The History of Fishing the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal

It is difficult to ascertain how long fishing has been possible on the canal. Hearsay and vague records indicate that it took place whilst there was commercial usage. Fragments of information apparently from far back from the 19th century suggest that it was often of a high standard. Some of the veteran anglers of the 1920s often spoke of ‘the days when the boats were running’ but had little to say how the navigation affected sport. They mention that it kept the channel clear of weed, but then of course weed growth did not present the problem it does today.

The date at which the Bridgwater Angling Association acquired the fishing rights may be a matter for dispute, but it must have been between 1907 and 1909. The commercial navigation ceased about this time. Records of merchandise carried were discontinued in 1907.

No trace of any negotiations involved remain. But what we know is that the rent demanded by the then owners, the Great Western Railway was £3 per year and £3 per year was charged for the towpath. The actual stretch which was obtained was from the Bridgwater docks to Maunsell lock. This stretch has been rented ever since. £1 was also charged by the Maunsell estate who had retained the fishing rights. So all in all the yearly rent at the time was £7.

During the time that the GWR owned the canal and contrary to believe by the locals, a high standard of maintenance was upheld. In fact it was obligatory by an act of parliament when the GWR purchased the canal from the previous owners. It was during world war two the maintenance on the canal went on a steep decline owing to lack of man power. After the war when the railways were nationalized the ownership of the canal came under the British Waterways Board. This is when the rot started but the canal was still required for the operation of the Bridgwater docks by supplying it with water, for without the canal water the docks could not operate.

But when the docks were closed to shipping and the supply of water was no longer needed the future of the canal was uncertain. This is when the Somerset Waterways Society played a major part in convincing the County council of the recreational value of the canal. Thus finance was obtained for a restoration of sorts and the canal was saved.

There is a veritable kaleidoscope of memories built up over a life of fishing on the canal. They come from the entire length of the canal. Wide waters at Huntsworth, Standards lock between Fordgate and North Newton and the so called Paul Reeds stretch which is located between the scrap yard bridge and the Squibblers Way on the out skirts of Bridgwater where very popular in the heyday of fishing the canal. The high bank at Durston has been an important place as regards to fishing as well.

But as popularity was concerned it was Wide Waters the anglers flocked to. It afforded the best fishing for the average angler. Wide Waters was a lay by for the barges and thus had the widest expanse of water which attracted the fish. Unfortunately the early 1970s saw the emergence of the M5 and the peace and tranquility of the place was gone for ever. I recall way back in the 1970s well known match fisherman from the local area fishing this place with large wagglers and worm for a good day bream fishing.

Standards lock is recalled with the lock house- long since demolished- and a Mr Ingram in residence. This gentlemen was always ready with information about the fish which was often quite visible in the clear water below the gates. One Bill Morrison who was one of the fore most roach experts in the southwest way back in the 1920s had a favourite spot down towards the row of willows on the opposite bank. The amount of quality roach found there back then was remarkable by all accounts. The main shoal came right under the main lock gates when feeding. The shoal believe it or not consisted largely of fish of about one and a half to one and three quarters of a pound. The bait that Bill Morrison used, Boiled Wheat.

Now the Paul Reeds stretch which has already been mentioned may not be one of the most scenic parts of the canal but it was certainly one of the most popular in the early part of the 20th century. Being nearer the town it was very convenient, especially for an evenings fishing. Over many seasons this length gave some of the best sport available. The favoured spots were the “Rushes” where the old course of the canal left towards the river. Tench were the principle quarry but any other canal fish could be expected and in the form of very good specimens. This stretch was notable for having been one of the main habitats of the original school of carp.

Prior to world war 2 there were several excellent and indeed quite famous stretches for fishing within the boundaries of the town of Bridgwater. The basin just outside the lock into the docks, and the tennis courts in the length at Hamp which is now referred as the YMCA stretch were popular and they were exceptionally good for roach and tench. The occasional chub often inhabited these lower parts. In fact in 1921 a considerable number appeared lying in line under the walls at West Street. Unfortunately they have not been seen in such numbers since. Perch was very much in abundance in the canal in those times and they added much to the attraction to the area. Very good roach were seen over most of the lower end (YMCA to the docks). Tragically neglect and low water has rendered most part of this stretch difficult for fishing. The length between Wembdon road and Victoria is only just over 2ft deep in the middle.

The ‘High Bank’ at Durston or the Lyng Embankment to give its proper name might be regarded as on of the most famous venues. It was here that so many of the early Association cup contests were fished. The winning of this cup was a mark of distinction for any match man worth his salt.

The ‘Newton Stretch’ between Standards Lock and Kings Lock being further afield , or at one time less easy to reach, was favoured by the few who were in search of unfrequented places. Here again all kinds of the fish of the canal were in abundance and it had a reputation for having the best stocks of pike. Many of the largest were caught in this length. The original quality of the fishing seems to have endured rather better than elsewhere for many years from early last century.

The water above North Newton – Kings Lock- was never well used in fact it was almost totally disregarded, But Banklands just below Maunsell lock has a particular charm. The channel goes through a cutting giving a feeling of shelter. It is a place where a long series of splendid catches can be remembered.

Just after the war the short stretch between the upper and lower Maunsell locks was carrying a stock of Roach remarkable even for that period. For several seasons it was one of the popular spots on the canal. It was here that one Bert Porter took a Roach of two pounds thirteen ounces, a record for the Association waters.

In the 1920s boating for pleasure began to take of on the canal. A guy called Hanson maintained a boat house at the first swing bridge -crossways- No longer there owing to the bridge for Squibblers way. The popularity of pleasure boating was such that it was done all year round not just in the summer months. The favourite trip was from Crossways to Fordgate and back. It was during this period that anglers who fished wide waters notice that most fish where not bothered by the disturbance. Except two spieces Carp and Tench. These two types of fish left the area for either Fordgate or the Paul Reeds stretch.

Back in 1928 the canal between Kings lock and Standards lock was drained in order to fit new lock gates at standards lock. It was dry or nearly so for several days. But the tench survived this so well that a good catch was possible about a week or so later. Assessment of the consequences for the roach is less easy to make, but recovery must have been rapid because the fishing had regained its former state within a few seasons. This occurrence prompts speculation that either environmental conditions or water quality used to be more favourable for fish. Also the instance shows that although the railway company maintained the canal so well there was little regard for the fishery.

In 1980 a book was published called Fishing Canals by Ken Cope. In it the author mentions the Bridgwater and Taunton canal. Here is an except “Roach, rudd , bream, tench and pike are the main species and they often reach specimen proportions. Big fish reported in the last three years include rudd to 2 lb 12 oz, roach to 2 lb 11 oz, tench over 5 lb and bream to 5 lb 6 oz. Bronze maggots, casters and bread flake are the most popular baits but many tench are taken on worms. Past records from the water reveal rudd of 3 lb 12 oz, roach of 2 lb 14 oz, pike 27 lb 4 oz and chub 5 lb 2 oz.”

As you can see the canal from an angling point of view has a very rich history indeed. But alas those anglers who are the mainstay of the history of the tow path have long passed away. But as one now wanders along the many stretches of the canal devoid of anglers there still linger in my mind an essence of fishing from long ago. People like you and me sitting on their wicker baskets and armed with their cane rod and peacock quill floats. But the anglers fished a canal whose personality has changed over the years. In those days there where many more places where one could just plonk one self down on the bank and have a dabble without worrying about hacking back the reeds or raking out the swim. The water way has now been blighted by neglect and encroachment of the ghastly weed and as a consequence the anglers have left in their droves. The future of the canal is uncertain lack of investment and the never ending threat of budget cuts puts development in doubt. As the saying goes “you never know what is around the corner” and in terms of the canal this certainly applies.

The building of the canal was started in 1822, this was the days before JCBs bulldozers and even steam shovels. The canal hard to believe was dug by hand wheel barrows, horses and picks and shovels where the main tools of the day. And for the record the canal was completed in 1824, and then it only went as far as Somerset bridge. The canal was extended through the town up to the docks in 1841. On average the navvies in building the canals burnt up an incredible 20,000 calories a day, As you can see it was pretty hard work. The navvies built the canal believing that it was for use of barge traffic and the transporting of cargo. But I wonder if they every realised that one day that the resultant of their hard labour would provide many hours of delightful pleasure for the people who partake in our much beloved sport that of angling.

