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Our Fallen Ambassador

 The next section is dedicated to a Great Ambassador who we, the Committee, had the privilege to meet and work with in his many years at

Durham City Angling Club.

RIP

 John Hepworth  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Few Words From  Friends Far And Wide

 

John has been involved with Angling Administration for 30 or more years. he served as membership secretary for Durham Angling Club for over 10 years and as Secretary for the last year. He was a member off the Chub study Group and served as Secretary.His main interest was for coarse fishing and he was instrumental in having the River Wear recognised for its tremendous coarse fishing being very active on what was the River Wear Improvement Group. 

 

He was involved with EA forums, Angling Trust and various rivers trusts. John had a passion for fairness, justice and simply doing the right thing. He was a man of principle who would not waiver. He had a passion for all angling but barbel and especially chub fishing was his real passion. John had a vast knowledge of Angling Administration and its legalities, always fighting to make Angling as accessible as possible to all.A true gentleman who will be sorely missed by everyone who enjoys angling.

 

Andy Sinclair

Lifelong Friend

 

 

 

 

It is with great sadness that we relate the news of the death of John Hepworth. John was a great supporter of the Trust and our first Secretary in the North East. We asked his close friend Andy Sinclair and NE angling broadcaster David Hall to write a few words about John's life and his passion for angling. The recent loss of John Hepworth is an extremely sad event indeed. He was without doubt one of the most knowledgeable and respected coarse anglers in the North East. His work with Durham City Angling Club was legendary and it is no exaggeration to say that all anglers in this region owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude for his many hours spent improving local waters. He always fought for anglers rights and was determined that coarse anglers on the Wear especially were given the respect and consideration they deserve.

 

In later years I worked with John a lot, often as part of the Tyne Anglers Alliance, to which he contributed so much, or jointly when we were lobbying the Environment Agency on such issues as representation on their Fisheries Committee, and in more recent years debating the dreaded spectre of hydro dams planned for local rivers, a threat he was still concerned and involved with only a month or so ago. John was a true gentleman.His knowledge on Chub was particularly strong and of course he was the main man in the Chub Study Group for many years. In short John has helped to make the area a much better place for coarse angling and will always be remembered for the tremendous amount of time and effort he put in on behalf of us North East Anglers.

 

On behalf of all local anglers I would like to thank his family too for allowing John to take so much time out from them in order to to help us, It is appreciated and he will always be remembered with fondness and respect

 

 

David Hall

Fisheries Officer to The Tyne Anglers Alliance

 

 

It was with great sadness that I learned of the recent passing of John Hepworth, Secretary of both Durham City Angling Club and the Angling Trust North East Section.

 

Apart from the sterling work he did for both his angling club and angling in the region in general, it was for his unprecedented knowledge of coarse angling in the North East and North Yorkshire that John will perhaps be best remembered. I got to know him having been a DCAC member for some years, and also met him a few times while attending both River Wear Development and North East Angling forums run by the EA. For someone as fascinated by the history of angling in the region as I am, any time spent in the company of John was a godsend; his knowledge of the subject was so comprehensive. He was a nice bloke as well.

 

There is no doubt that both Durham City Angling Club and coarse anglers around the North East in general will miss John’s tireless work and enthusiasm for the sport immensely. A link to some tributes by the Angling Trust and a few of his friends on the angling scene can be read here.

 

 Pete McParlin

 

 

 

 

First of all, heartfelt condolences to Claire and Jonathon on their great loss. I met John through joining the club committee in 2005 and it was immediately apparent to me that John was a man who had the courage of his convictions and stuck out for he believed to be right. After his family, his fishing and the club where his passion. I have never met anyone, ever, who knew as much about fishing, not just in the northeast but in the whole of Britain. He could tell you pretty much about any river or water in this country  where it was and what the fishing was like and the clubs who fished it.He knew so many influential people in the sport and was a superb ambassador for DCAC. His relationships with these people ensured that our club prospered and was at the forefront in all angling matters. He was tireless in attending meetings and seminars to glean vital intelligence to ensure we were properly represented.

 

As a founding member of the club he was instrumental in all the key decisions that have made the great club that we have today this is his legacy.He is irreplaceable and will be greatly missed by us all. warmest regards to all at this sad time.

 

Den Lilley

Chairman

Durham City Angling Club

 

 

 

 

 

The River Wear

 

John Hepworth tells us all about the delights of the Northumbrian River Wear and some of its recent history.

