DEREK 'DEL' JAMES SMITH 1949 - 2016

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Dear friends, family and fellow anglers,

Please accept our invitation to celebrate / commemorate / remember / honor the life of (the late) Derek 'Del' James Smith on Saturday 9th September 2017 at the Horton lodge (SL3 9PJ) overlooking his beloved Church Lake.

During a tenure spanning almost 30 years, Del became as much a part of Horton folklore as the famous carp in his charge.

He was a unique gentleman, a gentle man and a Horton institution. Please view and read below a short insight into his life.

The name Del Smith is synonymous with the Horton Complex. Del was part of Horton from the very start of its birth as a carp fishery in 1990, and he oversaw the stocking of the famous Longfield carp into the Church Lake. Over the next 25 years or so he ensured that The Church Lake rose to become one of the most iconic venues of our era, keeping a watchful eye on the resident carp and those that came to fish for them. He may not have said much, but he missed nothing…

Many people comment how fishing at Horton is like fishing in your back garden and that is down to Del and the work that he put in over the years. He instilled a sense of pride in his team of bailiffs and among the members. There are few venues in the country even now that have that amount of care lavished into keeping them maintained to such a high standard and that foster such a sense of belonging.

Although he was a quiet man, he would open up if you spent time with him and his friends were treated to a wicked sense of humour and a twinkle in his eye. He loved football, and in particular his beloved Chelsea. He was highly competitive and enjoyed beating individuals on the pool table or at cards.

He was also a seriously good darts player and without a doubt crushed the odd ego or two at the lodge. He was, however never bitter about the success of others and always happy to share a special moment or take a photograph.

As an angler, Del was vastly experienced, not just for carp but as an all-rounder. Whatever species he chose to fish for he did so expertly and he is still the only person to have held British Records for two different species.

Carp, however was his real passion and his understanding of their behavior was deep and unique. He was always amongst the top rods on the lake for the time that he did but over the years he fished less and less hours and he didn’t actually do a night in the last 5 years. Instead, he preferred to fish short sessions, his gear loaded on the rapid response barrow ready to deploy for a couple of hours fishing at short notice.

Although he was a well-rounded angler, stalking and floater fishing were his forte. He would walk round the Church and the Boat pool with his little pot of particle, priming his spots, and could often be found peering through the bushes or down from a tree watching the fish that he knew so well. He was never tired of them and would set mini challenges to keep him motivated, catching them on different methods or baits.

He also kept extensive records of the captures, growth and progress of his precious Church lake fish. There are few venues where the history is so well documented. Every capture was noted and at the end of the year he produced statistics for captures and average weight gains.

His interest also extended into the keeping and breeding of fish and it was Del who was instrumental in the creation of the fish farm at Horton. It was his foresight and efforts that have meant that Horton is now being restocked with true originals – fish spawned in the lake, collected as eggs and reared on to be restocked and potentially sold to other fisheries in the country. Some of those fish are already making anglers happy. However, the batch that he collected as eggs from weed in the Boat Pool 3 years ago are perhaps some of the most special little carp around. With incredible shape and scales and they are a fitting legacy to remind us of this great man.

Although Del is no longer with us physically his spirit is undoubtedly felt around the venue and his legacy will live on for generations and generations.

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Philippa Dean