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John Ellis and I were talking recently about angling club names linked with Izaak Walton. John suggested it would make an interesting topic for a blog and so here it is. As many of you are already aware, Izaak Walton is the 'father' figure of English angling and author of the 'Compleat Angler' in 1653.
A quick Google search on Izaak Walton returned 412,000 results, Isaac Walton returned 863,000, Izaac Walton some 41,000, and finally Isaak Walton 237,000. That’s a lot of Internet information and links on old Izaak, though to be absolutely correct much of this is duplication.
The spelling of 'Izaak' confuses a lot of people. There are a number of well-used variants on the spelling but for me 'Izaak' is correct. Well that’s how Izaak spelt his name in the 'Compleat Angler' and he signed his name that way too - so who are we to change it?
If you start off in Wikipedia, the free Internet Encyclopaedia, this obscure 'americanism' pops up. 'At least two organizations have been named after Izaak Walton. Inspired by The Compleat Angler, advertising mogul and land developer Barron Collier founded the Izaak Walton Fishing Club in 1908 at his Useppa Island resort near Fort Myers, Florida. It was considered one of the most exclusive sporting clubs in the world.
The Izaak Walton League of America is an American association of sportsmen that was formed in 1922 in Chicago, Illinois to preserve fishing streams.' Further searching revealed the Izaak Walton Fly Fishing Club, Toronto who 'promote clean waters, angling ethics and the preservation of our natural resources'.
Well that’s sorted out our American cousins – but what about good old blighty. In the UK the following clubs appear. I haven't checked if they are still in existence but many of them are. Where known the foundation date has been noted.
Interesting that J P Wheeldon in his 'Angling Clubs and Preservation Societies' printed for the 1883 International Fisheries Exhibition, listed two Isaac Walton Clubs at Longdon Stafford, both named the 'Isaac Walton Angling Club', but with different head quarters at the Coach and Horses and the other at the Dresden Inn. Were they one and the same?
There is the second half of the question. How about the Walton or the Waltonians? This list is compiled from Charles Dickens 'Dictionary of the Thames' 1881 and J P Wheeldon’s 'Angling Clubs and Preservation Societies' , International Fisheries Exhibition , 1883 plus various internet searches.
One tenuous link we can’t ignore is the London Anglers Association whose Headquarters is aptly named 'Izaak Walton House'.
If anyone has any further up to date information about any of the clubs mentioned in this article we would love to hear from you. Similarly, if there are some missing we would love to hear all about these too. Please email us with any information
John Essex was a key member of the legendary Leicester Likely Lads match team of the 1970’s. He picked up five first division one national championship team medals and was third overall in the 1975 match on the Nene, landing two carp, which was a remarkable angling feat at that time. John coached the Leicester juniors to five NFA junior titles and chaired Leicestershire Angling Federation for nearly 30 years
Still fishing weekly at club level, John is an avid collector of books and old tackle with an extensive library of nearly 1000 books. He will be releasing his first book, 'History of the National' shortly. John blogs for us about angling history and heritage.