Who Gives a Toss!

The reason for people wanting to go fishing has been debated at length a great many times, and there has been much pontification about it. In this connection it has been suggested that by taking folk away from the stress of modernity and the grime of the concrete jungle into the fresh air the cost of the National Health Service has been reduced. All this may be true or otherwise but one can persume that people go because they enjoy it.

One may be inclined to feel that formerly anglers had a clear idea about the pleasure of angling and that associations were organised mainly from this point of view.

Often there is an appearance that a keepnet stuffed with fish is always synonymous with satisfactory fishing, and a blank means failure. It is not true. Many of the happiest days have been spent with a very modest catch. To be perfect, the day needs something more than just the catching of fish. Just what is required is governed by the outlook and temperament of the individual.

To me fishing is a good excuse to be in the countryside and to enjoy what it has to offer in terms of its flora and fauna. Others may look for more. The companionship of friends or chance acquaintance add so much to the day.

Now it seems that an intensity and seriousness is creeping from a certain standpoint. It is probable

the influence of contest fishing has some thing to do with this. The pleasure and excitement which fishing matches bring is obvious and no one would deny them it. The participation of fishing a match is an opportunity to pit ones skills against other anglers and to bring forth the competitive spirit and of course the friendship and banter. There is, however, a feeling that the availability of large prizes and pools which has permeated the match scene has taken away a chunk of relaxed ambience from certain types of matches. The need to win as opposed to, like to win, has created in some respect an air of tension. This is far removed from the older concept of the ‘contemplative man’s sport’. I know it take allsorts to make a world but I take my cue from that old adage of ‘it’s not the winning that counts but the taking part’ this is just as well as my sedate attitude to my match fishing results has been put to the test many times. The last match (read on) is no exception. Thus my tranquil and placid frame of mind just leads me to say “who gives a toss there is always next time”.

Match fished at Shiplate Main Lake on July 2nd.

Good old Stuart Frampton had a shocker of a match last time out on the canal lake at the Sedges but made up for that this time by getting top spot from peg 15. Fishing to the reeds to his left with feeder and once again and in his own words the bait used was “all sorts”

Second place went to veteran silvers man Dave Nash. Dave only had a carp weight of 16 lb 13oz hence the bulk of his net was made up with a not to be sniffed at silvers haul of 37 lb 07oz. Thus he had a good pay out for coming 2nd in the match and having top sliver weight. Now Mr Nash has no excuse for not getting a hair cut else he’s going to end up looking like Cousin It from the Adams Family.

Carp basher extraordinaire, one Eric Searle got third spot with 49 lb 9 oz from peg 14 b. Eric kept things nice and simple with feeder and pellet.

Alan Bland had the highest weight on the near bank with 33 lb 15 oz. Guess what the bait was, yep that’s right his beloved paste.

Ian Grabham from peg 14 also followed in Mr Blands foot steps and used paste to gain 5th spot with 33lb 01 oz.

Rob Dodd found himself in strange territory by not catching a carp. But as usual put in a good showing by having 2nd top weight in the silvers which got him in at number 6. He fished the margins to his right with corn.

In at number 7 we find Ian Ricketts. Ian just had one carp, but what a cracker coming in at 16 lb 03 oz. Ian used mostly worm and pellet as bait.

Dave Colley who took my pound fished peg 12 with mostly pellet and feeder and obtained a weight of 23 lb 05 oz for 8th.

On peg 1 we had Tony Richards who had an all silvers haul of 21 lb 11 oz and with that finished in 9th.

Paul Smith paid me a visit 2 hours in to the match and reported that he was struggling but managed to redeem himself some what with an all silvers weight of just a tad over 20 lb for 10th placing.

In 11th place we have the one and only Bob Pascoe who mostly fished maggot from peg 4 and put 16 lb 04 oz on the scales.

When I visited dear old Alan Jenkins more or less straight away after the match on my way to the car park, the first thing he said “I’ve got no carp” Well Alan you are not alone in fact that makes 6 of us all together. Alan using chopped worm and caster from peg 3 for a haul of 10 lb 04 oz.

Well as logic dictates some one has to have the lowest weight and alas it was yours truly. With what can only be describe as a meagre and somewhat feeble catch of 5 lb 10 oz from peg 8. I fished the margins to my left to a fence which partly went into the water. I did hook 2 carp but typical the fore mentioned fence proved my undoing and became a place of escape for these hooked beasties. But most of the time as you can guess my swim was it seems devoid of fish. That is until the weighing in gang enters my swim armed with clip board, scales, tripod, weigh sling and weigh mat. The usual words were uttered with a mixture of amusement and sarcasm” here’s the winner” “top peg this” etc, etc. The question was asked “whereabouts did you fish Pete?” I pointed to the left hand margin and to my surprise and annoyance, there they where swirling, bubbling, showing tails and doing everything possible to make their presence known. It appeared it was the fish equivalent to showing the finger. Little bastards.

Poor Nigel Coram had a torrid time by all accounts and just ended up with the dreaded DNWI next to his name.

The next match will be on July 16th at the Sedges on Tile lake. May I recommend the breakfeast.

Until then tight lines.

Pete C

What Might a Mad Cypriot Think of The Sedges

Way back in the very early 1990’s, 1993 to be exact yours truly was residing down in Plymouth. I was, believe it or not a mature student at the city’s university. I was living in student digs which was shared by 5 other students. It was a rather large house and thus accommodated all 6 of us students quite comfortably. Plus there was a sizable common room with a telly. Now being university students and thus in theory would of reached a certain level of decorum, a roster was set up for the purpose of who had charge over what TV channel to watch on each day. It was a Saturday the 15th of May 1993. The time was roughly 7:30pm and according to the roster I had command of the channels. There was only two of us in the house that day, being a weekend most of the occupants went home or stayed some where else. But this particular day the only 2 inhabitants was me and a Cypriot student called Photus Paranados.

Dear old Photos was a intelligent complex, polite decent chap but his character was some what tainted by the way he was easily agitated. This said day yours truly is sat in the common room getting ready to watch a programe on ITV called The Bill. Enters Photus who one could say was in a state of excitement.

“pete don’t forget at 8 is the eurovision song contest”

“so”

“Well you’re going to watch it”

“Photus people in this country would rather watch the bloody test card then watch that crap”

Photus now started to show symptons of stress

“pete you can’t be serious everyone watches the eurovision song contest”

“well I don’t and I am going to watch The Bill”

Photus went into great detail that the eurovision song contest was part of the fabric of cypriot and greek culture and as a consequence he had invited about 15 of his mates around. (hence the stress)

“photus the only way you’re going to get me to turn over channels is for you to go and get me fish and chips”

“promise”

” I promise, you get me my fish and chips and I will relinquish the control of the TV over to you”

He just stared at me for a bit and within an instant of he went and a few seconds later he was closing the front door behind him.

Minutes had passed the door bell rang, it had started, in they came the Cypriot Greek society were turning up in their twos and threes. Each one had brought food and drink and made their way to the common room( where I hasten to add the TV was now showing the appropriate channel ). The invites had nestle down on the sofa, chairs, puffies and even the floor ready for Eurovision 93.

