Match Fished at Summerhayes on 3rd April 2021

On January 4th 2021 another lock down was announced. So where match fishing was concerned, the bugle was sounded, the last post was played, the flag lowered, the draw bridge was pulled up and our beloved sport once again went in to stasis. For 3 months it was pleasure fishing only which is definitely better than the first lock down. But us band of brothers who have been embedded with the love of angling and a competitive spirit had just had to grin and bear it. Come April 3rd and the superlatives struggles to get the measure of the of the moment, the atmosphere of banter and expectation that flowed through the car park at Summerhayes fisheries. For this was Watchet Angling’s first match after lockdown, the gang was back. We were momentary united in the knowledge that once again for the foreseeable future that match fishing was back and that we can once again indulge and cherish. So at 10 o’clock the whistle was blown and a mixture of the pious and the ungodly, the haves and the have nots and the gifted and not so gifted took up the challenge once more. A new chapter has now started and the stage has been set, the gauntlet have been thrown down once more, let the rivalry begin.

Just look at this lot, if you were to grab each one by their ankles turn them up side down, and give them a good shaking not even a total of £5 would roll out.
Dave Gartenfeld and Alan Jenkins. The smiles says it all, It’s great to be back.
Alan the match secretary on the left and newbie Nigel Coram on the right.
NHS hero, Dave Colley who came 3rd. He looks like me after I’ve read my bank statement.
Nice to see you again Phil Dodd.
This is Shaun Dyke, another new kid on the block, Welcome mate.

First on the day, was Rob Dodd who was on peg 15, Rob caught the bulk of his weight of fish at 16 meters to the island using maggot. This was a bit of an effort owing to the fact that the wind which strong at times was in his face. But undeterred he persevered throughout to bag the winning catch of 61 lb 08 oz.

With fag in gob, is the eventual winner Rob Dodd, to his left is newbie Shaun.

2nd place was Ian Townsend who on peg 23 fished the pole to his left margin for an all Carp haul of 46 lb 15 oz The bait employed was meat and corn.

Ian on the right who got 2nd place discussing tactics with Paul Smith who came 7th.

With a weight of 44 lb 13 oz was 3rd place Dave Colley our NHS hero. Dave used a pellet feeder to the island and his main bait was sweetcorn. Peg 8 which was golden peg was his home for the match.

Mr Eric Searle who was on peg 11 kept things simple by fishing to his left at a meters length to tempt 35 lb 05 oz all on maggot. He achieved 4 th spot.

In 5th place was Dave Nash who was on unfancied peg number 2. He did really well to eek out 15 lb 04 oz of silvers and 19 lb lb 12 oz of Carp, Fishing 4 meters out on the pole with single and double red maggot got him a total weight of 35 lb. Dave achieved the top slivers bag.

Top silvers bagger Mr Nash having a nice cuppa before the start.

6th place was taken by match secretary the one and only Alan Bland. Alan’s tactic was to fish down the edge to his left, and to employ meat as his bait. Alan drew peg 19. He put 29 lb 09 oz on the scales.

Paul Smith who in in 7th place fished on peg 22 employed maggot and pellet to the far side both on the deck and later on shallow. Also caught one on bomb and bread. His total for the match was 25 lb 14 oz.

On peg 13 unlucky for some, was Alan Jenkins, Alan fished mostly cage feeder with micros in the feeder and no ground bait and on the hook he used banded pellet. Alan bagged a reasonable catch of 25 lb 06 oz. Alan finished in 8th place.

Occupying 9th place was Phil Dodd, Phil made himself comfy on his chair and just used the method feeder with dead maggot as bait. His weight for the day was 22 lb 15 oz. This was achieved from peg 3.

In 10th place was new kid on the block Shaun Dyke who fished from peg 14. Shaun mostly fished to the island and as a consequence tempted a total weight of 20 lb. His main bait was meat.

Another new kid on the block is Nigel Coram. Nigel who happens to be a bailiff for Pawlett ponds took up 11 th spot with a total of 18 lb 07 oz. Nigel used both pole and feeder rod. His main bait on the day was maggot. Just a word of thanks mate for helping me with my number 4 and 5 sections of my pole when the bloody things got jammed.

Your truly was in 12th place from peg 16 with 16 lb 03oz with an all Carp catch, 5 in all. I did not have my first bite until 3 hours in. All my fish came from both margins on worm. 2 from my left side and 3 from my right.

Using the method feeder with banded 4 mill pellet right across to the island from peg 5 was the brummie Dave Gartenfeld. Dave ended up with a weight of 14 lb 13 oz and 13th place.

