One of Watchet Angling Blackest Days

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

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

My peg. Like a mill pond it was.

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

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

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

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

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

The so called match in progress.
End pegger Dave.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tight lines Pete C

The 1955 Angling National.

It was 1954 Ray Parrett who was instrumental in the organising of the 1948 Angling National on the river Huntspill received a querry from the National Federation of Anglers about the possibility of using the river Huntspill once again for the 1955 national. The reason being was that the water that was scheduled for the event would not be ready.

This request posed a problem that needed thinking out. But this plea to use the water would be a great opportunity to make amends for the venues poor performance 7 years previous. Meetings were set up to look in to mechanics of putting together the event. But there were one great snag, it was forecast that the entry had increased by 25%. The number of teams in 1948 was 72 but 1955 the turnout would increase to 99. The number of anglers would be 1,188. A formidable challenge confronted the organising committee enhanced by the fact that only one bank of the Huntspill was to be used, a ruling stipulated by the N.F.A. To stage the match there was only one way it could be done and that was to bring in the use of the the river Cripps and the King Sedgemoor Drain. This would would provide the necessary length to accommodate the requirements. This suggestion was put forward to the N.F.A and it was duly approved.

Part of the match programme.

This acceptance caused a plan of action which began in October 1954 not quite a year before hand. A match this size requires immense preparation and obtaining enough scales believe or not is one of the main problems. Scales were borrowed from clubs as far away as Coventry and Sheffield. Recruitment of a 100 stewards was needed to look after the competitors and to weigh in at the end.

A coach was run over all the routes and everything was timed to such an extent as to take in to account the time needed to load and unload all the anglers and of course their equipment. Military precision was order of the day.

Which water would produce the top weight even with the knowledge of the locals there was a lot of different opinions. Some picked the Huntspill, others opted for the King Sedgemoor Drain. The latter had a mixture of expectation and guesswork. Small matches had been fished at this venue from time to time but it had been kept mainly for the use of the pleasure fisherman. No big match match had ever been held on the Drain so there was no real pointer of how on the big day this water would react especially with some 8 miles of bank being pegged.

A lot of the local organisers were dubious and the thought of hundred of anglers trampling up the banks and scaring fish would contribute to poor weights. A special notice was put in the match programme pleading anglers to keep away from the waters edge. Unfortunately in the main this was not heeded. The general after the match opinion was that competitors going upwards from Bradney and down from Greylake had the effect of driving the fish in to the middle reaches of the venue in the vicinity of the Westonzoyland, the D section of the match. One of the main organisers Ray Perrett was only slightly convinced of this prognosis and his opinion why the winning weight was produced on section D was in effect more or less virgin water, very rarely fished.

Conditions for the match were very favourable indeed unlike 1948. The weather was mild and just enough wind to create a reasonable ripple for the Huntspill.

The Match exceeded all expectations to the relief and joy of the organisers. The outcome wiped out all the bad memories of 1948..

The total weight for 1948 was 539 lb 07oz

The total weight for 1955 was 4036 lb

The top 11 anglers.
The top 4 teams on the day.

The overall winner was one Mr Jack Carr from Sheffield Amalgamated which happened to be the top team. Jack was pegged at D93 on the Westonzoyland stretch. This was the section that was a total unknown and put the clock forward 10 years to the 1965 national and this remote section would once again produce. (see post on 1965 national).

A smiling Jack Carr (right) receiving his well earned trophy.

Jacks story was, he set of determined to catch anything that was going, using a crow quill float (ha yes remember them) taking a weight of 2 AA and a size 18 hook. He laid a path of maggots right across the drain and about 15 minutes in hooked a small roach, then another and followed with one of ten ounces. The next bite he hooked and the rod bent double but alas the fish slipped the hook. His next fish was a handy size bream of a pound and a half. It was at this time he decided to change to a size 14 hook. This proved to be successful, for soon after he was landing bream from two and a half pounds to three and half pounds. Only one fish was lost after the hook change and that was owing to the line snapping due to a shot being nipped to tightly. A few lumps of ground bait and some maggots kept the fish interested while he tackled up once more.

The match was from 11am until 4 pm and by 3.45 pm he was confident he had beaten his previous best weight of 47 lb. and still the fish kept coming. He netted another, by this time his net was solid with fish and the bream’s tail protruded out of the water. Another fish was landed and tail number two was clearly visible. Could the net possibly hold any more fish? His watch said 3.53 p.m. and there was still time. But the fish had the final say and his float did not move again and the whistle sounded.