 

 

Chub go to 6lb 10oz

 

In common with most northern rivers the Wear is a spate river and starts its short journey to the North Sea high on the Pennine hills of North West Durham, close to the sources of both the rivers Tees and South Tyne, and just over the hill as it were, from the Cumbrian rivers. The Wear is the smaller of Northumbria's three major rivers and can best be described as a smaller version of the Welsh Wye and, unlike other northern spate rivers, runs clear, due to almost the entire Wear valley being of magnesium limestone, and as a consequence is far less acidic than most Pennine fed rivers.

By the time the Wear has passed through the small market town of Wolsingham its pace has reduced somewhat and becomes a very fertile river, ( Environment Agency figures show that growth rates of all coarse species are above what would be expected for a northern spate river ) and as the river approaches Bishop Auckland shoals of both chub and barbel are to be found, but access to the coarse angler is very limited in this area.

 

As the crow flies the distance from the upper river to the lower/tidal reaches is not that great, but because of the way the river twists and turns there are many miles of excellent coarse fishing within a small geographical area.

 

In recent years the Wear has produced specimen size fish of most species, barbel to over 12lb, chub to 6lb 10oz and a record dace is always a possibility. Predator anglers are now showing an interest in the river with pike to over 29lb and isolated perch to 3lb 4oz. Winter matches regularly produce 2lb roach and 3-pounders are not unknown. Add to this an increasing head of bream, good grayling, salmon, sea trout and wild brown trout, the Wear has everything a river angler could wish for.

 

 

 

There are some big eels in the Wear

 

However, this was not always the situation as historically the Wear was maintained as a game river with large quantities of its coarse stocks being removed on a regular basis. Even after the NRA took over from the 'anti coarse' Northumbrian Water Authority, coarse fish continued to be removed and it wasn't until the now EA adopted a more sensible policy that this practice stopped, although educating some game anglers could take several generations as many continue the practice of killing coarse fish.

On the plus side the Wear has benefited through not being 'improved' by the authorities in recent years due to the very poor access to many stretches of the river. The last major work that was carried out was by the old Durham River Board in the early 60's.

 

However, back to the chub fishing, and on a session earlier this season, as usual, I started at the top end of the Shincliffe stretch, a pleasant walk through the woods. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine we are less than three miles from the city centre, which itself together with the castle and cathedral, standing high on the rocky peninsula above the river, is a World Heritage site.

 

As the footpath reaches the river a large oak tree stands at the top of a very high bank beneath which several large chub can always be tempted to take slowly sinking flake. Fifteen or so yards upstream, a careful climb down the riverbank and several pieces of flake were dropped at my feet to trickle down the fast gravel run and settle in the pool under the oak tree

 

Tackle was a 12ft Graham Phillips Barbel Trotter, 6lb Pro Gold line loaded onto a fixed-spool reel, fished straight through to a size 4 hook with the barb crushed, and a single SSG shot pinched on the line 6 inches above the hook. I find that using barbless hooks in larger sizes causes much more damage than a crushed or whisper barb, especially with head-shaking chub in fast water.

 

Fifteen minutes later my flake-baited hook followed the free offerings, and as the feel of the shot bouncing over the gravel stopped, the line in the fingers of my left hand twitched, and my first chub was on. After a short but lively struggle in the fast flowing water the fish was netted, the hook removed from its top lip, and the fish returned to its watery home. Not a big fish at about 3lb, but a good start. Five further chub all in the same weight range came to the same method before the swim went quite.

 

I'm sure that if I had used a keepnet a greater number could have been taken, but I see no point in retaining fish unless it's a good specimen, and then only long enough for a photo or two. And I only ever weigh a chub if I think it will go 4lb or more. I've found over the years, especially on North Eastern rivers, that if I can comfortably hold a chub across its back with thumb and finger, then it won't go 4lb.

 

 

Wear barbel top 12lb

 

The next swim downstream of the oak tree is a single-fish swim, however it is possible to select your fish here as they can be seen taking the bait. If you don't want the fish that is heading towards it, the bait can be twitched away. I removed the shot and hooked another fish, again on flake, and had to scramble down the bank on the seat of my pants, rod held high in one hand, landing net in the other and hoped to god I could dig the heels of my boots into the bank ABOVE the water level. This fish was 4lb 10oz, and worth the risk, but after all the disturbance I suspected there would not be another fish within 25 yards.

