Pupils from six Sussex schools enjoyed a day exploring fishing, fish and wildlife themed activities on 26 April at Arlington Reservoir, taking part in activities from pond-dipping to hedge laying.

The day, organised by South East Water and The Countryside Alliance Foundation’s Fishing 4 Schools initiative, was the first of many at this prestigious reservoir which boasts an array of wildlife in addition to the fish.

Charles Jardine, Director of Fishing 4 Schools said: “I love being part of these days. The children arrive, perhaps not knowing anything about fishing or the ecology of our wetlands, but they get so enthused and go away wanting to know more. That’s what these days are all about.”

And Emma Goddard, South East Water’s head of environment added: “It was a fantastic day. The children were all so engaged. We hope this is the start of new engagement between ourselves and local children. If we have inspired just one of the children who attended to learn more about the environment, it will all have been worth it.”

The schools taking part were Alfriston School in Polegate, Chyngton Primary from Seaford, Cross-in-Hand CEP School, Grovelands Community Primary School, Oakwood Primary from Eastbourne and West Rise Junior School in Langley.

In all, 50 children took part in sessions on fly tying, fly casting, pond dipping – with an impromptu competition to see which school caught the most newts – hedge laying and fish-themed art. The young participants also watched freshly caught trout being prepared and cooked and then ate the resulting fish dish.

Mandy French of Chyngton School said: “The children had a fabulous time. They really enjoy these sort of activities and if we had the chance to come again with another year group we would leap at it.”

Jenny Lewis of Grovelands Community Primary said: “I was amazed at the concentration on the children’s faces as they watched and took part in the activities. They particularly enjoyed the pond-dipping – it has been a wonderful day of exploration.”

Angus Scott of West Rise School said: “The boys learned so much today and had a fabulous time – none of them had tried making a fly or casting before.”

Lindsey Hudson of Alfriston School said: “It’s been really interesting to find out just how much is involved in fishing, and the hedge-laying demonstration was fascinating. Many of the children live close to the reservoir but were not aware of all the wildlife here.”

James Smither, one of the pupils from Cross-in-Hand School said: “I really enjoyed the fly tying and casting best – and eating the trout. I already take part in coarse fishing but I’ve not casted before – it was really fun.”

Emma Taylor from Oakwood School said: “The pupils loved the cooking with trout and the pond dipping and catching newts. They asked so many questions and will go back to school with lots more knowledge.”