The social division of anglers into ‘coarse’ (using bait) and ‘game’ (using a fly) fishermen evolved in the mid-18th century as the new workforce of the Industrial Revolution angled for coarse fish on newly created canals and local public waterways. This paper explores the history of coarse angling, the rise of fishing clubs, managed waters and competition, which together gave coarse anglers a voice in water management and freshwater fisheries, as important as that of the landowning classes with whom game fishing became associated. Historical evidence from the early 20th century is presented for the change from general bait fishing for a range of freshwater species to the specialist coarse anglers of today, who seek a particular species of record weight, perhaps best exemplified by carp.
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Vol. 49 • No. 1