History of the Royal Casting Club of Belgium
The creation of The Casting Club of Belgium was the natural progression from the meeting of a small number of game fishing fanatics who shared the same passion. They met on a regular basis in the workshop of Sougné, a fishing tackle shop, located in the heart of Brussels. This famous institution was an authentic sanctuary for game anglers where they used to purchase the tools required for their art and share useful advice. The master of the house, Marcel Henrion, was considered as an expert who offered plenty of advice free of charge but sold expensive fishing tackle. These "aficionados", having the intense desire to improve their knowledge about the novel techniques which came to light at the time, decided one day to unite within a club that would promote the sport of Casting. The Casting Club of Belgium was born in the year 1934.
After the British Casting Association and the Casting Club of France, the C.C.B. became the third casting club in Europe. It counted a small number of members to start with (10) from which the following were remembered as being the most active: Marcel Henrion, Léon Lotin, Jo van Cottom, Auguste Ramelot (the first President) and Baron Braun (vice-president).
They met twice a month at first and subsequently every Sunday at the plateau du Heysel. Hoops, placed on the grass, were used as targets during the casting training sessions. The number of members rapidly increased thanks to the proselytism of Marcel Henrion, the No 1 angler in Belgium, and the ambition and dynamism of Jo van Cottom, founder and editor of "La Pêche sportive" (very successful and highly specialized magazine at the time) and author of two books of reference "Où et comment Pêcher" and "Le Brochet, Sa Vie, Sa Pêche".
In 1938, the effervescent Jo Van Cottom offers his resignation in order to found the dissident and short-lived Belgian National Casting Association (A.N.B.L 1938-1942), the members of which held meetings at the estate of Comte Ludovic de Bergeyck in Grand-Bigard. Apart from barnum-style events such as the 10 coaches trip (300 anglers) to the lakes of Bernissart for a "Pike Day", on the occasion of which a single perch was caught and a=2 0drunken angler narrowly escaped drowning, Jo van Cottom who had over-sized expectations will be remembered for promoting Belgian casting competitors abroad. In 1938 he also invited in Belgium the elite of French casting specialists (Creusevaut, Charles Ritz, Melle Janteur, etc), the English Hardy team (under the command of Cpt. Edwards) and even a couple of American champions (Mervin.K.Hedge and the 18 year old junior champion of the USA Jimmy Green).
On the occasion of this competition the Belgian Albert Godart beat the American world champion in the fly-distance event to become the first-ever Belgian fly-distance champion. The second world war then put Jo van Cottom's sporting activities on hold and he went on to concentrate exclusively on professional activities with the creation of the magazine "Ciné Revue". Hollywood Sirens became the catch of the day.
Fishing the Our in 1946.
After the dissolution of the A.N.B.L in 1942, the Casting Club of Belgium, under the leadership of its new president Fernand Recorbet and in spite of the difficult times of war, organized in 1943 a championship at the Mellaerts lake with a foreign participation limited to the French. The war finally over, the Casting was able to reorganize a truly international championship in 1948 with the active participation of French and English competitors. A truly emotional meeting followed at a memorable reception in the salons of Saint James, the new clubhouse.
National and international competitions then followed at a regular pace and our competitors travelled extensively to England and especially to France to participate successfully in the "Tir aux Pigeons" competition. Our most skillful casters, Albert Godart, Robert Guyot, Marcel Henrion, Jean Spee, Alex Van de Mert, Roger De Henau, Fernand Recorbet, Marcel Parmentier, etc had once again the opportunity to compete with the great names of the time such as the legendary Pierre Creusevaut or the picturesque Captain Edwards.
Captain Edwards in action.
The club then experienced a frenzy of activity with regular training sessions every Sunday and even twice a week at the Mellaerts lake. All this was followed by a few pints in the local pub located within walking distance from the lake.
For a couple of years, active members of the committee participated in the publication of a monthly news bulletin distributed free of charge to all the members of the club. Unfortunately the costs associated with the enterprise became unbearable and it was decided instead to publish a single page concerned with club news, the sports of casting and fishing in the magazine "Les Sports". Members participating in that new enterprise even received official press identity cards. The club also invested in the carving, by known craftsmen, of medals which were destined along with official diplomas to be given as prizes to winners of major international competitions.