Photus arrived back, entered the room looked at the TV, acknowledged the fact that the correct channel was now showing and duly gave me my fish and chips. The next few hours for me was a time time of intrigue and bewilderment. The food and spirit bottles was a plenty and so was pen and paper for each one saw the need to take notes on each act. They spoke in their native tongue which to me sounded like a mixture of Russian, someone gargling boiling water and bird song. The strange language was interrupted every so often by English when one would ask me my opinion of the present performance. My answer was duly noted then written down. I lasted as long as I could and decided to have an enforced early night. I got up and made for the door.

“pete don’t you want to see the results”

“no not really”

The next day being Sunday I decided to go for a stroll to Plymouth Hoe and try to make sense of the previous evening. Photus decided to join me. We took a short cut through Beaumont Park. This is a park like any other park, a play area in one corner for the kiddies, trees through out which got the odd visit by a squirrel, people sat in small groups chatting laughing and chilling. In all Beaumont park is just a normal park by any means.

So there we are just walking through this nondescript park, without warning Photus places his hand on my shoulder which was an indication to stop. I looked at Photus who was looking all around in a completely baffled state. He had all the characteristics of some one who was totally dumbfounded.

I kept looking at him and trying to comprehend Photus’es strange behaviour. He looked at the trees and all around in a 360 movement looking mainly at the ground.

“Pete the grass”

“what about the grass”

“were does it come from?”

(Oh bloody hell eurovision and now this)

“Photus it is natually occurring”

“NO NO NO some one must of put it there”

“okay God”

“Don’t be blasphemous”

“all right mother nature”

“what do you mean mother nature whose that”

Yes the conversation for me was becoming rather painful. Photus after a short while had calmed down and returned to a less flustered state. He gained his composure and started to explain that in his native Cyprus owing to the semi arid climate that the only grass there was, was in front of posh hotels and important buildings and it was put there by some one ie landscapers and gardeners etc.

Images of what Cyprus could be like started to appear in my mind like the mid west dust bowl of America in the 1930’s and the planet Mars.

But I wonder what dear old Photus would of made of todays venue fished by the mish mash of the angling world, Watchet angling club. The canal Lake at The Sedges. It is a place where greenery takes centre stage and is pleasing to the eye. Nature has taken on itself to daub it with reeds, bushes and grass banks, this is a complete contradiction of your typical muddy carp puddle. It’s a place where one can go fishing and enjoy the idyllic surroundings and not really care about the catch. Well that’s my humble opinion and after the match views of other anglers might be some what contrasting.

The weather had changed from previous days. It had become much cooler and there was a few rain showers. A good turnout of 16 anglers saw a mixed bag of results.

Alan bland our beloved match secretary found himself at number one with an all carp net of 33 lb 14 oz. Mr Bland who occupied the corner swim opposite the car park peg 64, fished paste to his left. Good on yer Alan it’s about time you got top spot.

Second went to Ian Grabham who from peg 45 used mostly corn, pellet and paste and managed an haul of 28 lb 03 oz.

In third was, man about the local match scene Rob Dodd. He fished mostly to his left margin with maggot and pellet over ground bait for a weight of 26 lb 01 oz. Peg 61 was the one he pulled out the hat.

Fourth was yours truly on corner peg 53. It was one big struggle until I had a golden period with two hours to go and caught five carp. Maggot was the bait over pellet. Most fish came from fishing at 10 o’clock to the Island. It was a weight of 19 lb 01 oz for me. Not last brilliant!

Eric Searle with a net of 18 lb 04 oz got 5th from peg 43. He used pellet both on pole and feeder.

Veteran Tony Richards on car park peg 41 put 17 lb on the scales for 6th, double maggot at 2 plus 3 straight out on the pole was employed.

Another veteran Bob Pascoe who found himself on peg 58 used maggot only on the pole to tempt a weight of 12 lb 05 oz. Bob was 7th.

Number 8 was Dave Nash who fished opposite me on peg 52. Dave had an all total weight of 11 lb but congrats to him for bagging the top silvers weight of 8 lb. Caster and maggot on the pole was the method.

9th place was Mike Griffiths this gentleman on peg 60 managed a total of 10 lb 12 oz. Mike used pole maggot and caster.

At number 10 was Ian Ricketts who just managed to get into double figures with 10 lb 09 oz from peg 63. Hard pellet and maggot on the pole was used.

11th spot was happy go lucky Alan Jenkins. Alan on peg 59 eeked out a net of 9 lb 10 oz. Alan employed a variety of baits on the pole.

Paul Smith in at 12 struggled of of the golden peg 47 and did not have his first bite until three and a half hours in to the match. Pole and worm got him out of trouble for a weight of 7 lb 03 oz.

Laid back Phil Dodd from Car park swim number 42 caught 6 lb 09 oz. Phil used the good old waggler and maggot for 13th place.

Dave Colley in at 14th really struggled and just had 2 fish for 5 lb 07 oz, both caught on corn. Peg 49 was his home for the day.

15th spot was Stuart Frampton from peg 62 for a weight of 3 lb 14 oz. It was a bit of alsorts in terms of bait to try and get them going.

Poor Nigel Coram had a torrid time and got the wooden spoon from peg 51. Nigel ended up with 2 lb 02 oz. One has to feel sorry for this guy as the last match saw his swim ruined by some twat (see last post) and as a consequence came 2nd last. But mate there is always next time.

The final placings.
The silvers placings.

A word of note, some of us before the match had breakfeast at the cafe on site and I must say and this was not just my opinion but the food was fantastic. Trust me it was well worth the money. So it’s hats of to Denise and Jamie. A big well done.

In other developments Bridgwater Angling Association has decided to close Dunwear and Combwich ponds for the time being because of fish spawning. I will keep you guys up dated.

The notice on the gate at Dunwear.

The next match is at Shiplate main lake on July 2nd so see you there.

All the best Pete C.

Three Grains of Sand in a Cathedral.

James Hopwood Jeans is a man most people would probably never heard of, one can say here he is definitely not a house hold name. But lets not take any credit away from dear old James who passed away back in 1946, for James or should I say Sir James to give him his proper title was in his day a very outstanding person in his field. He was a guy that could be termed a genius. He was a professor in applied mathematics at Cambridge and Princeton. He made important contributions in many areas of physics including quantum theory and the theory of radiation and stellar evolution. But he was known among his followers and acolytes for a saying that represents the density of Stars in the cosmos “put 3 grains of sand in a vast cathedral, and the cathedral will be more closely packed with sand than space is with stars” Now fishing Saturday’s match at Trinity Waters this saying has certain overtones to the amount of feeding fish in my swim. Hence put 3 grains of sand in a vast cathedral and the cathedral will be more closely packed with sand than my swim is with feeding fish.

Trinity Waters Woodlands lake is as the saying goes is marmite. You either like or you don’t and I am afraid that I loiter in the latter camp. All respect to the owners and this is not to slag of the venue , for me to do this would be absolutely wrong, indeed such actions would enter the realms of total fabrication. No this venue to me in relation to catching fish is a total enigma. It is not as though when one enters ones peg that yours truly plays loud rock music or tests out the latest model of pneumatic drill or invites The London philharmonic Orchestra along for a rehearsal. No I must simply put it down to that I am either absolutely crap at this venue, a theory which I like to sweep under the carpet and keep it there, or that the fish some how have a sense of my presence (not through lack of hygiene I can well assure you) and simply bugger of to take up residence in other pegs thus leaving my swim with the same density of feeding fish as already been described. But never mind the match fished by the Watchet Angling on Saturday June 4th and taking me out of the equation produced some very good weights especially where silvers were concerned.