The winner.

At the weigh in he prayed that his keep net would stand the strain of the weight of fish. In Jacks own words, he seized the top and, on hands and knees reached down reached down into the water with his landing net in an attempt to bring it under the bottom of his keep net. But it couldn’t be done for the latter was so bulging with fish it would not go through the rim of his landing net.

Discarding his landing net he got hold of the bottom and tried to lift it horizontally to distribute the weight as evenly as possible, but it was far to heavy and it got stuck half way. A steward came to his aid and helping arms went around his waist and out came the net. Owing to the limitation of the then standard weighing scales, ten weigh- ins were needed before the stewards announced his weight to be sixty eight pounds and two and a quater ounces, This was almost double the previous record figure for the national which had stood for nineteen years.

Part of the programme showing the sections.

The Westonzoyland stretch or the D section posed a massive problem for the stewards, for there had never been a section in the history of the nationals that had produce such figures, for that day 33 anglers in D section weighed in between them over 1100 lbs an average of over 33 lb each. Bear in mind the capacity of the scales and that the match ended at 4 pm. Well at 6.45 pm a urgent message was received at head quarters for more scales to be sent to D section owing to the fact that the stewards were unable to cope with the tremendous catches. The head quarters for the 1955 National was at the now defunct Prince of Wales pub in Woolavington. This pub closed in 2015 and has now been converted into a convenience store run by the co op. But to get a message from the remote D section on the Kings Sedgemoor Drain to Woolavington is no easy task as us locals will tell you. And do remember this was 1955 and no mobile phones.

The Prince of Wales pub in Woolavington the head quarters in 1955 which is now a Co-op convenience store.

Ray Perrett who walked the banks during the match and watched a great number of anglers came to the conclusion that a lot of the anglers employed the wrong approach. To quote Ray “undoubtedly quite a number of competitors were not used to our type of water and did not make the best of their opportunities. Mistakes were made of plenty and some incapable of profiting from them. For anglers of any experience at all to go on using ultra fine tackle , 18 hooks to nylon after being repeatedly broken by big fish passes my comprehension”.

According to Ray Sheffield Amalgamated were fortunate to win the match, not through any bad fishing on their part, but simply because one angler, of another team, fishing on the Kings Sedgemoor Drain threw away the match. His team finished well up the list, actually only twenty pounds or so behind the winners. They should have been top had he taken his chances given to him.

Ray goes on to say “In the short space of time I watched him, I saw him lose fish after fish, bringing bream of around the two pound mark up to the surface and then losing them. Stewards in the section told me that he had been doing this all day and it was disheartening to watch such an angler being given such an opportunity and letting it slip right away.

The man himself Mr Raymond Perrett.

One of the stewards could not stick it any longer, and after seeing this go on for some time , went outside his province, as it were, and offered him some useful advice. It was to discard very small hooks and change over to a no 12 or 14. Actually this was invaluable advice, coming as it did from a good local angler who knew the water. But it was not taken in the right spirit, and the reply was, “you seem to know all about it, perhaps you could do better.?” The answer from the steward came with out hesitation. It was “give us your rod chum!”

This angler ended up with a only a moderate weight when he should of been well up amongst the top notchers. He completely threw away his chances, for he continued to lose fish up to the final whistle, an opportunity just fritted away. His team could have been champions for the first time had he played his part as he should have done.

One last point to note about this match was owing to the sheer number of anglers and the geography and distances involved, which caused the administration of the match to be no easy task. The winner wasn’t announced until 8:45 pm and indeed some of the weighing in of D section took place in the dark.

Once again I would like to thank John Essex for providing a lot of the material for this article.

Thanks John.

Watchet Angling update.

Notes for the Watchet Angling as you should know by now that both Watchet teams, Black and Red were drawn against Cwmbran Nobblers in the Bait Tech cup. The venue has been decided and thus Avalon Fisheries at Shapwick has been chosen. The date of the match is Saturday the 29th of May. The club match on April the 24th at Landsend is now on the match lake instead of the specimen lake.

Just remains to say to the Watchet mob that our next match is at Sellicks at Summerhayes this Saturday coming April the 3rd.

Tight lines.

Pete C

The 1948 National Angling Championships on the River Huntspill.

