This project is a genuine attempt at making the introduction to fishing free for all 12 to 18 year olds. The project starts with 6 days of free fishing during the school summer holidays.These free days will take place on Friday afternoons from 1 pm until 5 pm. Everything will be free. The package includes a packed lunch, tackle hire andtuition. Kids will receive aninformation pack which will include safety tips and how to look afteryour fishing gear. The pack will also cover some basic fishing related environmental topics and why it is important that we look after our localrivers and ponds.All the kids who attend the Project will be offered a free ticket for the West Lothian Angling Association. The project has thepotential to produce dozens of new fishers for the area. If enough kids get interestedin fishing I think that the outlook for the River Almond will beeven brighter. Fishing can tackle mental health problems,obesity and loneliness. The project is also aimed at developing the talents of kids who can already fish. These kids play a vital roll in spreading the word. My long term aim is to grow a fishing based charity working on the food bank concept. These ideas have been in my brain for years and I feel NOW is the time!
A Bit about me
My name is Fraser Thomson I own Pottishaw Fly Fishery in Whitburn West Lothian. I have fished since I was seven. My very first fishing trip was with my Dad. A sea fishing adventure with the guys from my Dads work. A trip only made possible by my Mum demanding that he took me(I only found out about this a few years ago) thanks Mum! Addiction quickly followed! I will never forget the buzz of seeing a "full house" of mackerel sparkling in the depths below the boat. On my second trip I won the heaviest fish on the boat competition with a 12lb Ling. 12 guys on the boat equals £12 a lot of money in 1983. My Dad got the money then my Mum took the money(minus a few pints) for the family pot. Me? I got a bag of kola kubes and the Beano to read while I sat outside the boozer.More important than any money was the fact that he was proud of "his boy". My Dad has been gone for 20 years, we only fished a few times together after that day I regret that. The River Almond was next for me with the older kids from my street. All the kids in my street fished, it was a cool thing to do in the 80s. Shuggy Mac was the best amongst us, we are still mates to this day. I dreamed of being Huck Finn. I dug ponds in my garden and had a pet pike in an old fish tank in my bedroom. This was the start of my apprenticeship. If you are being told at school that you can not get paid to go fishing do not believe them. I know loads of people who do. Most of these people are on board with the project and will be available for advice for both kids and parents. I am on the 22nd year of my career and still learning something new every day. I have fished the very best rivers and stillwaters that Britain has to offer but only one river has my heart. The River Almond in West Lothian! A glorious (if at the moment a bit stinky) little spate river bursting with quality runs and pools that you would pay a small fortune to fish. The Almond is 50% of the reason that I am doing this project. A unique opportunity has arisen from The Forth River Trusts fabulous work. This together with a good and getting better angling association. As the Trust regenerate the river this is my attempt to regenerate the fishing population. I will be running the project in conjunction with the Trust,local fishing clubs and local tackle shops. I also hope to work with Police Scotland and wildlife organisations. Any other parties interested please feel free to get in touch. All local fisheries are welcome to join in. Mass participation will be key to the projects success
WHY AM I DOING THIS?
Why? The big question. Fishing has been in decline for years! Ultimately I think it has become too expensive. It has therefore lost its relevance to the very people who used to cherish it. The working class kids who always make the best fishers have missed out. There has been a generation of neglect and we must all shoulder the blame. I am now trying to put something back in to my sport. I am a parent with a 17 year old who is in to horses and at university. I know how expensive life can be and why it is hard to commit to spending hundreds of pounds on a hobby that may not be followed up. Older fishers blame Playstation and Xbox for the demise of youth angling. I dont! We dont need to make it exciting we just need to find the kids that will love it. I would like to appeal to our Eastern European community. Zapraszamy. The project will be free from discrimination with education being the number one priority. As fishers the things that unite us are far greater than the things that divide us. There is a unique opportunity within West Lothian. The Forth Rivers Trust have an ongoing restoration project on The Almond. The Trust are a vibrant, progressive and determined organisation who are on a mission to clean up the Almond. They have a real chance of achieving the almost impossible task of restoring the river to its former glory. But what is the point if it is going to be handed back to the people who neglected it in the first place(I include myself in that bracket). New blood is needed new ideas and a fresh outlook. Kids learn quickly if the teaching method is good. Kids nowadays are technologically gifted but sometimes lack lifes practical skills. Fishing teaches patience, respect and problem solving. There are good social, economic and environmental benefits to be had by having more fishers in our community. Mass participation is the key to this projects success. I want the problem of being overbooked. My only fear is proving that "you cant even give it away nowadays". This would show me that the sport I love is truly doomed. I am inspired by guys like footballer Andy Mclaren who started a cheap alternative to the soccer schools being run by the big clubs. He is able now to bus kids from all over Glasgow who could never have been able to afford it otherwise. If I need to hire a bus I will do it. I believe in this project please support it.
WHERE AND WHEN
The project will take place at Pottishaw Fishery in West Lothian. I aim to promote free fishing in West Lothian and as part of that commitment I aim to provide 50 free tickets for the West Lothian angling Association. The club is young but improving every season. The office bearers all do a great job but I have been particularly impressed by Scott Muir. The Forth Rivers Trust have inspired me with the great work that they have done on the Almond. I want to see hundreds of new young fishers( regardless of where you come from) enjoying and respecting both the Almond and all the other waterways in West Lothian. Pottishaw fishery is committed to youth developement in angling.
THE DATES FOR FREE FLY FISHING ARE. FRIDAY 12th JULY,FRIDAY 19th JULY,FRIDAY 26th JULY,FRIDAY 2nd AUGUST,FRIDAY AUGUST 9th AND AUGUST THE 16th. These dates can only be booked one in advance as I hope demand will be high. All kids of 14 and under MUST be accompanied by a non fishing adult. No adults will be fishing at pottishaw during these times regardless of whether the Project is fully booked or not. This is kids time! Please check out the Facebook page The Free Fishing project. Get in touch with me by email or by calling 07907284567. If I do not answer straight away I apologise in advance as I am always busy. Please support this project and join the facebook page as there will be some great events taking place in the next few months.