Brownes Pond and The Observers Book of Coarse Fishing

For people who do not know Brownes Pond in Bridgwater one can honestly say in terms of fishing venues go it’s more Old Kent Road as opposed to Park Lane or Mayfair. It location is its Achilles heel, for where it nestles between Elmwood avenue and the canal, as well as being a short walk from town and a stones throw from the so called notorious Hamp estate has seen this place became a beeline for some of societies undesirables, the low life of Bridgwater. The vast majority of visitors to the pond are decent people who come to enjoy the surroundings and the pleasures of being able to relax and take in the view offered by the pond itself. A few people however which can be truly be put in to the group marked Homo Waster has left their foot print around this venue in terms of beer cans, empty drink bottles and fast food wrappers etc oh and not forgetting that most symbolic item of this subset of civilization who destiny seems to be the benefits office, police cell and the probation service yep you’ve guessed it the used hypodermic needle. Drug dealers that scourge of scourges are known to frequent this place and make a few bob add a certain cloud of ruin to the area.

However with all the negatives that surround the place it still has enough strength in its character just to hold its head above water and provide a tolerable days fishing. Which by the way is free.

My first encounter of Brownes pond was way back in the mid seventies when the street gang decided to try something different and venture from the normal fishing haunt of Dunwear and try something new. Brownes pond was picked and the gang encountered their first fishing session at venue. What I remember from this trip is that it was the first time I caught fish on a first time visit to a venue. Soon after another visit resulted in me catching a small Tench but for reasons that have been lost in the mists of time. The place was never frequented by the gang again and Brownes was slowly forgotten and it faded from ones mind.

It was a while later after our 2 expeditions and the gang one sunny morning were sat on our front lawn dwelling on what we could do for the forth coming afternoon. “There he is there’s Mike” Mike was one of the gang but for some reason today he was later than usual. He was walking down the street heading our way. The manner in which he was walking was determined by the fact that he was reading a book. Mike was a tall lad and as a result he had a very big stride and big feet to match which was noted by us kids especially when one had to walk along side him. Owing to this characteristic he had the occasional nickname of the cartoon character Claude Hopper.

The one and only Claude Hopper.

But today his gait was more of an amble. The gang watched Mike approached the pavement outside our house with his eyes still fixated on the pages of the book he suddenly looked up realized that he had arrived at his intended destination altered course went up the garden path then crossed over onto the lawn and stopped at where we were. The gang were silent and all looked up at Mike. “good book” came a comment. Mike held the book in a way in which all could see and spoke ” This is the book that will do it for me” This was the first time I set eyes on the book The Observers Book Of Coarse Fishing by Peter Wheat.

This is my treasured copy bought in 1976 for 90 pence.

“Here have a ganders” and Mike gave the book to Dave who was nearest. Dave sat crossed legged and began to peer into the pages occasionally turning the book to get a better perception of some of the diagrams. Dave became engrossed and this lead the the rest of us to shimmy towards him and peer over his shoulder. A short while past and it was my turn to have a look. The book came with a dust jacket I opened the book at the front inside cover and flipped away part of the dust jacket that was covering part of a diagram. I look at the diagram (which is shown below) and immediately my thoughts were of Brownes Pond Why well have a look at the diagram and it depicts roughly the same characteristics.

The inside cover which made me think of Brownes Pond.

But this picture was taster of how the book was put together. This little gem of a fishing publication is some what hard to put into a specific category in terms of, is it a childrens book, is it an adults book or is it a reference book. Well in my humble opinion it is a mixture of all three. You can treat as you see fit.

But the over riding feature of this book that it draws you into a slightly surreal world, a world that every wants to be part of and wants to know a world made simple. Just look at the picture below.

Chilling out in an ideal world.

This was a book written in the days before poles and commericals so yea you can say it’s dated now but it deserves a place on all angling historians book shelves for its graceful and stylish manner. And the pleasingly, ingenious and simple portrayal of angling in the 1970’s. As a lasting tribute to this neat and well put together book every member of the gang within a month had bought a copy.

Peter Wheat wrote a few other books such as

The Fighting Barbel indeed Peter Wheat was for a while the president of the Barbel Society.

Also Mr. Wheat wrote Angling Down The Years.

But Peter Wheat also penned the book The Observers Book of Fly Fishing.

It is at this stage I would to give you a few facts about the humble Observer book publications.

The first book was on british bird published way way back in 1937.

In 1942 a special edition was published called Airplanes its main purpose was to help people in war time Britain to help spot enemy airplanes. Copies go for over £250 on Ebay.

There was in total a 101 different titles altogether, such subjects included

Common Fungi.

Mosses and Liver Wort.

Furniture.

Pottery and Porcelain

Sewing

Glass

and to cap it all brought out in 1999 was wait for it The Observer Book of Observer Books.

The Coming year

The fixture list for the forth coming match government policy permitting is listed below.

End of 2020 2021 Season.

Please note we are down to fish Landsend on April 24th but this clashes with the Angling Times Super cup. As far as the the Angling Times dated January 12th 2021 the competition is still going ahead but obviously this is subject to government policy. If the the Super cup goes ahead then the Landsend match will be on the 1st May.

Well lets hope this lockdown number 3 will soon pass.

But until then Tights Lines.

Pete C

The Resurrection of Dunwear Ponds.

