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.

The History Of Bridgwater Angling Association, Part 2.

As already stated the 1930’s was a time of steady enlargement of the association where membership was concerned. But all this was brought to a halt by the out break of world war two in September 1939. Very soon, even those not eligible for service in the forces, found themselves occupied with various wartime activities which sadly reduced opportunities for fishing or serving the affairs of the association.

In spite of these pressures there were some who were able to find chances of getting out with their rods. Very soon they were confronted by shortages of tackle and bait. The resources of the tackle manufacturers were being diverted to war work. It was hooks and line which presented the greatest difficulties. Various ingenious expedients were adopted to overcome these. It was not long before it was realised that the suture silk used in the course of treatment of wounds was identical with the fishing lines of those days. Some hospitals noticed a mysterious disappearance of this material.

In the later part of this turbulent period, during which of course, Ray Perrett was secretary, developments of momentous portent were taking place. A large scale programme of improvements to the drainage of the moors around the Sedgemoor area was getting underway. The Huntspill river was cut and was completed in February 1943. It could be mentioned that the general belief that this waterway was created for the purpose of supplying water to the Royal Ordnance factory at Puriton is not true. It may have had importance in this direction but its main purpose was to drain the land up towards Glastonbury. This function had been seen long before the war. Furtherance of the agricultural potential of the land was made more essential by the German U boat campaign.

The Kings Sedgemoor Drain was widen extensively throughout its length, and subsequently other channels such as the North and South Drains and the West Sedge Moor Drain appeared. The transactions relative to the former two occupied some months but while these were taking place Raymond Parrett backed by a guy by the name of Paul Hellard, refused in spite of many protests , to call the committee together . They held off taking this proper course of action until they were able to present a fait accompli. No doubt this simplified the negotiations but it was a highly unconstitutional procedure which would not be tolerated in present times.

These acquisitions, with the increasing popularity of angling appearing after the war, soon took the membership from hundreds to thousands and brought the funds to beyond the wildest dreams of those who controlled the association in former days.

The large measure of opinion questioning this apparent progress soon became evident. It has been mentioned that it was felt that it went beyond the requirements of the local anglers. To meet the expenses incurred, encouragement had to be given to anglers from farther afield, including in particular those from the Bristol area, towards whom a feeling of friction had grown up. This was thought to contrary to the interests of the local angler. The contention was that the Bridgwater Angling Association had been set up to meet the needs of those living in the locality, and that it should give priority to this aspect of it functions. It was a view that lingered on for quite some time.

A suggestion put forward was that another and separate association might be floated. It could embrace the waters further removed from Bridgwater and accommodate the visiting anglers whilst the associations original waters could cater for the locals. It may have been worthy of consideration then but its practicability may be doubtful now.

The advent of the improved drains marked a turning point in the Associations fortunes and built the reputation of Somerset fishing. All England championship contests on the Huntspill and Kings Sedgemoor Drain made these and other waters in the vicinity known and indeed famous throughout the country. Membership spread widely and especially into industrial areas. The consequent influx of visitors in holiday times must have made an appreciable contribution to the local tourism. It could be said that Association was on the angling map. Three national championships were held and written about on this blog.

Although constructed essentially as channels for the free passage of flood water, the drains have supported excellent fisheries and some of the local angling clubs are now largely dependent on them for their fishing. It was the quality of the bream and tench which made them so popular and valuable. It was very good fortune that they came to the fore front when the rivers of Somerset had declined somewhat from their former glory.

The depreciaton of the fisheries in the drains and other waters during recent years through pollutions and excessive weed growth is very obviously a great tragedy, but it must be realised that but for the efforts of many dedicated members in spurring authority on to taking action taking action as far it was possible the consequences may have been far worse.

Also the effects of weed growth which has made so many of the lesser drains useless in summer is to be regretted. So often these little waters have been considered unimportant and it has not been seen sufficiently clearly that they had have added variety to the local fisheries and have provided the kind of quietude coveted by many fishermen.

The 1950s and the 1960s brought a variety of challenges to the Association and one of the biggest problems was pollution which will be one of the main subjects in part three.