Most of the material for this article came from a booklet that was obtainable from local tackle shops in the early 1980’s The booklet was titled The History of Bridgwater Angling Association by Harry Sutton. Harry was on the committee for many years and worked as a dentist in the town. I would like to thank the ex chairman of Bridgwater Angling Association John Hill for lending me a copy for without it the writing of this article would have not been possible.

Tight lines Pete C

Match Fished at the Sedges Tile Lake on 09/10/2021

Well as the saying goes you can’t keep a good man down and this was certainly the case with out of form Rob Dodd who smashed it with a very impressive weight (for the time of year and conditions) of 106 lb 09 oz. As usual Mr Dodd kept things simple with pole at 11m, 4 lb straight through and red maggot as bait. This feat was accomplished on end peg 29 on the road side.

2nd place went to Eric Searle. Eric who had peg 40 fished with feeder and pellet to the margins at first but without much success. Fishing straight out in front soon paid dividends and this is were he got the bulk of his fish from. This change helped him to a weight of 88 lb 12 oz.

Mr consistent and I say Mr consistent because I am trying to tempt fate here (only Joking) found himself in 3rd, and by Mr consistent I mean Steve Warren. This guy who resides in Clevedon alternated between pole and feeder on peg 38. He found the best bait to be pellet. 70 lb 01 oz was his haul.

Brummie Ian Townsend got 4th spot from peg 26 with a reasonable weight of 65 lb 09 oz. Every one was aghast one he said he had used corn instead of his favourite bait meat. But still it paid of for Ian who fished the pole at 11 meters.

The layed back approach which is normally employed by Phil Dodd got him into 5th place from peg number 27. Now Phil who was next to me said before the start of the match that he was wishing for a good day catching bream. Well every time he hooked a carp there was shall we say an element of moaning but one could sense there was a touch of humour attached to it. Using what else but method feeder with dead red maggot or worm got him 44 lb 05 oz of so called pesky carp but he did have 4 lb 1oz of silvers for a grand total of 48 lb 06 oz.

Young Ian Grabham took 6th spot from peg 23. Ian it seems brings half a tackle shop to his peg. This guy had a reasonable match with a not to be sniffed at weight of 47 lb 01 oz. His main approach was feeder stuffed with micros, wafters and expander pellet as bait. He really does enjoy his fishing because he always stays behind after the match for an extra hour or two. Good on yer mate.

Alan Jenkins is enjoying a reasonable season, for him anyway, normally keeping me company in the bottom two of the final placings, Alan had good days fishing and ended up in 7th. This happy go lucky character had a catch of 39 lb 04 oz from peg 25. He used a variety of tactics, such as pellet feeder and maggot and pole. Well done buddy.

Normally a silvers only bloke Bob Pascoe in 8th spot appeared to delve in to the so called dark side. Bobs carp net totalled 29 lb 14 oz and had a silvers net of 9lb for a grand total of 38 lb 14 oz. Pole and maggot was used from peg 36. He had 3 carp on his inside line.

Although down in the main results placings at number 9, Paul Smith once again is top of the silvers table with a good haul of 21 lb 13 oz. Paul achieved top silvers weight from peg 39. Mr Smith fished pole at 13 meters with worm as main bait. His total came to 29 lb 13 oz.

Now the powers that be, who hide in another dimension and who are responsible for statistical normality in the space time continuum and who were caught of guard last match, have been frantically busy over the last 2 weeks ironing out any irregularities, flukes or oddities that might occur and to ensure that life as will know it continues to exists as normal.. Well their hard work had certainly paid off, from winning the last match (the first in many years), I found myself in 10th spot this time. From peg 28 I did not have my first fish until ten to three, but still ended up with 28 lb 03 oz. Hence I had more action in the last hour then the previous five. All my fish where caught on the the method with micros and banded pellet.

In at 11 was match secretary Alan Bland. Poor Alan’s carp bashing methods seemed to have forsaken him. From peg 37 Mr Bland could only snare one carp, one of 10 lb 13 oz at that. His total came in at 16 lb 03 oz. When asked about methods employed his uttered words were “maggots and a lot of swearing”.

The lowest weight went to silvers guy David Nash. Finishing in at 12 place Mr Nash kept things simple by just employing ordinary waggler and using red maggot. Dave fished peg 22 for a weight of 14 lb 04 oz.

The final results.
The silvers table.

Once again this is a shorter post than usual as I am working on an article about the history of fishing the Bridgwater and Taunton canal which will hopefully be uploaded within the next few days.

So until then tight lines.

Pete C

Match Fished At Shiplate Fisheries Main Lake on September 25th 2021.

Just after 4 o’clock on Saturday 25th 2021 the map of the match angling world was redrawn. The gold plated form that states that certain people shall be denied top spot was put to the sword, plunged in to a shredder and the left overs set fire to. For on the above said time and day yours truly found himself with top weight in a match. Okay I have won matches before but never on a commercial.

I had thwarted a double whammy , last year in the same Match I had come last and last by a considerable distance 2nd last place had a weight of 34 lb 14oz and me in last place with a humbling 7 lb 12 oz. So the plan today was not to come last and to sweep under the carpet last years disaster.

At the draw I pulled peg 14B to a chorus of “best peg on the lake” or “give him the money now”. Well a month a go at Trinity Woodlands I drew out of the hat peg 14 which to again brought on the remarks “if you don’t win from there you want bloody shooting” or ” you need a minimum of 4 nets for that peg” etc, etc . Well the match ended and I was the only one who ended up with DNWI next to his name. Bloody typical. It appears that yours truly seems have a neutralising effect each time he pulls out the best peg.

So the scene is set

a) I do really crap at this venue.

b) I have drawn the best peg, a bad omen.

Well as you are aware it was a bad day for statistical data and I had won. So how did I achieve this so called freak result. Well things were kept simple. I casted half way to the island with a method feeder and banded pellet and catapulting in 8 mm pellets over the top. In the last hour I got 2 from the margins to my left. Enough from me boasting what about the others.

In second place was NHS hero Dave Colley who on peg 1 amassed a total of 81 lb which was 8oz less than me. His plan of attack was pole and margins with sweet corn and feeder to the island with banded pellet.

Third place went to Carp basher Eric Searle on peg 12 with 80lb 14 oz, beaten in to third by 2 oz. Feeder with worm was his tactic. Poor Eric is still suffering from sciatica and shortness of breath, so good effort you old warrior.

Steve Warren found himself in number four spot and at the start of the match mentioned that I might have tempted fate by referring to him as Mr consistent in passed reports. Well once again Mr consistent finds himself in the top four once again. Steve used pole and his favourite bait meat from peg 5 with 73 lb 1oz. Owing to the fact that match secretary Alan Bland missed only his second match since Victorian times owing to family commitments, Steve volunteered to run the match and a jolly good job he did to. Well done mate and thanks from all of us.

In 5th was Rob Dodd from peg 3, Robs weight for the day was a commendable 72 lb 3oz. His method of approach was pole with maggot over micros and ground bait. But one blessing was that Rob on the day won the Jotte memorial trophy. This trophy is won by the by the person with the biggest Carp on a certain match, and today was that match. A hefty lump of 16 lb 1oz won it for Rob.

Paul Smith who was 6th got golden peg 11 which incidentally was drawn out by me. Paul once again did a brilliant performance where the catching of silvers was concerned. A silvers weight of 39 lb 03 oz earned him top silvers weight. His total weight was 49 lb 2oz. Tactics employed was meat and corn with pole at 13 meters and top 2 plus 2. So it’s a big well done to him.

In number 7 spot was veteran angler Bob Pascoe. Bob achieved 2nd top silvers weight with 28 lb 3oz. and had an overall weight of 37 lb 14 oz. Bob employed maggot and pole from peg 7.

Slipping down the table to 8th from his normal top 5 spot we find Taunton guy Ian Grabham. Ian on peg 13 A employed paste on the pole and expanders as well as using a feeder. Total that was put on the scales was 35 lb 12 oz.

