Historian Peter Holme looks at stories about fishing and angling in The Westmorland Gazette in times gone by

As a sport and as a food source fishing has always been near the top of pastimes in the Lake District as these reports from The Westmorland Gazette show.

However, the last of these four extracts indicate that, even in the 1800s, people were starting to be concerned about pollution and the potential problems for the future of not just the fish.

(From the Gazette in May 1824):

A fine well-grown Salmon, weighing 4lbs (1.8kg) was last week caught in the Lake of Windermere by a gentleman at Ambleside while fishing with the minnow for trout.

This fish, when shown to the Anglers of the neighbourhood, excited no trifling degree of surprise, as it is the only one of the species that has been taken from the Lake, in the recollection of the oldest inhabitant.

(From the Gazette in June 1830):

The Association of Anglers have commenced staking the River Kent, to preserve the fish from the nightly poachers and netters.

Into the deep hole whither the fish retire in dry weather, when the other parts are shallow, they have rolled large stones of half a ton weight with iron pikes fitted in them; and so outraged are the poachers at this that on Thursday they assaulted Robert Graham, the person employed to do the work.

We wish the anglers every success and that they may entirely put an end to the nefarious practice of poaching

(From the Gazette in August 1852):

One day last week, a gentleman in the neighbourhood who is remarkable for his eccentricities went out for the purpose of spearing fish. He waded about for some time without meeting any success, but at length got his foot upon a fine flounder.

He poised his spear – his foot formed an excellent mark – and with one vigorous thrust he transfixed both his fish and his foot. There he stood unable to move, the spear being a barbed one, he could not draw it out.

He shouted for assistance and his cries being at length heard, the blacksmith of a neighbouring village was dispatched to his aid. It was a work of time but eventually the prong of the spear was cut off and extracted.

(Letter published in the Gazette in September 1866, supposedly from a Trout in Coniston Water):

Sir, will you allow me to lay before you a heartrending case? I am oppressed by the feeling that something ought to be done to save our race, and know not how to effect this.

Time out of mind Coniston Water has been polluted by the stream of copper washings from the works on the side of the Old Man mountain and we, our relations the char, and the poor little perch for whom I for one own an affectionate interest have been seriously diminished in numbers.

Now, sir, a new company is going to turn a fresh stream through its works and when this, our chief remaining source of pure water, is poisoned with the rest, we shall everyone be killed.

Yours - a Coniston Trout, Torver Beck.