Presented to the Annual General Meeting on 26th January 2018

It gives me great pleasure to welcome all members to the 27th AGM of the Tunbridge Wells Fly Fishing Society

Following a very successful year in 2016, it was going to be a challenge to build on that success, but I'm delighted to say thanks to the continued energetic support of your Committee and a great number of our active members, the Society has enjoyed what might well have been one of the most successful years in its distinguished history with success in major competitions and further international representation

I believe that it's always worth reminding ourselves of the objectives of our Society which are to:

  • promote the sport of fly fishing
  • encourage sound fly fishing practice
  • promote friendship and camaraderie among members and
  • develop and improve members skills in the art of fly fishing and fly dressing

In my view, these aims have been achieved to a considerable degree during the 2017 season. By arranging a busy and diverse programme of bank, lough, reservoir and river fishing, your Committee has provided members with the opportunity to acquire and ultimately display and pass on a wide range of angling skills. It's therefore particularly rewarding to see these skills being shared with new and younger members, with a high level of camaraderie and banter combined with a competitive edge, all of which ensures that we enjoy our sport with a strong dose of fun, which is the point after all!

2017 Events

The Society's policy of providing a varied programme of events continued at large and small waters, and a range of well tested and new venues. More than 40 events were arranged for the 2017 season and the TWFFS website was well used by members to confirm attendance. This is of considerable assistance to the event organisers (now also confirmed on the website) and attendance at our events continued strongly, especially for weekend fixtures, when our average turnout for our 18 reported outings was just under 9 members per event, slightly down on last year

Two issues are worth mentioning at this point. The first is the responsibility of event organisers to find a replacement if for whatever reason they're unable to attend, and to ensure that event reports are submitted promptly after the event so they can be posted on to our website for the information of all members. They continue to be useful reference points for our successes or failures and tactics used or abandoned, as well as a reminder of our many comedy moments during the season!

The second is the continued disappointing performance of fishing at Bewl Water, which reached a low ebb (quite literally!) this season. As a result, your Committee will be looking at a number of other options for some of our events for the 2018 season, including some more extended visits to bank and boat fisheries further afield, while continuing some of our traditional trophy events at Bewl for the time being

As usual our thanks go to all the event organisers for their patience, and for their skill in extracting funds for Members' Pleasure via our raffles, made possible by the generosity of members in donating prizes, usually in liquid form

Membership and Finance

Our continued thanks go to Keith Nicholson for combining these two crucial roles for our Society. Membership continues at a very healthy level with 58 full members at the end of the year, 10 junior members, and 2 honorary members. Four new or returning members and one new junior member have applied for membership in 2018 which will take us closer to our current limit of 70 full members

Your Committee has decided that Annual Subscriptions will remain at £25 for the coming season

Members are reminded that 2018 subscriptions fell due on 1st January, and membership will lapse under the terms of our Constitution if payment is not made by 14th February

While Keith will be providing his own financial report to the AGM, I'm delighted to say that thanks to his sound management, the Society is in very good financial health

Support for Charities

The Society's continued support for our chosen charities is in my view an important part of our activities. It enhances our reputation considerably and displays our commitment to giving something back to others who might be less fortunate than ourselves

While only one Fishing For Forces day could be arranged at Chalybeate this year, it was our pleasure to host a corporate day out for our friends at Fidelity International which was also very well supported by members. 24 guests attended and thanks again to Fidelity's generosity in matching funds raised, a total of £4,822 was raised for Fishing for Forces which included a donation of £400 from the Society. A highly commendable effort, and our thanks go to all members who participated, and of course to Micky Heasman and Fidelity for their continued support. I'm pleased to report that Fidelity have agreed to continue that support in 2018 with an initial contribution of £1,500

We have also continued our support for the Hospice in the Weald via our Reg Littlechild Memorial competition, again held at Chalybeate. The funds raised are also matched very generously by Fidelity which has enabled us to donate a grand total of £1,000 to this excellent cause

It is our intention to continue our support for these very deserving charities during 2018

