On August 20th, 1864, a public notice was to be seen on the wall of the Angel Hotel in Whitby, and other places that “a public meeting is to be held at the Angel Hotel on Monday next for the purpose of taking steps to carry out the recent Act of Parliament for promoting the increase of salmon in English rivers”.
On Monday 23rd August the meeting was held, the Most Noble the Marquis of Normanby “occupying the chair”; he stated that a ladder was needed at Ruswarp and that similar provision should be made at dams higher up the river. He was not aware that salmon had ever been caught in the river, but that salmon trout were formerly more plentiful than now. Thus the Esk Fishery Association was born.
In 1867 impregnated ova were brought from the Tees and hatched out in wooden boxes, the floors of which were covered in gravel, at the back of Egton Manor and also in the runnel coming down from Priory Farm at Grosmont to just below Grosmont Bridge.
1872 was a great year for the river when the Rev Philpot caught the first salmon in Half-Crown pool at Grosmont with a fly.
Grayling were introduced in 1882 but were not really established until about 1902 when they were introduced at Lealholm and successfully spread throughout the river.
That same year saw a fish of 29 and a half pounds caught in Dead Man’s Pool, Glaisdale (on worm); it was weighed at Grosmont station and reported that the fisherman, Mr Hawson of Pickering wet it’s head so well that he had to be carried from the Inn to the train (the fish was carried from Glaisdale to Grosmont by a 12 year old boy for sixpence).
Many large fish have been caught; a 28 lb salmon was taken from Balcony Pool in 1915 (on minnow) and in 1917 on fly, a cock fish of 25lb was caught by Dr English in Bridge Pool, its length being 40 inches and girth 22 inches.
The largest salmon caught on the Association’s waters is the 31lb cock fish caught in 1927 by Joseph Maughan, taken in Jillsons on prawn using a fine silk line with an 11lb breaking strain. This record fish was nearly surpassed by the 30lb 8oz cock fish caught by Ivy Hayton in 1963, taken in Wall Pool on a No2 Mepps with 8lb breaking strain line.
Huge sea trout have been caught over the years and the British record has been caught on the Esk on two occasions. Sea trout in the 10-13 lb range are regularly caught.
PRAYER OF BLESSING OF THE RIVER given by Reverend Christine Haddon-Reece at Bridge Pool on the celebration of our 150th anniversary, 22 August 2014
Almighty Creator God,
We give thanks for the 150 years of the Esk Fishery Association and ask your blessing upon those who continue to gain fulfilment from their membership.
We thank you for the pleasure of time spent on the riverbank in all its moods and seasons; for the abundant variety of birds, animals, insects, wild flowers and plants which delight our eyes; for the many fish which make the river their home and breeding ground; for the rich enjoyment of fishing for sport, relaxation, recreation and sustenance.
Teach us to cherish this fragile environment, to honour the delicate balance of nature and preserve the variety of habitats. Grant us to treat all living things with respect and care.
We ask you Lord to bless this beautiful river Esk and its tributaries, may its precious life-giving water supply never run dry, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.