I’m based South of Manchester so my fishing trips radiate from there, but I don’t mind putting the miles in if it might result in a good days river fishing. Consequently I have fished most of the major water courses in the North West and Midlands. To do this I needed to join clubs that hold the fishing rights on these venues; it may seem costly and time consuming to research and join suitable clubs, but generally I have found all angling clubs to be well run, and compared to golf, they are a snip!
I can honestly say I have never hated any of the clubs I have joined, occasionally frustrated but on the whole the benefits far outweigh the slight inconvenience of conforming to the rules. I am currently a member of several angling clubs and over the years I have been a member of many more. I have had personal reasons for dropping memberships, sometimes financial, occasionally a club lost waters I was interested in causing membership to be less attractive, but by far the most common factor is that ‘the grass is always greener’, certainly not a negative reason for leaving, just me!.
Below I list the clubs I currently belong to, and give a few pro’s and con’s, but please remember this only a personal appraisal, I am a Barbel angler but you might have a totally different bias to your fishing that makes them perfect for you;
Prince Albert AC
Officially based in Macclesfield this club has become a bit of a monster, stretching its portfolio far and wide, covering game and course venues up and down the country. They are very officious and have a multitude of general rules, including a ‘no publicity’ policy, plus a separate set of special rules applying to individual waters. This can be quite vexing at times and members often find themselves inadvertently in breach of one rule or another. However as a river angler I accept these minor inconveniences to gain access to some superb river fishing, particularly excellent stretches of the Ribble and Severn, plus the majority can be fished at night without extra cost. In my opinion the quality of some of the still waters lag behind somewhat and many are too far away from the clubs heartland. Call me paranoid, but as a course angler I have a sneaking suspicion that the game section holds the whip hand here. There is a 3 year waiting list and the cost per annum is £120 plus £100 joining fee in the first year. http://www.paas.co.uk/
Burton Mutual AC
Burton on Trent based club featuring 8 miles of the wonderful and equally frustrating river Dove from Tutbury to the confluence with the Trent, plus several miles of the upper Trent from there to Derby. They also have several reputedly good still waters, I haven’t fished many of them so can’t comment. No waiting list and cost is £70 plus joining fee of £35 first year.
Stockport Federation of Anglers
Control the majority of the river Goyt from Marple to Stockport. Also several still waters of mixed quality. Not sure of the exact price but tickets can be bought in local tackle shops (Edgeley sports) for around £30. I have been a member for most of my life, since being a proud member of the junior match team under the control of the late, great, Alan Mayer, an awesome matchman and all-rounder and one of my angling hero’s, together with occasional visits from the legendary Ian Heaps, it’s the club that got me started in angling so forever holds a place in my heart (and wallet).
A once gargantuan, now merely massive club with many tens of miles of prime Severn and Warwickshire Avon fishing plus loads more. An absolute bargain at £40, no waiting list, no joining fee. I go regularly to the Severn but still not nearly as much as I would like; this is the first ticket I renew each December. *Breaking news, they used to do day tickets for all their river waters at £8 a day but are stopping them (Jan 1st 2017), but full membership is so good at the price you can’t say no. http://www.baa.uk.com/home/default.php
Long Eaton Victoria AC
Ancient and venerable club based near Nottingham, just 2 bits of Trent with tricky steep banks but they are good stretches and membership is cheap. No idea about their other waters sorry. http://www.levas.co.uk/
Clubs I used to be in (and would join again)
Some lovely stretches of the Dane around Middlewhich. I was a member for several years before I got in P.A., but to be honest P.A’s barbel waters on the Dane are limited. I caught my one and only Dane double from here. £40 from Daves of Middlewich
Bay Malton AC
Another club I dropped for P.A. and kind of regretted it. They control a long stretch of the Dane below Holmes Chapel, prime barbel water, plus some ok stills. £70 +£40 joining fee first year. http://www.baymaltonanglingclub.org.uk/
Good club with some quality still waters, found the rivers to be a bit patchy and some overfished, but the club has grown since then so well worth a punt. £45 + £35 1st year.
Stoke on Trent AS
Very good club with some fine stretches of the Dove, some with parking behind pegs (unfortunately they can get quite busy) and a small portfolio of good still waters. Still not sure why I dropped this ticket, I missed it last year. £65 no extras plus you can join online. http://www.stokeontrentanglingsociety.com/
The only club I have dropped through frustration, with some decent Trent waters, however they insisted on running matches sometimes 3 times a week and closing the venues from midnight before. This made planning a 200 mile round trip very difficult and in the end I gave up trying. Run by genuine people who have the club at heart, if they had a change of policy I wold re-join as its very good value.
Quality club based around Lymm, good stretch of Dane and a couple of Severn lengths below Atcham. Their still waters are top notch featuring the legendary lymm Vale. £120 1st year £85 after.
There are many other quality clubs I haven’t mentioned because I have never been a member. I suggest a trawl around the internet if you fancy fishing in a certain venue or area because the list above is far from comprehensive. There are still one or 2 clubs I have an eye on joining in the future, as I said earlier the grass is always greener! One thing for sure, the benefits of being in a good fishing club far outweigh the day ticket option, which can sometimes (not always) be spoiled by litter and inconsiderate behaviour of unaccountable anglers.