At number 14 spot was Bob Pascoe, owing to the fact that Bob has got a few personnel issues he didn’t turn up until 10 o’clock, so he was at a disadvantange right from the start. But Bob being Bob put a brave face on things and caught 2 Carp for 5lb 5 oz and 1 lb 10 oz of silvers for a total weight of 6 lb 15 oz. Bob’s peg was number 6.

The proof.
Railway pond Dunwear looking towards the bank on the railway side.

I was talking to one of the bailiffs at Dunwear ponds today Monday 5th and there appears to be interesting developments happening at the venue. The Railway pond has had extensive work done to it in terms of the banks. The plan is to let the swims on the public foot path side to over grow and give them back to nature. The main area for fishing in railway pond will be the far bank ie the railway bank and up the sides. Later this week apparently people will be coming to visit Railway pond to measure it up for pallets. There is also rumours afoot as well and I stress rumours in the strongest possible terms that there is a possibility of spaces being made just inside the gate at the Sedgemoor road end for car parking. Now like I said it is only rumours.

The next match for the Watchet club will be this coming Saturday April 10th at Trinity Woodlands.

So until then take care.

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.

PositionNameTeamWeight
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.

PositionTeamWeight
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.

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

Winter Match Fished The Fast Stretch River Tone.

Years past they used to light beacons on the hilltops to send momentous news across the country. If such a practice was still in use today then the December night would have been lit from one end of the land to the other, The darkness of the night would have been eradicated. Come morning the town crier with red tunic, three corned hat, hand bell and scroll. Would shout hear “yee hear yee Match fishing is back god save the queen”

Good News.

But still social distancing still have to be observed and no kissing and cuddling is allowed.

So Match fishing is back and in the case of the Watchet club it was not marked by the most wondrous fire work display but by the proverbial damp squib.

Now a good old chin wag to ones self and counting the hairs on the palm of ones hand are as they say is the first signs of madness. But surely and what cannot be denied or disputed that the grey matter is on the way out and the brain cells are starting to misfire and the next level of mental agility is that of a life of ga ga is to fish the fast stretch of the river Tone in the conditions that greeted the Watchet mob on Saturday the 5th of December 2020.

Well 8 hardy souls with so called sound mental health took up the challenge.

Well from a personal point of view this is what happened. I set up one stick float rod and before the off had a fair few trots through the swim. The only way it seemed to get a clear run through and not hit any snags MOSTLY was to set the depth at 2.5 feet. Not ideal as the average depth was nearer 6. Whistle goes, and every time I trotted down one of two things happened. One’s float goes under ….. snag or if I did get a good run through I would always end up with a twig or leaf on the end of the hook. After about an hour I had enough twigs and leafs on the bank to build an Eagle nest.

Now the temperature was such that if the mercury in any out door thermometer in the locality was showing above freezing it meant either. a) it was broke b) it was lying. The weather was grim It rained and it was a good job I wasn’t a brass monkey else I would have ended up a eunuch.

Just after the hour my the float glided down and under it went. I struck, the rod bend, snag, a bloody big one at that too. I pulled on the rod and twang. Then I looked at the float at my feet, it was wrapped in line and shot minus me hook. I pondered and came to the conclusion that I had more chance of getting to the moon and back on a pogo stick than catching a fish. I was soaked and my fingers were numb owing to the conditions that would not look out of place at the north pole. My sanity triumphed and I decided to chuck in, throw in the towel, pack up. In doing so I calculated that I did at least do my bit and took some pressure of the NHS, because if I stayed any longer I would have had to go to the nearest casualty department and have my finger amputated owing to frost bite. Dave Nash had the same Idea and packed up half an hour later, leaving 6 hardly souls who no doubt was wishing for the men in white coats to come along, tap them on the shoulder and whisked them of to a nice warm padded cell.

But apparently perseverence did pay of or did it I’m not sure.

PositionAnglerWeightPeg no
1stPhil Dodd4lb4
2ndIan Townsend2lb 8oz5
3rdRob Dodd1 lb 13 oz1
4thPaul Smith1 lb 4 oz9
5thAlan Bland11 oz3
6thDave ColleyDNW7

The winner of this most unmomerable match was Mr Philip Dodd. Phil pulled out of the draw bag ( well it was my hat really) peg number 4 which owing to the fact he pulls out this peg every time he fishes the place is now the aptly named Doddy’s peg. Phil fished maggot feeder and manged to get a Chub and Roach and by sheer angling skill it seems managed to lasso an eel.

