Christmas Eve match 2019 Fordgate.

Christmas eve is the day of winding down, going in to chill out mood. The day Christmas spirit starts to peak, most people are content and happy. The day of expectation and joyousness and what better way to get caught up in this swirl of Christmas feeling then to have a match at nice sleepy hollow, a quaint rustic backwater to mimic this easing down from the normal pace of life. The canal at Fordgate was the place that ticked all the boxes for this festive occasion.

I was a little bit worried when I visited this place on Friday the 20th, the colour of the canal was like milky tea. Apparently bad for fishing oh dear. However when I returned on Monday morning I was surprised to find a group of three people fishing. By their gear and their set up they’d seemed creditable anglers. All three were very approachable and friendly. When I introduced myself and explained that I had arranged a match for the following day they said that they would keep any left over bait instead of throwing it in. I also let it be known that my main purpose of being here was to cut out a swim a few yards down from them with a strimmer and that there was a possibility of me affecting the fishing . To them this was no problem I was told to carry on. What nice people, all I know is that they came from the Yeovil area. NICE ONE GUYS. MANY THANKS. Also the colour had dropped out of the water and all three men were catching. A good omen.

Up the Blades.

Now how this match came in to being was that I had a little wager with the people at Ladbrokes on the Cornhill in Bridgwater on Sheffield United finishing in the top half of the championship and bingo they actually got promoted. So when I got my lively winnings I decided on setting up this match.

So the day of the match arrived, well I say match it was more like a jolly little get together with just a pinch of competitiveness. Six was down to fish this and all six turned up, a full house with no no shows on the day. Brilliant.

Alan Jenkins unloading several tons of tackle from his car. But what a festive jumper.
Eric and Dave in festive cheer.

In the car park the mood was definitely festive. Sweets and Christmas cards were exchanged before the draw. The pegging was such that peg one was straight out of the car park on to the bank. Then going up to the left of the car park up to number six right next to the first set of reeds. The weather started fine but then around about noon the rain started not heavy but steady. Not Christmassy at all. The rain did however ease of in the last 45 minutes of the match. There was a slight breeze but nothing to worry about.

“it was that big”. Note Tony Richards on peg one in the back ground.
Sheer concentration from Eric. In the middle Alan landing his only fish and end pegger Phil chilling.

Now methods differed amongst us anglers Tony Richards on peg one used a short pole. Dave Nash on peg two used his beloved whip. Yours truly next to Dave just used a small waggler set up . Next along the bank was Eric Searle, he alternated between pole and small feeder. In five was Mr Alan Jenkins he predominantly used the pole mid channel but set up several pole tops and rods. This gentleman brings more tackle to the bank than they have in Somerset Angling. On peg six was the man himself Phil Dodd who swapped between waggler and feeder.

Right angling people here are the results.

Position Name Weight Peg
1st Tony Richards 2lb 10oz 1
2nd Phil Dodd 2lb 3oz 6
3rd Pete Curnow (me) 1lb 12oz 3
4th Dave Nash 1lb 3oz 2
5th Alan Jenkins 8oz 5
DNW Eric Searle

Top weight Tony who used a short pole started of on maggot then switched to pinkie and in the last hour used bread punch. Tony fished no farther than a third of a way across. Tony had all small fish.

In second place was “I pulled it out of the bag in the last minute Phil Dodd”. Who caught a tench that was a tad over 2lb in the dying seconds of the match. He tempted the fish a third of the way across on double red maggot. But otherwise he had a small perch from the margins and a few bits.

Yours truly had all small fish on pinkie and from the far side. I could not get any bites close in, the nearer to the far bank I was the more bites I got. Oh the bait had to be moving.

The winner one Mr Tony Richards.

Dave Nash managed to nudge out 1lb 3oz he had a reasonable size skimmer more or less at the start. And Alan Jenkins had one bite one fish for 8oz. Eric had a couple small fish but didn’t bother with the scales. First prize was £30, 2nd pick up was £25 3rd was £15 . The guys who finished and 4th and below all got a box of chocolates.

Way way back to Christmas 1980 my dear dad gave me a book for Christmas called Fishing Canals by Ken Cope. Its a reasonable book for the beginner and the intermediate angler. There is however a chapter titled “Where to fish” and in this chapter it mentions the Bridgwater and Taunton canal and with this comes this picture which is shown below on the left. Which I reckon was taken from the top of the pill just before the white gate probably sometime in the early 1970’s . So at the end of the match and with the help of Mr Nash who gave me a bunk up on to the top of the pill box I took the photo on the right just for comparison.

After the match every one agreed they all had an enjoyable time.

