1894: Swindon Anglers at Wootton Bassett

From the Swindon Advertiser and North Wilts Chronicle, 30th June 1894

I don't know exactly whether it was an organized outing of the newly formed Swindon Anglers' club at Wootton Bassett on Saturday, but happening to be down that part of the country I observed quite a number of Swindon Isaak Waltons busy with rod and line in that neighbourhood. And, for the nonce, it seemed that the banks of the Wilts and Berks Canal round about Wootton Bassett afforded a considerable amount of sport, both live and dead bait being in demand – the former in preference. Several goodly sized pike were hooked and landed.

I ran across a Swindon laddie whom I know to be an enthusiastic follower of the gentle art, on his way home on Saturday night, looking rather tired and exceedingly hungry. He was laden with all manner of equipments of the fisher craft, and I thought I would like to have a talk upon fishing topics, and learn how the new Angling Association was getting along. And so I hailed him: “Hullo, Fred! Been fishing?”

“Well, yes”, said Fred, rather slowly, for your genuine angler has a way of affording very little voluntary information. “Well, yes, I have been trying to do a bit in that way”.

“Thought so. Where have you been this afternoon?”

“Canal”, replied my companion shortly, “up 'round here” - with a backward jerk of his head.

Wherever “Up 'round here” indicated I'm sure I don't know, but as we were within a mile of Wootton Bassett at the time, I calculated that he had been one of the Swindon party whom I had seen earlier in the day. I saw that Fred would have to be “squeezed”, and so put the question: “Had any sport?”

“Oh yes”, said he, with a smarter air than I expected, “didn't do so bad; got a couple of fairly good jack”, and off went the cover of his basket, and Fred displayed, with just a soupçon of pride in his manner, a couple of fairly good pike, one was especially plump. He said that the jack had been “running” fairly well all afternoon.

“Of course you're a member of the new Angling club?” was the next question I ventured. “Not I”, said my friend, and then in a sarcastic tone he continued, “I expect if I belonged to them I shouldn't catch anything at all”, and down slammed the lid of the basket. The club must send out some missionaries to such unbelievers.