I wish I could say that my first Trout was a little Brownie caught on a worm at the age of six but it was a fat Rainbow on a fluorescent green ‘fly' at something nearer 46. I was a late-comer to fishing. None of my friends fished and I had no idea where to fish other than day ticket still waters.
A year after that first Rainbow I stumbled across the Wild Trout Trust auction catalogue. Here was Trout fishing in places that I didn't know Trout existed in rivers that I couldn't find on my road atlas. It offered days fishing with people who knew their local river or with professional guides and writers - fantastic. I bid on enthusiastically on eBay. I didn't win a thing that first year.
The first lot that I did win was a day donated by the Cotswold Flyfishers with David Reinger. We talked as much as we fished. He spotted fish for me helped me over barbed wire fences and picked my fly out of the trees. I caught a couple of modest fish much to my (and his) surprise. By the end of the day I felt I had passed through a door into a new world. He explained there were affordable clubs that I could join and there were people who could help me as I stumbled through my first days of fishing on river. After that experience I decided to go for broke and won an auction lot with Brian Clarke (then the WTT's President) fishing on the Itchen. I figured that as he had written the book that had opened my eyes to fishing he would be a good person to spend a day with. I wasn't wrong. I was still a pretty poor fisherman but a very good sponge picking up every scrap of information about flies fish and fishing and every name and place to fish that he mentioned. Brian was (and is) incredibly knowledgeable.
Thanks to the auction I made friends and was helped to find my own places to fish. Now I donate three lots to the WTT auction and co-ordinate the running of the huge event that it has become. Every year I hear stories of winning bidders who have joined a club or a syndicate they didn't know existed or didn't know how to get in to and I am so pleased that the auction is still acting as that open door onto wild trout fishing. It raises a lot of money for a very good cause too!
The auction this year has 258 lots - the biggest ever. We are very lucky to have so many generous donors. Many of the lots are Trout fishing across the UK and Ireland but there is also fishing for Carp Pike Bass Cod Roach Grayling and Salmon and a good range of tackle flies books shooting and art. Prices start at only £10 there are more than 100 lots with start prices of £100 or less. There are plenty of chalk stream fishing lots many of them on exclusive syndicate or family owned beats and fishing holidays in the Caribbean and South America. Europe features too with fishing France Bosnia and Slovenia (see Stuart Minnikin's article on Slovenia). I hope there is something for all pockets and tastes.
Denise Ashton works for the Wild Trout Trust and one of her jobs is to co-ordinate the annual fundraising auction which is held by post and on eBay in March each year. In this article she describes her early experiences as a bidder in the auction and how it opened up fishing opportunities to someone new to the sport.
The Wild Trout Trust is a small charity dedicated to giving practical advice and delivering projects to improve habitat on rivers and lakes for trout and all wildlife.