NOVICE anglers got to grips with fishing at Coate Water Country Park over the weekend.

The free taster day was organised in conjunction with the National Federation of Anglers and the Environment Agency.

More than 130 children and some adults took advantage of individual fishing lesson-- with tackle and maggots included - from a team of volunteer experts.

It was all about handling fish well and returning them safely to the water and the methods taught ranged from the use of the whip, through to conventional float fishing and ledgering to carp angling, complete with a remote controlled boat to drop ground bait in the lake.

And it was an extra special weekend for nine-year-old David Mallett, who hooked his first fish.

It was a bream weighing seven pounds and left the youngster from Highworth delighted with his catch of the day. "I was a bit nervous as I didn't want to mess it up," he said.

"It was really exciting. I was happy to get one as big as that as my first fish."

At the end of their half-hour of coaching each angler was presented with a free beginner's rod and a goody bag containing fishing and environmental information, a hand towel, and line and float rig.

There was also a copy of a book of fishing stories - Fishing Forever - signed for them by local author David Churchill and a certificate.

The day was a success and there was immediate demand for a repeat as soon as possible.

For details on the next fishing event call angling development officer Mark Jennings on 01793 490150.