2nd place was Brummie Ian Townsend with 2 fish a Chub and a Grayling for 2lb 8oz. The method used was feeder. I did speak to Ian just after I packed up, who at the time happened to be sat on his hands owing to the polar conditions and he was ruing the fact that he had a lift because if he came in his own car he would of packed up before me.

3rd was Robb Dodd whose weight was 1 lb 13 oz. This consisted of a Chub and a trout.

Paul Smith occuppied 4th spot with a weight of 1 lb 4 oz. This catch was made up of Roach, Minnows and a Chub. Paul used a varity of methods for his haul.

5th was Alan Bland whose only bite resulted in a Chub of 11 oz.

Dave Colley who stayed to the bitter end had no bites and deemed his peg unfishable. But should be mentioned for his persistence and possible insanity (only kidding).

Me and Dave Nash PUFO’d (packed up F**ked off).

Ringing Alan Bland for the post match debrief he mentioned a characteristic of the match or in particular the match venue in which every one I guess noticed subconsciously. The River Tone is of course a natural feature which has all the attributes like any other river, but this particular day the river came with extra baggage caused by the society we live in. This extra element reminded Alan of a certain game show that used to be on Auntie Beeb on Saturday evenings. This Stalwart of the entertainment establishment was none other than The Generation Game. So what is the connection between The Generation Game and the river Tone on this particular day. Well at the end part of the show was the conveyor belt which doesn’t need any introduction. So one is fishing away watching the water and the flow and in ones head you can hear the commentator of the show instead of saying a cuddly toy, a teasmaid, a toaster a ironing board etc One can hear him say, a coke can, a football, a British beer can, a foreign beer can, a crisp packet as all these objects passes ones peg.

From 1971 until 1977 the show was presented by the one and only Bruce Forsythe who later went on to present another game show Play Your Cards Right which featured the Brucie Bonus. Now hand on heart I bet no one had a bonus in this match.

The next match will be on January 9th 2021 on the fast stretch on the River Tone.

(Right where’s my pogo stick see if I can reach the Sea of Tranquility).

Tight lines

Pete C.

Two Great Loses.

So once again we are enduring another lock down. Lock down number two. Not as bad as the lock down we had in March because we can still go fishing. But not Match fishing, unfortunately. Now one angling club based in the West Midlands, one with the name Hankat Angling Society thought that they would chance their luck and hold a match during this lock down period but it seems that they have come unstuck and have received a warning from the Canal and Rivers Trust about the possibility of losing their fishing rights. Here is the except from the Canal and Rivers Trust website.

The Canal & River Trust (CRT) have written to HanKat Angling Society, based in the West Midlands, after a fishing match was held on a local canal at the weekend in contravention of the new Covid-19 regulations which includes restrictions on attending or organising public gatherings of more than two persons, including  sporting competitions. This was backed up by the Environment Agency and the Police. The offence attracts fines of up to £10,000.

So basically it is not worth the risk.

On the 8th of November 2020 a piece of angling history passed away and what a sizable piece it was too. Joss Saunders was the embodiment of the local match fishing fraternity for many years. His match fishing credentials were sounder than the bank of England and his reputation undisputable. Yours truly was in a prime position to get to know the grand master as his sister Molly and niece Susan where neighbours back in my School boy days. Such was Joss’s standing even before I even dreamt about going fishing I knew about his angling accomplishments.

My first real dealings with Joss was when I was nine and Joss must have been approaching forty. Joss’s niece Susan was part tomboy and a solid member of the street gang, Sue who was a year older than me would always tag along with the gang when we went fishing. Well I had just graduated from the days of dead lining over at the now defunct local ponds (Bower) to being in procession of my first rod and reel. This milestone in my angling career was achieved by my dear old dad buying me a Winfield beginners float fishing set from Woolworths. This iconic symbol of cheapness just, just managed to stay within the boundary of practicability.

This so called package consisted of a 6 foot spinning rod with plastic handle, one of the most basic manufactured fix spool reels ever made, which came with line on the spool. A packet of size 8 hooks which had 2 barbs on the shank and a packet of drilled bullet s for weights and a float which had the same size and shape as a duck egg.