There is a famous saying which goes “it’s not the winning that counts but the taking part” if there was ever a match that summed up this saying it was definitely this one. Enough said.

Summerhayes slivers Match Friday 13.12.2019

Ah the good old days.

Now do you remember playing football in the street after school or indeed during in school break times. The kick about where the goal posts would be coats or school bags laid on the ground or painted out on the wall. There was an element of getting together and having a laugh added to this mixture was the rough and tumble of competition, the get stuck in factor and of the course the will to win. The back bone of these kick abouts was of course it shear simplicity coupled with competitiveness, Now if there is such an equivalent in the match fishing world well I reckon it ‘s the silvers only match on a Friday at one of my favourite venues Summerhayes. These matches which are held every Friday through out the year and are run by the avuncular Jeff Sparkes. His enormous enthusiasm never wanes and with his jovial character and welcoming personality it always a pleasure fishing these and I will say these knock ups. The numbers that attend these matches varies greatly through out the year. In the summer as you can expect turn out is the highest but as winter emerges and dons it’s cloak of cold and darkness the numbers some what dwindle.

Today this jolly little knock up is being contest by 3 hardly souls Jeff obviously and veteran Bill Hopping one of most friendly and approachable anglers you are ever likely to meet. Oh and yours truly. It was decided owing to the fact that there are just 3 of us that that pegs 12, 13 and 14 on Sellicks lake should be used because it was out of the wind. Cold and bitter it was to. The draw was simplistic the peg numbers where written on bits of screwed up paper.

I feel sorry for dog number 4.

Now in the world of greyhound racing there is a terminology of the coffin box. This is the trap which is the least favourable. Apparently it’s trap 4. Well at the most simplified of draws Bill had 14 Jeff drew 12 and me had peg 13 slap bang in the middle, the fishing equivalent to trap 4 the coffin box. So I could be deemed to be fishing the coffin peg.

Anyhow saying that I started of okay, I was using pinkie on a size 20 hook and I had 3 small roach in the first hour while Jeff to my right was complaining that he hadn’t had a bite, Although Bill was catching steadily. But as fate would have it Jeff started catching while my swim was dying a death aptly put seeing I am fishing the coffin peg. I went down to a 22 hook but while the 2 guys either side of me stepped up a gear in to show boating mode my swim appeared to be devoid of fish. I must admit I not one to just sit there and hope. I did try different depths and shotting patterns but to no avail.

So came the weigh in and there was a slight problem we had no scales as Pete the owner who was shall we say is the guardian of the scales was no where to be seen. Well Jeff managed to obtain a set of scales and what seemed to be a collapsible builders bucket with handles from some kind carpers fishing the big 8 lake. Owing to the fact that the scales were shall we say rather basic it was not possible to zero the scales so the weight of the fish included the weight of the builders bucket. Oh and the scales only showed kilograms.

Position Name Weight Peg
1st Bill Hopping 6 kilo 14
2nd Jeff Sparkes 4 kilo 12
Last Me ½ lb estimated Coffin peg 13
Bill Hopping with a winners smile.

Jeff Sparkes fish which earned him 2nd.

The bait that was used by shall we say the top 2 anglers was 2mm expanders and there was me thinking pinkie would be the answer. Bill told me he used 2 pellets on a size 16 hook.

We did in the end locate Pete the guardian of the scales playing on his dump truck.

Well last again Um a certain pattern seems to be emerging.

But never mind there is always next time.

Watchet angling winter league match 4 07/12/2019

Part of my catch last time

The venue for the clash of Titans of the angling word for the 4th round of the Watchet angling winter league was the River Tone on the fast stretch. Talking to other members of the Watchet clan it could be deemed a marimite venue you either like it or loathe it. Now I’ve only fished once before about 3 years ago. What I caught that very uneventful day was a bit of wood, a handle from a shopping basket and some ones sock (an orange one). I packed up after an hour after I came to the conclusion that the swim was 90% snags 10% water. Now the week running up to a fishing match I normally go in to I can’t wait or I am looking forward to it mode. But not this week. Looking for clues and tips of how to fish the venue I had the most helpful of facts Your best bet is a wind beater or pike bunk with arsley bombs knotted down the line oh best bait moth ball. You see some people can be the most obliging.

So it was up to tackle shop manager of Somerset Angling the one and only Mr Steve Kedge who put me right by suggesting the stick float and main bait maggot. Keep flicking maggots in and keep constantly changing depths to find the fish. So this was the main plan of attack in fact it was the only plan.

So come Saturday morning the Alarm goes of I have a choice of 2 things to do.

This one.
Or this one the one I opted for.