Thirty yards downstream there is a fast shallow glide under a line of far-bank willows. So I tried the same method and bait as the first swim but this time the bait didn't have time to reach the clean gravel bottom before the line went tight. A quick struggle in mid-river and another good chub came to the net, that one just over 4 at 4lb 3oz. A couple of lost fish and the swim went quiet, although I know there are more fish below the willow cover. A change of bait to cheese paste produced an instant take from what at first felt like another good chub, but I soon realized that it was no chub, but a bloody great eel. When I managed to steer it to the nearside slack it looked about 3lb. I held the line just above the hook, a with a quick twist of the forceps away it slithered to fool another chub angler at some later date.

 

For those that enjoy eel fishing, the Wear holds some really good fish, I've had them to 5lb, taken on flake in fast water less than 18 inches deep and fish over 9lb have been taken in nets.

 

As Shincliffe Hall is approached the fast water gives way to a couple of steadier pools. The top pool is approached from mid-river and that day I stood in about a foot of water, casting the flake under a far bank alder tree and let the bait roll down to the root system. A couple of quick tugs on the line and the bait was gone, and another cast to the same spot produced the same result. So a size 2 hook was tied on and the shot removed. A large piece of flake was tightly pinched on the shank to make the bait sink faster and re-cast to roll under the alder. Just as I was about to retrieve the hook the line went tight, this time without the tugs, and the rod tip hoped over to almost 90 degrees. That chub went 4lb 6oz and after a further three, all in the 3 to 3 1/2lb range it was time to give my aching back a rest.

 

 

Good pike in the Wear too

 

I moved to the next swim where I could fish from my chair, again with the 12ft trotter, but this time with 2LG shot pinched on the line 6 inches above a size 2 hook. The bait was a large piece of crust which was cast to a mid-river crease. A loop of line was held in the fingers of my left hand. After five minutes the line twitched and the smallest fish of the session, at about 2lb, came to the net. Another large crust was cast to the crease and I did what I do best when fishing from a chair - snooze. I was awakened by heavy rain and a strong wind and as the sky looked black and threatening, I called it a day. Within 35 minutes I was home, changed and eating a roast dinner.

So that wasn't a bad late afternoon session; a dozen good chub, and to think that not many years ago I would often make the 120 mile round journey to fish the Swale for, often, far less sport.

 

 

 

 

 

Heading 1

Our Fallen Ambassador

The next section is dedicated to a Great Ambassador who we, the Committee, had the privilege to meet and work with in his many years at

Durham City Angling Club.

RIP

 John Hepworth  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Few Words From  Friends Far And Wide

 

John has been involved with Angling Administration for 30 or more years. he served as membership secretary for Durham Angling Club for over 10 years and as Secretary for the last year. He was a member off the Chub study Group and served as Secretary.His main interest was for coarse fishing and he was instrumental in having the River Wear recognised for its tremendous coarse fishing being very active on what was the River Wear Improvement Group. 

 

He was involved with EA forums, Angling Trust and various rivers trusts. John had a passion for fairness, justice and simply doing the right thing. He was a man of principle who would not waiver. He had a passion for all angling but barbel and especially chub fishing was his real passion. John had a vast knowledge of Angling Administration and its legalities, always fighting to make Angling as accessible as possible to all.A true gentleman who will be sorely missed by everyone who enjoys angling.

 

Andy Sinclair

Lifelong Friend

 

 

 

 

It is with great sadness that we relate the news of the death of John Hepworth. John was a great supporter of the Trust and our first Secretary in the North East. We asked his close friend Andy Sinclair and NE angling broadcaster David Hall to write a few words about John's life and his passion for angling. The recent loss of John Hepworth is an extremely sad event indeed. He was without doubt one of the most knowledgeable and respected coarse anglers in the North East. His work with Durham City Angling Club was legendary and it is no exaggeration to say that all anglers in this region owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude for his many hours spent improving local waters. He always fought for anglers rights and was determined that coarse anglers on the Wear especially were given the respect and consideration they deserve.

 

In later years I worked with John a lot, often as part of the Tyne Anglers Alliance, to which he contributed so much, or jointly when we were lobbying the Environment Agency on such issues as representation on their Fisheries Committee, and in more recent years debating the dreaded spectre of hydro dams planned for local rivers, a threat he was still concerned and involved with only a month or so ago. John was a true gentleman.His knowledge on Chub was particularly strong and of course he was the main man in the Chub Study Group for many years. In short John has helped to make the area a much better place for coarse angling and will always be remembered for the tremendous amount of time and effort he put in on behalf of us North East Anglers.