There has been a right mixture of noises emulating from Dunwear Ponds on and of over the past 18 months, in the form of banging, bashing, clattering, hammering , sawing and grunting. These sounds of human endeavour come from a feisty band of fishing diehards who it seems have the insight and determination to bring these ponds that are etched in the very foundation of the Bridgwater Angling association a major make over and to pull them in to the 21st century. Inertia has been dispersed and a get up and go attitude now permeates through the echelons of the Bridgwater club. This band of the type of new broom sweeps clean merchants has recognized the fact that Dunwear ponds as a fishing venue was in decline a mish mash of over grown swims and busted pallets, dog mess and litter and the odd used hypodermic. Having a public right away which cuts through the ponds from Sedgemoor Road to Dunwear Lane attracts a problem of social misuse. The lets plonk ourselves down at the waters edge and get pissed brigade who in their own minds thinks it’s okay to take over swims and spoil it for the rest seemed to have made the place there own. In terms of the average angler spending a pleasant days fishing and not worrying about ones safety had became the stuff of the once was. Dunwear had become a basket case. large areas of the fishery took on the air of redundancy. A place of times past.

So without pulling rabbits out of hats, common sense has prevailed and a simple solution has been implemented to stop the undesirables, that section of society who delve into the art of leaving litter beer cans and used needles. This little group has now been thwarted by…. well they say a picture is worth a thousand words.

Another gate has been put up to thwart the public from entering parts of South Pit.

These gates do not cure the problem of public access entirely as some swims are still accessible owing to the problem of the public right of way. But never or less this is a start. And a very good start it is to.

The erecting of gates and fences are not the only things that has been going on at the Dunwear complex. The renewal of pallets have been taking place. Now I know that the Carpers of Dunwear has given names to the most popular swims and pallets such as slopey, killer, pylon and a few others to boot. But not being a member of the Dunwear Carping fraternity I haven’t the foggiest what the names of the two pallets that are on big pit and that you get to from the back of north pond. Well names aside these two platforms has also been replaced by the gang and a mighty fine job they have done to. Not the easiest of things to construct but never or less this noticeable achievement should not go amiss.

This is the left hand pallet as you approach the two pallets from the bank of North pond.
This is the the pallet on the right.
This is the path that leads from the back of North pond to an island and then on the other side of the island is a path of planks leading to the two platforms.
This is the path on the other side of the island leading up to the right hand pallet.
The Pylon swim has also been given a make over.

Another great example of the work being done at the Dunwear complex is the railway pit. This quaint little pond had through many years of neglect evolved in to a semi quasi nature reserve. This was the location of where many a youngster of the Sydenham Comprehensive school (pre early eighties) served his fishing apprenticeship. It was an easy lake to fish, and was a good water to fish in winter. All parts of the pond was accessible There was three good size swims on the far side i.e. the railway bank. But over the ravages of time and complimented by the encroachment of nature these swims became inaccessible and abandoned and later they just became fond memories. But a jolly band of volunteers have took hold of the situation and armed with spades, shears, chainsaws and a mini digger gave the good old railway pit a major sorting out. The effort has paid of and once again the far bank is now usable.

As you can well see that the far bank has been cleared. This photo has been taken from the Sedgemoor road entrance.
This photo was taken looking towards the opposite end from the Sedgemoor road entrance.

However at the time of writing the pond is still closed. This pond however had became the victim over the last few years with the dreaded water primrose, the aquatic equivalent to Covid 19. This beastly water plant which took root at the Sedgemoor road end is classed as an invasive species. This heinous bio mass has the ability to form a very dense almost impenetrable mat and once taken hold has the wicked ability to deplete the oxygen levels in the affected water.

A place where they had a very bad case of Water Primrose, thankfully this was not Railway pit.

It further releases chemicals that suppresses other organisms leading to a build up of toxins and the poisoning of the water itself. This demon of water is also classed as a economic pest as its growth can impede waterways, drainage systems, and cause flooding. So you can see that there was as you might call a bit of a problem. But owing to contractors being called in the situation has been eradicated. So one can say Railway pond has been through the mill in recent years but the light is at the end of the tunnel it seems.

Things in angling terms these days are up in the air. The third lock down has caused a bit of surprise and confusion. First of all on the announcement of a 3rd lock down it was thought that angling would be permitted by the government. But the government being the government at first said no. Even the non anglers at my place of work were surprised at the decision. But owing to the intervention of the voice of angling the Angling Trust (I am a member and I urged every angler to join https://anglingtrust.net/ ) Boris and co changed their minds. But It seems that some waters are open and some has decided to be kept closed. At the time of this blog Bridgwater AA are allowing fishing but Amalgamated Fisheries who owns Pawlett ponds first said yes and then a day or so later said no to the opening of their waters. Like wise Landsend fisheries has decided to stay shut so they can do some maintenance. But Sedges according to their Facbook page will be open. So the lesson here is before you go fishing is check.

Before I go there was a couple a of photos that I missed off from I think two blog posts back and that was of the river Huntspill and showing how bad things have got with this venue.

This is from Withy Grove bridge looking towards the motorway.
From Withy Grove bridge looking towards Woolavington bridge.

So you can see why Bridgwater AA are not paying for this water any more and who can blame them. Totally unfishable.

Tight lines

Pete C