Storm Arwen as predicted had surely arrived with storm force winds which wouldn’t look out of place of the tip of Cape Horn and knifing cold which would be more at home in Siberia. Well with these conditions what type of people would actually be mad enough to fish a match. Take you pick from the list below.
1) Ones IQ is roughly the same as one shoe size.
2) Ones brain cells are misfiring in all directions.
3) Once arrived at a psychiatric hospital and was instantly turned away as a lost cause.
4) You actually counted the green hairs on the palms of your hand.
5) Searched for a gas leak with a lighted match.
6) Believe in father Christmas.
Originally this match was scheduled to be fished at Parchay on the KSD but owing to the fact that no one wanted to be guy roped to the bank and also as some one suggested because of the inclement weather it would be like fishing mid ocean. Hence the venue was changed to the match lake at Combwich. Probably the only sane element about this match.
In number one spot by a mile was one of the end peggers Paul Smith. Mr Smith Esq amassed a very creditable bag of silvers which tipped the scales at 9 lb 6 oz. In amongst his haul, a bit of a surprise this, was a handy size Tench caught at 8 meters. Paul although caught most of his fish at 13 meters alternating between maggot and pinkie. Hearty congratulations to him on what turned out to a very good weight on a extremely difficult day.
2nd place want match angling stalwart and club secretary Alan Bland. Alan fished to his left from one of the pegs nearest the car park. He struggled in the first part of the competition but the sport picked up later on. Alan bagged a weight of 3 lb 11 oz.
Dave Nash was 3rd with a catch of just 15 oz he had according to the watchet angling grapevine all his fish in the first hour and a bit.
Eric the carp bagger Searle struggled through most of the match. His result says it all 1 skimmer for 8 oz which was caught in the first hour then now’t. Nothing, not a sausage.
Yours truly had a more active time then most, yea straight up. I reckon I caught between 30 and 40 fish. Unfortunately in this game size does matter and on this occasion and in angling terms I wasn’t all that well endowed. My weight came to a meagre, a scantly 6 oz.
Dave Colley our beloved NHS hero who resides in Bristol threw in the towel with about an hour to go. I had a thoughtful visit before he went. In his hand he had his total catch. About 5 or 6 small micro Rudd which appeared to be a day old. I duly took a photo, with that instead of donating them to John West he threw them back. Nothing wrong in that I hear you say but unfortunately when it comes to throwing them back Mr Colley is not all that accurate and all of his fish landed in my keep net. When it came to the weigh in it was decided not to take any action because the fish were that small it wouldn’t made the blindest bit of difference anyway.
Before the match it was decided to do a so called London draw or a rover. Six anglers, so six pegs went in to the bag numbered 1 to 6. The person who pulled out peg 1 would have first choice to where to fish, the guy who pulled out peg 2 would have second choice etc etc and the poor guy who pulled out peg number six would have to take what was left.
Now it seems there is a slight connection with me who pulled out peg one and ended with a meagre 6 oz and this joke.
Q Why is it that the Irish have all the potatos and the Arabs have all the oil?
A Because the Irish had first choice.
The next match for the Watchet club is on the canal at Huntsworth on 11th December, draw at 8:45am fishing from 10am until 3 pm.
Until then take care, tight lines and top of the morning to yer.
The match fished at this venue on the 17th of July of this year was spoilt by the mass battalions of the lets ruin the anglers day, see post if you haven’t a clue what the eck I am talking about. The proposed match that was to be fished on the 11th of September was thwarted by Lemnoideae ie Duckweed to me and you. So the people who like to swim, paddle board, canoe and dive bomb from Parchay bridge were prevented from carry out their pastime of ruining the match anglers day by the cold weather. The duckweed that was prevalent in September is probably bobbing up and down some where in the Bristol Channel after being flushed out in to the river Parrett. So it was all systems go.
The Friday before the match, a question was put forward about the numbers who would be fishing. Well an answer came back from our beloved match secretary, that if Alan Jenkins was to turn up it would be “Bo Derek”. Well I honestly believe that most people who read this blog will know who the voluptuous Miss Derek is. Was this lady who has the looks that could make mens legs turn to jelly be coming to join us? Was this lady who has the ability to make men swoon going to participate with the likes of Watchet angling club. Afraid not, in fact I have more chance to get to the top of mount Everest and back in just boxer shorts and flip flops then to be joined by the likes of Miss Derek. No indeed Bo Dereck in this context means Ten, apparently this lady starred in a film with Dudley Moore called simply 10, so there you have angling brethren a Bo Derek means 10. You learn something new every day!