Team Competitions

A major achievement for our Society this year was the winning of the AMFC First Division for 2017. This is a brilliant result for a small membership such as ours against much larger clubs throughout the leagues, some of whom are supported by organisations such the RAF, Army and Police while others represent major reservoirs such as Rutland, Chew and Grafham

Bob Holland did an excellent job throughout the year, marshalling the 16 members who represented the Society, some of whom were good enough to act as replacements, sometimes at fairly short notice

And of course our thanks go again to Harry Collins for his continued support for our competition teams for 2017. His sponsorship helps to defray some of the individual expense involved in entering these national events and ensure that we can field our strongest teams when needed. I'm delighted to be able to confirm that Harry has generously agreed to continue his support for the 2018 season

Our previous success in the Snowbee Invitation floating line competition at Grafham which our teams had won in 2014 and 2015 was resumed in 2017 when our four man team led by Bob Shaw attained a highly creditable second place against some formidable national competition

Similar success was enjoyed in the 30th Anniversary staging of the Grand Max Invitation Competition at Bewl on another challenging day when the TWFFS team led by Peter Thomason achieved a hard fought second place with 14 fish for 41lbs 3oz

Individual Honours

Following his qualification in 2016 for the 2017 England National squad at only his second attempt, Mark Tremain-Coker enjoyed further success when he contributed to a successful journey north to the Lake of Menteith, where the England team managed to put the Scottish team to shame on their home water

Our hearty congratulations go to him as he follows a strong tradition for our Society which has a number of members (12 to date) who have fished for their country and 5 who have captained the England team. Again a great achievement for a club of our size, and proof positive of our willingness to share knowledge and skills for the benefit of all

A number of our members continue to enter and enjoy success in the regional qualifiers which lead to selection for the England National team, and while the organisation of these events has caused continued controversy during 2017, quality has shone through as usual with Sean Brooks, Vince Brooks, Joel Beeney, Andrew Green and John Hancock making it through to the National Qualifier at Rutland

Society Competitions

The 2017 season proved to be as competitive as ever, but with the emphasis on friendly competition and fun. And I think it's good news that the spread of winners is wider than in past years with 17 members picking up awards as winners or runners-up out of the 22 positions available, and a number of members, including Martyn Gray, having a particularly successful season

The winners of our various cups and shields during the season to be presented at our Annual Dinner are therefore as follows:

  • CORRIB CUP
  • Winner: Dave Crouch
  • Runner up: Mick Priest
  •  
  • DAVE CLARK CUP
  • Winner: Ray Burt
  • Runner up: Sean Brooks
  •  
  • NIGEL TURNER CUP
  • Winner: John Hancock
  • Runner up: Russell Bell
  •  
  • PAIRS CUP
  • Winners: Nick Cox and Ian Watts
  • Runners up: Ray French & Ralph Painter
  •  
  • KEITH LYNE FUR & FEATHER TROPHY
  • Winner: Ron Lewis
  • Runner up: Ian Watts
  •  
  • CHALYBEATE PAIRS CHALLENGE CUP
  • Winners: Ray Burt & Mark Tremain-Coker
  • Runners up: Keith Nicholson & Peter Thomason
  •  
  • CHAIRMANS AWARD
  • Awarded to: Bob Holland
  •  
  • REG LITTLECHILD MEMORIAL CUP
  • Winner: Martin Gray
  • Runner up: Scott Benton
  •  
  • CHAMPIONSHIP
  • Winner: Ray Burt
  • Runner up: Martyn Gray
  •  
  • RAINBOW SHIELD
  • Winner: Ray Burt (8lb 14oz)
  •  
  • BROWNIE SHIELD
  • Winner: Alan Dean (2lb 6oz)

The changes to the Championship points system for 2017 seemed to work out successfully, with points events still evenly divided between bank and boat competitions, extra points days no longer applied, and 2 points were awarded to all members who attended, in addition to the following points for the top 6 places: 10;8;6;5;4;3