It was as we say in angling terms “double bubble” that of top weight overall and top Silvers for the illustrious Rob Dodd. Rob had an outstanding bag of silvers which tallied to a weight of 49 lb 10 oz added with a carp haul of 30 lb 04 oz he managed to put on the scales 79 lb 14 oz from peg 8. Fishing mostly straight out on the pole it was corn and maggot over ground bait. So it’s a hearty well done to him.

Second went to recent newcomer Stuart Frampton. Stu had corner peg number 6 and caught a reasonable weight of 68 lb. Within his catch was a 3lb tench, a perch of 1 lb 10 oz and a bream of 3 lb 09 oz. His tactic was to fish down the edge to his right with corn.

Eric Searle in third had peg 12 and every time I looked up over towards where he was fishing he seemed just to be sitting there with his hands in his pockets and looking like he was having a kip. But looks can be deceptive and this was certainly the case with Eric who weighed in 44 lb 09 oz. Pellet and feeder was employed.

Ian Grabham got 4th spot from peg 28. Fishing mostly down the edge with corn and meat he managed to get a weight of 35 lb 10 oz. But it was not plain sailing as he struggled in the first part of the match.

Our NHS hero Dave Colley found himself in fifth with a haul of 33 lb 06 oz. From peg 14 Dave was constantly reminded by a few other match anglers near by, that there was a snag to his left. This was all done in the name of sarcasm, as poor Dave found out several times to his cost. Pole with maggot and corn was Dave’s plan of attack.

Paul Smith in 6th had a middling sort of day from peg 30 for catch of 26 lb 03 oz. This was achieved by pole with mostly soft pellet, corn and maggot.

7th was Ian Ricketts, fishing on peg 27 and like the other Ian (Ian Grabham) struggled in the first part but redeemed himself later on by ending up with 22 lb 14 oz. Ian used paste to tempt his carp.

Good old Alan Jenkins grabbed position number 8 on peg 25 with 21 lb 09 oz. When asked about methods and bait his reply was quite simple “allsorts”. Fair enough thanks Bertie Basset.

In at number 10 is yours truly with 17 lb 7oz from peg 21. Now the weight of 17 lb 07 oz I must admit is shall we say a bit of a facade a deception of sorts in terms of the sport that was had. In all I had a total of 4 fish. At 1:30 with just 14oz in the net and fishing the margins to my left with pellet the float plunges under, I strike, the elastic storms out and the carp makes a b line to my next door neighbours swim that of Mr Nigel Coram where it done its upmost best to cause as much commotion and mayhem as possible, and it did a pretty good job in all. After what seemed an age I managed to get it to the net. As soon as the fish was about to be scooped up, BANG the pole snaps, the fish still on the hook then decided to take refuge under one of my keep nets. A plea for a landing net went out and the well mannered Nigel Coram came to the rescue and gave me his. The beast was finally landed, but that was it. After that there was no more bites for me or poor old Nigel. The foul hooked carp came to 16 lb 9 oz. This was my get out of jail card, a sheer fluke.

Alan Bland was pegged on number 17 and came 11th. Lack of bites was the main problem for Alan but fishing the margins with meat he managed to land 2 carp in the last half hour to get a weight of 17 lb

Laid back angler Phil Dodd had most of his action in the last part of the match when he landed 3 nice skimmers on the feeder with maggot. From peg 24 Phil’s net came to 14 lb 11 oz.

Veteran angler Tony Richards drew out peg 31 and managed in the end 14 lb 01 oz for 13th. Tony used the pole with maggot, caster and bread punch.

The unfortunate Nigel Coram who was pegged next to me on peg 22 had an all silvers bag of 12lb 04 oz obtained by fishing the pole with a variety of baits. Remember because of a certain episode in the match poor Nigel couldn’t buy a bite after 1:30. Sorry mate.

Bob Pascoe on peg 10 must of had at least 150 fish, but match fishing is not a numbers game but a weights game and owing to the size of fish Bob good effort could only muster 10 lb, all from pole and maggot.

The final Table
The top silvers table.

The next match is at the Sedges on the Canal Lake on June 18th so until then it is tight lines from Pete the Fluke.

Match held at Sedges Brick Lake and the History of Screech Owl Ponds.

Eleven members of the Watchet Angling gang decided to ply their so called match fishing skills on Brick lake at the Sedges Fishery on Saturday 21st in the year of our lord 2000 and 22. The weather was very accommodating warm with little wind. The atmosphere was jovial and jolly with the usual abundance of banter being dished out and the competitive spirit was very much alive.

Carp basher extraordinaire One Eric Searle managed to occupy top spot from corner peg 11. Eric did not do any thing complicated and caught the majority of his haul on feeder and worm. Eric’s all carp catch came to a tidy total of 86 lb 10 oz. So it is a hearty congrats to him.

Rob Dodd fished straight out in front of him at a comfortable 9 meters on the pole to nab top silvers of 29 lb 02 oz plus a carp weight 49 lb 14 oz for a grand total of 79 lb. The bait was double red which was fished over ground bait. Rob pulled peg 13 out of the hat.

Robs dad Phil got 3rd spot. If there was ever a prize for being Britains most laid back angler surely he should get first prize. It appears that Mr Dodd senior employed his most favoured approach that of feeder and dead maggot. From peg 16 Phil put on the scales 41 lb 03 oz, Phil also got 2nd silvers.

Paul Smith who was next to me on my left had another corner swim, peg 10. Paul fished the feeder and pole at varying distances with mostly pellet. Paul put on the sacles 38 lb 15 oz. Paul vented a slight fustration in the car park before the match started, the reason being was that the match before some one paid in to the pools (which Mr Smith is the guardian of) some american coins instead of proper money and managed to have gotten away with it, this left poor Paul short out of pocket. Hey mate try them on the coffee machine at work.

5th placed was Pawlett ponds bailiff Nigel Coram, Nige on peg 6 bagged a weight of 34 lb 07 oz with pole and corn.

Much beloved match secretary Alan Bland had peg 12 and struggled most of the match but managed to bank three hefty carp and some bits of silvers for an end weight of 31 lb 03 oz. Paste was mostly used to get 6th place.

7th place went to Dave Nash the silvers maestro who used pole and waggler with caster and maggot. Mr Nash obtained a weight of 27 lb from peg 7. Dave got 3rd place in the silvers.

Yours truly on peg 9 got 8th spot. Up until 30 minutes to go I just had one small skimmer and that was it. But the last half hour I got 2 carp and 3 descent sized skimmers just fishing in the margins to my left with meat on the hook. This took my tally up to 25 lb 12 oz. Thanks to the last half hour I managed to ward of utter disaster.

Tony Richards the bee man had an all silvers bag of 21 lb 10 oz. From peg 14 Tony started of on bread but then switched to maggot. Fishing the pole throughout.

In 10th was Alan the tackle shop Jenkins. Alan who drew out peg 8 got a weight of 18 lb 2oz, He had 2 carp, one on tip and pellet and the other was on pole and maggot.

Last but not least and that is for sure is every ones friend Bob Pascoe. This veteran angler had an all silvers catch of 17 lb 12 oz which was tempted on the pole with meat.