Anyway what about the match itself, to put it plainly and to get straight to the point even if Miss Derek did turn up, it would still be a disappointment. First on the day was Silvers expert one Mr David Nash, Dave had the peg nearest to the bridge and managed to put together a winning weight of 1 lb 10oz. This Phenomenal weight was achieved mostly on the whip with red maggot. In second place with a head turning weight of 11oz (yes I am afraid it was that bad) was Brummie guy Ian Townsend.
Snapping at Ians heals in third place and this bugger took my pound of of me was our much liked NHS hero Dave Colley who amassed a back breaking weight of 7oz.
Carp basher and end pegger Eric Searle came 4th with 4 Perch which came to a mind blowing 3oz.
Eric who was pegged next to me, entertained me by singing several times and I emphasise the word several, the song Delihah. I asked him on one occasion what he had caught, the reply was “an elephant……. guess what I caught it on?” “Don’t know Eric a banana” “nope a rhinoceros”. The lack of bites and activity was it seems affecting peoples mental heath. (only kidding Eric).
There was a problem at the weigh that had to be solved for the placings, you have now had the 4 top weights. Tony Richards early in the match saw some sense, packed up and went home. That had left 4 of us who had fish to weigh. Unfortunately the scales are only calibrated to register ounces and pounds not milligrams. So to determine the placings Alan Bland, Paul Smith, Ian Grabham and yours truly stood in a circle with our hand out stretched and with our total catch in our palm for comparison. The placings where as follows 5th Ian Grabham, 6th Alan bland, 7th Paul Smith and me who got 8th.
So there you have it folks a match memorable for the wrong reasons.
The Morecombe and Wise show in the 1970’s on christmas day was compelling viewing and used to top the viewing figures with well over 20 million tuning in. One of the trade marks of the show was at the end. Ernie and Eric would do a rendition of the song “Bring me sunshine in your smile bring me laughter all the whle”
Like wise there was another popular TV show which had an end of show rendition that was The Good Old Days which based itself on the old time victorian music hall and the performers on stage and even the audience dressed accordingly. At the end of the show all the performers would get back on stage and with the audience participation all would sing “Down at the old Bull and Bush” Isn’t that lovely, they don’t make programmes like that any more.
So to mimic this, Watchet angling decided at the end of the match to do their own rendition with a song that would portray our wonderful culture at the club, to show our sophistication and mastery of the English language. To show of our social skills and our educational background and to boast of our standing in the world. But above all to express what a wonderful time we had.
A couple Fridays back my good friend John Hughes and I decided to fish Dunwear. The swim chosen was what some people call the point and others refer to it as the headland. I have mentioned before that way back in the 1970s when fishing Dunwear was much more popular than it is today that this swim was the number one swim and during the summer and autumn months you would be guaranteed cracking sport. It was so much favoured that certain people would come down from the midlands and the north, indeed from all over the country to fish it. But some people being what they are, used to stay in the swim for up to a week to the utter annoyance of we locals. Hence complaints were put forward to the powers that be at the time in Bridgwater angling circles and to cure this problem a rule was created stating that no angler or group of anglers were to occupy a swim for more than 24 hours. Just to stay on the point of how popular Dunwear was from a fishing point of view. Back in the days when the close season was enforced on ALL waters if you did not get to the ponds early on the opening day of the season June the 16th you would not get a swim at all. Bear in mind Dunwear ponds had many more swims that it has today. Well how did me and John do, well John was piking with dead bait and yours was fishing for anything that goes with a waggler. Well John had two knocks and I had a bite so to sum it up the sport wasn’t exactly over awing. But there is an element that I like about our beloved sport and that is you can have a bloody good gossip with your mate when the fish ain’t obliging. Something you can’t do if your playing football or rugby etc.
I am getting mixed reports about the fishing at Dunwear. Railway is still not producing, indeed the sport is, (to cut a fine point on the matter) diabolical. I was talking to one of the bailiffs and this is becoming a matter for concern. But lets end on a brighter note South pond is apparently producing good sport with plenty of decent size skimmers coming out as well as some nice Perch. Also bear in mind that there are plans to restock this pond early next year.
The next match for the Watchet club is 2 weeks time at Parchay once again with or without Bo Derek. If the fishing is going to be the same again I would think using a keep net would be a slight over kill or be like cracking a nut with a sledge hammer so I might take a tea cup instead.
