Boat Angling Club began in 1971 when a letter appeared on the sports pages of
the Blackpool Evening Gazette from a local sea angler who wanted to get together
with other local Fylde Coast anglers who fished from their own boats and were
interested in the spring season of tope fishing. At that time all boat fishing
off the Blackpool and the Fylde coast was from 10ft-12ft open dinghies powered
mainly by small Seagull outboard motors. Anglers had to drag their boats across
the soft, sandy beach to launch them, so demanding small, light boats and
outboards. While today it is not unusual to count 100 boats fishing offshore on
a calm Sunday, back in 1971 there were no more than a handful of broad-backed
enthusiasts who fished from their own boats. Boat fishing then meant going on a
Fleetwood charter boat.
After seeing the readerís letter in the paper, the
angling correspondent for the Blackpool Gazette contacted the letter writer and
suggested a public meeting to see if a club could be formed for more general
dinghy fishing beyond just tope. The Blackpool Gazette publicised the meeting in
its Saturday night angling column and the inaugural meeting was held at a pub.
It was decided that rather than just being a spring tope fishing group, they
would band together to fish together all year and help each other to pull their
boats across the beach.
One of the inaugural members was aware that there was
a derelict underground car park at Little Bispham just by the beach and
suggested it might be something a boat club could use. Built in the 1930s, the
underground car park was soon abandoned and closed up by Blackpool Town Council
because it flooded on high tides, damaging vehicles.
The group of dinghy anglers decided to approach
Blackpool council to see if the underground car park could be opened up and
leased to them so that they could store both boats and a tractor to pull boats
over the sand. Blackpool Council offered a peppercorn rent and the club bought
two ancient tractors.
It quickly became clear that with tractors to pull
boats over the beach, it was possible to have bigger boats and bigger engines.
The facility of an underground tractor and boat storehouse was the catalyst for
the move away from boats which were able to be manhandled across the beach to
bigger, faster and heavier craft which needed a tractor to launch them and at
the same time opening up offshore fishing and the fishing grounds of Morecambe Bay and South Cumbria. But for the idea of club tractors, fishing would have
remained in small open dinghies hugging close to shore.
In the early 1980s an approach was made to Blackpool
Council for permission to convert two derelict promenade shelters close to the
slipway into a clubhouse. The work was almost entirely done voluntarily by
members, which now gives Fylde Boat Angling Club the unique position among the
boat-fishing clubs on the Fylde Coast of having a secure boat storage facility
and a licensed clubhouse, which overlooks the sea and the launching slipway.
The latest move for the club has been to develop a thriving shore fishing section for sea anglers who prefer to keep their feet on dry land or for those boat-owning members who enjoy both boat and shore fishing. This is another first for the Fylde Coast, a shore fishing club that has its own licensed clubhouse.
Today, having just celebrated its 30th
birthday, Fylde Boat Angling Club is one of the largest sea angling clubs in the
North West of England and the enthusiasm of its members and innovations of
management committee are set to ensure its continues to prosper and grow.