 

On behalf of all local anglers I would like to thank his family too for allowing John to take so much time out from them in order to to help us, It is appreciated and he will always be remembered with fondness and respect

 

 

David Hall

Fisheries Officer to The Tyne Anglers Alli

It was with great sadness that I learned of the recent passing of John Hepworth, Secretary of both Durham City Angling Club and the Angling Trust North East Section.

 

Apart from the sterling work he did for both his angling club and angling in the region in general, it was for his unprecedented knowledge of coarse angling in the North East and North Yorkshire that John will perhaps be best remembered. I got to know him having been a DCAC member for some years, and also met him a few times while attending both River Wear Development and North East Angling forums run by the EA. For someone as fascinated by the history of angling in the region as I am, any time spent in the company of John was a godsend; his knowledge of the subject was so comprehensive. He was a nice bloke as well.

 

There is no doubt that both Durham City Angling Club and coarse anglers around the North East in general will miss John’s tireless work and enthusiasm for the sport immensely. A link to some tributes by the Angling Trust and a few of his friends on the angling scene can be read here.

 

 Pete McParlin

 

 

 

 

First of all, heartfelt condolences to Claire and Jonathon on their great loss. I met John through joining the club committee in 2005 and it was immediately apparent to me that John was a man who had the courage of his convictions and stuck out for he believed to be right. After his family, his fishing and the club where his passion. I have never met anyone, ever, who knew as much about fishing, not just in the northeast but in the whole of Britain. He could tell you pretty much about any river or water in this country  where it was and what the fishing was like and the clubs who fished it.He knew so many influential people in the sport and was a superb ambassador for DCAC. His relationships with these people ensured that our club prospered and was at the forefront in all angling matters. He was tireless in attending meetings and seminars to glean vital intelligence to ensure we were properly represented.

 

As a founding member of the club he was instrumental in all the key decisions that have made the great club that we have today this is his legacy.He is irreplaceable and will be greatly missed by us all. warmest regards to all at this sad time.

 

Den Lilley

Chairman

Durham City Angling Club

 

 

 

 

 

The River Wear

 

John Hepworth tells us all about the delights of the Northumbrian River Wear and some of its recent history.

 

 

Chub go to 6lb 10oz

 

In common with most northern rivers the Wear is a spate river and starts its short journey to the North Sea high on the Pennine hills of North West Durham, close to the sources of both the rivers Tees and South Tyne, and just over the hill as it were, from the Cumbrian rivers. The Wear is the smaller of Northumbria's three major rivers and can best be described as a smaller version of the Welsh Wye and, unlike other northern spate rivers, runs clear, due to almost the entire Wear valley being of magnesium limestone, and as a consequence is far less acidic than most Pennine fed rivers.

By the time the Wear has passed through the small market town of Wolsingham its pace has reduced somewhat and becomes a very fertile river, ( Environment Agency figures show that growth rates of all coarse species are above what would be expected for a northern spate river ) and as the river approaches Bishop Auckland shoals of both chub and barbel are to be found, but access to the coarse angler is very limited in this area.

 

As the crow flies the distance from the upper river to the lower/tidal reaches is not that great, but because of the way the river twists and turns there are many miles of excellent coarse fishing within a small geographical area.

 

In recent years the Wear has produced specimen size fish of most species, barbel to over 12lb, chub to 6lb 10oz and a record dace is always a possibility. Predator anglers are now showing an interest in the river with pike to over 29lb and isolated perch to 3lb 4oz. Winter matches regularly produce 2lb roach and 3-pounders are not unknown. Add to this an increasing head of bream, good grayling, salmon, sea trout and wild brown trout, the Wear has everything a river angler could wish for.

 

 

 

There are some big eels in the Wear

 

However, this was not always the situation as historically the Wear was maintained as a game river with large quantities of its coarse stocks being removed on a regular basis. Even after the NRA took over from the 'anti coarse' Northumbrian Water Authority, coarse fish continued to be removed and it wasn't until the now EA adopted a more sensible policy that this practice stopped, although educating some game anglers could take several generations as many continue the practice of killing coarse fish.

On the plus side the Wear has benefited through not being 'improved' by the authorities in recent years due to the very poor access to many stretches of the river. The last major work that was carried out was by the old Durham River Board in the early 60's.

 

However, back to the chub fishing, and on a session earlier this season, as usual, I started at the top end of the Shincliffe stretch, a pleasant walk through the woods. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine we are less than three miles from the city centre, which itself together with the castle and cathedral, standing high on the rocky peninsula above the river, is a World Heritage site.