This was the first of nine matches in the Watchet Angling winter league. The general consensus amongst the gang before the start was that it was going to be hard going and it was believed that five pound would be a good target weight. Some of the folk fished midweek and the outcome was that although silvers made an appearance so did some carp. However a lot of over night rain might make things difficult we just had to wait and see.
Well there was you could say a bit of a shock today but emphasis is on the word bit. The shock was not cataclysmic but never or less the shock did register slightly on the Richter scale in the realms of angling. Eric Searle Carp bagger extraordinaire actually won a silvers match. Eric who was situated on peg number 3 fished out to his right to the rope at 11 meters with wait for it 2 maggots and 2 pinkies on the hook. Eric fished over ground bait containing both maggots and caster. This winner did fish the margins to his left for the first part of the match but in his own angling vernacular “could only get ninjas” ( small fish to joe public) . All in all with the conditions not exactly perfect Eric’s winning weight of 11 lb 09 oz was definitely not to be sniffed at. So it’s a big well done to him.
2nd place went to the fella on peg 7 which was occupied by silvers expert Paul Smith. Paul who’s weight was a tidy 8 lb 03 oz was obtained by fishing 2 lines at 11 meters over chopped worm with maggot or pinkie on the hook. Paul did try an inside line but caught only an eel.
Alan Bland our much beloved match secretary found himself in third from peg 6. Fishing at 11meters with red maggot either double of single, Mr Bland in the end managed to put 7 lb 02 oz on the scales. Included in his catch were a couple of nice small tench. However there was an observation made about our match secretary from Paul Smith who was in the next peg to Alan. “I have never known a guy to burp and break wind so much” An accolade that Alan just might be proud of.
Dave Nash who on arrivial seemed to take a fair while in deciding were to park. Driving in to the car park, then reversing back again Stopping on the track having a good look, then once again exiting the car park completely for about two to three minutes. At this stage a few club members who saw this performance honestly thought he had changed his mind and gone back home. But he did return to eventually draw out peg 9 and catch a weight of 6 lb 9 oz which got him 4th . Pole and his favourite method the waggler was employed. A fair amount of his haul was caught on the top three straight out in front. Red maggot was the bait.
Nigel Coram who finished 5th on peg 5 managed to put 4 lb 14 oz on the scales But fishing the peg was very difficult for poor Nigel. Owing to the characteristics and the position of the peg, sunlight shining on the water with the breeze making a strong ripple made seeing ones float very hard. So full marks for perseverance. Method employed was maggot over ground bait at 12 meters.
Yours truly one Pete Curnow struggled throughout on peg 8. I managed to put a measly 1 lb 10 oz on the scales. I started of on the waggler which at one stage seemed impossible to shot. Cast out and the float would stick out about and inch, add a number 10 shot and the bloody thing would sink. It had all the characteristics of some pole floats. However after much changing of different combinations of shotting, I managed to get it just right. However after and hour and a bit I managed with great difficulty to catch one small roach with the wag. So out came the pole and I started fishing the margins to my right and almost immediately caught a small Tench. To cut a long story short I stayed on this approach and had my fair share of micro rudd.
About 2 o’clock I hit a carp which on the the light elastic I was using I would have had more chance to become pope then to have landed it. So in the end I got snapped up. I stayed with the waggler for the last hour. Well I say the last hour, at 2.55pm the float goes under and it’s another bloody carp. Once again this time with the waggler rod I was using, a Drennan ultra light float rod which is capable handling 10 oz bottoms I had no chance. The action on this rod is superb for small fish. I once managed to hook a carp on this rod at Trinity Waters, I’d played it for 10 minutes and eventually got it to the net. But owing to the characteristics of the rod when I tried lifting the exhausted carp over into the landing net this rod just bent and bent and bent. With gritted teeth, closed eyes and praying like mad hoping the rod wouldn’t break I kept lifting the rod up but in the end the line gave way. So you see at 2.55 pm another carp and another snap up which happened almost immediately. So instead of setting up again I decided to pack up. The Combwich church clock chimed 3 o’clock so the whistle was imminent or so I thought. Mr Nash in the next peg along and with a look of bewilderment asked why I’d packed up.
Well at the draw I picked my peg out and more or less set out to get to my swim. But as most match anglers know, a lot of anglers loiter around immediately after the draw discussing and moaning how crap the peg they have just drawn is. But it was in this period a discussion took place and it was agreed that the match would be extended by half an hour until 3.30 pm. All well and good unfortunately no sod told me.