Ian Townsend at 9th placing in peg 14 who incidentally was my next door neighbour struggled at times but managed to put a respectable weight in the net of 32 lb 8oz. Plan of attack was pole and blown pellet.

10th was Phil Dodd who on peg 2 managed an incredible feat by landing a 14lb 8oz Carp on an ordinary waggler, size 18 hook and two and a half pound bottom. So it’s a hearty well done to him. Phil altogether put 29 lb 4 oz on the scales. Method employed was ordinary waggler with worm, and in his own words “thoroughly enjoyed himself”

In at 11 was another veteran angler one Tony Richards who is one of the south wests most knowledgeable bee keepers. Tony amassed a weight of 28 lb 2oz from peg 4 . Tony used bread punch to start of with but got plagued by of all things “Carp”. So opted for maggot. Thanks for the jar of honey mate.

Dave Nash 12th who did not stay for the weigh in had to get away early because h e was going on holiday. Had an all silvers catch of 24 lb 10 oz from peg13. I am presuming knowing Mr Nash that caster and maggot was used on the pole. Dave got 3rd silvers.

A bit out of sorts in 13th place was Nigel Coram on peg 8. Nige emloyed expander pellet over micros for an all silvers weight of 17 lb 08 oz.

Last at 14th we find the one and only Alan Jenkins. Alan who drew out peg 6 struggled throughout but as always this avuncular type character put a brave face on it. Alan used the pole and various bait for a haul of 14 lb 6 oz. Mate look at me there is always a chance.

A big thank you from Watchet Angling to Steve the owner of Shiplate fishery and his assistant John for doing the weigh in. And a mighty fine job they did too.

The final table.
Top 6 silvers.

This is a shorter blog post than usual owing to the fact that I have come across a fair amount of material on the history of Bridgwater Angling Association and I have been busy sifting through this for a future blog post, and I am afraid there is only so many hours in the day.

Until next time tight lines

Pete C.

Thwarted By Lemnoideae.

That group of social misfits, dropouts, pariahs and outcasts who find themselves under the collective banner of Watchet Angling club found that their match on the the Kings Sedgemoor Drain at Parchay had been switched to Combwich ponds match lake, owing to a mass invasion of Lemnoideae or Duckweed as it is known to the common man. There is a few interesting facts about this so called green menace.

Duckweed is eaten by humans in some parts of southeast Asia.

It contains more protein than soya beans.

NASA has identfied duckweed as a top candidate for growing food on Mars.

Duckweed plays a role in water conservation because the cover of duckweed will reduce evaporation.

Duckweed prolifergates by waterfowl and small mammals, transported inadvertently on their feet and bodies.

Researchers around the world are studying the prospects for using Duckweed as a source of clean renewable energy.

Duckweed removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, thus it may have possibilities in arresting global warming.

The Combwich match lake has been in existence for just less then 30 years. It came in to being as a result of a causeway being constructed and dissecting part of the so called shallow end of the main lake. It is now a fully mature venue with potential. The lake itself has over 20 pegs and although it is named the Combwich match lake, matches are seldom held there and is normally frequented by the pleasure angler. The old pallets which where in a very sorry state have now been replaced but it has to be mentioned that not all the pegs on the lake consists of pallets. The peg fees is £4 per peg which is a bargain considering a Bridgwater day ticket is a fiver.

Steve Warren from peg 1 smashed it on the day with a very creditable weight of 47 lb 01 oz. His tactics was to fish right under the tree on the island opposite with banded pellet. Since this maestro has joined us, records show he has not been out the top 4. So well done to him, Mr consistent.

Eric Seale got 2nd from peg 11 with a nice weight of 31 lb 02oz, Eric employed the feeder with banded pellet. Eric must be commended because he is rarely out of the top half of the results table and this is achieved even though his suffers badly from very poor health. Poor Eric has a lung disease which makes breathing very difficult and on top of that he suffers also from that very painful condition sciatica. So a very well done indeed.

In third we find white man van Mr Nigel Coram with a haul of 26 lb 13 oz . This gentleman found himself on peg 5 fishing of the island that was in front of him. When ask about tactics employed his answer was all sorts and with that got a comment from a certain member of ” Bertie Bassett”!

Another consistant angler finished 4th. Mr Ian Grabham who always end up in the higher portion of the results table drew out peg 12. Ians main attack was to use the feeder with an assortment of different baits including wafflers. Ian weighed in 21 lb 06 oz.

Fifth place went to Paul Smith, Paul had a cracking all silvers weight which in the mix of things really stood out. Paul whose weight of fish came to 19 lb 12 oz used pole with maggot and pinkie from peg 10. As you might expect Paul had the top silvers weight and for his efforts won the goldern peg as well. Looking at the silvers table you can see that Paul won the silvers by a very big margin. So hearty congratulations to him.

We see that Ian Townsend made sixth place with a net of 18 lb. His main bulk of fish came on the feeder, fishing between the two islands with pellet. Although a reasonable weight was acheived he did go through long periods without a bite which made him use the word dire. In peg 13 he was my next door neighbour and whilst I was setting up had to put up with yours truly moaning to myself owning to things that were not going to plan. Sorry mate.

Placed in seventh was match secretary and birthday boy Alan Bland who is now 58 years young. Alan managed a weight of 15 lb 03 oz. It was a mixture of bomb and pellet and pole and maggot from peg 6. Unfortunately for Alan he will not be able make the next match owing to having to attend his mothers 80th birthday celebrations. Since the start of Watchet angling club many many moons ago Alan has only missed two. A stalwart of the club indeed.

Out of sorts Rob Dodd could only muster eighth place and in terms of the the results table finds himself in unfamilar territory. Rob who fished peg 2 just piped me by 2 oz for 3rd silvers spot. (little bugger). Rod for his net of fish of 11 lb 02 oz mostly used pole and maggot but did have one small Carp on worm.

Ninth placed was the one and only David Nash. Dave who always targets the silvers regardless, obtained a haul of 9lb from peg 3. Dave employed pole and maggot. Now this little scamp took great pleasure during the weigh by bombarding me with black berries. Right Nashie learn to sleep with one eye open else you might find a scorpion down your W Fronts.

Veteran Alan Jenkins was at number ten. Alan who had drawn peg 7 managed to land 4 small Carp for a weight of 8 lb 10 oz. Method used was feeder with banded pellet. Good on yer Al you don’t seem to finish bottom any more, things are it seems improving.

Yours truly finds himself in the basement part of the table once more at eleventh from peg 14. I had an all silvers weight of 7lb 2 oz which in terms of silvers wasn’t a poor weight. This weight consisted of mostly nice sized skimmers all taken on red maggot and ordinary waggler. I did start of on the feeder for an hour but to no avail. Hence in hind sight I wished I started straight away on the waggler, but as they say that’s fishing.

Now dear old Bob Pascoe finds himself with the bottom weight. Rob Dodd who helps with the weigh in looks into Bobs keepnet and with total amazement utters one of angling most famous phrases. “Is that it” Bob who had peg 8 could only be described as suffering from fish poverty. The poor chap could only catch one small Roach which didn’t even tip the scales. So the weighing in team from the kindness of their heart and smitten by sympathy gave him an ounce.

The results table.
The silvers table.

The unsung heroes of the Bridgwater Angling Association ie the volunteers of the works party have been busy once more. The swims which are known as Killer and Helicopter has had a revamp and now have been gated of. The helicopter swim believe it or not has a tiny bit of history attached to it, way back in the day this swim was known as the Point or the Headland owing to its configuration of jutting out in to the lake. This swim was by far the best swim in Dunwear. Way back in the 1970s different groups of anglers carpers and pleasure anglers alike from far and wide used to occupy the swim days at a time and even up to a week. This unfair tactic caused a lot of friction amongst anglers, so much so that Bridgwater Angling Association brought in a rule that no angler or anglers should occupy a swim for more than 24 hours. This rule of course has now been relaxed.

