AN angling club with 1,500 members is to lose its fishing rights on the lake and river on the Somerley Estate.
Rumours had been circulating for some time among anglers, that the fishing lease belonging to Christchurch Angling Club could be terminated at the end of the year.
And on Tuesday the rumours were confirmed by Somerley Estate.
An estate spokesman said: “Unfortunately the lease renewal did not reach a satisfactory conclusion and we are taking it back in hand and will possibly run it in house with a couple of syndicates.”
The club, which was formed 75 years ago, has more than 1,500 members who fish on stretches of the Dorset Stour and Hampshire Avon.
However it is believed members will be left bitterly disappointed to have to stop fishing on the popular coarse lakes, salmon fishing on the river, trout fishing on Hamer Lake and brown trout fishing on the streams and carriers at Somerley.
Fordingbridge Mayor Malcolm Connolly told the Forest Journal that a termination of the lease would affect many young people in the town.
He said: “Fishing is one of the most popular recreational activities and it is enjoyed by many people in the area.
“The importance of this recreational activity is that it is affordable.”
Full membership of Christchurch Angling Club is £160, while junior membership is £60.
The club also offers concessions.
Additional permits for Somerley migratory fishing were available at £165, with a brown trout fishing permit priced at £20.
One fisherman, who did not wish to be named, said: “I have heard that the estate has given 12 months’ notice to terminate the lease to fish on the lake and the river that runs through the grounds.
“I believe the decision is purely financial and could be because the estate could make more money if they leased the lake and their river to a syndicate.
“The other option is that they ask the angling club for more money to fish each year.”
Secretary of Christchurch Angling Club Stephen Jenner said: “We are keen to keep fishing at Somerley Estate.
“We have fishing rights here until the end of the year, which are guaranteed, but we are in negotiations with the estate for next year.”
On the Christchurch Angling Club website it stated: “To allow our members to read the full details on the lease negotiations with the Somerley Estate, the committee intend to publish all documents and emails that were sent and received from the estate during our discussions, together with excerpts from the relevant committee meetings held during this time.
“The subject will also be the main topic at the annual meeting in June, when we will endeavour to answer any questions that may arise as fully as possible.”