The History of Screech Owl Ponds

The history of Screech Owl ponds is difficult to assess. Rumour, and vague stories handed down , suggest that it was a place of consequence for fishing even before Dunwear. The brick works long since been demolished, appeared to have been amongst the older established installations of that kind. There fore many of the ponds must have been dug out very long ago. In spite of the comparative antiquity, excavations for clay continued off and on up until about the 1940’s, and much of the water space was created during the period between the two world wars. The Orchard pond which is on the west side of the venue was dug in the 1920’s.

Some of the stories told by older angler and had since been passed down were about large carp, but how large did not appear. None of these accounts suggested any degree of popularity. Even in the 1920’s there was only a small coterie who held the fishing in great favour. It was possible to visit Screech Owl day after day without meeting another fisherman. When the brick works were in operation the water levels were kept much lower than they are now and there were pathways through all the reed beds. This with the solitude made it a fascinating to explore and find unknown ponds. It was not until the 1970’s that the place became popular.

During the 1920’s and up to the 1930’s the only freshwater fish known in these ponds were roach and carp. Both suffered from over population and were numerous with low average size. There were places where the carp might be caught remarkably easily. Catches of over twenty in a day were quite possible but none could be over three pounds-most much less. Most of the roach would have been about two ounces, with a very occasional half pounder from one of the smaller ponds. However it was a very pleasant place to spend a days fishing.

In the 1940’s the drainage authorities seemed to adopt a new policy of linking ponds with rhines. A channel was cut to join the Screech Owl ponds with the rhine running along the south side. This rhine passed under the railway to meet the one following along the canal to wide waters. It contained a remarkable variety of fish. It may be assumed that during the floods these fish found their way in to the ponds because not much later the stocks were greatly augmented by tench, pike, perch and later bream, and some rudd also appeared. The tench multiplied and gave great sport, with fine catches. This was apparent soon after the war and it was then that Screech Owl started getting notice by a small band of anglers which lead to a slow growth to popularity. This invasion of new species had some effect on the carp population. Rapidly they diminished in number, and began to grow larger. Better and better fish were taken until it seemed that a specimen carp water was developing. However, it appears that their place had been taken by bream.

Around about the time of the arrival of the new species a very big shoal of mullet found their way in via one of the rhines which joins the river Parrett. They soon scattered widely over the ponds and were at times clearly visible. They were a great provocation to some of the anglers because they proved uncatchable. They might be seen to be feeding on the small prawns which had also invaded the water but invariably these failed as bait on the hook.

It was not long after the war that the brick works went out of use, and the whole area was sold to become a bird sanctuary. Then Bridgwater angling secured proper fishing rights. It was a satisfactory arrangement lasting until the death of the owner. Afterwards the venue was acquired by the Somerset County Council and was designated a nature reserve in accordance with the appropriate laws. These required priority to be given to conservation of wild life. It had been decided that the region was eminently suited for the purpose. The continuation of fishing was acceptable and it was possible to rent part of the bank space for anglers. but alas continuation of renting bank space was terminated during the mid 2010’s and thus Screech Owl is no longer a venue to fish.

The next match for the Watchet Club is at Trinity Waters on saturday the 4th of June.

Until then tight lines.

Pete C

The History of Dunwear Ponds.

The bricks and tiles was until well in to the mid 20th century an industry of quite traditional significance around Bridgwater and Highbridge. Excavations for the necessary clay created very many ponds in the district. In the earlier stages of the activity when digging was done by hand they tended to be small in the area, but with the coming of more sophisticated machinery they were much larger and latterly some covered as much as 20 acres. Having a favourable depth of about 5 to 7 ft, and a considerable enrichment from the surrounding agriculture land, nearly all became good fisheries. With the exception of a few such as Dunwear and Screech owl they were, for many years, not held in high esteem by the anglers. Most were disregarded, probably because so much other fishing was available and the demand so very modest. It is only with the growth of the popularity of angling that their potentialities were realised. Their value is further increased by their being so much less vulnerable to pollution than the other waters.

The place of the Dunwear ponds in the affairs of the Bridgwater angling Association has in previous post has been asserted. It was here where it all started, and all down the years there have been a panorama of its history. The leading personalities of each decade made their appearance at the ‘ponds’. Over so much of the time Dunwear was the most frequented of all the venues on the Bridgwater license, and the ‘regulars’ could be expected in their favourite places throughout each season. It was accepted that they might monopolise these swims, and it was quite customary to refer to ‘Watkins swim’ or ‘Ran hooks swim’ and so on. It was so for very many years. The main interest centered around the specimen contests, and competition for the capture of the largest carp was often intense.

Of all the ponds at Dunwear, the North and middle ponds must be the oldest. The middle pond is now the overgrown pond located behind the portaloo just after you enter the gate to get to North pond on your left. They were matured waters at the time Bridgwater Angling association was founded. Alas the date at which these were dug is not known, but it is more likely to be some time in the 1800’s.

There is a mystery about how these ponds acquired their fish stocks. It is very likely that those of Dunwear came from the river Parrett in the first place. Certainly, there was a rumour that they were taken from the river at Oath, but just who carried out the transportation is lost in obscurity.

Like many other disused clay pits the ‘ponds’ contained a fairly wide variety of fish. What ever the source of the original stocks may have been, much has been planted by the Association over a long time. During the years, carp, tench, roach, rudd, pike, perch, bream and even an occasional chub have been taken. In the early years a few bream were introduced to the North pond. The original fish soon disappeared, but a limited number of skimmers remained for quite 30 seasons.

By and large, carp have been the main attraction. For very long they were all of the original ‘wild’ or indigenous variety. These carp had a very modest average size and there is no recollection of a double figure specimen having appeared in the former days.

In about 1950 Ray Perrett brought about the introduction of some fast growing ‘mirrors or what was known then as continental carp-king carp he called them. As in or other places, this wrought an entirely new conception of what a specimen carp had to be. At Dunwear during the 1970’s carp over 20 lb became quite usual.

There is no idea just when the perch were not present in the ponds, but as so frequently happens with these fish, stocks fluctuated in both quality and quantity. There have been times of abundance, and some very creditable size fish. They have given a volume of pleasure to many people and sometimes come as a welcome relief from the tedium of pursuing unresponsive carp.

It might have been extraordinary if roach and rudd had not been conspicuous, but it would have been equally surprising if they had not suffered the over population which is so usual in enclosed waters of this kind. Only occasionally were fish of worthwhile size seen. The exception was described in a previous post on pollution of Bridgwater waters. This happened in the 1920’s as a consequence of the depopulation arising from a polluted ditch. The surviving roach with out much competition for food grew to over 2 lb and roach fishing in Dunwear at this time entered a golden age. Rudd we know arrived in the ponds in 1924 when they were spreading throughout the district.

Formerly, tench were seen very infrequently, but later they became established and have prospered. Although some good fish have been encountered over the years, the average size have been below that is usual in other waters. On the other hand, their general condition have been more than satisfactory, and they have given excellent sport. They have been a very valuable addition to the stocks.

When the old South pond (which is now the car park) silted up some sea bass must have found their way up the channel or ditch that had been cut to join North and Middle pond. (Bearing in mind that the old South pond was joined to the river Parrett at one stage). Thus North and Middle pond had a sizable population of sea bass for a long time and grew to a fair size. One could be observe in middle pond which was about 7 lb. Eventually they died out. One imagines that they could not breed in the freshwater. On infrequent occasions they did take a bait. When this happened it usually left the surprised angler to survey the wreckage of his tackle. They could move faster than the carp! With these sea fish other estuarine creatures arrived such as flounders, I can testify to this as I have seen one caught in the Railway pit way back in 1976. Another sea invader was a small type of prawn which multiplied in the water and provided a very good bait for perch and carp. Erroneously the anglers called it a shrimp.