World war two had ended three years previous it was now 1948 and the horrors of war still remained fresh in the memories. The population were getting used to being without their loved ones, relatives and the ones who simply did not return. Austerity was the norm, bomb sites were still in attendance throughout the country and rationing went on. The country was exhausted. The spirit of the people which was impossible to subdue or defeat pumped life in to a new beginning. The masses pulled together and laboured back normality. The life of the once was, was slowly being reinstated.

Within the masses was a subset of society we all know well, that of the angler. The desire to get back on the bank never went away. The competitiveness of competition still burned in many and the match scene became vibrant once again. The national angling championships continued again straight after the war in 1945. Okay but the 1948 angling championships on the river Huntspill was different for a number of reasons.

This was far of Somerset, of the beaten track, an unknown to many of the match angling brethren.

The Huntspill was a unique venue at the time. It did not show up on any ordnance survey maps. For officially it did not exist. One thinks of the word river and think of a natural feature. An artifact created by Mother Nature herself. Well the Huntspill is totally artificial, it is man made. The creation of this waterway started back in 1939. The reason for it’s construction was to supply a nearby ammunition factory with 4.5 million gallons of water a day. The project was completed in February 1943. It was a giant undertaking, for its length is roughly 4.9 miles. At the rivers beginning, Gold Corner its width is 160 feet which gradually tappers down to a 120 foot at the outfall where it joins the River Parrett. Both banks has a 1 in 4 slope which extends out to 26ft foot where it then levels of to a depth of 6ft.

The characteristic of the Huntspill.

The venue was put forward by Bridgwater A.A. owing to the fact that the matches fished on venue by the club had been producing very good weights. The National Federation of Anglers (N.F.A.) president, one T. A. Woodhouse O.B.E was sent down to view the venue by his aptly named General Purposes Committee. His mission was to see if there was a suitable length to fish the match. Mr Waterhouse had a good look around, pondered and was convinced. The Huntspill it was.

This is a cutting from the Fishing Gazette about the forth coming event.

Now one can only imagine what the typical northern match angler would of said on hearing about the venue chosen in far of Somerset. To most this was match fishing’s terra incognita, an outpost of match angling.

“The river Huntspill where’s bloody river Huntspill never bloody eard of it.”

“In bloody Somerset bloody ell lad they don’t match fish down there do they, if they do it be with string and bent pin”.

So the scene was set, now this was remember 1948 petrol rationing was still in existence and this was the pre motorway age. But undeterred folks as far away as York and Hull got their angling gear together loaded it on the charabanc said goodbye to their loved ones and of there went to an angling unknown. Now for people who have never heard of a charabanc well it’s a coach from the first part of the 20th.

Charabanc pronounced shar uh bang. This is from French which roughly translated means carriage with wooden benches. There you go you learn something new every day.

The above 2 images are pages from the publication Midland Angler which is a preview of the match.

However no matter how much effort was put in to make this a delightful and agreeable event, Mother Nature had the last say, for the early part of the week running up to the occasion there were 3 hard frosts, a thing that is very rare in Somerset during the month of September. That was bad enough but on the day there was lack of wind and the Huntspill was dead calm. The locals knew conditions were far from ideal. To fish well the Huntspill needs a bit of a chop on the water. For the oganisers it was a big disappointment and they knew what was coming.

The match was fished and the weights were indeed low. The total catch was 539 lb 7oz.

In total there were 72 teams of 12 anglers which equated to 864 anglers fishing.

The final individual placings.
Billy Thompson the overall winner. “Eee I’ve given thee lot a right good kicking”

The overall winner was one Mr William (Billy) Thompson of the Leeds and District team. An angler through and through. A defiant figure indeed, wounded in the great war an action which resulted him being invalided out. Whilst in his local hospital the doctors told him his fishing days could soon be over. Well one could well imagine on what was said by this tough old nut “Eee lad thee may be ready for thy bloody wooden box but I aint” Absconding from his hospital bed he went home got his fishing gear together and joined a match on his local water. Still feeling very ill he just stretched out on the bank and watched the other competitors and eventually giving out advice to the angler on the next peg. In due course he managed to set up and began fishing himself. Catching Roach and Dace he managed to eek out the winning weight of 4 lb. Billy was far from being a one of. Having won his first match in 1913 he continued to cut great swathes in the angling world and ended up with a toll of over 300 match victories. Billy admitted that fishing was the thing that kept him going and alive. The granite block from which he was chiseled has long been out of stock. People of his generation have long since passed away. There is an old adage that goes “they don’t make them like that any more”. In Billy’s case they certainly don’t and the angling world is much poorer for it.