Railway pond is now open to fishing , but it has to be said that catches have been very disappointing to say the least. The pond hasn’t been fished seriously for many many years. I would say around about 20. The life span of the average coarse fish excluding Carp is between 12 and 15 years. So it can be concluded that an entire generation of fish have come and gone without even seeing an anglers bait. The fish now in the pond are now the off spring of this generation and to quote from one of the greatest books on angling ever written Still Water Angling by an angling giant who have long since passed away Richard Walker “You will see, therefore, that the commonly held idea that the less a water is fished, the easier the fish it contains will be to catch, is only really true of such fish as roach, rudd, bream and small perch”. There has been the odd skimmer coming out and the small roach and rudd. But give it time and this lake can become a little gem. Take for example the match lake at Combwich, last year the fishing was dreadful but this season the fishing has improved significantly. So just give it time.

Well that’s all folks

Tight lines Pete C.

Match fished at Trinity Waters 28th August 2021

First on the day and it would be correct to say by a very wide margin indeed was Ian Townsend. Ian bagged a truly outstanding weight from peg 21 of 164 lb 04 oz. This Carp only haul was taken on the pole fishing the margins with meat as bait. Hearty congratulations to him.

Victory for Mr Ian Townsend.

In 2nd place was Carp basher Eric Searle with a weight of 109 lb 14 oz. Fishing from peg 25 Mr Searle fished feeder with pellet. By the way thanks Eric for the tomatoes and cucumber mate.

A 2nd for Eric.
This is one of the fish that Eric had caught which actually ended up in his silvers net. The reason being was that Eric didn’t believe it was a Carp.

3rd spot went Steve Warren who had a weight of 53 lb 14 oz. On peg 12 Steve tactics was pole and soft pellet. Part of his catch was a lovely Perch of 1 lb 11 oz.

A happy go lucky Steve Warren.

Paul Smith found himself at 4th place with a mix bag of 37 lb 13 oz. From peg number 16. Paul used pole with worm and banded pellet.

At 5th was Rob Dodd who seems to be a bit out of sorts at the moment and must be missing his normal finishing place in the top 3. But Rob on peg 13 had a creditable placing with a net of 32 lb 02 oz. Pole with sweetcorn, worm and maggot was utilized.

Number 6 was Bob Pascoe who used the pole and meat approach at 8 meters from peg 29. He managed to put on the scales 31 lb 13 oz.

In at 7 spot was Ian Grabham on corner peg 6, Ian amassed a total of 31 lb 03 oz. This was obtained by mainly pole at 11 meters with paste.

Tony Richards at 8th placing had a totally different way of doing things by using bread throughout. He used bread punch and bread flake from corner swim 32. This tactic earned him a reasonable weight of 26 lb 05oz.

26lb 02 oz got match secretary Alan Bland into 9th spot. Peg 31 was his home for the day and pole with meat and paste was used.

10th place went to Phil Dodd. Using an ordinary feeder and his favourite bait dead maggot Phil netted a total of 25 lb 03 oz from peg 27.

Dave Nash was 11th although at the wrong end of the main table he was top of the silvers table so well done to him. Peg 10 was the place of his silvers triumph. Pole with worm and caster helped to a weight of 16 lb 13oz.

12th was good old Alan Jenkins on peg 23. Alan caught 4 lb 01 oz he employed and in his own words “all sorts”.

Right this is my peg at the weigh in. Go on have a guess.

Okay lets get down to the nitty gritty, writing this match report was like writing ones own obituary. Yours truly did hook 3 Carp and all was lost at the net. On two occasions the line snapped. (no comment)! I did land one descent skimmer near the end but thought best not to waste peoples time.

I not going to say that I was the worst angler on the day but I was certainly in the bottom one.

The results.
The top silvers.

Although I have been a Bridgwater Angling Association permit holder since 1975 and spent a great deal of my school summer holidays over Dunwear ponds, add to that I pass through Dunwear at least twice a week as an alternative way to work, but I have to say I haven’t fished the ponds in 5 years until last Thursday. That said day me and a very good friend of mine one John Hughes who a lot of you fine readers will remember used to work in Somerset Angling found ourselves fishing the big pond. Well not shy on trying something different we decided to fish on one of the newish pallets which backs on to North pit. And there evolved a typical fishing session of two old gits sitting side by side, lines in the water having a good old reminisce and a right old moan. The weather was obliging and the change of scenery was pleasing on the eye. We were living the experience, lapping it up and chilling out. There was however an added extra that of Mr Hughes having a very productive day by catching eight nice size bream all ranging between 4 lb and 5lb. A fine catch indeed which was the result of the feeder. The consensus between us however was the excellent condition of the fish and concluded that most of the fish landed had never been caught before. We shall pay this place a visit again.

Well done Mr Hughes.

Now it would be criminal of me if I didn’t mention the very hard work by a small band of dedicated members of the Bridgwater Angling Association who use their spare time to improve things at Dunwear. Believe me folks the effort that these guys put in is no mean feat. lots of sweat and effort have been expended in to improving the venue for the benefits of the members. The list of things that have been achieved have been the replacement of many pallets, the putting up of fences and gates to thwart access to the general public and improve the safety of the angling members. The creating of paths such as the ones leading to the aptly named swims of slopey, killer and helicopter. And a general upgrading of the car park. Also as well and we must not forget the fantastic job that has been done to the Railway pond. These developments have taken a lot of endeavour from a small group of volunteers. To these selfless people, Sirs I take my hat of to you, I will get on bended knee and give you grace. Well done chaps.

Now people who read this blog will probably realise that the Environmental Agency are not not on my Christmas card list. The decline of the river Huntspill and Kings Sedgemoor Drain spring to mind in this train of thought. It was with a mixture of amusement and interest to read a small article from the Bridgwater Mercury published two weeks ago about operation Lungfish. Apparently the EA are undertaking a series of patrols to target poachers and those fishing without a license. Now in the last paragraph from the cutting below we see that a certain Heidi Stone who has the title of fisheries partnership manager Saying “anti-social behaviour on our banks ( I presume this includes the banks of Kings Sedgemoor Drain at Parchay) is not only harmful but can have a detrimental effect on the environment”. Well my dear you have missed a very important point indeed. You have forgot to mention that anti-social behaviour has a dentrimental effect on the fishing as well. Yes fishing that sport which is participated by anglers. The anglers who pay money for a rod license.

On the 17th of July of this year Watchet Angling club had a match ruined by anti-social behaviour (see blog post) at Parchay on the KSD. Nothing could be done apparently, the EA consider it a civil matter. Even though the KSD is their water.

Now in this respect this operation Lungfish reminds me of the props department who was part of the production team who produced the 1960s Sci Fi series Star Trek. You know the series with captain Kirk, doctor Mc coy, Spock and Scotty. Well certain scenes from various episodes showed shots of Kirks and Spock quarters with weird and wonderful ornaments and nik naks to try to portray futuristic trends and fashions.

Live long and prosper.

Now as a joke the props department etched these ornaments and nik naks with the letters LGDN which stands for looks good does nothing. Do you get my point?

Some good news, From September 1st the Railway pond at Dunwear will be open for Fishing.

Well I have had a good old moan and all the remains is for me to say

Tight lines.

Pete C.

Match Fished At Avalon on Saturday 14th August 2021

First on the day from end peg 29 was Mr consistent Steve Warren who is there or there abouts every time. Steve fished pole all day and had his catch of 78 lb 12 oz mostly on worm. He had double bubble of top weight and top silvers. Good one mate.

Mr Consistent.

2nd top rod was match secretary Alan Bland, method employed from peg 39 was yes you guessed it, paste and pole, oh he did use meat as well. His catch was 60 lb 02 oz.

Alan who had 2nd place is a bit camera shy.

Eric Searle the carp guru on peg 42 found himself in 3rd spot with a haul of 56 lb 07 oz. Feeder with pellet to the island was his tactics. He did have a moan though (well he wouldn’t be Eric if he didn’t have a moan) about losing umpteen feeders which now garnish a few trees.

Eric’s of to the tackle shop next week to get some new feeders.

Young Mr Ian Grabham finished 4th with a creditable weight of 56 lb 01 oz. Fishing from peg 40 he used a combination of feeder and pellet and pole and paste.

Out of form Rob Dodd could only managed 5th where normally he is in the top 3. Mr Dodd catch was a reasonable 53 lb 01 oz from peg 44. Pole with maggot and corn over ground bait was his choice of tactics.

We find Nigel Coram in 6th from peg 43 with an all carp haul of 43 lb 05 oz. Pole and paste which had the flavour apparently of banana and apple. His words not mine.