Another species of fish which inhabits both North and South pond is a fish which is locally known as the Sun Bass. The real name for this fish is the Pumpkinseed. This small fish often takes up residence in the margin weed and was often targeted by young anglers with dead lines. It is a mystery how these fish got here. It is interesting to note that these fish are classed as an invasive species and imports of these fish are banned by the EU.

The association in 1956 purchased the North and South ponds and this was for a nominal sum. The value of the clay pits had not been realised, and it was a extremely fortunate transaction . The sum paid was little over £100 and now ponds of this kind would cost many many thousands. After the business had been concluded it was to be seen that the conveyancing had been carried out badly. There were errors in the deeds and inconsistencies in the boundaries. In recent years Bridgwater AA has deemed it reasonable to purchase the other 2 ponds that of big pond and the Railway pond. This transaction has paved the way for improvements to be made, mainly with security gates and the introduction of pallets and a restocking of the ponds. The future for Dunwear ponds seems well secured for the time being.

The above aero picture of Dunwear ponds was taken in 1952. The black arrow points to the newly dug South pond. The green arrow points to North pond with Middle point slightly to the left. The red oval shape encompasses the big pond which as you can see started of as a lot of small pits.

Avalon Match

Saturday just gone May the 7th Watchet Angling had a match at Avalon fisheries, on the road side. The match was blighted by white popular trees sheading the white fluffy bits on to the lake making fishing in certain swims very challenging indeed.

The next match for the Watchet mob will be on Brick lake at the Sedges on Saturday 21st of May.

Tight lines

Pete C.

Match Fished at Landsend Fishery, Also a video entitled Stoned With Hemp.

Owing to some technical issues and the time in sorting it all out and the fact I don’t want to spend more time than necessary this is a rather shorten version of a blog post than what is normally. Instead of having shall we say a format of a newspaper with a fair bit of writing and a few pictures, today’s time constraints has forced the outline to be rather akined to that of the Daily star. A Daily newspaper which has more pictures then writing and which only requires a reading age of six.

That old adage that is often uttered when bites are at a premium and it seems that the fish have gone AWOL (absent with out leave, for people who haven’t quite reached the reading age of six.) “Yea but it still great being out here on the bank than at home” or words similar was definitely applicable to the participants who took part in Watchet’s match fished on the specimen lake at Landsend fishery on Saturday 30th.

Although a commercial with pallets it snuggles in quite well with it’s rustic surroundings, this place is adorned with lush greenery and weeping willows and has the characteristics of a oil painting. So with the sun shinning on this bucolic setting the mood of the match was pleasant and the frame of mood amongst the anglers was jolly. There was a sense as always of competitiveness but the rustic scene added to the mix an element also of chilling out. Results are important but in this respect so was the sense of being. It could be said that regardless of out come a good day was had by all.

The top four

First on the day was our dear beloved NHS hero the one and only Dave Colley. Dave it appeared kept things simple and caught most of his fish with feeder to the island with pellet. From peg 31 Dave also landed the biggest fish of the day a 17 lb 7 oz carp, in total he had 86 lb 13 oz. Nice one mate.

Insecond place was man about the match scene Rob Dodd. Rob had corner swim that of peg 25. Just using pole he fished the margins to his left with corn as bait. Rob’s total weight was a reasonable 69 lb 13 oz. This guy managed 3rd in the slivers table as well.

Eric Searle one of the clubs veterans occuppied third place also from a corner peg. Peg number 33 was Eric home for the match. 48 lb 03 oz was the weight he put on the scales which was obtained mostly by feeder and pellet.

Peg 32 was pulled out the hat by Ian Grabham. A peg which got him 4th spot with a haul of 45 lb 09 oz. Pellet was the bait that was mostly used.

Congratulations must be in order for Mr David Nash who fished peg 39 and had the top silvers bag. Dave fished his much beloved bait that of caster.

The results
The Slivers table

Way back in the late 1990’s a series of VHS videos came out called the compleat angler. One video in the series was the aptly named Stoned With Hemp by local angler Mike Stone who you might see occasionally hanging around Somerset Angling. The venue for this video was the Bridgwater and Taunton canal at a place called Smithies which people who are not au fait with the Bridgwater and Taunton canal is located just the other side of Wide Waters passed the Huntworth bridge going towards Fordgate. I did purchase a copy when it first came out but the usual story emerged I lent it to some one to be never seen again. But last year scouring the internet and ending up on Ebay I came across a copy which I bought. I had it copied to DVD format and with a little technical difficulty which with some effort I managed to download it on to the site. Hence shortened version of blog. But owing to the way it was formatted on the disc it could only be downloaded in four parts, hence a slight niggling problem that it is not a continuous viewing.

The next match for the Watchet mob is this coming Saturday May 7th at Avalon on the road side so until then tight lines.

Pete C

Fishing with the 37 Club Also A Watchet Red Team Giant Killing Act.

Wednesday the 20th of April was a nice sunny day with just a tad of a breeze this was an lovely way to be introduced to a match fishing group and to fish one of their matches. The 37 club which has their origins from the ROF social club in Puriton has in it’s ranks a fishing club with a very fine asset. The club has the rights to fish what is known as the R.O.F ponds situated on the outskirts of Woolavington. These ponds are old school and by that I mean they contain no carp. These 3 ponds are very secluded, sheltered and private. They are approached by going down a very long track turning right at the very end and going through a gate which is padlocked with a combination lock to enhance security. The ponds themselves are not endowed with pallets but good old fashion bank. The water is slightly clear and dotted throughout by isolated clumps of lily pads. Wilderness with practicability that what I say.

The match itself was as predicted a struggle, this type of venue is burden with that 64,000 dollar question, that of do I go hell for leather for small fish and hope to build a reasonable weight or do I just chance it and wait for the bream and tench. Well I went for the former and ended up with 3 lb of bits which gave me a middling result of 4th out of 7, not bad for yours truly. I found the members who fished the match very friendly, very approachable and very cheerful. Added to the fact these guys like to fish old style you can rest assured that I will be paying these fella’s a visit again.

Sporting competitions have a habit of throwing up giant killing acts and the bait tech cup 1st round on Saturday 23rd April was no exception. Watchet Black and Watchet Red team were drawn away against the angling might of Exeter AC. The venue for this historic turn up for the books was Kia Ora lakes at Cullumpton. There are two lakes the Silvers lake and the Main lake. The main lake was lake of choice for Exeter. This is a carp oriented fishery and can be very finicky when a fair numbers of anglers line the banks. So come Saturday just gone, 18 anglers (which count as a fair number) plying their trade did affect one chances of bagging.

From a personal perspective my peg had limitations in that the amount of area that was fishable. I just had a back end of an island to fish at 7 meters. This type of peg could be a hit or a miss affair and up to the last 45 minutes it was certainly a miss, for up to then I just had one small perch. A change of tactics brought on by desperation ensued, a change to an 18 hook and a much lighter hook length. Well in the last 45 minutes I managed to bag 2 carp and the only eel of the match. For a weight (which earned me a 4th place) of 11lb 4 oz. The match itself failed to live up to expectations. As 3 people in the match blanked and most of the weights were measly. Here is an explanation of how the match scoring works.

