Stedham Angling Club

Stedham Angling Club

Course Fishing around Midhurst, West Sussex

Stedham Angling Club
A Personal Best (Carp at Wispers)
Braving the snow on the Rother at Stedham


Founded in 1934, Stedham Angling Club is a small and friendly club where all-comers receive a warm welcome. Whether you are a beginner, novice or experienced angler our club offers something for you. You will feel right at home amongst our club members.

The waters rented by the club are hidden gems and provide good variance for the coarse angler. If you want to stalk Chub in the summer, then walk the banks of the Rother. Alternatively, if Carp are your species, once you have visited Wispers in its idyllic surroundings, you will probably never need to find another location again. In addition to the clubs waters we also have exchange ticket arrangements with two other local angling clubs ‘Petersfield and District’ and ‘Rudgwick’

For the match angler, Stedham Angling Club offers a comprehensive list of competitions on the majority of our club waters and a great many on other venues either against other clubs or for friendly club outings. We also participate in the Three Counties League and Rother Valley Shield team competitions.


Club Fisheries Available

Wispers Pond (approx 3 miles north-west of Midhurst. Fishing between 14th April and 14th March)

A chocolate box setting, amongst trees and rhododendrons, this jewel in the landscape continually produces superb pleasure catches and can provide high weights during competitions. Although this venue is dominated by the main pond, some 30 swims, there is a smaller pond with a few pegs. The species you will catch in both ponds include Carp to mid teens, Bream to 5lb, Chub to 3lb, Crucian Carp, Rudd, Roach, Perch and Eels.

River Rother – Stedham (approx 2 miles west of Midhurst. Fishing between 16th June and 14th March)

A selection of over 50 swims affording some fantastic river fishing for a number of species which include Chub to 6lb, Pike to 20lb, Perch, Roach, Rudd, Dace, Grayling, Gudgeon, Minnows, Bullhead, Eels and the occasional Carp and Bream.

River Rother – Iping (approx 3 miles west of Midhurst. Fishing between 16th June and 14th March)

A selection of some 20 swims on both banks of a slightly narrower, shallower and faster river than the Stedham stretch which offers the angler a great challenge. Species are comparable to the Stedham stretch.

Basingstoke Canal (approx 20-25 miles north of Midhurst. Fishing between 16th June and 14th March)                         

An interesting and very diverse 32 mile canal with full fishing rights along the tow path to all but a couple of small sections. From busy towns such as Woking and Aldershot to rural stretches through the beautiful North Hampshire and Surrey countryside this canal has something for everyone. Species include Carp, Bream, Tench, Roach, Rudd, Eels, Pike, Gudgeon, Perch and Chub.

Fisheries Available through our Exchange Ticket Arrangements

Petersfield & District AC: -

Nyewood Ponds (approx 6 miles west of Midhurst)

Coombe Pond (approx 6 miles north-west of Midhurst)

River Rother – Chithurst (approx 3.5 miles west of Midhurst)

River Rother – Durford (approx 5.5 miles west of Midhurst)

Rudgwick AC: -

River Arun – Roman Gate (approx 20 miles north-east of Midhurst)

Hale Farm Ponds (approx 21 miles north-east of Midhurst)

Smithers Pond (approx 21 miles north-east of Midhurst)

If you would like to join please print the adjacent membership application and follow the scripted instructions. We look forward to welcoming you!

Wispers Pond

Stedham Angling Club was founded in 1934 and in 1984 celebrated its 50th anniversary.
Of the original 12 members, 9 have now died, but Bert West and Ron Harper still reside in Stedham, whilst Dennis Christmas now lives in Easebourne.
Though no longer active with rod and line, they have, together with others with local knowledge, helped to piece together the early history of angling at Stedham and the founding of our club.

Long before the Angling Club was started, fishing was popular on the Rother at Stedham.

