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New fishing group helps pass on skills to the next generation

PUBLISHED: 07:00 03 July 2019

Children from Brookfield Primary School on the bank of the Model Boating Pond on Hampstead Heath, as they get fishing lessons from Bob Gibbs and the Hampstead and Highgate Angling Society. Picture: Bob Gibbs

Children from Brookfield Primary School on the bank of the Model Boating Pond on Hampstead Heath, as they get fishing lessons from Bob Gibbs and the Hampstead and Highgate Angling Society. Picture: Bob Gibbs

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A Crouch End man is helping children get acquainted with the environment and the Heath's ponds - by taking them fishing

A  child casts his first line during fishing tuition from the Hampstead and Highgate Angling Society tutors. Picture: Bob GibbsA child casts his first line during fishing tuition from the Hampstead and Highgate Angling Society tutors. Picture: Bob Gibbs

Bob Gibbs, who is the chair of the Hampstead and Highgate Angling Society, took his first group to the men's pond last month and is already speaking to other schools about teaching groups how to fish.

The first group, from Brookfield Primary School in Highgate, visited after school in the pouring rain on June 19. The dozen pupils were taken up by teachers and parents and stayed for a few hours, after Bob had dropped in to the school a few weeks before. Some of the regular anglers on the pond are professional coaches, and they taught the children how to bait hooks, feed a swim, and bring in a line once they had a bite.

They stayed for a few hours fishing, and the newcomers even managed to land a fish or two on the Heath's ponds.

Bob, who also works as a tree surgeon in north London said: "They took it like a duck to water. One of the girls who had no experience got a bit tearful when she was putting the maggots on hooks, but she conquered it by the end. They all caught plenty of fish."

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As well as trying to get youngsters interested in fishing, as his grandad and father did with him, he's also keen for it to be a way that children can get to know the natural environment around them.

"Part of it is getting outside by the water, and to understand the natural world. None of them looked at their mobile phones which is apparently a record. They really enjoyed it," he said.

Another reason for starting up the classes was to show the good work that anglers on the Heath can do. There has been problems in the past with the wrong type of hooks injuring swimmers and rubbish being left.

"Some visitors are definitely litter bugs," said Bob. "They all go for a weekend away and leave a huge amount of general litter. Especially on the Vale of Health. It puts us on the back foot. So we decided to offer tuition to schools to give back."

The next group will be taken up later this month, and Bob is in touch with schools nearby who are interested in going along.

Any other schools interested in their children having fishing lessons can contact Bob at robertggibbs@yahoo.co.uk

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