3 teams of 6 Exeter, Watchet Black and Watchet red, there are 6 sections of 3 anglers 1 from each team

A section win gains 1 point

2nd section gets 2 points

3rd section gets 3 points

A dry net gets 4 points

The team with the least number of points wins

If there is a draw on points then the total team weight of fish is compared. The team with highest weight of course you guest it wins.

The results

Watchet Red 12 points

Watchet Black 13 points

Exeter 14 points

Thus Watchet Red go through to the next round.

Next match for Watchet club is the specimen lake at Lands end this Saturday 30th of April until then Tight lines

Pete C

The Match That Reminded Me Of Mr Nasty And Post men with Flame Throwers.

Looks as they say can be deceptive. Just have a look at the photo taken during the match, there is blue sky and the sun is out and shining. This scene can be depicted as a nice summers day and it is nice and warm. Wrong! it was bloody cold and participants on one bank could easily have suffered from hypothermia or frost bite or both.

The Match fished at Trinity Waters.

But it was this scene that made my mind wander. Wander back to the golden age of children’s TV. The years of the 70’s and early 8o’s Saturday morning TV back then was dominated on the ITV channel by a programme called TASWAS. TISWAS was acronym of Today Is Saturday Watch And Smile. This zany program was stitched together with sketches with an odd assortment of comical characters such as the phantom flan flinger, the dying fly and Trevor Macdoughnut. This mixture of madness was presented by The wonderful Chris Tarrant and the delightful Sally James.

But when the series ended for the season it was replaced by a program with a similar format called The Fun Factory hosted by Jeremy Beadle, Therese Birch and Billy Butler.

Just like TISWAS it had it’s share of amusing characters, but one in particular stands out, that of Mr Nasty. One of his fortes was to pick a volunteer from the studio audience (which it must be said consisted of all kids) and have a argument with them.

Mr Nasty arguing with a bunch of kids.

On this particular occasion which is the subject of this part of the blog a victim was chosen, a young kid about 12 was invited to sit at Mr Nasty’s desk. Mr Nasty then produced a photograph similar to the one shown below.

Mr Nasty’s argument was that this picture was taken in a hot place. His reference point for his logic if one can call it that was that the suns temperature is 5000 degrees and the sun is prominent in the sky hence it must be a hot place. The sheer weight of the bombardment of sarcasm, illogic, rudeness, intimidation and subterfuge dealt out by the aggressive Mr Nasty was such that the poor boy was simply over whelmed and wrong footed at every turn by such an onslaught and thus in the end just put up the white flag and simply gave in. But as memory serves me right I think that the poor kiddie at the end who ended up a total bag of nerves and probably still suffers from post traumatic stress did get given a prize of sorts. so the moral of the story is that if you swapped the photo that I took with Mr Nasty’s, he still would have won the argument.

Near the end of the program Mr Nasty announced a new competition for the viewers at home. A prize would be given to who ever sends in the most nastiest parcel or package. Well as you can imagine the chance to get ones name mentioned on national TV was a great incentive. Children’s minds ran riot and the most disgusting and revolting things known to man were concocted, put in packages and parcels and duly posted of. Now the competition as you probably can gather was announced on a Saturday morning. Come the following Thursday it was mentioned in the press and on TV that several tons of packages and parcels which had been addressed to Mr Nasty at Granada TV (makers of the program) had to be destroyed by the Royal Mail owing to the odious, repulsive and revolting contents. Animal excreta, body fluids, used nappies and other horrendous substances were the culprits which set in motion the actions of the post office. Now I am willing to swap photos with Mr Nasty but not packets or parcels.

Oh by the way the match was fished at Trinity Waters on Woodlands Lake on Saturday the 9th of April 2022.

It looks like Rob Dodd has joined the Nazi party.

First on the day was able match man Rob Dodd who on peg 14 tempted most of his fish in the margins more or less right at his feet. The winning bait was sweetcorn. His weight of fish was a creditable 83 lb 8 oz.

The winner

Mr consistent AKA Steve Warren found himself in the money yet again. Finishing in 2nd place Steve tempted a weight 63 lb on what appears to be one of his favourite tactics that of meat and pole. This was achieved on peg 10.

Mr consistent

From peg 27 Ian Townsend got 3rd spot with a fine weight of 60 lb 8 oz. All caught on corn. In amongst his catch was a carp of 16 lb.

3rd place Ian

In 4th we find a new kid on the block that of Stuart Frampton. Before the start of the match me and Stu had a good old chin wag because as school kids we used to hang around in the same gang. Stu had a good day and put on the scales a reasonable weight of 51 lb 1 oz. Pole and meat was employed also Pellet fished shallow was utilised. A fine specimen of a carp weighing 17 lb 01 oz was part of Stuart’s haul.

Stu with his whopper

In at number 5 was Eric Searle who on peg 23 alternated between feeder and pellet and pole and maggot tempted 32 lb 1 oz.

Yours truly managed the dizzy heights of finishing 6th. From peg 21 I had all my fish from the margins to my right. Baits used was sweetcorn meat and maggot. Total weight was 26 lb 12oz which included a carp of 12 lb.

Ian Grabham who on peg 9 got into 7th place with 19 lb 3 oz. Corn for the carp and maggots for the skimmers.

Ian Ricketts managed to put on the scales 14 lb 14 oz from peg 24 for 8th place. This was obtained with pellet and feeder pole and paste.

Dave Nash in at 9th had the top slivers weight from peg 7 with 13 lb 6 oz. Dave who had no Carp just used the waggler at 25 yards with red maggot.

In 10th we see good old Alan Jenkins who on peg 29 caught a weight of 11 lb 13 oz. Alan used mostly the pole and when asked about bait used just gave a simple reply of “all sorts”.

Now this only happens once every so often but we had a joint placing. In at 11th was both Alan Bland our beloved match secretary and another new kid on the block Mike Griffiths. Ironically both were pegged next to one another. Alan on peg 11 used pole corn and maggot and Mike on peg 12 used just pole and maggot. Both weighed in with 11 lb 2oz.

Tony Richards who was pegged next to me on 22 finished in 12th just scraped in with double figures with 10 lb 2 oz. Pole and maggot was his method.

Tony Richards who was pegged next to me on 22 finished in 12th just scraped in with double figures with 10 lb 2 oz. Pole and maggot was his method.

The one and only Bob Pascoe was in 13th spot with an all silvers catch of 6 lb 10 oz obtained with pole and maggot.

Paul Smith found himself in unfamilar territory at number 14. Paul who usually does a lot better struggled from peg 13 with an all silvers weight of 5 lb 13 oz this was got with pole and maggot.

In last place on peg 28 was Nigel Coram. Poor Nige had a night mare and just weighed in 11 oz. But with this fella it’s a case of watch this space.

The next match for some is the bait tech cup match against Exeter at Kia Ora lakes at Cullompton on Saturday 23rd of this month. The week after is the match on specimen lake at Landsend fishery on the 30th.

Until then Tight lines Pete C.

A Fishing Match, Car Fire and a Domestic.

Saturday March 26th saw the resumption of the Watchet Angling club match league and I just like state that the club is hale and hearty. A good turn out emerged and as usual banter, insults and wise cracks were a plenty. The winter league for mad and hardy ended three weeks ago and in the end the attendance was meagre. The last two matches had a trivial turnout of just four people. One could just say the spark of competition had deserted and the whole thing fizzled out. But lets not take away the fact regardless of lack of enthusiastic competitiveness that congratulations should not go amiss on Dave Nash the eventual winner.