In the years immediately following the First World War, permission to fish could be obtained from John Scrimgeour, who lived at Stedham Hall and owned most of the land there about. He and his friends fished for trout, mostly on the fast water below Stedham Mill.Pike were plentiful in those days and an obvious threat to the trout. Sid Harper (father of Ron) was paid 2/6 a head by John Scrimgeour for every pike he caught. Others too were occasionally paid for killing pike; Bert West recalls collecting half a crown for a 12lb pike he caught at the bridge, not with a carbon rod and nylon line, but with a four penny line from Newmans (the village shop) tied to a short stick.
Good size roach, perch and dace were also caught and night lines set for pike and eels.

In 1925, John Scrimgeour died, but permission to fish could still be obtained from his widow, Constance, or her agent.
One keen fisherman was Bert Christmas, a carpenter by trade, but also a talented musician who played most instruments, but is remembered for his performance with the big drum. It was he who conceived the idea of forming a club and in the Gnu Inn one evening, he put his proposition to some of the other local anglers. The response being favourable, he set about canvassing others until he had a dozen names of men willing to join. His next step was a visit to Stedham Hall where he successfully gained the cooperation of Mrs Scrimgeour.
The Inaugural Meeting was held at the Gnu Inn on 21st May 1934. Bert Christmas was elected Honorary Secretary and Charlie Walder, the Landlord, was Treasurer. The water available to the club was all on the north-west side of the river, from Stedham Mill to Clay Copse, but excluding the stretch immediately opposite Stedham Hall grounds.
It was Mrs Scrimgeour’s wish that the number of members be limited to 12, but in fact this restriction was lifted shortly after.
The Gnu Inn was the Headquarters of the Club and Mrs Scrimgeour the first President.

Opinions differ about the names of the 12 founder members, but the following all fished with the club during the first couple of years - Bert Christmas and his son Ron, Charlie Walder, Jack Pett, Maurice West, Les West, Harry Ransom, Evan Gilbert, Dennis Christmas, Ron Harper, Bert Christmas (no relation to Bert the Secretary), Bill Marshall, Ben Pett, Reg Baker, Sid Gilbert and Charlie Page.
With the exception of Reg Baker, who was a Dentist from Portsmouth, all lived locally.

Club members were not burdened with many rules in those early days, nor did the officials bother with accounts or records, the club’s aim was to promote angling and to add interest with competitive fishing.

Bert Christmas organised the fishing matches which were held every Sunday afternoon, weather permitting, commencing at 2pm and continuing until the Gnu Inn opening time. Club members competed against one another for the heaviest bag of fish, there were no matches against other Angling Clubs until much later.

It was Reg Baker who donated the first trophies and they were fished for throughout the season and kept by the winners. In 1937, Ron Christmas was the winner and Charlie Walder won in 1938, both of these cups have now been handed back to the Club. The next year, Reg Baker decided his cup could only be won outright if the same member won it three years in succession. Charlie Page did just that, he was the winner in 1939, 1946 and 1947, there being no competitions during the war.

Every year the Angling Club held a supper for members and their friends at the Gnu Inn Room, for several years the guests of honour were Brigadier-General and Mrs Chatterton, who succeeded to the Stedham Hall Estate on the death of Mrs Scrimgeour in 1943.

After the war with the gradual increase in car ownership and easier travel, many anglers joined the club from further afield and the number of paid up members increased yearly. Other visitors fished the river with day permits which could be obtained from the Gnu Inn for 1/-.

Sunday afternoon competitions were still organised by Bert Christmas but, as the Baker Trophy had been won outright, it was replaced by the ‘Masters Cup’. In addition, a further trophy known as the ‘Stan Frank Cup’ was donated by a club member and was fished for over 3 matches.

In 1950, Mrs Chatterton sold Stedham Hall and most of the estate. Fortunately for the club, all the agricultural land bounding the river was bought by local farmer, Mr T Caines, who agreed to allow the same facilities as before. 

It is always a worrying time for Angling Clubs when their water changes ownership and, during the next 12 years, this occurred 3 more times.

Professor Joad purchased the farmland from Mr Caines but, within a few years, it was sold again to Ian Hay. In 1962, Commander Holbrook V.C. bought the land below Stedham Bridge and Colonel Lakin bought Clay Copse and above. Ian Hay finally sold the remainder of Bridgefoot Farm to Commander Holbrook.

In spite of all the changes, members continued to fish without interruption, thanks mainly to the diplomacy of the club secretaries who succeeded in maintaining good relations with the various landowners.

