The word legend is over-used regularly by football writers – and even in the world of angling it’s often abused. But spare me a few minutes so that I can declare my admiration for an unsung hero and legend of angling.
A few weeks ago Ian Worton passed away. His demise was largely unheralded. Yet ‘Worto’ earned his position in the history books of angling. As a youngster he was one of the top anglers I looked up to, indeed admired, because of his casual but effective way of catching fish.
I didn’t realise at the time that he wasn’t actually as many years older than me as I imagined. After all he was a man and I was still at school and the angling mate he hung around with was near retirement age!
Worton passed away at the relatively young age of 67. His biggest claim to fame was becoming the first River Tees champion in 1979. He took the title again in 1981 when matches still had big entries.
I watched in amazement as he caught on caster and waggler at a shallow local park lake and at a pond just behind his house, in the same road as my parents. I was gobsmacked at how he pulled chub from rivers, especially the then tidal Tees, using big chunks of bread.
I loved in when my mate Ian and I managed to catch on bread to beat Worto and his partner in a local pairs event. That glory, of course, was only temporary! And although it wasn’t funny at the time for his neighbours, you had to laugh when he was given a cow from a local farmer and bred maggots in his garage to earn a few extra quid.
Sometimes a bit brusque in his appearance and manner, Worto was actually a true gent. He kept an eye on my father when he became ill and now the two of them are probably enjoying a pint elsewhere. You both deserve it.
Now…that’s one of my recollections of a great angler. How about you telling us some of yours about an angler – dead or alive – who deserves the credit he is due?
In fact during these 50th year celebrations for Angler’s Mail it would be great if you can send us your memories and praises for angling’s unsung stars over the past few decades…
Last week I bit the bullet and went to one of those commercial fisheries whose rules I do not like and who I pledged a few weeks ago I would never visit. I thought it was time to give them a chance and see what the fishing was like. And I actually enjoyed my day out.
In fact it was so good I decided to go back on an evening ticket for a few hours sitting in the peace and quiet and in the hope of landing a nice fish or two. Bad move! No peace. No quiet!
It was good at first, nice evening, some nice people in the swims around me who were enjoying a cuppa and some good chat…
Then they arrived. Not chavs this time. Not even drunken layabouts. Welcome do the new aggro factor to our fishing – the whole family outing! Pushchairs, prams, screaming kids, babies, mums, sisters and a couple of dads who were allegedly fishing.
Fishing? With all that din going on? I could have done with some earplugs. Thankfully, once the bugs started to bite they called it a day – having failed to catch – and the fish decided they would bite too.
Next time I go there I am hoping for a nice wet overcast day that makes families with loads of kids stay at home. Guest are allowed on the venue. One per angler. Ahem…there were two anglers and I didn’t have enough fingers to count the guests…