First on the day (and here I am trying to tempt fate in the nicest possible way) was once again the clubs Mr consistent Steve Warren . Steve pulled out peg 34 which is on the road side and his method was to use pole and hard pellet throughout the match. 52 lb 6 oz was his winning weight.

The winner.

In second place we find Taunton boy Ian Grabham who had a reasonable haul from car park peg 37 of 43 lb 14 oz. Ian kept things simple from what can some times can be a difficult peg by fishing mainly the margins with maggot.

Mr 2nd.

Third place was the well known guy in match fishing circles Robert Dodd. Rarely out of the top five Rob fished peg 26 and managed to put 39 lb 14 oz on the scales. His plan of attack was pole (what else for this guy) and maggot.

Rob the 3rd.

NHS hero Dave Colley obtained 4th from peg 13. Dave alternated between pole in the margins and pellet feeder across to the far side. Bait was maggot and pellet and his weight was 25lb exactly. I must admit he really did look cool in his shades.

4th bloke.

5th spot was occupied by one of the two clubs octogenarians Tony Richards . Tony who had peg 36 the one nearest the hut had in total a weight of 21lb. But this angling veteran took the money for top silvers which came to 10 lb 13 oz. So it’s a big well done to him. What else for Mr Richards but pole and pinkie.

Top silvers guy.

Fishing on peg 28 was laid back fisherman and Ex head bailiff of Bridgwater Angling Association Philip Dodd. Phil employed the method feeder with dead maggot to tempt an all carp net of 17 lb 6oz. Phil was 6th placed.

The clubs other octogenarian Bob Pascoe occupied the 7th place with a bag of 17 lb 5oz from peg 7. Bob managed a silvers haul of 10 lb 2 oz which gained him second spot in the silvers table. Bob fished a lot to his left in the margins with maggot and pole. Bob mixed his fishing by having a good old jolly sing song. Good on yer mate.

The one and only Bob Pascoe.

Nigel Coram in 8th made the best of a below average peg. The culprit concerned was peg 21. But Mr Coram endured and ended up putting on the scales 17 lb 2 oz. Tactics used was pole with paste and maggot. Well done bud from a crap peg.

Mr Coram.

Yours truly was 9th with a weight of 15 lb 15 oz from peg 9. I had two carp on hard pellet with method feeder on the far bank and three carp from the pallet to my right which I caught on sweet corn. Am ruing the fact that I’d hooked four more carp that unfortunately evaded my net. “PANTS”. But it was a pleasurable day and was enhanced by having Bob Pascoe next to me and hearing him having a good old sing song.

Some poor sod.

Alan Jenkins was to my left on peg 11. Good old Alan had a haul of 15 lb 7 oz. This happy go lucky bod used pole with a variety of bait such as maggot, chopped worm and caster. Also used was feeder with pellet. Alan got 10th spot.

Alan Jenkins in action.

In at number 11 was Ian Townsend on not the best of pegs, number 17. But perseverance paid of and Ian managed to obtain double figures with 13 lb 14 oz. Pole fished with meat in the margins was the mainstay of his attempt.

This is Ian weighing in for Eric.

Placed at number 12 was Eric Searle. This formidable carp guru was at odds from the biggest pallet on the lake that of peg 15. This was another out of sorts swim and thus Eric Struggled and just managed to get in to the realms of double figures with 10 lb 14 oz. Pole to the margins with pellet and corn was what was employed by Eric.

Dave Nash the silvers expert couldn’t produce any of his magic which won him the winter league thus slumped to next to last place with a total catch of 5 lb 15 oz. Dave did cheer himself up however by paying me a visit during the match (owing to boredom through lack of bites) and giving me maximum abuse. Peg 32 was Dave’s peg for the match.

Mr Dave Nash, the winner of the winter league.

Poor Alan Bland had a torrid time from peg 19. Our much beloved match secretary could only muster a small weight of 3 lb 4 oz. This earned him a placing rank of 14th. But to be fair the pegs from 15 to 21 were the most unfancied pegs on the lake.

Alan Bland who did not have the best of pegs.

New kid on the block Ian Ricketts had the unwanted stigma of having DNWI next to his name. But it was not a clear cut case of Ian not catching any fish. It was probably more to do with him trying to keep his sanity. Poor Mr Ricketts had drawn peg 30 which is on the road side and backs on to the Big 8 carp lake. Directly behind him was a group of carpers in their bivvy. Add in to the mix a visit from one of the wives/partners who then started to read the riot act in terms of an in-balance of time spend on the bank and time spent at home with the kids and the consumption of a vast quantity of Thatchers Gold. Things got a little bit out of hand with some other carpers allegedly joining in the ruction and taking sides. There was a bit of argy bargy to an extent that some one called the police to report a domestic. Poor Ian was trying to concentrate on his fishing but alas the commotion behind was just to much and probably did what a lot of anglers would of done and packed up.

The results table.
The top 6 silvers anglers.

Just after 2 o’clock a series of loud bangs erupted and disturbed the peace and tranquility of the match. At first I thought the Russians had given up on Ukraine and decided to take Summerhayes instead. From my peg I could see vast solid plumes of black smoke and through the trees a raging fire. It appeared that some one decided to have a rather large bonfire on one of the properties adjoining the fishery. More bangs followed and the black smoke prevailed. Minutes later Pete the owner came around, I duly pointed my finger at him “what have I told you about playing with matches” I said. Pete went on to explain that a car was on fire next to the entrance to the fishery and just wanted to warn people.

At 18 minutes past a fire engine arrived to douse the flames and was present for about 40 minutes. The fire crew were very considerate indeed by just activating their blue flashing lights and not operating the siren. A Ploy as not to frighten the fish.

The match had ended and the weigh in had taken place, most of the tackle had been packed in to the back of cars and vans etc. The results were analysed and as usual at this time excuses and abuses were exchanged. It was during this period of so called reflection, two police officers appeared on the scene. First thoughts by the Watchet gang was they had come to investigate the events of the car fire. But the boys in blue had come to sought out a domestic. If only they had come sooner perhaps Mr Ricketts would of weighed in.

March 14th just gone was a nice sunny day and seeing it was the last day of the River season I decided to take a bike ride to Parchay and from there walk along the north bank pass Bussex Bend up as far the out fall of the river Sowey and Lanacre Rhyne. This is about a mile from Greylake car park. Now people who are regulars to this blog will know that I visit this remote stretch on an ad hoc basis. The last time I fished this stretch I meet a couple of contractors who worked for the EA who told me of a plan to construct a series of islands in the bank. Well construction of one of these proposals has now been been completed. (see video below). So a stretch of a possible match fishing location has now been thwarted. Thanks!

This construction is about a mile from Greylake car park going to wards parchay. More bank taken away from the anglers.

The next match for the Watchet club is at Woodlands lake at Trinity Waters on April 9th.

Until then it’s tights lines to one and all.

Pete C.

The History of Bridgwater Angling Association part 3.

Somerset in common with most of the Southwest has been designated a “clean area” with regard to the problem of pollution. Agriculture prevailed and unlike the heavy populated and industrial areas it was not seriously menaced by the quality of discharge which wreaked so much destruction in waterways. In general this was true, but Somerset has had it moments.