Ian Townsend was in at 7 from peg 33. Meat was used for his silvers and feeder and pellet for his carp. This for a weight of 33 lb 14 oz.

Now good old Alan Jenkins to my left had a great day on feeder and pellet and done well on the silvers to finish 8th. He had 2 nice size carp to boost his weight to 26 lb 11 oz. Alan had 2nd top silvers weight to boot. All from peg 37. Good on yer mate.

Phil Dodd stayed on the feeder with dead maggot all day on number 38 peg and caught 23 lb 07 oz for his troubles. He took the match in his stride sat back and had a good few smokes.

Yours truly Slipped down the weights table from the last match to 10th place with a weight of 21 lb 06 oz. Feeder with worm or pellet was tried. Peg 36 was home for the day. It was 3rd top silvers for me and a £5 note.

Veteran Bob Pascoe and Silvers Maestro on peg 32 could only muster a catch of 16 lb 15 oz. Pole and corn was employed. Bob realises it’s the taking part that counts and as long as he can throw a few insults at people he couldn’t give two figs.

Way out of from and at the wrong end of the table was Dave Nash. Mr Nash who always concentrates on the silvers could only put 14 lb 04 oz on the scales. Caster and corn on the waggler from peg 30 was used.

Tony Richards was the wooden spoonist from peg 35. Tony took the pole and caster approach to eek out an all silver weight of 6 lb 02 oz. But apparently he had a good little kip.

Final results.
Top 6 Silvers weight.

The Bridgwater Docks.

Seeing the Bridgwater docks now bring a sense of great loss. The boats are now gone and a air of sadness has descended upon the place. The watercraft with their different colours, shapes, sizes and persona gave a certain type of relaxed ambience and a scene that was pleasing upon the eye. But now all that has now been trashed. A landscape of a character of industrial waste land have emerged with all the charm and sophistication of an unflushed toilet. An emptiness now prevails.

Before a place of charm and charisma.
Now look at it. A whole lot of emptiness.

But there is that subset of society that still utilises the docks. That subset we all know very well. That group which has been embedded with a certain gene, a chemical make up of which says thou shall be angler. The angling fraternity which frequents the Bridgwater docks have grown in number. The popularity of this venue has soared owing to two facts, one is that the fishing is free and the second, the catches are well above average. There is even a face book group dedicated to fishing the Bridgwater docks. But when did fishing the docks began?

Early on in the last century the docks where famed for its Roach fishing. But for a considerable period the Great Western Railway Company which owned the water prohibited fishing. It was put forward that this followed an accident involving loss of life and claims for compensation.

In 1926 the secretary of Bridgwater Angling Association a Mr Arthur Allen, negotiated an agreement allowing the association the fishing rights, but with the condition that junior members be excluded. This was accepted with enthusiasm and it was felt that there was an advantage in not having youngsters on the quays. It meant that the docks became, once more, a popular venue for anglers.

At first the Roach remained conspicuous, but other fish came to the net. They included Tench, Perch, Rudd, Pike and an occasional Gudgeon. Harry Sutton a Bridgwater Angling Association committee member and Dentist (who has long since passed away) caught one weighing four ounces! regrettably it was returned to the water before it was realised it might have been a national record.

Mullet used to find their way in from the river when the dock gates where opened to shipping. They made an exciting contribution to the sport. As it may be expected , their feeding habits were uncertain, but when they were prepared to oblige it was a highlight of the season. This usually took place during a spell of hot weather and for a few days the activity was fast and furious. the really effective bait was a small worm found in the bed of the river. Digging for them was a somewhat messy business and some members appeared in a disreputable state.

As time went by pollution in the River Parrett increased and the shoals of Mullet became less and less. After ships ceased to enter the docks a concrete wall was built to replace a pair of worn out and leaking gates. This construction thwarted any more visits of fish from the river.

Another occasional visitor to the docks was a Salmon. Presumably it was attracted by the fresh water when a ship entered or left the docks. Seeing it rise was a diversion when sport was quiet. In 1922 one was seen in the canal at Widewaters. In one way it must have managed to get through the lock in the canal which was operational at the time. Unfortunately its fate was not known.

Bream made their appearance during the 1950s. It was followed by a decline first in quality and then later in the quantity of the Roach caught. Consequently, they became a more important quarry to the docks angler. the sport appreciated and very fine specimens were taken.

More recently (1960s early 70s) it seemed that there was a possibility of very good Carp fishing. Several large fish was captured with rod and line. In 1974 a fire in a nearby building was the cause of deoxygenation of the water and fish were seen in distress. Whilst rescue operations took place some exceptional specimens of over twenty pounds were netted. Unfortunately expectations were dashed by the emptying of the main dock for repairs and conversion in to a marina.

There where certain hazards attached to fishing in the docks. Movements of ships could disturb the mud and silt and spoil a whole days sport and it was equally frustrating to bait a swim overnight and find a vessel moored on the spot the next morning. But the danger of drowning accidents was the real menace. So often the high walls made rescue very difficult if not impossible. In spite of the original prohibition youngsters would find there way in to fish. No-one wished to interfere with their enjoyment, but it was another matter when it led to members having to risk their own lives if a child fell in. For the elderly or less able the possible responsibility was alarming. In one tragic instance even a young member was drowned trying to save a child.

This is a scan from a 19 80 Bridgwater Angling license.
Note the Mullet record from the 1980 Bridgwater license.

The docks being within the town boundaries, convenience was a factor in its popularity, especially when car ownership was small. It had a retinue of habitues who assembled on summer evenings. “Nosey Lockyer was more than conspicuous amongst them. Here was a character with a notoriety only to well known, but he was an entertaining companion and by all accounts a good fisherman. A day with him could be very enjoyable and often memorable. It was one of his pleasures to regale all around him with reminisences of his various enterprises which occasionally got him in to trouble! He had a remarkable sense of sportsmanship. It was alleged that during a quiet spell in the sport his companion happened to say that he intended to catch one fish before he went home. Nosey’s response was immediate “right we will not go until we do catch a fish” the lighting on the quayside proved very useful as the required. fish was caught at three thirty next morning.

Dunwear Ponds update.

Fishing is now permitted once again in big pond owing to the algae bloom dying of. Railway will be fishable in about a weeks time owing to some remnants of blue and green algae. A works party will be active re-doing the banks which have become overgrown. South pond is due to be restock in February March time next year.

Well in true Bug’s Bunny style just to say that’s all folks.

Pete C.

Match fished On Tile Lake At the Sedges on 31st July 2021

First on the day was Carp maestro Eric Searle, put this guy on the right peg and bingo. He seems to go into overdrive and leaves every one in his wake. Today was no exception and from peg 25 which was also the golden peg smashed it with a very commendable weight of 139 lb 01 oz. His tactic was feeder to the island with pellet as bait.

A smiling Eric Knowing victory is at hand.

In second place was young Ian Grabham from Taunton. We have to keep an eye on this lad as he never seems to have a bad match and appears consistently in the top echelons of the results table. Today of of peg 37 Ian had a good total of 104 lb which included a nice carp of over 12 lb. He had two carp on the pole and paste but the vast majority of his catch was feeder to the island.

Mr Grabham we have to keep an eye on this Lad.

Mr Pete Curnow (for strangers to the blog, that’s me) found himself in uncharted territory by being 3rd in the results table, well saying that I did finish 3rd two matches back. But having relatively two short spaced placings is certainly a rarity. Well from peg 22 and using feeder and pellet to the island earned me a head spinning 81 lb 11 oz.

Yours truly.

Mr I am never far of the top found himself in 4th. One Steve Warren had a good day from peg 35. Steve kept things simple with pole and meat and found himself with a very good haul of 78 lb 04 oz.

Mr Steve Warren (left) with help from Rob Dodd.

In 5th place is a fella who seems to be suffering a bit of a lean spell. Rob Dodd normally resides in the top 3. But 5th place was where he finished today from peg 39. His total haul was a reasonable 75 lb 07 oz but not to be out done he obtained top silvers weight with a cracking 47 lb 07 oz. Rob fished the pole with maggot over ground bait.

Top silvers weight for Rob.