Tight lines

Pete C

Winter league Match Fished at Sedges on Feb 19th 2022

The venue listed on the match calendar was somewhere. Now being slightly sarcastic (who me) that could mean anywhere from White acres in Cornwall to some obscure lake on Shetland. Well things wasn’t as drastic as that. The first choice was Parchay on the Kings Sedgemoor Drain. But that idea was put paid to by the arrival of storm Dudley which decided to deluge parts of our much beloved Somerset with rain water in vast quantities. This in turn would initiate the powers to be to open every sluice every clyce and every type of gate responsible for flood control on the the KSD. Which in turn would create a situation where fishing would be impossible.

So the match lake at Combwich which is aptly named the sardine factory by our dear match secretary owing to the size of the fish caught by yours truly, was than promoted to first choice. Come Friday the eve before the match I gets a phone call from my good old mate the one and only Alan Jenkins. The subject of his message was that he had been in touch with a Bridgwater Angling bailiff Trevor Coombes, who promptly told him that because of the carnage caused by storm Eunice all Bridgwater waters were closed due to safety reasons. Well that put paid to Combwich then.

So a few phone calls were made and in the end it was decided that we had to rely on Jamie Cook from the Sedges to accommodate 4 anglers whose sanity is quite questionable. A venue was finally found and it was the canal lake.

We where thin on the ground with a meagre attendance of four. We were even lucky to get that! It had been doing the rounds that Paul Smith’s car had blown up and thus he wouldn’t have been able to make it. ( well I did warn him that parking in Moscow’s Red square with his car decorated with the Ukrainian flag was a bad idea) So out of the kindness of his heart Dave Nash went all the way from Bridgwater to Pilton to give Mr Smith a lift. Alan Bland our match secretary extraordinaire was working and the rest rang in sick or just said “up yours do you think I’m stupid.” or words to that effect.

Four anglers were it seemed were to endure rather than fish. The draw was a rover or as some people prefer to call it a London draw. I pulled out number one and had first choice so I opted for peg 41 in the car park but honestly owing to the conditions it didn’t really matter. The weather was brutal and inhumane, high winds and persistent rain dictated the day.

The fishing was from 10 until 3 but as the match got going it became apparent that staying until the end was going to be quite a challenge indeed. The wind picked up considerably accompanied by an improvement in rain fall. Holding a pole was becoming a bit of a problem, caused by the wind and the cold attacking ones fingers. At 1120 I had a few bits in the net but definitely nothing of note. I went to talk to my neighbour on the next peg Ian Grabham who as I approached caught his first fish, a small roach. He explained it took him about 5 minutes to put maggots on the hook because of frozen fingers verging on frost bite ( yes folks it was that bad). The cold was bitingly intense.

It was agreed among all concerned that there would be a decision made at 12. I went back to my peg and to top it all the zip on my so called water proof jacket busted. Wind and rain straight in my face with a malfunctioning water proof jacket, well you imagine. I caught a few more bits, 12 o’clock came, a conference of sorts was held and 1 o’clock was decided to be the finish time. A skimmer of about 12 oz was added to the net as well as some more bits. But a big relief came when it was the end of proceedings.

Congrats to Ian Grabham who had first spot with 3lb 6oz this consisted of mostly bits but also 2 nice size skimmers.

Yours truly with 1lb 12oz came 2nd with just bits and 1 nice skimmer, it would of helped if I could have held the pole straight.

Dave Nash and Paul Smith fought it out for 3rd place and it was a gnats whisker in it with 8oz and 7oz respectively. Both catches consisted of, guess what? all bits. The bait used by all who took part was maggot and pinkie. As is with life near the end it started to brighten up, but by then we all had had enough and some of us were thoroughly soaked to the skin. There was just one last thing to do concerning this match and that was to firmly place one ex water proof jacket in my wheelie bin.

Two points to note from the Bridgwater Angling prospective.

One, is that the club will know for certain when the restocking will take place for South Pond by this Friday. I have been told by Someone in the know that this will consist of a 125 carp between 2 and 5 pound.

Two, there will be a AGM for the Bridgwater Angling Association on the 15th of March at Bridgwater town hall. You have to show your full Bridgwater license on entry.

Scouts honour, part 2 of the history of Bridgwater Angling Association will be on the blog by the end of the week.

Until then tight lines

Pete C.

The History of Bridgwater Angling Association, Part One

The year in which it all started and by that I mean the formation of Bridgwater Angling Association was it appears 1905 and there seems ample support for this date. Amongst the various accounts which have been heard there is one that has been told by a former member and his story has been passed down throughout the years.