I just tackled the rod up in the garden to the best of my extremely limited angling knowledge when a happy go lucky Susan appeared. She seemed just as excited as me about having a fishing rod. She beamed ” Uncle Joss has just arrived to visit mum I’ll take the rod in and show him and see what he says”. With that she took the made up rod went up to their back door opened it and with some delicate maneuvering entered and when able to, closed the door behind her. Now bare in mind the set up. A size 8 hook tied to roughly 10 lb line and 2 round drilled bullet weights knotted on the line to cock a oval shape float which had the same volume of a coke can. This was on par with presenting a plate of toast with a topping of cold cabbage to Gordon Ramsay and saying “do you think I will make it as the head chef of the Savoy”, Or a scribbled picture of a match stick man and saying to Leonardo Da Vinci do you think it is worthy to be hung in the same room as the Mona Lisa.

I waited outside for what seemed about 5 minutes, Susans’s back door open once again and at first I was greeted by the top ring of my rod and then next ring and so on until Sue had fully emerged. Her face was expressionless.

“well what did he say”

“hmm”

“your uncle Joss what did he say”

“hmm”

“Sue what did he say”

“oh he said…… he said…… He said it was heavy”

” Heavy”

“Yea that’s right he said it was heavy”

“Is that all he said”

“Yea thats’s all he said, he just said it was heavy”

(Naivety now takes over)

” I reckon he means it’s for heavy fish”

Sue replied ” yea I think so too”

I think Joss was being some what diplomatic.

I got to know Joss better as time went on. When I started fishing the senior matches with the Bridgwater club he was still very active with the match scene and he still seemed an un movable colossus still ahead of the game. Not once did I ever beat Joss in a match, he was the bench mark. He set the standard in which many could never reach.

From the Bridgwater Mercury from way back in 1970.

Joss lived in Bristol Road just a few doors up from me and we became really good friends indeed, such that I spent many an hour sat in one of his arm chairs in his front room holding conversation and 90% of the time the topic of course was fishing. But one particular time we were chatting he leaned forward in his chair and pointed to me in an unformal way ” you know Pete even if I had won a match I would always reflect back and think how could I’ve improved things what could I’ve done better to put more fish in the net” These words where from an angler who had the compulsion, the will and drive to win to be successful and successful he was. Rest in peace Joss.


Note not a trolley in sight.

Last month I thought I treat my self and buy a brand new book. Buying a book that is new is as rare as yours truly having top weight in a match. Owing to the fact that my book buying is done amongst the plethora of different charity shops that seem to have taken over the town, the review of this book however warranted me to dig deep in to the depths of ones pocket and purchase A book called The National Angling Championships by John Essex. This is a book that is well worth the money as it has over 460 pages. Using this well written and well researched book I went and picked out the amount of times the nationals were held down this neck of the woods. Here’s the list.

Note the number of teams in 1965. The number of anglers who took part then was a staggering 1320. It hard to imagine a match of that size and complexity being held nowadays. And holding it locally is now totally out of the question. The state of the river Huntspill is so decrepit now that even holding a small match now more or less impossible.

The last match that the Watchet mob fished on the Huntspill was on the 24th August 2019. This was fished at Woolavington on the Bridgwater bank going towards the motorway bridge. 10 anglers took part. I remember starting 20 minutes late in this match because I had to clear my peg.

So there you have it the results of probably the last match fished on the Huntspill by Watchet Angling Club. In terms of Match fishing the Huntspill it brought on the atmosphere of the bell, book and candle. The bell tolled, the book was closed, light a candle to match fishing on the Huntspill if you wish.

The next match with conditions allowing will be on the fast stretch of the River Tone on December 5th. (Government allowing).

Tight Lines Pete C

Optional Winter Match fished at Parchay on the K.S.D on 31 October 2020

Once again we had to put up with the same weather as that of the Prince Edward islands (see last blog post). 8 people turned up and 1 took exception to the inclement ( a lovely word to describe the conditions) weather and fearing that later in the day that the Environment Agency would open up the flood gates and run the so called flood water of which would cause mayhem to the fishing, turned tail and went back home. So 7 hardy souls remained to battle and endure the remnants of hurricane Zeta and storm Aiden.

Before the draw Alan Bland was tasked to hand out what can only be described as a small gift on be half of a dear friend and doyen of the club one Tony Richards who alas has been suffering ill health and is unable to participate in his favourite pass time at present. So with thought and lovely gesture Tony gave a bag of ground to each member who turned up. Unfortunately Tony is unable to leave his house at present so Alan done the honours. Tony our thoughts are with your in your difficult hour and on behalf of every recipient many thanks and get well soon.

Many Thanks Tony.