Mr Dave Colley our NHS hero who finished 6th was late getting to the match owing to traffic on the motorway. Dave who resides in Bristol left the motorway at Highbridge to try to make up for lost time but to no avail. He had peg 38 from which he managed to net 60 lb 01 oz from. Dave utilized pole and corn and at times feeder with pellet to the island.

7th was Alan Bland who fished peg 21 the first corner swim on the road side. Alan did struggle for bites but persevered and managed to eek out a descent weight from what seemed to be mediocre peg on the day. Pole paste and meat was the plan of attack that earned him a weight of 54 lb 12 oz. Not bad considering Alan went two and a half hours without a bite.

In 8th place we find Phil Dodd. Phil like Mr Colley arrived late and some one had to draw for him. When we got to his peg for the weigh in, he had packed up and gone. Hence I did not see him at all on the day. Mr steath indeed manged a weight of 52 lb 12 oz from peg 36. Knowing Mr dodd he probably used dead maggot on method feeder.

Silvers basher Paul Smith was 9th on peg 34. Pauls approach was pole, worm and soft pellet. Although finishing well down in the overall results he did have second top silvers weight. He managed to put on the scales 39 lb 07 oz.

Alan Jenkins who was next to me to my left on peg 23 enjoyed himself with a not to be snubbed at weight of 39 lb 07 oz. Alan who ended up in 10 th place employed mainly the feeder and pellet.

Dave Nash found himself on corner peg 40. Ending up at position number 11 he put on the scales 32 lb 01 oz. Just using top 3 with maggot and caster got him his weight.

Bob Pascoe finished in 12th with a weight of 27 lb 07 oz . From peg 24 on the roadside veteran Bob caught his carp on sweetcorn and his silvers on pole and maggot.

Another angling veteran fishing on the day was bee keeper Tony Richards. Ending up in 13th spot from peg 32. Tony put a weight of 18 lb 04 oz on the scales. In his own words it was “caster, meat and feeder”.

The results Table.
Top silvers.

Way back in the mid to late nineties a series of VHS videos called The Compleat Angler were produced by a company called Artsmagic ltd. This was series of angling videos presented by top rated anglers covering certain topics within our beloved sport. Different videos in the series became available every two weeks in newsagents and if memory serves me right I think there was twelve in all.

There is one particular video in this series that should strike a chord with local anglers in the Bridgwater area. The aptly named Stoned With Hemp. This video was made on the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal at Smithies. Mike Stone who at the time was an England Squad member presents this little gem and shows the ins and outs of fishing hemp. The running time is approximately 60 minutes. Now I did buy the video at the time but unfortunately over time it has become lost. However as luck would have it I came across a copy on E bay and had it converted it to DVD. Now folks I would love to down load it to You Tube but I am erring on the side of caution here reference copy right laws. But to give you lovely people a insight I have have taken a few screen shots. I will look in it to see if it is possible to put it on You Tube.

I had the pleasure last Tuesday to talk to the ex chairman of Bridgwater Angling Association one Mr John Hill. I paid him a visit and what should of been an half hour chat turned into a hour and a half chinwag. The highlight of this meeting was that John who is a sprightly 87 lent me a booklet for me to copy by a guy called Harry Sutton entitled The Bridgwater Angling Association And Some Remarks About The local Fishing Over Many Years. Yep that’s the Full title all 14 words. Well it’s intriguing reading and I shall put some extracts in a post or posts on the subject of the history of the Bridgwater Angling Association in the near future. So it’s a case of watch this space.

Well that’s all for now so it’s tight lines to one and all.

Pete C

Mayhem at Parchey on The Kings Sedgemoor Drain.

It was a bright sunny Saturday morning and the wind was negligible The sun had given notice that it was going to be a nice hot summers day. The odds and sods, the oddballs and misfits of society which every two weeks metamorphosize into the Watchet Angling club met at the stone strewn dust ridden car park at Parchey on the Kings Sedgemoor Drain. As usual insults where traded and lies and fibs about the previous weeks fishing were swapped.

A short chronological order of events.

The draw was made at 0845, and of we jolly well went with a hop and a skip across Parchey bridge on to the bridgwater bank (Parchey to Bradney) to our allotted pegs.

The hopeful participants as normal set out their stall, setting up poles, whips and waggler rods. Task completed and there was time found before the off for people to walk the banks and have a bit of a chin wag.

10.00 am whistle is sounded and battle commences, This is where Alan Bland takes up part of the story. Alan our much beloved match secretary had pulled out peg 86 which people who have local angling knowledge will know is right next to the bridge. ” I started to catch right away, a fish a chuck. An hour and a half in to the match I reckoned 20lb plus is on the cards here alright as the stamp of fish were improving”. This unfortunately was the lull before the storm, dark clouds were looming, disaster was coming around the corner.

11.30 The first of the foot soldiers and shock troops appeared from the “lets F**k up the anglers day” battalion. Convoy after convoy followed and made headway to the far bank next to the car park. Base camp was set up where exercise “let’s p**s the anglers off ” was coordinated from. Tents and gazebos where set up to add a touch of professionalism to the operation.

11.45 am The amphibious section enters the water. This devious group was well equipped to employ the ultimate amount of mayhem. A plethora of craft from paddle boards to canoes, from rubber dinghies to rubber inflatables were employed to maximum effect to ruin one’s fishing. The foot soldiers had there own tactics to, to cause total destruction of ones chances of catching fish. In military type precision they aligned themselves on Parchey bridge and at a set time leapt and let gravity take over and enter the water with the greatest noise possible.

At one stage there was well over a 100 people participating and one point Tony Richards who was on peg 84 counted 47 people in the water at once. The disturbance of the water was such that Alan Bland had to alter the depth of his tackle and lay on the bottom to stop his float from moving. He also commented that if there was a burger or ice van present they would of made a killing. This sums it up. Once this crowd of people arrived the fishing just died.

Okay trust me I am no killjoy and I don’t want to take away peoples fun and pleasure like ours was on Saturday.

But here is a few points to note.

The rules of the Bridgwater Angling Club (which rents the water from the EA) and which indeed are common sense are.

No boats on Bridgwater Angling waters are a allowed. Bloody hell what I saw the word flotilla, regatta and armada springs to mind.

No swimming allowed in Bridgwater Angling waters, oh well a few got away with that one then.

No fires on the banks of Bridgwater Angling water. Well you could smell barbecues from our bank.

Not for one moment do I blame Bridgwater Angling Association. Give me some slack here for the moment. Last year Alan Bland, Dave Nash and yours truly pleasure fished midweek the same place but a bit further up the bank and the same thing happened but on a very smaller scale. Next day Alan rang up the Enviromental Agency to complain. He was passed on from one department to another. In the end the answer given was it’s a matter for the police or the local authorities.

Right stay with it. If I own a commercial fishery I am responsible for the upkeep of the place. It is up to me to make sure that people adhere to the rules. If there is a commotion on site it is up to me to sort it out or call the police. Bear in mind if you just fish my fishery for the whole season you still need an EA rod license.

The Kings Sedgemoor Drain is the responsibilty of the EA. There fore it up to them to police it.

There are no signs in place with the rules on at the entrances to the banks.

Now reading this you might rightly say why did you lot fish here in the first place. Okay.

Above is a photo copy of the junior fixture list from the 1980/81 Bridgwater license. Have a look. There you will see matches held at Greylake, Bradney, Silver fish and of course Parchey. Holding matches at Greylake, and Silver Fish are totally out of the equation now owing to state of the venues. Bradney looks to be in a terminal state of decline and the conditions of some of the pegs make it more or less impossible for older people with back, hip or knee problems to fish. So now in a reality sense Parchey is only the real option on the table now.

It appears that the EA want your rod license money and nothing else. Since the EA took over from the National Rivers Authority the conditions for fishing on the KSD have gone down hill at a great rate of knots. To quote Wordsworth “they are like the lilies of the field they neither reap or do they sow” Bridgwater Angling Association used to get quite a lot of income from pegs fees from matches held on the KSD. The 1965 national had 800 anglers on the drain alone and clubs from all over the southwest used to book matches on this water. But owing to the state of the drain match fishing has plummeted and fees has diminished. These fees help to pay for the rental for this venue. The sear cheek is that the EA still expect the rent to be paid but owing to their ineptness have thwarted the means in helping paying it. In other words Bridgwater Angling have been screwed. Enough said.