It is more than probable that Dunwear ponds were a popular fishing venue for anglers at the back end of the 18oo’s. Now according to historical accounts in 1905 they consisted of the North pond, Middle pond and a South pond. Now we know the location of North pond, that has stood the test of time. South pond which is mentioned is not the South pond of that we know today. The original South pond was situated were the car park is now and the reed bed to the left as you enter the car park. The middle pond still exits but is is now completely over grown see map below. The yellow is North pond, The green is Middle pond and Red is South.

A time came when the owners of the brickworks situated in Plum Lane and surrounding lands were complaining about damage being done to bricks and tiles in the yard, and they decided to prohibit fishing. Just who is to blame is not on record. Amongst the then small band of anglers there were some with a small degree of influence. They approached the owners with a proposition that they be granted the right to fish on condition that they formed an association and accepted responsibility for the behaviour of the members. This was conceded, and the Brigwater Angling Association came in to being.

Thus it can be asserted that Dunwear ponds was the Associations birthplace. Down through the years following, so much of the history was enacted there. Outstanding members long since departed from the scene, came to fish in their chosen swims with regularity, and made such a contribution to events inseparable from the development.

No rent was asked for these fishing rights and they continued to be held free of charge until 1956. In that year changing circumstances led to the Association being able to purchase the North, Middle and the “NEW” South Pond (the one we know today). The cost was £100!

It seems very certain that the first secretary was one Herbert Farrance. His large family was very well known in the district and particularly in angling circles. Several family members were very keen anglers and were deeply involved in the origins of the Association. Herberts mother in law a one Mrs Novark also took an important role in the club beginnings. By all accounts this lady was a formidable character and noted for riding a tricycle loaded with her fishing tackle along the canal.

An advert printed in the Bridgwater Mercury from 1904.

It’s unlikely that Mr Farrance remained in office for any length of time, because it appears quite early on that the secretaryship was held by Cliff Allen. He appears to have occupied this position for a period until his livelihood took him away from Bridgwater. Then his brother Arthur took over and resumed the responsibility.

It now appears that Arthur Allen served through a time of relative tranquility as far as angling matters are concerned, but it was a period that saw the violent disruption of world war one. Arthur retired in the late 1930s to be followed by the legendary Ray Perrett. It may be asserted that Raymond had a longer and more eventful term in office than any other secretary. Although this in turn was interrupted drastically by war, It saw profound developments in the history of the association.

Ray Perrett’s father had a significant place in the early angling scene. He kept a well established grocery business in St Johns street Bridgwater roughly where the William Hill bookies is now. With the assistance of a younger Raymond he sold some fishing tackle as a side line. This took place in a part of the shop where anglers brought and exchange stories of their fishing adventures. Photos of specimen fish and out standing catches where often exhibited in the window.

Even a sparse account of the history of Bridgwater Angling Association would be incomplete if it did not contain the surname Vinten. Snuffy as he was called by his friends was apparently by all accounts a small man with a shrewd mind and a force full personality. Snuffy kept a shop in Fore Street on the corner of Court St in Bridgwater He sold tobacco, fishing tackle and guns. At the time and by that I mean in the early part of the 20th century it was the angling centre of the local area. This was the place where angling issues great and small were debated and settled. Mr Vinten had been chairman of the association since its inception, but the strange thing is that no one at the time can ever recall him attending a committee meeting. But if anything appeared in the minutes which failed to meet his approval, the secretary was required to strike it out. Snuffy died in the late 1920s and his death was considered a great loss to association and to local angling.

Go back a hundred years or so and you would of met Snuffy.

One Frankie Styler was another person who figured prominently in the early days. As far as it can be ascertained he was the clubs first treasurer and his retirement did not come until to the 1950s.

Like so many personalities of the association Frankie was a shop keeper, he had a drapery business in Eastover in Bridgwater which was not far from the Bridgwater Motor Company. Roach fishing was his main love and like many of his contemporaries, he would not have been happy without an average of about three quarters of a pound in his catches, this meaning that many of his fish would be well over a pound. Certainly he would be very far from happy with the quality of roach fishing that is prevalent today.

There was a trio often seen to be seen at Dunwear ponds or on the banks of the canal. It consisted of Ran (Randolf) Hook, Wally Roberts and Jim Jefferies.