Now just let me just wonder of a little, how many people remember Quinn Martin Or heard of a Quinn Martin production only people over a certain will probably remember. The guy Mr martin was the person responsible for some classic American Tv series such The streets of San Francisco and Cannon. Now what impressed me about these programes was the introduction and the theme music. But what really intrigued me was the format of these introductions the narration part It would introduce the main actors of the series and then the guest stars but get this at the end part of the intro it would say and starring special guest star. Have a look at this video and you will see what I mean.

Well we at Watchet angling have a facility at the members discretion to allow guests to fish our matches and if this match was a Quinn Martin production our guest would be categorised under special guest star one of south west greatest the one and only Vic Bush. By the way the picture above is not of Vic.

Now some of the anglers of the club had a challenge even before fishing started even before the draw. The task of how to unlock the gate so it was up to yours truly to go back up the track and show 3 anglers how to use a combination lock.

After the gate episode the draw took place I drew peg 8 I was then suitably informed that peg 8 was the wait for it. Big drum roll here. The Snag swim. My mind immediately started feeding me images of bits of wood, shopping baskets and orange socks. I started to enquire what time was the early kick of in the premiership was because there was a possibility of me watching it in the pub.

However I ambled to peg 8 with my gear to be greeted by a swim close to a weir.

Peg 8 my swim, the snag swim.

So using a stick float I began to to the trot through the swim right up to the weir. Within 10 minutes I had my first fish a roach around 10 minutes in but then it became very slow on the hour of 11 I hook a fish a so called minnow. Wow but they all count. At 12 oclock I had a visit by John Barker and Dave Nash. Dave informed me he had 3 chub and John said he just had one roach and that he was thinking of packing up. Which he duly did at 12:30 a guy of his angling talent if he packs up early you can be assured he had a crap swim. Any way I ended the match with 5lb 4oz which consisted of 3 chub and a few bits. All on maggot.

Position Name Weight peg
1st Vic Bush 17lb 4oz 2
2nd Eric Searle 12lb 14oz 5
3rd Alan Bland 12lb 1
4th Dave Nash 8lb 6
5th Rob Dodd 6lb 2oz 4
6th Pete Curnow 5lb 4oz 8
7th Phil Dodd 1lb 8oz 3
DNW John Baker

The pegging was that pegs 1 2 and 3 were to the left of the car park peg 4 was closest to the viaduct or bridge and 5 was around the corner before the first weir and so on up the straight to peg8 ( my peg) before the next weir.

Vic Bush’s wining weight was achieved on the stick float also at times on a avon float and in is own words the bait was “the good old maggot” . Well done Vic.

Eric in second also used a Stick float with maggot but caught one on the feeder.

Alan in 3rd used a barbel trotter was also on maggot. And like wise for the rest of us also rans it was mostly The stick float and maggot

And here he is the winner with 17lb 4oz our special guest star a smiling Vic Bush after his Victory.

Conclusion As stated before in the beginning of this blog that this venue is classed by some as Marmite. Well my thoughts are, okay I caught fish and it was nice to catch a chub I have not caught one for a long time. But the nature of the water can be a cause for irritation. When float fishing on this water you trot down, the float would go under and I would hook a snag. Now do this a few times of trotting down and hooking snags can be a bit tedious. Then when you trot down again the float disappears you think it a snag and instead you hook a fish. This aspect to me was to some effect very disappointing. Alright because we live now in the age of the commercial fishery some of us are some what spoiled with what these venues produce and the creature comforts that they bring, So with me the jury’s still out and in my humble opinion this is why. I don’t fish this venue all that often and on this river I lack certain skills to be prolific on it. My areas where I lack the skills are 1) accurate casting with a stick float and 2) precision feeding in reference to the flow. Feeding to avoid the snags is crucial and getting the feed to the right spot is most important. So my thoughts are it a specialist type of venue and I don’t fish it often enough to make a judgement and to you anglers who are consistent framers on this water I take my hat of to you.

Finally to remind you guys about a match I am arranging to be fished on the 24th of December, Christmas Eve the venue will on the KSD at Parchay the reserve venue will be on the canal at Fordgate. Draw 9 o’clock. Fishing from 10 until 3. I am paying peg fees and the prize money in the kitty will be £70. I have a few names already. The cut of for entries will Tuesday 17th December mid night. Any late entries will not be tolerated and phrases like, I could probably make it put my name down just in case and I might turn up it depends and variants of these phrases will be classed as definite NO’s . Yes means yes and no means no there is no in between. This match is open to Watchet anglers only. If I don’t see you guys before have a Merry Christmas and a happy new year,

The peasant school kid and the BB shot.

