If British sea fishing every found itself having to submit a CV for a job application, it would almost certainly be said to have had an "interesting career". On the face of it, sea angling in the UK and Ireland has always had everything going for it and yet for centuries, it remained a Cinderella sport , always living in the shadow of its twin sisters, fly and coarse fishing.

On the face of it, this situation makes no sense at all. True, the seas around these islands bear a pitiful remnant of the vast shoals they once harboured, thanks to the dysfunctional EU fisheries policy, but it was not always so. When the British Sea Angler's Society was formed in 1893, with C.H.C. Cook (better known as John Bickerdyke) in the chair and Frederick Aflalo as one of its prime movers, it seemed as if there was everything to play for.

In those days, British sea angling was almost completely neglected, although it already had a long history, thanks to a group of unsung enthusiasts. Although the literature of British sea angling extends back to at least the 18th century, it was only in the 19th that it was really put on the map and Aflalo and Bickerdyke were key players in the glory years that followed. If sea angling ran into problems, it was not for want of effort by the BSAS and the whole history of the management of pelagic fish populations has been dominated by lack of government interest and an apathetic general public more interested in cheap fish today than in the idea of sustainable stocks.

British sea angling was lucky in Aflalo and Bickerdyke, because in that pair of writers it found a voice, and one that has never stilled, even if much of the time it has been crying in the wilderness. Many of the articles that you will read on this site tell tales of what might have been, starting with the story of the Yorkshire "tunny" fishery of the 1930s, which might have rivalled Avalon, had it not been for the Second World War and the collapse of the herring stocks in the last half of the 20th century.

So in many respects, this part of the Museum website is a cautionary tale, but there is much to learn here and even more to hope for - we have begun with a feature on the most exciting times of all, the story of the men and women who chased tunny.


The Cod Wars

Almost forgotten now, the dispute between Iceland and Britain saw nets cut, shots fired and boats rammed.



The extraordinary tale of Scarborough's golden years as a big game fishery.


The Hardy Guide to tunny fishing

Harold J. Hardy went tunny fishing in the fifties and the result was splashed all over their '54 guide.



Zane Grey photo by Romer GreyZane Grey and the world's finest reel

The tale of how Zane Grey asked for the best - and got it from Alnwick.



Bernard's big shark

The tale of Bernard Venables' epic battle with a 1500 pound monster off the Azores.


Sea reels gallery

A gallery featuring a treasury of British sea reels, with a diplomatic addition from Sweden.


Frederick Aflalo - the man and his times

Aflalo was one of the founding fathers of British sea angling - read more about the man and his books.