Ran Hook was chairman for a period from some where in the early 1920s until the late 1930s. Immaculately precise in all his methods, he won the Association cup on five occasions. At the time the cup competition was the event of the year and getting ones name on the plinth was a real distinction. There was an intense rivalry between him and Bill Watkins who also had won the cup on several occasions.

Wally Roberts was almost a dwarf but what he lacked in height he made up for in angling prowess. He was a likable man and seemed incapable of saying or implying anything unpleasant about other people. Amongst the fisher folk of the day Wally had enormous respect as a first rate angler. How ever later in life he had fallen victim to the economic state of the country then prevailing and was reduced to rather straightened circumstances, and added to this predicament poor Wally began to suffer from failing eye sight. Jim Jefferies was another splendid companion but his life was cut short during an out break of very serve influenza.

Another unforgettable character was a gentleman called Stan Lewis. Stan stood in direct contrast to Wally Roberts. He was an enormous man. He was well known in sporting circles around the town. As a young man he played rugby for Bridgwater. He was well over six foot tall and in training weighed in over eighteen stone. An excellent angler by all accounts and it was some somewhat incongruous seeing such a man handling the most delicate of tackle. Later he became the land lord of The Crown Inn in St John street in Bridgwater.

There were so many who featured in the evolution of the association that it is quite impossible to do justice to all of them. One can mention a few names from the early days. Albert lock, who followed Frankie Styler as treasurer, Bill Carver, Jack Diamond, Cliff Lea, Bert Croker, were amongst those in the fore front before the first world war. Fred Denner Sammy Adlam, Cyril Matherick, Bob Radford, Bob Stacey, Donald Baggs, Mitchel-the mad jeweller- and pennywho kept a barbers shop on the Taunton road all seemed conspicuous a little later. The Hoopers, a father and two sons, and the Seamen family were essential features of the scene at Dunwear.

The history of the association over the years before 1914 is now very vague and shadowy. No one from them days who were involved are no longer around. It may be guessed that some of the members of the Farrance family, Ray Parretts (more on him later) father, and Snuffy Vinten where amongst the people concerned, but an attempt to name all the active spirits would be hazardous.

In the 1920’s the association reached a mile stone in that the membership exceeded 200 and to boot had a healthy bank balance. Come the 1930’s the club would start to develop. Definite signs of progressive thinking and concern for the future was quite evident, but this was brought to a halt by world war two. In the next part we see how after the war Bridgwater Angling Association evolved in to one of the biggest angling clubs in the country.

A day on the bank at Banklands.

Thursday February 3rd just gone my dear friend John Hughes and I decided to have a go at fishing the Bridgwater and Taunton canal at Durston. Our original plan was to fish the bank between Maunsel Lock Tea rooms and the Somerset Boating Centre. On entering the car park we were met by a hearty group of volunteers from the Taunton section of the Inland Waters Association. Amid the hustle and bustle of unloading hedge trimers, shears and other assorted tools and bits and bobs, we where told that our intended place of fishing was the target of a good old tidy up and a bout of well needed hedge trimming. Fair enough no problems with that, so me and John decided to fish the other side of the bridge known as Banklands.

Nothing complicated was implemented I just set up a small waggler and John decided to go piking with ledgered dead bait. The most notable thing about this stretch is that it is not all that deep, I say three and a half foot at most. But this did not seem to spoil the fishing. Yours truly had a most productive day with out even trying. Plenty of plumpish Roach, Rudd, Perch and hybrids were caught, even a Dace. John managed to catch a pike of about 5lb which put a smile on his face. All in all it was a pleasant days fishing. This was a type of session where one just chilled out and just took in the surroundings and lived the moment.

John catching his pike

It has been mentioned before in this blog that one of the nice things about fishing the canal is that you meet a lot of pleasant people who always have a bit of time for a chat. I got talking to a local lady who lives in one of the nearby farms who was out for a jolly old stroll. She happened to mention that in all the time she had been walking this stretch we were the first anglers see had ever seen fishing this part of the canal. I think this a bit of a shame, but saying that me and John agreed to visit this place again. The fish know of this place and so should you.

That, all for now Part two of the history of Bridgwater Angling Association will be in the next post, until then tight lines Pete C.