 

As the footpath reaches the river a large oak tree stands at the top of a very high bank beneath which several large chub can always be tempted to take slowly sinking flake. Fifteen or so yards upstream, a careful climb down the riverbank and several pieces of flake were dropped at my feet to trickle down the fast gravel run and settle in the pool under the oak tree

 

Tackle was a 12ft Graham Phillips Barbel Trotter, 6lb Pro Gold line loaded onto a fixed-spool reel, fished straight through to a size 4 hook with the barb crushed, and a single SSG shot pinched on the line 6 inches above the hook. I find that using barbless hooks in larger sizes causes much more damage than a crushed or whisper barb, especially with head-shaking chub in fast water.

 

Fifteen minutes later my flake-baited hook followed the free offerings, and as the feel of the shot bouncing over the gravel stopped, the line in the fingers of my left hand twitched, and my first chub was on. After a short but lively struggle in the fast flowing water the fish was netted, the hook removed from its top lip, and the fish returned to its watery home. Not a big fish at about 3lb, but a good start. Five further chub all in the same weight range came to the same method before the swim went quite.

 

I'm sure that if I had used a keepnet a greater number could have been taken, but I see no point in retaining fish unless it's a good specimen, and then only long enough for a photo or two. And I only ever weigh a chub if I think it will go 4lb or more. I've found over the years, especially on North Eastern rivers, that if I can comfortably hold a chub across its back with thumb and finger, then it won't go 4lb.

 

 

Wear barbel top 12lb

 

The next swim downstream of the oak tree is a single-fish swim, however it is possible to select your fish here as they can be seen taking the bait. If you don't want the fish that is heading towards it, the bait can be twitched away. I removed the shot and hooked another fish, again on flake, and had to scramble down the bank on the seat of my pants, rod held high in one hand, landing net in the other and hoped to god I could dig the heels of my boots into the bank ABOVE the water level. This fish was 4lb 10oz, and worth the risk, but after all the disturbance I suspected there would not be another fish within 25 yards.

Thirty yards downstream there is a fast shallow glide under a line of far-bank willows. So I tried the same method and bait as the first swim but this time the bait didn't have time to reach the clean gravel bottom before the line went tight. A quick struggle in mid-river and another good chub came to the net, that one just over 4 at 4lb 3oz. A couple of lost fish and the swim went quiet, although I know there are more fish below the willow cover. A change of bait to cheese paste produced an instant take from what at first felt like another good chub, but I soon realized that it was no chub, but a bloody great eel. When I managed to steer it to the nearside slack it looked about 3lb. I held the line just above the hook, a with a quick twist of the forceps away it slithered to fool another chub angler at some later date.

 

For those that enjoy eel fishing, the Wear holds some really good fish, I've had them to 5lb, taken on flake in fast water less than 18 inches deep and fish over 9lb have been taken in nets.

 

As Shincliffe Hall is approached the fast water gives way to a couple of steadier pools. The top pool is approached from mid-river and that day I stood in about a foot of water, casting the flake under a far bank alder tree and let the bait roll down to the root system. A couple of quick tugs on the line and the bait was gone, and another cast to the same spot produced the same result. So a size 2 hook was tied on and the shot removed. A large piece of flake was tightly pinched on the shank to make the bait sink faster and re-cast to roll under the alder. Just as I was about to retrieve the hook the line went tight, this time without the tugs, and the rod tip hoped over to almost 90 degrees. That chub went 4lb 6oz and after a further three, all in the 3 to 3 1/2lb range it was time to give my aching back a rest.

 

 

Good pike in the Wear too

 

I moved to the next swim where I could fish from my chair, again with the 12ft trotter, but this time with 2LG shot pinched on the line 6 inches above a size 2 hook. The bait was a large piece of crust which was cast to a mid-river crease. A loop of line was held in the fingers of my left hand. After five minutes the line twitched and the smallest fish of the session, at about 2lb, came to the net. Another large crust was cast to the crease and I did what I do best when fishing from a chair - snooze. I was awakened by heavy rain and a strong wind and as the sky looked black and threatening, I called it a day. Within 35 minutes I was home, changed and eating a roast dinner.

So that wasn't a bad late afternoon session; a dozen good chub, and to think that not many years ago I would often make the 120 mile round journey to fish the Swale for, often, far less sport.

 

 

 

 

 

Use the link below to download and view D.C.A.C. Officials and Committee Members (there may be some problems encountered with different devices and operating systems)