Fishing Lines: Lots of fun on the river with Beefy

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The Independent Online

For years, the trust has raised money for its excellent work through a postal auction, offering up to a week's fishing on some of the finest rivers and lakes. The auction no longer includes a few days on the Queen's stretch of the Dee at Balmoral, alas, but this year's 245 lots still include some pretty special items. For example, you can enjoy a day on Hampshire's River Test, where the ordinary angler normally has about as much chance of fishing as creating world peace.

How about a day for four, salmon fishing at prime time on the Duke of Northumberland's stretch of the River Tweed, or three days on the marvellous Tulchan Estates fishery on the River Spey? The latter is estimated to make £700, the former more than £1,200. But others are much cheaper. A bid of £30 will probably secure a week's salmon and sea trout fishing on the National Trust's stretch of the Fowey on Cornwall, while just £50 could net a day for trout and grayling on the Dove in Derbyshire.

All you do is choose the lot you fancy and submit bids by letter or fax. The highest bid received by 1 February wins. It's as simple as that. Makes a brilliant present, for yourself or a friend.

The downside is that the AST auction is limited to salmon and trout fishing. Turning up with a tin of maggots on the Test, or a beach-caster on the Tay, is a crime every bit as heinous as arson in Her Majesty's shipyards. But nobody seemed interested in an all-encompassing postal auction - until now.

Two weeks ago, I ran into Mark Lloyd, the Anglers' Conservation Association's new director. A postal auction offering fishing on private waters and a day out with angling celebs has always struck me as a perfect fundraiser for the pollution-fighting body.

The previous two directors showed no interest. So when I broached the idea, I expected another "We're a bit busy at the moment, but if you'd like to organise it all..." Not me, mate. I'm the ideas person.

Instead, Mark loved it. There's not much time, but he wants to tie it in with the organisation's first fundraising dinner at Fishmongers' Hall on 23 February. The idea is to invite lots of famous fishing names such as Chris Yates, John Wilson, Des Taylor and Bob Nudd to offer a day's fishing, and to rope in celebs who fish such as George Melly, Fiona Armstrong, David Seaman, Ian Botham and Geoffrey Palmer to do the same.

I'll keep you up to date with what happens. On the other hand, the lots will not include a day's fishing with Keith Elliott, angling correspondent of the Independent and the Independent on Sunday. Next week I'll tell the embarrassing story of why my talents will not be for hire.

For a free copy of the Atlantic Salmon Trust's postal auction brochure: 01796 473 554, Bids must be in by 1 February.