Back in the 1970s the newsagents on the Sydenham estate in Bridgwater which was roughly situated where the entrance to the Co-op is today, did a small line in fishing tackle nothing too extravagant mind you just line, shot and floats etc this small assortment was situated on a 3-ft wide display behind the counter to the right as you went in. 

The site where the old newsagents used to be as it is today.

  The shop was run by Mr and Mrs Muir now Mr and Mrs Muir shall we say we’re not from working class stock and most people had the impression that running a newsagents especially one on the Sydenham estate was well beneath them, obviously things did not go to plan and there they were.

  One particular Saturday afternoon just before closing time I entered the premises. The purpose of my visit was to purchase a packet of BB shot. On entering I noticed I was the only customer. Behind the Counter was the well-to-do Mrs Muir she was a Tall and slightly built woman in her late 50s with long black hair with a hint of Grey. Dressed in an upmarket blue dress and Bangles on each arm she observed me  through her horned rimmed glasses which wouldn’t look out of place on a soulless schoolmistress from the 1940s, and there I stood before her wearing plastic sandals grey socks, trousers which was too short and a shirt that needed washing.

  She just stood there looking at me foundling her very elegant necklace, she cocked her head slightly and seemed very perplexed on how to handle the situation of being in the presence of this product of poverty. She came to the conclusion that I was not worthy of communication and with her eyes firmly fixed on me she slowly moved backwards towards the opening to the back store room which was adorned by multi-coloured strips that was popular at the time. She stopped when she reached the entrance and duly summoned Mr Muir “Arthur shop” almost immediately Mr Muir’s head appeared through the strips “what is it” he said in a baffled voice as he looked at his wife.

Remember these.

Mrs Muir did not say a word but with her long finger pointed in my direction Mr Muir followed his wife instructions and thus his gaze was now upon me. “Oh” came Mr Muir’s utterance then he fully emerged from the back store room. This was now the destination of Mrs Muir no doubt to read the latest edition of Tatler or to inspect her recent purchases from Harrods. Mr Muir was about the same age as his wife and stood six foot at least, today he was wearing a black pinstripe suit with a pink shirt and matching tie. “Yes can I help you he said as he looked down at me. “Can I have a packet of BB shot please” I replied. Over to the fishing display he went, looked up and down and sidewards both ways and repeated the motion once more. I don’t have BB shot you are have to have a pack of assorted shot there should be some B&Bs in there, he then threw a packet on the counter in my direction with that he came over to me and presented the palm of his hand to receive payment.

Now do you remember these.

“Fifteen pence” Now many weeks previous I had forgone all my sweets and comics and saved most of my pocket money and when my savings reached £1 I swapped all the coins with my dad who gave me a crisp £1 note of which I had now in my possession. Challenged by the demand of paying 15 pence I reached into my pocket and produced the pound note .Mr Muir was aghast his face said it all. The impression it gave was where the eck did he get that from. He quickly snapped back his hand he held out and with the other quickly retrieve the packet of shot from the counter turned around and replaced it back on his hook on the fishing display. whilst did this he looked over his shoulder and in what appeared to be panicky voice spluttered out “I can’t change that I just cashed up there is hardly any change in the till I can’t change that I’m going to close up now and you have to leave, come back tomorrow sorry”. Bloody hell did he say sorry I thought. feeling slightly annoyed I turned around and walked to the door, as I grabbed the handle I turned around and there was Mr and Mrs Muir looking at me from the back store room through the gaps they had made in the strips . no doubt thinking that they have thwarted some kind of money laundering scheme I opened the door and left.

Now being a customer for fishing bits and bobs in this shop was not always this daunting. Enter Harry, this charming man who was 60ish was a joint proprietor of the newsagents he was always smartly dress dress in very smart suits which seemed to be the work of tailors from Saville Row, Well tanned he always wore a carnation with his immaculate attire. One very subtle difference between Harry and the Muir’s was that Harry couldn’t give two figs about social standing. When I went in to the shop and Harry was serving me it was always “Its Mr Curnow right yes that right and what can I do for you Mr Curnow” Indeed all my mates got the same polite treatment, It was always Mr Rawle, Mr Bragg, Mr Ford or Mr Perry.

Harry always had time for a short conversation and we found out that it was his idea to have this small fishing section in the shop and very lucrative it was too. Harry also revealed that he was also a fisherman, no ever saw him on the bank though, but no one doubted his word.

When I drive up Parkway on the Sydenham estate which I do when going to fish the Sedgesor Dunwaer ponds I always glance across to where that shop was situated, the entrance part of the Co-op and fondly remember Harry. Unfortunately I remember two other people as we.