now – maybe later, hey? – the end of the last millennium saw a small group of concerned South London anglers decide to do something about the little river that flowed down from Croydon and Carshalton to meet the Thames at Wandsworth.
Polluted and abused for generations, that river was the Wandle. One of those anglers was Alan Suttie, one of them was Richard Baker, and another was me.
In just a few years, our group of angling mavericks grew up to be the thoroughly responsible Wandle Trust, involving more and more locals who wanted to look after their river, but didn’t care much about fishing it.
So we reckoned the time was right to spin a new, ecologically-ambitious fishing club out of the charity – a mixed-method, mixed-species group of anglers dedicated to restoring an urban river at the start of the 21st century, the River Wandle’s first fishing club in more than 100 years.
And the Wandle Piscators were formed – Wands for short and friendly, or for when we’re fighting shopping trolleys in Mitcham mud and don’t have breath for the full 5 syllables.
With a whole-broadsided salute to the river’s place in world history, we formally constituted ourselves on the 200th anniversary of the first Trafalgar Day – when the heroic one-armed Wandle angler Horatio Nelson died in his hour of victory, and never got to fish the water of his beloved “Paradise Merton” again.
But even since 2005, there’s been more strangely-smelling water under more Wandle bridges than you’d want to shake a cheap graphite / fibreglass / garden beanpole at.
Today, the Wandle Piscators are ranged alongside the Wandle Trust as hands-on local partners in the forthcoming 5-year Wandle Rehabilitation Project. We’re particularly proud to be running the Wandle cell of the nationwide Riverfly Anglers’ Monitoring Initiative – literally rebuilding an ecosystem from the bugs in the bleached river-gravel up, scientifically monitoring it all the way.
It’s an exciting time for South London’s very own People’s River, and all of us who love and fish her ever-so-slightly tangy waters.
That’s why we’ve chosen this blog format for the Wandle Piscators’ new site – exciting, dynamic, interactive, all those good Web 2.0 things.
We hope you’ll keep coming back to find out what happens next. Quills and keyboards at the ready, our whole Committee’s standing by to tell you.
From the Wands on the Wandle, watch this space!