Following a settlement with the "Société Centrale de Pêche at de Pisciculture", responsible for the management of the Ten Reuken lake in Boitsfort, it was decided to move all activities to that new site offering better potential and more pleasant scenic views. Two new casting platfo rms and pontoons were built. They were admired by many Belgian and foreign visitors participating in the competitions.
Tommy Soltermann upon the casting platform.
After their regular casting practice, members used to quench their thirst at a local pub, "The squirrel", where they enjoyed the warm welcome of the landlady, Jenny. It was in the same premises that memorable parties were organized after competitions organized by the club. Every Tuesday and Sunday skilled anglers in the art of casting as well as beginners met there to share their common passion.
On the occasion of the universal exposition held in Brussels in 1958, the club organized an international casting competition with 242 participants. Seven years later, a world championship competition, organized by a club from Verviers, was held in the city of Spa. Soon after this event, the club lost his president Fernand Recorbet who will be remembered for having invested his very best into the life and management of the club.
From 1963 until 1969, the presi dency was taken over by Marcel Parmentier. The club organized yearly international competitions in Brussels and participated actively in events held in Rotterdam, Amsterdam and especially in Paris at the "Tir aux pigeons", appreciated by many for the delicious food and good wines served at this meeting.
Novel casting platforms were built thanks to the skilled workmanship of Roger de Henau and Albert Bernard, the wooden material was provided by Alex Van de Mert.
In 1969, Marcel Parmentier expressed his desire not to renew his mandate as president leaving his place to Tony Solterman. Tony was a polyvalent sportsman as he accumulated a wide experience in various disciplines. He officiated as international referee in ice-skating, was a former rowing and swimming champion, and of course was a keen angler. A member of the club for many years he also refereed many international casting competitions.
In 1970, the International Game Fishing Committee made an important decision concerning the regulation of international casting competitions. It was decided that future competitions would be held on dry land rather than on the water. Such a ruling not only proved to be a handicap for the members of the club but it also meant that the club was not in the position to organize any international competitions although it owned some of Europe's best suitable installations. The immediate consequence was a more discrete participation from our competitors in international competitions. To say the least it wasn't their cup of tea to cast on grass, they did rather watch it grow (or smoke it). In 1972, the president honored MM. Parmentier and De Henau with an engraved golden badge of the CCB in acknowledgement of their wor k for the club over many years.
In 1974, Guido Vinck, 9 time Belgian champion and member of the casting club founded the Casting Club of Flanders.
In 1976, Charles Ritz, heir of most famous hotel chain in the world and a good friend of our president, passed away. It was a great loss for the angling world. In 1953 Ritz wrote the book entitled "Pris sur le Vif" which nowadays is sought by many book collectors. He also created the famous split-cane rods "PARABOLIC" the first prototypes of which he presented, accompanied by MM. Creusevaut and Pezon, on the occasion of a competition organized by the Casting Club of Belgium at the Astrid Park in 1942. He was well appreciated among Belgian anglers for whom he showed great esteem and recognition.
In 1976, Guido Vinck received the golden badge of the Casting Club of Belgium in recognition for his exceptional performance at the world championships in Varna and his 18 first p laces in 22 international events. These competitions became more and more physically demanding and the sophisticated tackle required in order to achieve good performances was expensive. Good performances required daily training, sign that the sport was increasingly orientated towards professionalism and that the gap between casting and angling was widening rapidly. It soon became evident that this evol ution did not really match with the ethics of the club whose main concern was the formation of all-round and effective anglers and to promote the good code of conduct associated with the sport of angling. Although from then on the club participated in occasional meetings in Belgium or abroad, its activities became restricted to its own members.
That same year saw the start of the fly-tying activities at the pub "The Squirrel" whose landlady allocated a special room for the tying enthusiasts. The clubhouse was located at the "Swiss House", rue Joseph II, and it is in this Swiss-style locations that weekly meetings, yearly assemblies and dinners were held.