The results of the match have been somewhat over shadowed by the above events. But it got to be noted that for obvious reasons the better weights were furthest from the bridge. But lets not take any credit away from the people who done well.

First on the day from peg 69 was Paul Smith with a good weight for the conditions (hot and mostly windless) of 10 lb 05 oz. Paul employed mostly pinkie and short pole and the waggler and maggot.

Mr Nigel Coram who was end pegger on peg 64 done well for 2nd spot with a reasonable weight of 7 lb 04 oz his tactics was short pole with maggot over black ground bait.

Making amends from his last match was Ian Townsend with a weight of 5 lb 10 oz from peg 66. Ian used corn and maggot with pole. Mr Townsend got 3rd.

In 4th we find Dave Nash from peg79. This silvers veteran landed a weight of 4lb 04 oz. Method employed was waggler and maggot and whip and caster.

Alan Bland who was at ground zero of the mayhem got 5th with a weight of 3 lb 10 oz on peg 86 his approach was pole and maggot, but note he did not have any fish after 11.45 am.

In all honesty I think owing to the circumstances it is best to draw the line at the match summary here because it seems immaterial to carry on.

I was over at Dunwear ponds a few days ago and was horrified by how much the green algae had taken hold in big pit and it seems that this hot weather is not going to help matters. Below are the swims back of South pond.

The people on the Bridgwater angling committee must be pulling there hair out it’s been nearly 2 months now since you could fish big pit. First it was the fish that was late in spawning and now the algae problem. Fingers crossed for the future.

Well that all folks on this somewhat melancholic post.

Tight lines Pete C

Match Fished at Shiplate on Hawthorns on 03/07/2021.

The Results.
Top silvers
A happy Alan Bland.

Top rod on the day or should I say pole. Was match secretary (a thankless task) Alan bland. Alan who fished peg 14, had 4 lines going throughout the match. Both margins, to the aerator and straight across to the far bank at 13 meters. His baits was paste and meat. He had 10 Carp and no silvers for a very creditable of 43 lb 12oz.

Bob who came 2nd.

Mr Bob Pascoe on peg 9 had a good day. His total come the end was 35 lb 11 oz. His silvers bag included a nice eel of 2 lb 9 oz. Bob managed 2nd top silvers to boot. Now Bob likes to keep things simple so it was just pole and maggot for the angling veteran.

Some thing you don’t see very often.

Right now would I lie to you lot, no kidding, honestly yours truly came 3rd. Yes that’s right THIRD. I pulled out peg 15 which is the far end swim on Hawthorns. I had one Carp across to the far bank at 13 meters. The rest was to my right margin, I had 7 Carp in all as well as a eel a Chub and a Tench. My total weight was an unbelievable 33 lb 08 0z. The bait was corn. (I didn’t come last brilliant!)

In 4th spot we find Dave Nash who fished peg 11. Like Bob Pascoe he keeps things nice and simple. Pole and red maggot helped him to bag a weight of 33 lb 01 oz. Dave was top silvers angler on the day with an admirable weight of 9 lb 6 oz. It should be noted that Dave and Bob silvers weight should be given some credit as the silvers where hard to tempt.

On fancied peg 1 was none other than Eric Searle. Eric who was 5th had a weight of 31lb 01oz. This haul was achieved by fishing paste in the margins to his left. Trust me if this peg was on form and with Eric’s skill in Carp bashing he would have caned it.

Young Ian Grabham caught a reasonable all Carp weight of 22 lb 08 oz from peg 6. Now when I asked him what bait was used his reply was “a bit of everything”. So there you have it. Not a bad weight concidering it was his first visit to the venue and the conditions.

Rob Dodd who was a last time out winner seemed to had lost his sparkle this time and could only muster a 7th place with a weight of 17 lb 11 oz from peg 4. Robs tactics on the day was pole and maggot. No doubt this result is just a blip. He will be back.

Paul Smith had a poor day by his standards from peg 10, Paul like Rob normally occupy the top end of the table. But owing to the fish not co operating Paul had to settle for 8th spot. He managed to put on the scales 17 lb 4 oz, but let it be made clear that his silvers tally of 6 lb was a point to note on day when silver fish were at a premium.

When we approached Steve Warren in his peg at the weigh in his face and his posture said it all. “Ain’t no winning weight here” Alas Steve didn’t have the best of days from peg 5. Pole and pellet earned Steve 9th place. His net of fish came to 16 lb 2oz.

10th was Dave Colley. Mr Colley gave me the impression when he turned up of, lets give it a go and see what we get. Well he managed 10 lb 12 oz in total from peg 7. No matter what the outcome Dave whether he’s first or last this guy always wear a smile and takes it on the chin.

Alan Jenkins from peg 12 and who came 11th with 5 lb 15 oz had 2 fish a 1oz rudd and a Carp of (work out it yourself) 5lb 14 oz. Now it is this Carp that in some respects that made a bit of commotion. Alan hooks it, the Carp puts up a hefty fight and eventually snaps his pole. Carp with rig and pole top in tow makes a B line for Dave Nash’s peg, Dave manages to lasso the pole top with his rig. But that didn’t deter the Carp which was still full of gusto, for it moved on to the next peg that of Paul smith. Well it appeared that Dave and Alan gave poor Paul an eviction order and promptly done a coup d’etat of his swim. Alan played the Carp and Dave had the net. TEN minutes later and after much splashing and of course ruining of Paul swim the fish was landed. If only Mr Jenkins could do things less complicated.

Tony Richards came 12th but this guy is a example to us all, although in poor health he battles on with a fighting spirit and makes a gigantic effort in turning up. Tony from peg 8 had one fish, a Carp of 4lb 7oz. Good on yer mate.


On the day we were lucky with the weather it only rain for about 5 minutes. But there was hell of a lot of thunder and lightning.

Fishing at Stathe.

Thursday June 24th I had a rather odd text from one Mr Dave Nash which went “I have info re virgin type lake at Stathe, you interested in something different”

My reply was “where abouts in Stathe”

Reply cames back “it’s a local secret apparently”

Well come Saturday Dave (who had some idea of where he was going) and yours truly went to Stathe for something different. And boy it was different. We had come across a gem of a water. Far from your muddy Carp puddle not scarred by wooden pallets. This oozed rustic charisma, a place where angling and nature are melded in to one. If one was ever a schoolboy angler this place is the trigger for reminiscing. This is a place to get lost in one’s dreams. This is a place of Izaak Walton and Arthur Crabtree. Think of a pond where one would like to spent a early summer’s morning. A morning of a day before it get hot, blue sky above, bird song peppers the air, punctuated by the buzzing of insects and the drone of bees. This is as far as my powers of descriptive writing goes. I have the same problem it seems as one John Clare.

John Clare

This is where oh angling brethren I will try to educate you (if it is possible, I am sure it is). John Clare (1793-1864) was an English poet and has sound acclaim by scholars and academia alike. He is a poet known for his works of literature about rural life. One of his poems is titled A Scene. This poem describes the poet standing on a hill side looking at a countryside landscape. A landscape of a stream and a river, a village and a farm, People ploughing and making hay. But at the end piece of the poem he shows a slight frustration in that he has trouble expressing in to words at what he his seeing. The last line is ” That language fails the pleasure to express” So I have the same problem as John Clare in trying to put into words of what I was seeing and experiencing,

But I do have an advantage I suppose that I live in the age of mobile phone cameras and as they say a picture is worth a 1000 words.

We enjoyed the weather we enjoyed the atmosphere and without doubt we enjoyed the fishing. The biggest fish was caught by Dave a bream between 4 and 5 pound. We both had good bags of silvers. There is Carp in the lake but I would say it is predominantly a silvers lake. Your are required to use the owners landing nets and no keep nets are allowed. Day tickets are £7 and believe me well worth it. All in all a pleasant days fishing indeed.

The next match for the Watchet club is on Saturday 17th July on the King Sedgemoor Drain at Parchey. See see you then.

Tight lines

Pete C.

Match fished At Sedges Canal Lake on 19 June 2021.