After many years as secretary, Bert Christmas finally handed over reins to Charlie Page. Charlie had been an active member ever since the club was formed and it was a sad day when he died in 1958.

In the meantime, membership had continued to rise and was approaching three figures; most were ‘pleasure anglers’, not many fishing the competitions.

The river still produced quite good fish, the pike population had declined but dace, roach and chub were still caught regularly, the dace in particular gave good sport and were above average size.

The person who took over as secretary when Charlie Page died was Ben Pett, he too had been a prominent member since the early days, but now getting on in years.
Fortunately about this time, some younger members were beginning to take a more active interest, in fat in 1959, the rules were changed to allow juniors to fish if accompanied by a parent member.

It was two years later that the club was put on a properly organised basis. Previously meetings had been few and informal and few, if any, records kept. At the AGM in 196, Charlie White was elected Chairman, the first in the history of the club and John Pack was elected Honorary Secretary. Other active members at that time were Vic Carver, George Watson and Phill Pett.

The club’s rules were overhauled and extra ones added, the most important of these stated that any member joining after 10th April 1961 would be termed an ‘Associate Member’ if they resided outside of a 3 mile radius of Stedham and would not be entitled to vote at the AGM.

During the following year, some restocking of the river was carried out and, for the first time, Water Bailiffs were appointed.

Phill Pett took over as Secretary and John Pack as Assistant Secretary.

Match fishing began in earnest in 1964 when the Three Counties League was formed. Stedham were runners up in that first year.

Two new trophies were donated, The Summer Cup for the best specimen fish and The President’s Cup, given by Commander Holbrook, for the most fish caught in competitions.

Membership was now rising rapidly and the following season it was decided to limit the number of members to 200.

Further restocking was carried out in 1968 when 1800 roach were transferred to the river.

In 1970 the Gnu Inn, which had been Headquarters for over 30 years, closed down. Talks followed with Ralph Ford the Landlord with the result that the Hamilton Arms became the new Headquarters.

Ralph, though not himself an angler, took a keen interest in the club and later donated the Hamilton Ford Shield and, to this day, in a Vice President.

Stedham now has two teams in the Three Counties League. They also competed for the Rother Valley Shield and for the Hookham Trophy as well as friendlies and club matches.

It was a busy times for the club’s officials for, in addition to the match fishing, John Pack and George Watson had entered into negotiations with Mr Peter Forshall with a view to renting a little used pond at Wispers. The agreement was finally signed on 6th July 1970.

With the additional expense of the new water, the annual subscription was doubled - for years it had been 7/6, now it increased to 15/-, but 217 members belonged to the club that year.

New automatic flood gates were fixed at Stedham Mill in 1971 by the Southern Water Authority and, in the years to follow, there was much speculation as to whether the decline in catches was in some way related to these gates.

At the AGM in 1972, Stedham Angling Club members first made the acquaintance of Bill Morgan; he donated a trophy to be known as the ‘Rother Valley Challenge Cup’ and gave a talk on cancer research.

Every year since, Syedham has helped to organise the Richard Morgan Memorial Match, proceeds of which go to cancer research and Bill has been closely connected with the club ever since and is the present day Chairman.

Further trophies were added in the following years by John Allen in memory of his son, The Sportsman’s Cup presented by Barry Harvey and pewter mugs for first and last matches.

The 1975-1976 season saw a further increase in the club’s waters, together with Chichester A.S. and Victoria Club of Arundel they rented approximately four miles of the Rother between Stedham Bridge and Fittleworth.

By careful management and restocking during the last six years, the fishing at Wispers pond has gradually improved and now showed great potential. Sadly the opposite was the case with the river.

So concerned were the Committee with the low catches that they persuaded the S.W.A to carry out tests to find the cause of its decline.

The subsequent report stated there was no sign of any pollution and the probably cause was the absence of natural food, due mainly to lack of weed growth; apparently the bed of the river, being sand, is constantly changing, giving water plants little chance to establish themselves.

In 1976, Commander Holbrook died; for the past 13 years he had been President and always took a keen interest in the club’s activities. At the next AGM in 1976, Mrs Holbrook was elected President, an office which she still holds today.

