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Professor Barrie Rickards Died Nov. 5, 2009


Barrie Rickards

Professor Barrie Rickards BSc, MA, PhD, ScD, DSc (Hull), FGS, CGeol, died peacefully on the 5th November 2009

I think he would have liked the idea of being shuffled off this mortal coil on Guy Fawkes night, for Barrie was no stranger himself to, at least verbally, blowing up the posturing of a few politicians.

Barrie was born in 1938 and grew up in Leeds and Goole in Yorkshire, but spent most of latter years fishing the rivers and drains of Norfolk. He only quite recently retired from the University of Cambridge as Emeritus Professor of Palaeontology and Biostratigraphy, and a Life Fellow of Emmanuel College. He was formerly Curator of the Sedgwick Museum.

His angling credentials are second to none. He was probably best known for his pike fishing, and was indeed one of the UK’s leading pike anglers; he briefly held the zander record, but his great love was tench. He had a long and distinguished career in angling politics, at one time being President of the Lure Angling Society, President of the National Association of Specialist Anglers, a Founding Fellow of the Pike Anglers' Club, and a former President of the Pike Society. He was the author of over 700 articles on fishing, more than 250 academic papers, and some 30 books related to both fishing and palaeontology. His classic work in fishing was 'Fishing For Big Pike', co-authored with the late Ray Webb. He contributed to the angling press for almost 40 years.

In his latter years, until the onset of his illness, he was a regular contributor to FishingMagic, writing a comment column in which he instigated many debates on angling politics.

I was privileged to call him a personal friend, having met him for the first time at some angling conference in the distant past. Then, around 1990, we became colleagues as consultants for Shakespeare and have met regularly ever since. Many times when he came anywhere near where I live he would phone me and we’d meet up for a pint and a chat. The last time I saw him was at Medlar when he signed his Richard Walker book for me.

But the time I met him along one of my local canals will be the one that sticks in my memory. He’d borrowed a narrow boat off a friend and was slowly making his way across country, stopping regularly to fish for anything from gudgeon to pike.

That day he was fishing for gudgeon and thoroughly enjoying every minute of it. He was the happiest I’ve ever seen him and every time I look at that picture of him fishing off the end of the boat I know that’s how I shall remember him: one of the most intellectual anglers ever to hold a rod, but with such a love for fishing he could enjoy battling with a huge pike yet still enjoy fishing for gudgeon.

I last spoke to him a couple of weeks ago. He was in bed and very ill, but still talking enthusiastically about fishing and making plans to fish for pike.

RIP Barrie, your passing is a very sad time for angling.

Text courtesy of FishingMagic Magazine
Photo courtesy of Graham Marsden


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