The top 16 teams. Note Bridgwater finished 11th.

The Match in general was a great disapointment, a great many dry netted and after the match feelings were intense. Remember a lot of teams had travelled far for little or no reward. Even in the Leeds and District team which won, out of 12 anglers 3 blanked. To quote from the book The Huntspill River by local angler Ray Perrett who incidentally was captain of the Bridgwater team that day.

“The anglers who took part were naturally disappointed, some to the extent of expressing their feelings quite strongly. It was with a grin That I remember a certain member of the York team saying “well if this is your secret river it’s a great pity you did not still keep it a secret””

The match report from the fishing Gazette. Note on the bottom line where its says Bolton were the runners up, well in fact it was Boston.
The match report from the publication The Midland Angler. Part one,
Part 2
Setting up before the match and not a method feeder in sight.
The Match in progress, note there is only a slight breeze which proved detrimental to the match weights.

The match which shall we say could of been a lot better and a lot of anglers understandably went home frustrated and annoyed. Wind the clock forward to 1954 and the N.F.A approached Bridgwater A.A. to see of the possibility of using Huntspill again for the 1955 Angling National. This would be an opportunity for the river to make amends. But that’s another story.

John Essex

I would like to pay much thanks to one John Essex who provided much of the material for this blog. John is one of the foremost angling historians in the country, not only that he has achieved much success in the match fishing world as well. One of his many honours was to be invited by one of the greatest match anglers ever, Ivan Marks to join his team the Leicester Likely Lads , one of the most formidable teams of the 1970’s. John has picked up 5  Division 1 National team medals and has won numerous top class matches. A back problem caused him to give up the match fishing circuit a situation which made him decide to concentrate on coaching the Leicester junior team and with his skills lead the team to win 5 N.F.A junior national championships. This gentleman is also the author of a book titled The National Angling Championships. A truly authoritative book which traces the full history of the National Angling Championships from its beginning in 1906 right up to 2018. The book is just over 450 pages long and is very well researched and trust me it’s well worth the money

Well worth a read and highly recommended.

The draw has been made for the Bait Tech Supercup and is pictured below. As it stands the matches are to be fished on the weekend of April 24th/25th. However because of Covid 19 these dates could be flexible owing to the problem that Cwmbran might be restricted by different lockdown rules in Wales and might not be allowed to travel to England. Alan Bland the captain of Watchet Black will soon contact the captain of Cwmbran and hopefully the situation may be made clearer.

The date for the next Watchet match has now been changed to April 3rd from March 27th but it’s still at Sumerhayes on Sellicks lake.

So it just remains for me to say thanks for reading and tight lines.

Pete C.

The National Angling Championships 1965.

This is a couple of pictures of a swim. As a swims it does not stand out in anyway particular. it’s a rather unassuming swim, nothing special to note. Not very picturesque or charming. So one can assume it’s a swim or peg if you prefer that is just ordinary and average. This so called run of the mill peg however has a unique feature. It is a swim that is located on the Kings Sedgemoor Drain and is the exact mid point between Parchay and Greylake bridges. It is 1.86 miles from both. As for getting there one can imagine it can be a bit of a trek. It is not helped by the fact that the track alternates from being none-existent to a simple construct created by the ambling of cows. This uneven, rough and bumpy path which fades in and out might be okay for our four legged friends of the bovine family to move over but for us bipeds it a different matter for the ordinary walker or even more so for the angler burden by tackle . On average it takes roughly 40 minutes to get there. This swim is located on the Westonzoyland stretch which in itself is a far of place. One can say about the above mentioned swim its probable that more people have walked on the moon than have fished here.

X marks the sport. The mid point swim.

But one Saturday way back in 1965 the 11th of September to be exact this Westonzoyland stretch and the mid point swim became for a few hours the epicentre or ground zero of the match fishing world. For this day was the day of the 1965 angling national championships.

A few facts from 1965

The venues used were

The river Huntspill.

The river Cripps.

The South Drain.

The Kings Sedgemoor Drain.

110 teams took part.

1320 anglers fished.

The Head quarters for the match was at Westonzoyland air field.

The Draw was at 8am.

It was a 5 hour match.

There was heavy rain the week leading up to the match.

On the day of the match there was a strong wind.

It was the National Angling Championships golden jubilee, ie it was the 50th one to be held.

The HQ was at the Westonzoyland air field, owing to heavy rain in the week prior to the match the place was a bit of a quagmire.