Dave Colley our NHS hero should be commended as this gentleman travels all the way from Bristol to fish the Watchet matches. But today there might have been a tiny element running around in his mind of was it worth it. For poor Dave could only put together 1 lb 08 oz for 7th place. Fishing on peg 10 Dave used the pole and maggot at varying distances, however to his credit he did land a small carp. But alias being a silvers only match it did not count. But what ever the out come Dave Colley always has a smile.
Poor Alan Jenkins at the end of the match decided not to weigh in his solitary fish a roach about 2oz and instead opted for DNWI next to his name. Alan however in the gist of things managed to land a couple carp. So he didn’t go home bored.
The next match in this winter league is down for November the 13th on the KSD at Parchay. But factoring in the inclement weathers ability to desposit vast amounts of rain and the expertise of the drain to turn itself in to a raging torrent, there is a probability that this venue might change to the canal at wide waters. So anticipating this scenario it is planned that on the 11th of November Alan Bland, Dave Nash and me will go down at midday and cut and rake swims out, but all is welcome to participate.
Rob Dodd absolutely crushed it and left the rest in his wake. Roberts weight of 87 lb 04 oz was out standing considering the time of year and conditions. The cold nights and the amount of rain we had previous did not thwart once again inform Mr Dodd on peg 10 who implemented the pole at 16 meters to the island with maggot as bait.
Steve Warren who knows no different than to finish in the top four who has now been tagged as Mr consistent. Well finding himself in 2nd place Mr warren on peg 37 used pole and banded pellet to obtain a healthy weight considering, of 34 lb 14 oz. Well done indeed.
Brummie Ian Townsend in at number three used corn and maggots (five maggots on hook) with pole to catch 27 lb 11 oz on peg 6. To quote Mr Townsend ” it were bloody hard going” We know chum we were there.
What a good result for octogenarian Tony Rchards who just turned 84 years young. This angling veteran finished in 4th spot with a total weight of 20 lb 11oz. Tony’s swim which was peg 16 burst into life in the last half hour with a Carp and many good quality silvers. His bait was bread punch. To boot Tony took top silvers weight of 10 lb 04 oz a very fine performance to be sure.
Alan Bland during doing the weigh in was convinced he was going to end up near the bottom but was pleasantly surprised when his all Carp weight tipped the scales at 16 lb 02 oz and earned him a creditable 5th placing. Pole with maggot and meat from peg 36 got him 3 chunky Carp. Oh apparently a lot of swearing again was involved.
Out of sorts and white van man Nigel Coram found himself at number six. Nigel on peg 28 had a weight of 16 lb. Pole with maggot was used. Things could be on the the up.
Yours truly ended the match in 7th place. Fishing on peg 20 which I have named the micro pallet owing to it’s lack of size, I started of out in front at 11 meters with dead red maggots over micros but to use the local angling vernacular only had a few snots. All my Carp came from my left fishing to the pallet on peg 21 using corn as bait. Total weight was 15 lb 04 oz. Didn’t come last “brill”.
Top silvers basher one Paul Smith struggled throughout but managed to scrape together a combined weight of 15 lb 02 oz. Peg 8 was his abode and pole and maggot was method. No doubt things should improve once again for Paul who is never far away in the silvers table. Paul eneded the day in 8th.
9th was Dave Nash, Dave took things in to his stride and just fished the ordinary waggler. On road side peg number 34 he manged to put on the sca a total of 14 lb 08 oz. The bait used was either single or double maggot. This earned him 2nd in the silvers table.
Mr Philip Dodd occupied 10th spot with a haul of 8 lb. Phil once again employed his favourite tactic that of method feeder with dead maggot. Phil caught 2 Carp as well as some silvers from peg 32.
In at 11 was another octogenarian Bob Pascoe, Bob had drawn peg 39 next to the car park. For his endeavours he ended up with 7 lb 01oz by using pole and maggot. However Mr Pascoe did win a fiver for 3rd top silvers weight.
12th was Ian Grabham from Taunton who on peg 12 could only bring to the scales 5 lb 10 oz. Plan of attack for Mr Grabham was method feeder with pellet against the island. If I recall correctly this is Ian’s worst performance of the season.
Dave Colley who was Ian’s next door neighbour on peg 14 was pipped by Ian by a ounce for a weight of (do the math) 5 lb 09 oz Dave employed employed the feeder to the island. Mr colley finished in 13th.
Alan Jenkins slipped slightly back to second bottom from previous placings. Alan fished the roadside on peg 30. His all silvers catch came by using the pole and maggot for a total of 3 lb 09 oz. His words were “just couldn’t buy a Carp” in which Dave Nash replied ” you don’t buy them you catch them”.
