Fishery Manager, Alex Moulang, explains why he offers his lakes at Coombewood Fishery to Fishing for Schools.
Alex Moulang and his beautiful fishery, set deep in the Kent Weald, is the cornerstone of what we do at Fishing for Schools. Without his generosity and willingness to support us at every turn, we simply would not be able to bring the initiative into schools. All of us here at Fishing for Schools are indebted to his faith in us and we absolutely value everything this man and his lovely lakes bring to our Kent endeavours.
Alex, tell us a little about yourself and your fishing lake at High Halden.
From my first Gudgeon on the Norfolk Broads at the age of ten, to living the dream of many anglers and having my own fishery, my angling life has so far has been an amazing adventure. After a successful match fishing period in the 1980’s and early 90’s, my career in telecoms took me all over Europe where I settled in Northern Germany for 25 years. The majority of my angling then was done in the stunning and varied, fish filled waters of the Netherlands. How I miss those River Ijssel Barbel and Ide! With the children having grown up and the dream of living on the water’s edge still strong in my heart, it was a case of now or never. When Coombewood Barn and Lakes near Ashford came on the market in 2018, it was meant to be, so I came back to Kent and jumped straight in.
Why did you create the lakes?
The Front Pleasure Lake, which we use for the coaching sessions, is the newest of the lakes and was created by the previous owner in 2014. It was designed primarily to be accessible to anglers of all ages, abilities and disabilities. All 12 swims are suitable for wheelchair users, making it unique for this area. Since I bought the fishery in 2018, I’ve continued to make it even more accessible, more family friendly and I’m continuously working to create a safe and natural environment for all to enjoy.
When did you first start to offer your lakes to Fishing for Schools?
From day one I had planned on starting an angling academy here at Coombewood and knowing Kevin Durman lived nearby, he was my first contact. He told me that he coached a group of students with special educational needs from The Orchard School in Canterbury and would like to bring them down for a few sessions. Four years later they are still coming every Friday during term time.
Tell us about your experience of the Fishing for Schools sessions
The weekly two-hour sessions are ideal. Not too long, so they don’t lose interest, but long enough for Kevin to plant a seed of information that they take away and use in the next sessions. The teachers and I are also on hand for guidance and assistance with disgorgers at the ready.
Alex has been an absolute legend for us, he never says no to whatever I'd like to do on our sessions. Occasionally one or two of the more experienced youngsters come along who like a bit more of a challenge, Alex allows them to fish the big fish carp lake as a treat. Coffees are always on hand for the teachers, and he's also treated us all to a BBQ at the end of term. I can't thank him enough for what he does for us. - Kevin Durman, Fishing for Schools Coach
What has given you the most pleasure working with Fishing for Schools?
It’s got to be the look on the students faces when they catch their first fish. Whether it’s a10lb Carp or a monster Gudgeon, it’s something you never forget, I’m sure you’ll agree.
What has been the most difficult part of working with Fishing for Schools?
That's got to be the wonderful British weather and everything it throws at us. Although the students never complain, I’m sure the teachers wish they were somewhere else sometimes. Fortunately, Kevin is always fully equipped with his Korum day shelters should the need arise.
What is your funniest moment when working with us?
Anyone who’s ever been to Coombewood will have met Pellet and Boilie, my two resident geese. They too love having Fishing for Schools on site. They can regularly be seen with their beaks in an unguarded groundbait bowl or running away with a tasty packed lunch, closely perused by a vigilant teacher.
Why do you believe it’s important to offer young people the opportunity to try fishing?
It goes without saying that a lot of the students I see have not had an easy start in life, so anything that helps improve their self-esteem, confidence and general wellbeing has to be positive. We’ve all been affected by Covid-19 in some way or another. Imagine how it’s been for some of these less fortunate youngsters.
I have seen that Fishing for Schools offers an excellent escape for a few hours, away from the stresses of modern life. You only have to listen to the feedback from the teachers, who see the positive changes that the angling sessions bring to these young people.
How do you see the future of angling?
The future of angling is always in the hands of the current generation to introduce and nurture the next crop of young anglers. With so many other activities and distractions for young people these days, it’s crucial that we welcome them into the angling community. The Angling Trust, charities such as Fishing for Schools, fisheries, clubs and the tackle trade are doing a great job to protect and enhance our wonderful pastime.