Dave Burr of the Rugby Federation team picked out of the bag peg D63, which is roughly the mid point swim. After being dropped of at Parchay bridge a long walk to his peg was in front of him. Indeed it was the 1.86 miles and from the records he had to pass 133 pegs to get to his. Now bear in mind that this is 1965 and that the fishing trolley was an idea in its infancy. Dave being far sighted however fitted his rather large wicker basket with an axle and 2 five inch wheels. Dave came with intent and a determination, the will to do well. His inventory that day was astounding, 30lb of dry ground bait, 9lb of wet ground bait approximately 2 gallons of squats, 6 pints of pinkies and 4 pints of maggots, some turning to caster. Armed with the wheeled basket, rod holdall and bait bag he set of to his designated peg. But alas it wasn’t a straight forward trek, for half way disaster struck, the axle on his basket broke. So with no alternative he left his bait bag and rod holdall and carried his basket 20 yards, left it and then went back for the bag and holdall took them to the basket and repeated the process. Now I told you it was a long way, well he was ten minutes away from his peg and the starting whistle went. He eventually got to his peg and and realizing he had to do something his first act was to throw a few balls of squats in and then preceded to set up. His approach was to set up a Milbro glass fibre rod with a 506 ABU reel loaded with two and half pound reel line, and use a 4 bb ducker float with size 18 hook. Now I know we live in the age of the mass produced synthetic plastic transparent float with out charm or character and with that some people may not of heard of a ducker float so as the saying goes a diagram is worth a 1000 words. so.

The Ducker float,

Dave had a roach to start with and with the introduction of ground bait started catching some nice size skimmers. But as things was starting to get into gear yet again another set back reared it’s ugly head and this time it was the reel, it was was not feeling right and the line was not running of as it should , so an important decision had to be made and made it was, so Dave broke of above the float made a loop, changed reels to a Mitchel 300 threaded the line through the rings again and rejoined up with his previous float and terminal tackle and carried on as before. Although it wasn’t plain sailing owing to the fact he had lost a few nice fish and had to change hook sizes he did catch quality fish consistently. A while into the match a crowd began to congregate behind Dave and his angling neighbours for this was D section, the section which was predicted by the pundits to produce the winner, as the match went on this angling congregation began to grow even more, the numbers quoted where between 200 to 300 people. Dave and his angling neighbours were pegged on a huge bream shoal that was the resultant of anglers walking to their pegs from Parchay and from Greylake and unnerving the fish towards the middle section which was of course D, an angling equivalent to Grouse beating. Now it all right having a favoured peg in a big match but can you keep your nerve and will you have enough angling prowess to achieve success.

The two photos above show some of the crowd that had gathered behind the anglers on the prolific D section.

The 5 hours were up the whistle was blown and it was now the time of reckoning, the time of judgement. The weigh in. This weighing in became a focus of great expectation and curiosity and hence the great thong of spectators who had gathered during the match now started inching forward to crowd around the anglers in D section with interest.

Winning match weights of 150 lb are not uncommon nowadays so you may be surprised that the match scales used on this particular day only went up to 10 lb. Yep that’s right just 10 lb, this type of scales where considered sufficient owing to the fact the people didn’t catch big weights in them days. So weighing in was no easy task and the scales had to be used several times for the weighing process for the anglers in D section. The huge bream shoal that was spread across a lot of D section did not make the scales men job easy as this massive shoal of fish created the fact that 7 anglers in a row amassed a total weight of 304 lb between them. The weighing of D section to the relief of the people who was on scales duty had come to an end and after quick calculations it was found that after early set backs Dave with a cool head and the right frame of mind achieved the winning weight of 76 lb 9oz, not only was this the winning weight of the 1965 National but it was a the highest winning in the history of Nationals at that time. A record that would stand for 25 years.

The long homeward journey back to Parchay bridge car park for Dave was a much more joyous occasion than the calamitous trek to his peg. For amongst the great ensemble of spectators who had watched the goings on was a few of Dave friends from the Rugby Federation team. The espirit de corps took hold and one guy carried his basket, another his rod holdall, and another friend his bait bay. What a jolly lot the Rugby Federation where.

Dave Burr the eventual winner landing a nice fish from peg D63.
Dave in action once again.
The moment of truth Dave Burr help to weigh his catch.

Below is the table of the results of the top 8 individuals

Note all these anglers were in section D.