Eric Searle was devoid of any type of luck on peg 18 poor Eric who normally catches Carp at will was flummoxed by the Carp just simply not obliging. He could only muster a total of 3 lb 02 oz which was caught by pole and maggot. Rest assured that if the Carp were cooperating he would have given Rob Dodd a run for his money.
For match anglers or indeed pleasure anglers alike over a certain age will remember the time when matches could be held over the entire stretch of the Kings Sedgemoor drain about 8 miles. Back in 1965 when the Bridgwater Angling association hosted the the national angling championships over 600 anglers where peg on the KSD. But now move the clock forward to the present and great swathes of bank are now over grown and unfishable. A good example is Greylake, it is now imposible to hold a match next to the bridge like in days gone by. The the only viable stretches to hold a match now is Parchay. But some of the pegs there are a bit difficult to fish with anglers who got dodgy Knees and bad backs.
Well as some of you know a walk I did from Parchay bridge to Grey lake last year uncovered a really good stretch of bank that was more than capable of holding a match. That said stretch however is a bit remote. It is 1.2 mile from the car park at Greylake and trust me it takes over half an hour walk to get there. The stretch is 400 meters long which is ample for most club matches. The track that leads to it from Greylate car park is only suitable for 4 wheel drives and similar vehicles. The track is mostly on a peat based soil so is very susceptible to becoming very boggy and uneven during wet weather.
About two months ago I was talking to the chairman of Bridgwater Angling Association Nigel Gilland who was fishing the big pit at Dunwear. He mentioned that he often fish the above stretch and drives to it down the track. He also mentioned that the farmer who rents the land is helpful where the key to the gate is concerned. He also added that he could not understand why most matches on the KSD were always held at Parchay when you have got this stretch. Well sorting out the track which wouldn’t break the bank and slipping the farmer a bottle of whiskey, would make matches here possible.
October 14th just gone and game for anything me and my mate John Hughes (ex Somerset angling) decided on fishing some where different, opted on this stretch. Travelling light, of we set from Greylake car park on foot. It took us about 35 minutes to reach our destination. John set up just for pike and me, well I just set up a waggler rod. Results fish wise was very disappointing as neither of us had a bite. Also the swim I was fishing was blighted by streamer weed. But in a positive frame of mind. 1) the track can be sorted. 2) a few days before a match a few people could go down and rake the swims, no big deal. 3) on the way to the match one could stop of at the off license and buy a bottle of Johny Walker for the farmer.
Okay we caught no fish but to be honest the conditions wasn’t favourable. But staging a match here is very doable. A plan of action was spinning around in my head. After nearly four hours me and John decided to pack up. It was while I was waiting for John I looked towards my right and about a 150 meters away two men appeared. They were dressed in Hi Viz clothing and were armed with poles and a simple eletronic measuring device. Surveyors that what these two were. But what were they doing in this remote stretch? So curiosity got the better of me and of I went and meet up these two fellas. Point to note here is that these two were very friendly and approachable. And of course I did ask them what they were doing.
The answer astounded me. These men were contractors working for the Environment Agency and they were surveying the bank for a construction of what they described as a wildlife sanctuary. This haven for wild life would measure a 100 meters long. A ditch would be made that would run perpendicular for 6 meters to the bank then go at right angle which would run parallel to the bank and then turn toward the KSD again as to create a island in which plants shrubs and small trees would thrive. They say a diagram is worth a thousand words so have a look. So 100 meters of bank which could be used to stage a match has now been taken away. In fact it puts the whole idea of holding a match here very much in doubt. Bloody typical.
Now I have to say I am all for the saving of the environment and the preservation of wildlife, dont get me wrong here. And I honestly think the angling fraternity are of the same voice. But my gripe here is this. We had to walk over a mile to get to the stretch. Within that mile I would say there where five fishable swims. Only five owing to the bank being left with out maintance.
Talking to the surveyors, there are apparently and don’t quote me here but I thought they said there were going to be seven of this wildlife constructions altogether along the bank of the KSD. So if this is the case then that’s 0.7 km of bank being taking away from angling. No doubt the rent for the KSD which Bridgwater Angling Association pays to the EA will stay the same. If the same effort that is put into the building of these wild life habbitats was also used to improve the certain stretches of the KSD ie that mile of bank from Greylake car going towards Parchay. We could say that the EA rod licence and the rent that Bridgwater Angling Association pay (£10,000 per year for both the KSD and the Huntspill) was worth it. Is it worth it I let the Angling Brethern decide.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.