One of Watchet Angling Blackest Days

“Looks like were in with a chance of bagging up”

There were 7 intrepid anglers who turned up to fish the winter league match on the river Huntspill at Gold Corner. The conditions were far from idea, the weather was cold and the wind was almost none existent, to use the old adage it was like a mill pond. The river itself was about 3 foot down from its normal level. This was helpful because it made it possible to get right down to the waters edge and fish reasonably comfortable. On the other hand if it was at normal level it would have been almost impossible to hold a match here because the nature of the steep banks.

My peg. Like a mill pond it was.

The 7 anglers which included yours truly of course went through the process of doing the draw, of going to ones peg, of setting up, of settling down and waiting for the whistle.

Now from a personal angle the peg I drew out of the hat was number 1 which was closest to the bridge. Now people who know Gold corner will know that the bridge houses the pumping station whose purpose is to pump flood water from the south drain in to the Huntspill which then carries on out to sea.

Owing to the configuration of my peg and a rather large bramble bush behind me it was nigh impossible to fish the pole, so the waggler was employed instead. The fishing box was positioned appropriately, ground bait was mixed, waggler rod was set up, the depth was plumbed, an area was decided to fish and the float was shotted exactly right, I was all set ready to go. With a few minutes to spare I surveyed the water in front of me. As mentioned before it was like a mill pond. I knew it wasn’t going to be a cakewalk, but I was quietly confident that I would catch something, even a Ruffe or 2. My mood was optimistic and blanking wasn’t deemed an option. The whistle was blown and I casted in. Almost straight away Dave Colley in peg 2 to my left spoke “crikey what’s that” and pointed towards the bridge. Now they say a picture is worth a 1000 words.

At 09:59 AM.
At 10 :00 AM
At 10:01 AM

The water in front me became a swirling mass of eddies, vortexes and whirlpools. The chances of me catching fish now went from an extreme form of maybe to the same chance as me becoming pope. One would cast in and to dampen down my, shall we say annoyance would play a game, the game in question was guess which direction the float would go. Would it go to my left, or to my right, would it come back towards me or would it go out to the middle. it was now like fishing in a bloody washing machine. A plan of action was now needed. A plan was concocted and implemented. In terms of the Borg in Star Trek The Next Generation. Resistance is futile. So the white flag was raised and a despondent yours truly did not pack up immediately but had a good old chin wag with good old Dave Colley from peg 2 who was also affected. In fact as time elapsed every one fishing would become affected. Dave Nash came to visit about 20 minutes into the match, he was on his way back to the car to get his coat as the temperature was falling. He informed us that no one had had a bite. Me and Mr Colley carried on with our quality gossiping. Come 11.15 I decided to give Dave Nash a visit who was end pegger on peg 7. As I passed every one, there was familiar body of words emerging which can’t be repeated here.

The so called match in progress.
End pegger Dave.

Dave was wearing a face of defeat. He reeled in his waggler to show me how much depth he had, it was barely two and a half foot in the middle. The prospect of fish obliging was grim indeed. Then the cracks started to appear. ” we have to tell Alan ( match organiser and beloved match secretary) it’s no good carrying on, we should all pack up and call it a day” Well with what was happening in my swim I was in total agreement. Walking back and passing everyone again it was plain to see that there was a mood of low spirits and a loss of hope. To cut a long story short, with the full agreement of every one. It was decided that all should pack up and bugger of. At 12 o’clock the bank was completely devoid of anglers as all had upped sticks and went on their merry way. No one but no one had had a bite.

No comment.
Sorry folks I just had to do it.

Now I can look on the bright side and put forward an element that the glass is half full. Here I will install a bit of subterfuge, a bit if you like, a slight deceit, some form of creative accounting. Here goes.

The saying goes that a good angler catches ten percent of the fish in his swim. I go with that. Now the conclusion is that there was no fish in my swim what so ever. Not one, nothing.

Ten percent of nothing is nothing and that is what I caught nothing. Enough said.

The unsung heroes of Bridgwater Angling Association who slog their guts out improving the swims and foot paths and delve in to the art of litter picking at Dunwear ponds have added a touch of finesse to their handy work. That of naming of some of the swims and putting up well crafted signs as part of the process.

I can well understand how certain swims have come to have certain names. But for the life of me Grey Tailors. I been scratching my heads guys and still none the wiser. So it answers on a post card please.

Well that all folks on the day after one of Watchet Anglings blackest days.

Tight lines Pete C