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A history of Alex Booth Flyfishers
by Dr. David Carruthers 1993
The Origins of the Alex Booth Flyfishers
As the Club has expanded considerably in recent years, there are now many members to whom the name Alex Booth has little or no meaning. It has therefore been considered that some background to the man, and the history and origins of the Club, would not come amiss.
Alex Booth was born and brought up in the Stockport area and from an early age was a devotee of coarse fishing. His other interest was golf, and in his late teens he graduated into the Professional ranks, first as an assistant and then as a Club Professional, at one of the Cheshire Clubs. He moved into this area in 1952, when he was appointed Professional to the Chilwell Manor Golf Club. He lived in Attenborough, where he and his wife brought up their two sons and a daughter. His children were all very good golfers themselves, his elder son John, following him into the professional ranks and his younger son Keith, gaining a “blue” at Oxford.
Alex was a family man and a good Club Pro., with a flair for teaching. Although he had been successful in some regional and local competitions in the professional field, he never played the Tournament Circuit.
His interest in flyfishing developed soon after Eyebrook Reservoir was opened for fishing in the late fifties and progressed from there. (It is interesting to note that, in the early days of Eyebrook Reservoir, Uppingham School had a sailing club based on Eyebrook and the concrete ramp and boat cradles are a relic of those days).
The opening of Grafham further fuelled his enthusiasm and, it was not long before he had broadened his horizons to encompass Sea-Trout fishing in N. Wales, and Salmon fishing on the Cumbrian Irt and Aberdeenshire Dee. The waters of the Tay, Tweed and Nith were also known to him, as indeed were those of Lough Sheelin in Eire.
However, besides being an enthusiastic angler, Alex was also a good and successful one. He was one of a trio, with George Leivers and Stuart Billam, who landed over 50 salmon in 3½ days fishing on the Aberdeenshire Dee. This was during the opening 4 days of the season in February 1978, the first half day of the season being lost to "grue" and ice. Three weeks later, in the company with two other present members, Kurt Birkert and Eric Buckley, he landed a 36½lb salmon from the garden pool on the same beat. This was done in extremely difficult conditions, with the river frozen about 1/3 of the way across. After playing the fish for some time and coaxing it out from under the ice on several occasions, he managed to get it's head up over the edge of the ice then pull it up onto the ice and slide it across to the bank, where it was despatched. This proved to be the biggest fish taken from the Dee that season, and for several seasons previous.
With the opening of Rutland Water in 1976, Alex spent much of his time there, and in July 1978, he took the brown mounted in the case in the Club Room at the Chequers. This was a fish of 61b l0oz, taken on a size 12 silver bodied Jersey Herd, tied by Stuart Billam. Up to that time, this was the record trout to have been taken at Rutland.
His last trip to the North was in September to fish the Upper Newtyle beat of the Tay, in company with George, Stuart and myself. The adage, that "the light burns brightest before it goes out" seems to have had substance in Alex case. Following his sharing in the big catch in early February, his "record" salmon later that month, his record brown at Rutland in July, and his return from the Tay in September, Alex took ill and died in December, aged 52 years.
A number of his fishing friends attended his funeral and cremation. It was suggested that his ashes be scattered in Eyebrook Reservoir, and with the blessing of his wife and children, this was done. On a cold Sunday morning in January 1979, several of we, his friends, foregathered at Stoke Dry, made our way out onto the ice, knocked a hole in it, and consigned his ashes to the waters.
From this then sprang the idea of a memorial, in the form of a seat, to be erected on the bank at Eyebrook, some of his friends subscribed to this. The provision and siting of this seat, was supervised by our President George Leivers and it to be seen on the bank, not far from the dam wall, on the far side from the Lodge.
The next step in the progression was, to a day each year, when we twelve would convene at Eyebrook to pay our respects to our departed friend, and fish a competition in his memory. The first of these competitions was held on Monday 25th June 1979 with the "twelve" all taking part. The twelve were: Stuart Billam, Kurt Birkert, Eric Buckley, Trevor Furby, George Leivers, Graham Musson, Ron Rudge, Tom Saville, Lol Smethurst, Alf Stone, Steve Trigg and myself. The winner of this inaugural match was Stuart Billam. This is now the Alex Booth Memorial Competition, fished for a Cup donated by contributions from the same twelve, and one of the main events in our calendar.
After three years, and with a boom taking place in fly fishing, it became apparent that there was a need for a flyfishing club in the area. An initial meeting of the "twelve" was called on 22nd October 1982, to discuss the matter and sound out the possibilities. It was decided that each of the "twelve" should invite two angling friends to become members of the proposed club, making a total of 36. Only one of the original "twelve" dissented and dropped out. A further meeting was held on 2nd November, with most of the originals and invitees present. The response to the proposal to form a flyfishing club was enthusiastic, and it was decided to proceed. On 6th December 1982, there was a further meeting at which the Club was formed, named, a constitution drawn up, and Office Bearers elected. And so the Alex Booth Flyfishers — a Memorial Club — was born.
Since its inception, the Club has gone from strength to strength. A full programme of events is carried out throughout the season, and closed season. The Charity Match has proved a great success, since being introduced in 1986, and a guest rod at this event is much sought after.
The Club has been a member of the Severn-Trent Federation, since its formation, and can boast of three internationals in its ranks. It can lay claim to being one of the best known clubs in the midlands fly fishing scene, and this is no mean achievement, when it is considered that it is not based on a fishery, as most other clubs are.
Since David wrote his original history of the Club in 1993 the Club has changed in some ways over the years, we have moved headquarters from the Cheques Inn in Stapleford to the Barge Inn in Long Eaton, only our President Ron Rudge and myself from the original “twelve” as David like to call us are still members of the Club.
Thankfully some things though are still the same after all these years;
We still hold monthly matches or meetings throughout the year, enabling the members to keep in contact with each other.
We still run the Charity Match, which in the last nineteen years has raised over £20,000 for local organizations.
We still have the Alex Booth Memorial Competition, now in its 27th year, which is again being fished at Eyebrook Reservoir.
I am proud to have been a member of the Club since day one, and it’s Chairman for 20 years. I would like to think someone will be writing an update to this booklet in another 13 years.
Best wishes, Your Chairman Stephen Trigg
The cover picture shows Alex with the 6ib 10ozs Brown he caught at Rutland Water in 1978
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