During the war circumstances were exceptional. The priorities were considered sufficient to relax even the standards of precaution applicable at that time. Unfortunately, the excuse “there is a war going on” was used to cover much quite unjustifiable neglect. Fisheries suffered badly and a disaster to the Bridgwater and Taunton canal seemed to fall in to this category. The river Tone must have been involved as well. Through some mismanagement a large quantity of gas liquor from the gas works near Taunton was allowed to enter the Tone and it passed into the canal. Gas liquor by the way is A liquid containing ammonia and ammonium carbonate and sulphid, besides other products, obtained from coal in the manufacture of illuminating gas.

Taunton gas works.

This very deadly pollutant devastated fish life over most of the upper reaches. As far as it was possible to estimate , all stocks were killed down beyond Charlton, and the mortality was very severe to Maunsell. For some reason the Tench seemed particularly vulnerable, and it appeared that they were decimated even to North Newton.

Recovery took place but as it may be expected after destruction of this magnitude, time elapsed before the fishing seemed back to normal. At first the water from Taunton to Durston appeared denuded of fish, but with the passage of time roach began to be seen, but in very isolated shoals. Presumably, the flora and fauna was restored quite rapidly, and food was abundant early on so the limited numbers of roach grew to unprecedented sizes. As already canal anglers of the past have record of specimens of over three pounds in weight. Of course, as the population was fully established the number of exceptional fish declined.

What a nice roach.

It was mainly during these war years that a very grievous and quite tragic decline in the fishing of the river Parrett took place. Previously the Parrett might of been regarded as an anglers paradise. It carried large stocks of fish ; particularly chub and carp unbelievable when compared with present day standards. By 1945 the greater part of this population had disappeared. It is difficult to state the cause precisely, but it seems very certain that it was due to pollutions from Yeovil or perhaps to a lesser extent from the river Isle.

Usually anglers are declined to despair over pollution and its alleviation, so it is a satisfaction to be able to quote an instance of success. Very shortly after the second world war the river Tone was transformed from its deplorable condition to a first class fishing water. The local authorities were prevailed upon to replace the outdated treatment works At Lambrook road with a new plant down the river at Ham. Coincident with this, the Gas board decided to disband the gas works at Taunton, and the industrial discharge came under control. The consequence was that the Tone became, and remained over several years, one of the best fishing venues in the county.

Very unfortunately, however, developments over the years in Taunton have overloaded the treatment works and there have been a decline in the fishing to some extent.

This victory was followed by an attempt to establish salmon fishing in the Tone. It may be correct to say re-establish, because there is ample reason for belief that long ago salmon did run this river. Ova was planted up stream and salmon ladders were built at weirs. The descent of smolts was monitored for several seasons and there may have been some signs of success. But alas the experiment didn’t prove successful. It did appear that salmon did ascend in appreciable number as far as Creech St Michael but failed to pass Taunton.

At one time it was believed that Bridgwater associations waters were to remain serenely and indefinitely free from the above mentioned troubles. In particular ponds were thought to be quite invulnerable, so it may be a matter of interest to note that some time about the first world war or perhaps before then- there seems to have been a very destructive fish loss at Dunwear. It appears to have been brought about by the then prevailing practice of reclaiming clay diggings by silting. A channel was cut to turn tidal water from the river Parrett in to the original south pond (now the car park) Eventually this was filled and became a reed bed. Some contamination must have entered and there was a severe mortality in both the middle and north ponds. Afterwards roach seemed to be absent from these two waters.

Towards the end of the summer of 1922 the Hooper family caused a suprise by catching 3 very large roach from the top of north pond. In 1923 it was evident that they were present in some strength and it was an oportunity for several members to take the much coveted 2 pounders. Probably, this was a factor in the popularity of the pond occuring about then. Regrettably, as time went by, over population took place and only very small fish were caught.

In the late 1950s and in the 1960s there were two separate algae blooms in the north pond. Both were due to enrichment from percolation from a badly polluted ditch. The resulting de -oxidation turned up many fish.

Any sense of security about the associations waters were utterly shattered by the events of 1968. This was an instance where the word ‘disaster’ was wholly justified. First of all a phenomenal thunder storm occurred in the July of that year. It flooded a large part of the Somerset moors just when the cut hay was on the ground. Many square miles of rotting vegetation resulted. Agricultural interests insisted upon drainage, and this brought about a massive and unprecedented mortality of fish. The Parrett, Brue, North and south drains and the West Sedgemoor drain were the principle waters experiencing the slaughter. The total loss was beyond estimate. There was so many dead fish that in places they had to be carried away from human habitation. Very fortunately prompt action by the River Authority in diverting the flow of contaminated water into the Cripps river saved the Huntspill from serious damage.

It appeared at first that the Kings Sedgemoor Drain had escaped, but some 14 days later when other waters were showing distinct signs of clearing, a dam retaining a large amount of pig slurry on a nearby farm collapsed. This resulted in a comparably severe fish kill on all but the top mile of the drain. It was a climax of a shocking episode.

An example of pig slurry discharge.

Previous experience on local water ways tended to give rise to hope of a rapid recovery on the Kings Sedgemoor Drain, but this was dashed by extensive engineering works and widening operations in connection with the construction of the Sowey river. Water levels were kept low over a period of at least 3 years. Weed growth grew profusely and after the water level had been restored to normal the weed remained to be a menace. later there was yet another pollution. This time it was due to the disturbance and removal of silt from a ditch leading from Chedzoy and its being drained off before there was time for settling.

The depreciation in the quality of local fishing, about which there is fairly general agreement, is usually attributed to pollution, but observation strongly suggests that many fish loses are closely related to heavy weed growth. Pollution as it is commonly conceived, consists in the main of sewage and frequently is due to housing developments carried out without appropriate extensions to sewage treatment facilities. Without question villages in the region have grown considerably but it is not clear that there have been many additional discharges into the drain.

During the last 30 years or so weeds have become distressingly more prolific. Previously, the drains and canal presented miles of open water. Now they may be choked with vegetation long before the end of the summer. It may be worth making the observation that this profusion of growth is due to the enrichment of water from the use of artificial fertilizers on the land and in this instance the run off from farms may be suspected.

The other important source of excess nutrition is sewage treated or untreated. (The inclusion of ‘treated or untreated seems very ominous). The masses of weed must soon have areas of die-back and it is likely that deoxygenation resulting is responsible for mortalities otherwise thought due to pollution.

Accumulations of weed are capable of creating various conditions adverse to fish life and the ecology of the water as well as a great disadvantage to fishing. The intense photosynthesis in bright sunlight can cause dangerous fluctuations in dissolved oxygen leading to a condition called ‘gas embolism’ where bubbles of gas are liberated in to the body fluids of the fish. Probably a more likely consequence of the photosynthesis is the production of high levels of alkalinity which are equally fatal. It has been noticed that unexplained disappearances of fish such as that of the quality roach from the B&T canal in 1968, have coincided with upsurges of weed growth.

Another aspect of weed growth problem which may be overlooked is the need for space for fish. If a water is heavily weeded they may tend to leave it. It may be imagined that they are in the weed, but is likely that conditions therein cannot support fish life.

Important also is the fact that the loss of bank space for fishing may be serious for a club dependent upon the sale of tickets to pay for present day rents and boy ain’t this more applicable today than its ever been.

The next match for Watchet Angling is at Summerhayes on longs this coming Saturday the 26th of March.

Tight lines Pete C.