Honestly it must be like playing whack a mole being a committee member of the Bridgwater Angling Association and for the water management team of Dunwear ponds. Go back a couple years and the Railway pond was given a major face lift, much effort was put in to hacking, chopping, cutting and good old fashion spade work to make the pond usable again. The Railway pond at the time was in what could only be described as in a terminal state of decay. There was only a couple usable swims left and three quarters of the pond was inaccessible owing to mother nature having her say. The far bank was prepared for the implementation of pallets to be installed.

But a problem reared its ugly head soon after, the unwanted arrival of Water Primrose . It took two intense efforts to eradicate this unwanted menace, but the battle was won. A month or two later and the the proposed platforms where installed on the far bank. The date of June the 16th 2021 was the date that was decided to open the pond up for fishing and the indeed for match fishing.

But once again as though it was predestined another situation occurred which was going to thwart the local angling fraternity. This time it was caused by the biological and psychological factors of the fish themselves. It appeared that the libido of the fish had upped a gear and at the beginning of the month the fish had started spawning, so and quite rightly so the angling committee decided to close the all the ponds at Dunwear for a month. So once again due to unforeseen circumstances the fishing was put on the back burner. So then there is no fishing now until July the 1st.

Okay people can live with that, no problems. But alias nature it seemed had put another trick on the table, that of the dreaded blue green algae. It first appeared in the big pond but has now emerged with all its nastiest in Railway pit, which I must say had been hit by this scrum particularly bad. So now fishing depends on when this algae decides to disperse.

It’s a pain in the ass because not only does it stop anglers from fishing it has a detrimental on the water itself.

As algae blooms, it can depletes the water of its natural oxygen. This lack of oxygen can lead to a dead zone or an area where aquatic plants and animals cannot survive.

It is very toxic, blue-green algae or cyanobacteria (a good word to have in scrabble) — can cause serious illness in humans and pets. Sicknesses such as these that are caused by algae are known as Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) associated illnesses. So the question is, what causes this bloody stuff?

The causes

The combination of factors that trigger and sustain an algal bloom is not well understood at present and it is not possible to attribute algal blooms to any specific factor. (this sounds like is a cop out from the scientists).

Nutrients

Nutrients promote and support the growth of algae . Excessive richness of nutrients in a lake or other body of water, frequently due to run-off from the land is considered a major factor. The main culprits are phosphorus and nitrogen.

In the landscape, runoff and soil erosion from fertilized agricultural areas and lawns, erosion from river banks, river beds, land clearing , and sewage effluent are the major sources of phosphorus and nitrogen entering water ways. All of these are considered major factors

Internal origin of nutrients comes from the lake/reservoir sediments. Phosphate attaches to sediments. When dissolved oxygen concentration is low in the water , sediments release phosphate into the water column. This phenomenon encourages the growth of algae

Temperature

Early blue–green algal blooms usually develop during the spring when water temperature is higher and there is increased light. The growth is sustained during the warmer months of the year. Water temperatures above 25°C are optimal for the growth of algae. At these temperatures, blue–green algae have a competitive advantage over other types of algae whose optimal growth temperature is lower (12-15°C).

Light Exposure and Water Movement

Along with food, algae require the right amount of light to thrive. Blue-green algae are so common because they have the ability to move throughout the water column and adapt to variable conditions. Algae will typically grow around the shoreline of a pond or lake because this is where the shallower water is.  You typically will not see algae growing in the middle of a 20 foot deep water body because that is too deep for the sunlight to penetrate.

Stable Conditions

Most of blue–green algae prefer stable water conditions with low flows, long retention times, light winds and minimal turbulence; other prefer mixing conditions and turbid environments (this could be applicable to big pit in Dunwear).

Turbidity

Turbidity is caused by the presence of suspended particles and organic matter (flocs) in the water column. High turbidity occurs when a lot of water is running through the system (high discharge after a rain event). Low turbidity occurs when there is only a small amount of suspended matter present in the water column. Low turbidity can be due to slow moving or stagnant water that allows suspended articles to settle out of the water column. When turbidity is low, more light can penetrate through the water column. This creates optimal conditions for algal growth. In return, growing algae create a turbid environment.

Taking in to account the above, why is Dunwear prone to this nuisance. Well could it be to do with run off from the railway tracks or the industrial estate next to Railway pond which is on Dunwear lane. Also bear in mind that there is a ditch that joins the Railway pond to the river Parrett which runs parallel to the industrial estate. Owing to the configuration of the Railway pond it does not really get a lot of wind on it. So called run of, and lack of chop on the water could be the main causes.

But what of big pit? Stand on the bank on big pit which backs on to south pit with a strong westerly wind and you notice quite a chop on the water. Well how does fit in with the above assumptions? Well after a bit of research I found that clay pits are very prone to algae blooms, owing to the fact that clay itself has a lot of locked in nutrients. Ask any gardener.

These nutrients can be unlocked by fish just rooting along the bottom or bank erosion which is common back of South pit. There is a lot of nooks, crannies, bays and little inlets in big pond which could be deemed ideal conditions. Scientist agree that one of the main effects is global warming and a chilling piece of information is that algae blooms are increasing 18 percent year on year. Will it happen again at Dunwear, who knows it’s just a case of watch this space.

Sedges Match held on canal lake.

Two weeks since the last match (cor done it go quick) and a certain subset of society who gather under the banner of Watchet angling club met once again and attempted to delve into the art of match fishing. There were 15 hardy souls of varying degrees of sanity who decided to throw their hat into the ring and give it ago.

1st on the day with a healthy weight of 41 lb 8oz was Rob Dodd. Rob who had been out of sorts lately found form again from car park peg 45. Bait employed was corn and maggot over pellet.

Just missing out on a few bob was 2nd placed Alan Bland. Alan pulled out of the hat peg 42 which happened to be the golden peg. Meat was the main bait and long pole and down the margin was his tactics.

Nigel Coram done well for 3rd spot from unfancied peg 53. He used pole at 13 meters and meat.

4th spot went to Steve Warren who fished pole from car park peg 43. In his own words “I had everything on meat” Mr Warren had top silvers weight of 13 lb 10oz so well done to him.

Phil Dodd who had favoured peg 41 came 5th. Phillip employed his usual tactic of method feeder with dead maggot.

Finding himself at number 6 was Paul smith. Paul who had peg 64 amassed a total of 26 lb 15 oz. Paul had 2 Carp on the tip and the rest on pole and maggot.

New kid on the block Ian Grabham was 7th, he had an okay day from peg 60 with a very respectable weight of 21 lb 07 oz. Maggots on the pole and fishing shallow with pellet got him his weight. Good old Ian brought some lovely chocolate cookies for the members to share, Good on yer mate.

Ian Townsend from peg 57 struggled until the last hour when he had a few Carp. Ian was placed at 8.

Bob Pascoe the silvers man had a bit of an odd day in that he had 1 oz in the sivers department, but made up for it in Carp Bob was placed 9th from peg 62.

Tony Richards who although in poor health bit the bullet and turned up. Tony had a torrid 5 hours without a bite but landed a few Carp more or less right at the end. Peg 51 was his home for the day and he finished in 10th.

11th position went to Dave Nash, he kept things simple with pole and maggot from peg 63.

Good old Alan Jenkins who is not in the best of health these day put in a spirited effort for 12th place. Alan mainly used the pole with various baits such as maggots worm and caster oh and meat. This was from peg 47.

At 13th place was yours truly from peg 49. Now a lot of anglers did not have most of their fish until the last hour. I managed to get my fish going straight from the start but there was just one problem, just a small problem you might say. All my fish was small, I even had 2 Carp and even they where small. I never worry about the big things, just the small things.

Last time out winner Eric Searle had better days. From peg 55 he didn’t catch much thus found himself in penultimate place.

Last but not least was NHS hero Dave Colley from peg 59. This guy does not seem to care about being the wooden spoonist as long as he still has the ability to wear a smile.

The final table.
The top five silver weights.

I know this blog post is later than usual but this was due to unforeseen circumstances.

The next match will be at Shiplate on Hawthorns on Saturday July 3rd so see you then.

So in the mean time don’t forget guys to change your clothes.

Tight lines

Pete C.