The sport of casting was subsequently recognized as an official discipline by the Olympic Committee. It represented a true recognition for our sport and enabled the material support of competitors during their trips abroad. This was the case for Guido Vinck, taught by the Casting Club, who became world champion in San Fransisco. He retained the title five years in succe ssion.
In 1985 came a long awaited consecration for the Casting Club of Belgium with the award by H.R.H King Baudoin 1st of Belgium of the "Royal" title, obtained for 50 years of fidelity to a tradition. It represented a personal victory for its president who worked relentlessly for many years, helped in his task by the president of honor Gaston Braun and Jacques Legrand.
In that same year, Olivier Degeorge, a young member of the club coached by Roger De Henau, became Belgian champion of fly-fishing. This title meant selection to the world championships on the San River (Poland) where he managed to finish 21th out of 100 participants, most of them being mondial specialists.
Olivier, a few hours before his victory.
In the following year, at the interclub "Mouche Jean Stoffels" cup on the river Semois at Herbeumont, the Royal Casting Club of Belgium dominated the event in the individual classification as well as in the team event (5 casting boys in the first 8, out of 64 participants). This success emphasized that good casting skills could be beneficial for the fishing.
Marcel Langhendries, Jeanne De Henau, Joseph Maingies, Roger De Henau, Olivier Degeorge and Jean Spee
In 1989, the RCCB deplored the death of three of its most prominent figures: the president of honor Gaston Braun, Pierre Vandervondelen known as "Pierrot" whose immense physical strength made him look indestructible and Marcel Henrion, founder member who will be remembered for being a keen competitor even in the friendly matches on the occasion of which he used to bet "the aperitif", which he used to win regularly although he only drunk water...
Roger De Henau celebrated 25 years as secretary of the club, a true accomplishment considering the amount of work and dedication associated wit h that demanding position. His courage and enthusiasm still on this day is admired by all the members of the club.
That same year saw the organization of the first internal competition held at Grand Pré, national heritage estate belonging to Jacques Legrand. Our friend Jean Roch skillfully immortalized that event on film using his professional experience in the field.
In 1991, the club lost his president for 22 years Tommy Solterman who held that position for the longest recorded period. He will be remembered for his strong personality and his unfailing dedication for the club which became a part of his life. For all these years he worked really hard to ensure that the RCCB would be recognized as an active and accomplished association of dedicated anglers. He represented the club at numerous official meetings in the world of angling in Belgium or abroad where he was appreciated by many. He was also a member of the very select Fario Club, association of famous anglers belonging of the elite from both continen ts. With the death of Tony Solterman, a legendary figure of European casting passed away.
It was then the turn of Jacques Legrand to become president of the club. He had been an active member for many years and thanks to his dedication enabled the recognition of the club as a "Royal" association. He also allowed members to fish on his private stretch of the Samson River in Gesves which had been reconditioned by courageous members.
After finally settling down in his large estate in Grand Pré, Jacques Legrand estimated that long distance travelling, maintenance and management work on his estate were incompatible with this presidency functions. Olivier Degeorge was elected unanimously as president, becoming the youngest person to assume that function. The new president, despite time consuming professional duties, injected novel ideas and original projects into the club life, promoting contacts with other associations and spreading a contagious enthusiasm among all the members. Let us wish him complete success in this ambitious task.
This story of the RCCB would not be complete if we forgot to mention the continuous support of all ladies associated with the club. Weekly meetings, balls, dinners, barbecues, receptions and film projections have also filled the active life of the club. It is on the occasion of these sportive and social activities, spread over many years, that true and long-lasting friendship established itself among this group of enthusiasts brought together by the same passion for angling.
List of successive presidents: Auguste Ramelot, Maurice Soupart, Léon Lotin, Jo van Cottom, Jean Demeiller, Robert Dardenne, Raymond Recorbet, Charles Dubuisson, Marcel Parmentier, Tommy Solterman, Jacques Legrand, Olivier Degeorge, Xavier Brahy, Jean-Pierre De raedt, Olivier Degeorge.
Research and redaction by Jean Spee in January 1994 and Roger De Henau in November
Translation by Luc Pierssens (february 1997) and Gary Shoman (2009).