Since 1959, Juniors had been able to fish providing they were accompanied by a Senior, but now something more positive was being done to encourage the youngsters. Billy Oliver and Tom Hills began organising Junior matches.

Phill Pett, secretary and treasurer for the past 16 years, retired in 1978 and the combined offices were taken over by Peter West.

The following year, the Committee decided to give up the Fittleworth water. Very few members were fishing there and the rent had considerably increased.

The work put in by Billy Oliver, joined later by Ray Coleman, with the junior members proved well worth while when, in 1980, The Central Southern Junior League was formed and Stedham were invited to take part. The lads fished well and finished joint top with two other clubs however, under the aggregate weight rule, were placed third.

Vic Carver, who had been Vice Chairman since 1968 and had worked extremely hard all those years, left the district. The present Vice Chairman, George Watson, was elected to fill the vacancy.

The club sustained a further loss in 1981 when Charles White announced he would not be seeking re-election. Charles was a very able Chairman for 27 years and greatly respected by everyone, sadly a year and a half later he passed away. Bill Morgan, who is still Chairman, took his place.

In 1982 it was agreed that the work load would be spread among more individuals, elected at the AGM were Ray Coleman as Secretary; Peter West as Treasurer and Mrs Joy Watson as Subscription Secretary. Previously all three posts had been undertaken by one person. John Pack was Assistant Secretary, an office he had held since 1962.

Later the same year, the Hamilton Arms was sold and for some while was closed for alterations. This resulted in the Headquarters moving once more, this time to the Stedham Collins and Sports Club.

At the AGM in 1983, it was announced that the ownership of Wispers Pond was changing hands. Mr Peter Forshall had died a few years earlier and now a Syndicate was taking over the woodland which included the pond.

Once again, George Watson and John Pack were successful with their negotiations and, a few weeks ago, the new five year lease was signed.

Which brings this narrative up to the 50th anniversary of the club’s formation. To mark the anniversary, the Committee arranged a Celebration Match on the River Thames at Tadpole Bridge and a dinner and entertainment for all the members of Stedham Angling Club.

It would be appropriate at this point to give some information about the fish caught over the years at Stedham members. Unfortunately anglers are much more interested in catching fish than keeping records and it is only in relatively recent years that accurate information exists. John Hounsome, the match secretary and records keeper at this time, reported that the heaviest match weight recorded by himself from the river is 11lb 3oz and, as it happens, caught by himself. The heaviest individual fish, a 17lb 12oz carp, was caught by Mr F Johnson.

The club still participates in the Three Counties League and Rother Valley Shield, being founder members of both.

There is a full fixture list of club and friendly matches for both seniors and juniors and some 15 impressive trophies to be won. Over the years, our match fisherman have had many successes in these competitions. 

It must be said that the aim of the club remains the same as the day it was formed - to give its members the opportunity of enjoying their chosen sport in beautiful countryside which, to quote the club’s motto, in ‘Nulli Secundus’ (second to none).

 A F Simpson

Club Contacts

Chairman - Mr G. Oram
Tel: 01730 817016

Vice Chairman - Mr T. Crocker
Tel: 01428 741488

Club Secretary - Mrs E. Crocker
Tel: 01428 741488
2 Sun Cottages, Linch, Liphook GU30 7NG

Membership Secretary - Mr K. Symonds
Tel: 07983 608432
24 Hunters Mews, Fontwell, Arundel, West Sussex, BN18 OUW

Fixtures Secretary - Mr W Fordham
Tel: 07854 856710

Match Organiser – Mr M Bullock
Tel: 01730 814242

Team Manager – Mr W Fordham
Tel: 07854 856710

Emergency Contacts:

Please report any incident of pollution or concern for wildlife or livestock.

Environment Agency:
Tel: 0800 807060 (24 hrs)

RSPCA: Tel: 0300 1234999

Carp caught at Wispers restocking at Wispers restocking at Wispers 4lb 15oz from Stedham bridge peg 26 on a spinner
Chub.jpg Carp caught at Wispers.jpg stedham3.jpg stedham4.jpg