1stD BurrRugby Federation76 lb 9 oz
2ndC CloughCoventry55 lb 3 oz
3rdR GwinnettDerby53 lb 8 oz
4thL LivardGreat Yarmouth52 lb 8oz
5thN A MumfordNotts Federation51 lb
6thN SwanGloucester AA48lb 14 oz
7thD CooperWarrington45 lb 5 oz
8thG D AdcockSpalding43 lb 6 oz
Dave the winner stepping up to the platform to get his rewards.
What a collection for Mr Burr.

Once back at HQ its was confirmed what everyone had suspected that Dave Burr was the overall winner and what added to a great day was the congratulations from one of the greatest anglers of his generation the great Billy Lane. Dave for his incredible achievement was awarded a plethora of cups and a few hundred quid to boot, courtesy of the bookies and the pools. Dave was far from being a one hit wonder indeed he was a regular winner of many big matches and went on to fish for England. Another point to note about this triumph was the weight that Dave caught was instrumental in helping his team to secure top spot and push the favourites Coventry in to 2nd place.

The top team positions.

1stRugby Federation93 lb 7oz
2ndCoventry and District86lb 3oz
3rdDerby A.A.70 lb 9oz
4thGloucester United A.A.70lb 7oz
5thNotts and District Federation65lb 15 oz
Colin Clough of Coventry who achieved 2nd place was pegged next to Dave Burr, Note the chop on the water.
One smiling R Gwinnett for Derby who was 3rd.
This is one of the bream caught by L Livard which helped him to 4th spot.
N Mumford playing a fish from peg D 62. He claimed 5th.
This young man is one 17 year old Nicholas Swan also from D section who finished a very creditable 6th .
Young Mr Swan again whose team was Gloucester.
This is Ralph Cooper of Warrington looking pleased with his efforts which gained him 7th spot.
Spalding Angler Mr G Adcock working hard for 8th.

An angler pegged next to Parchay bridge.

The dust from this match has long since settled and this far flung place, this stretch has now returned to its default setting of solitude and abandonment. Some of the angling brethren will give this stretch a character assassination. The arguments for such a case would be it’s to far to walk, the path is bad. the swims are crap. How do I know if there’s any fish there. etc. etc.

Once again this place reverts back to an angling outpost.
The once was section D now undisturbed, tranquil and serene.

These points are justifiable and some what warranted. The commercials have made angling hassle free and comfortable. These modern creations has made places like this more or less redundant and unwanted. I myself will not give this place any negativity or criticism for me it has a certain type of attractiveness an allure and appeal and hence in the summer I hope to do a video in some shape or form from here. Whether you are a person whose glass is half full or half empty on this place there is one thing however that you cannot do. You cannot and I shall repeat you cannot ever take away this locations history and its place in angling folklore.

Two foot notes from this match that I managed get from the angling press of the day.

Two stewards , Edwin and Brian David on J section on the river Huntspill at Woolavington bridge were horrified when a small car drew up and a man and two small boys got out. Complete with fishing tackle they approached the river, lined with the country’s best match anglers.

“what d’you think you’re doing?” asked the stewards .

“going fishing” was obivous reply.

Upon being told that they could not fish there then, the highly indignant reply was “why not everyone else is”.

The Coventry team who where the Man City of their day stayed on to fish a match on the Bridgwater and Taunton canal the next day (Sunday). The one and only Billy Lane had top weight of 4 lb 11 oz 2nd was Joe Dyer with 4 lb 6oz and 3rd was Norman Webb with just over 3 lb.

Billy Lane with his haul of trophies from a life time of fishing.

Acknowledgement. I want to thank the great man himself Dave Burr after conversing with him through email decided to send me spare copies of the Angling times and Angler’s Mail from that time. Dave I am truly grateful. Also I want to pay thanks to John Ellis who is the National Fisheries and Angling Manager for Canal and Rivers trust who helped me to get in to contact with Dave.

I obtained some information for the above post from an excellent book by John Essex entitled The National Angling Championships, in it Mr Essex has written in the chapter about the 1965 National. I quote “Congratulations to secretary Ray Perrett and the South, East, and West Somerset Federation for their brilliant organisation. Everything, including the coaches went with out a hitch”. Ray Parrett was a stalwart of angling in the Bridgwater and Somerset area. He fought tooth and nail to ensure the National in 1965 was held locally. Unfortunately Ray is no longer with us but owing to his contribution to the local angling fraternity I will do a post on him in the near future.

This post is late in coming owing to the fact that my broad band connection was down for nearly 2 weeks.

Until next time take care and tight lines.

Pete C.