It was also decided that to qualify for the Rainbow and Brownie Shields in future, fish killed or returned should be measured in centimetres, verified by another member and a claim for the award should be submitted to Peter Thomason as Society Secretary for consideration at the end of the year. This system has been applied, with a degree of tolerance, in the first season

For the 2018 season and to encourage attendance at all our events, your Committee is considering the application of Championship points for all weekend outings which are not already the subject of competition for a trophy or shield. Soundings will be taken prior to the start of the season, and the subject may be worthy of some debate at the AGM

Communications and Clothing

Our continued thanks go to Marc George for keeping the Society's website up to date and for making the adjustments needed as time goes by. The site is now a very efficient source of information about our activities and a successful way for us to book in to and therefore organise our numerous events

Our Facebook page now provides a useful supplement and our regular Newsletter, kindly produced by Peter Thomason, is an excellent way of keeping members up to date on specific issues as the season goes by

We're also very grateful to Chris Ball, who has continued to help us produce a range of clothing which is available to members by individual order. We are grateful to Chris for his work in sourcing high quality items at very reasonable prices

Ireland

2017 proved to be an interesting year with conditions and tactics changing on a daily basis. The focus of the tour however was the introduction of two Corrib virgins, Alex Nicholson and Graham Morgan-Plumb, who had to learn the ropes quickly from some of the returning older hands who were only too keen to lead them astray!

As usual the social side of the week was outstanding, with old friends and even older stories being re-visited on a regular basis. Our 2018 excursion is already being organised by Keith Nicholson who keeps the attendees in order with almost military precision

In conclusion

So, in all another very successful season

While I haven't personally been able to participate throughout the year, and with apologies to those who I haven't been able to mention individually, can I extend my personal thanks to all those who have made my second year as Chairman of your Society such a pleasure. I'm pleased to say that thanks to the excellent work done by your Committee, not only has my role been made very much easier, but the Society is in excellent health, not just financially, but in terms of activities, membership, camaraderie and reputation. We will be working hard in 2018 to make sure that this position continues

Russell Bell, Chairman

Bewl Water - 20th September 2017

This was the 30th anniversary of the floating line only, invitation competition organised by the Bewl Water Fly Fishing Club, sponsored by Fordham & Wakefield (importers of Grand Max, Riverge and Soft Plus fluorocarbon leader materials). TWFFS has been a regular participant since 2008 and has put in some good performances. This year was no different!

The Society was represented by:

  • Russell Bell
  • Scott Benton
  • Keith Lawrence
  • Ron Lewis
  • Mick Priest
  • Peter Thomason (Captain)

As is often the case in the latter part of the season, the water levels at Bewl were very low. This was further complicated by warm water temperatures over the summer months and algae growths had severely colouring the water. Not surprisingly, the combination severely reduced the overall catch rates with many teams and individuals struggling to bring fish to the net. The match was organised in its usual very civilised way with a lunch break taken in the Boathouse Bistro thus enabling a quick check on how colleagues and other teams are faring. At lunch it was obvious this was not going to be an easy day but we were encouraged to have a few fish in the bag

Most fish were taken by those brave enough to go to the top end of Bewl Strait near Rosemary Lane where the reservoir was in a very shrunken state. However a good number of fish were located there and they proved to be above average weight. Despite this, the match ended with nearly 20 per cent of the participants failing to catch fish and a very low rod average of only 1.52

A total of 14 teams of six anglers fished the competition. The top three teams each had a total of 14 fish and the final places thus depended on total bag weights

I am very pleased to report that TWFFS was one of those teams and earned a very creditable 2nd place on a tough day’s fishing

The final result was:

  • First Place · Flyfishing Forever (Belgium) · 14 fish for 44lb 6oz
  • Second Place · TWFFS · 14 fish for 41lb 3oz
  • Third Place · Team Vision ·14 fish for 40lb 0oz

This is the second occasion when TWFFS has taken 2nd place in the Grand Max competition. Congratulations to the team for an excellent performance! We shall look forward to gaining that elusive first place in future years

Report by Peter Thomason