The Results

PositionAnglerweightPeg
1stRob Dodd11 lb 08 oz79
2ndPaul Smith11 lb 06 oz82
3rdDave Nash8 lb 09 oz84
4thAlan Bland5 lb 05 oz85
5thPete Curnow3lb 06 oz80
6thIan Townsend3 lb 02 oz81
DNWIEric SealeXXXXX86

First on the day was end pegger on peg 79 the one and only Rob Dodd. Rob had a simple approach that of whip with caster over hemp. This guy put 11 lb 08 oz on the scales.

Robs winning weight.

2nd top weight was Paul Smith, Paul was pipped by just 2 oz by Rob. Fishing mainly waggler with double red landed 11 lb 06 oz from peg 82. His method with the waggler was to fish the middle about 6 inches over depth with the tip sticking out more than usual to get decent size skimmers.

Thanks for the tip Paul.

2nd placed battling with the elements

3rd was Mr Dave Nash aka silvers bagger. Dave put together a net of 8 lb 09 oz. From 84 the method employed was waggler and maggot.

4th spot went to Alan Bland from peg 85 Alan the match secretary and a mighty fine job he does too, put on the scales 5 lb 05 oz. The tactics employed was short pole, maggot and caster.

5th spot was yours truly. I kept things simple with waggler and maggot. From peg 80 I managed to scrap together a weight of 3 lb 06 oz.

6th spot was Ian Townsend who could get the title of Mr inconsistent. Match before last DNWI (Sedges) , last match crushed it with a really good win at Summerhayes and now once again find himself at the wrong end of the table with a weight of 3 lb 02 oz from peg 81 . So next time it seems he is due another win. Ian did not have the best of starts by breaking his pole.

Eric Searle on peg 86 nearest the bridge DNWI. But fair shout to him he stuck at it to the bitter end. Eric did comment that at one stage he did not have a bite for 3 hours.

The norm before the start of the match if i am in the position of being ready before the of, is to get up from ones peg and have a wander up and down the bank and give abuse to the other competitors. This it seems is the only part of match fishing that I’m any good at. Any how this particular match I had just set up and was ready to disembark my peg when who should appear. None other than the eventual winner Rob Dodd. Conversation ensued and of course the subject was fishing. We both reminisced about our times in the juniors etc. Then it came to the subject of winning matches now people who are Au Fait with the local match angling scene will know that Mr Dodd is no stranger to winning the odd match or two.

” I have won a match myself Rob” Rob looked at me in such away that he seemed he was Startled. He recovered his composure “oh yea I remember the Huntspill” . he managed to utter.

“That was 2014 mate I won one more recent than that”

Taken aback once again “Really”

” Yep 3 year ago that knock up we had at Burton Springs”

After regaining back some sense of normality “oh yea I remember”

I went on to explain to the amusement of Rob that such a rare occasion warranted a memento, an item to be treasured to remind yours truly of what seemingly looks impossible can be achieved. So I have the the actual weighing sheet or in this case the back of a breakfast cereal packet. So where is this priceless piece of angling history kept. Well it is hanging not in the Albert and Victoria Museum or the Louvre Museum in Paris. But hangs like a soiled gym sock on a shower rod on the inside of the door to my fishing shed and folks here is the prove.

Okay once again we enter another period of lock down but unlike the 1st one we are able to go pleasure fishing. But I stress that match fishing is not permitted. So this means the next match after lock down which ends on December 2nd will be on the river Tone on December 5th.

Until next time don’t forget to bath or shower. Meet you guys on the other side.

Pete C

Match Fished at Summerhayes Fisheries on Saturday 24th October 2020.

Located at 46°53′19″S 37°44′08″E lies the Prince Edward islands and for people who can’t do the calculations in their heads it a place that is situated in the southern part of the Indian Ocean. The Prince Edward islands consists of 2 islands, the main island and the largest is Marion island and the other is the aptly named Prince Edward island. These islands are administered by the government of South Africa. The islands have no permanent population. The only persons present are those at a research station.

These remote islands are home to 14 species of Petrel, 5 species of Albatross and 4 species of Penguins. The seas around the islands teem with the Patagonian Toothfish. Now there is a connection between the Match fished by Watchet angling club at Summerhayes on Saturday October 24th 2020 and these Islands. No there are no Penguins, Petrels or Albatrosses at Summerhayes or indeed Pete has not stocked his ponds with Patagonian Toothfish. Oh no but there is a connection and that connection is the bloody weather. These Islands on average receive rain 28 days per a month and having only roughly 800 hours of sunshine a year it is reputed to be the cloudiest place on the planet, and being in the path of the Roaring Forties is deemed to be the windiest location on earth.

A Patagonian Toothfish

This was the type of conditions that meet the angling warriors of the Watchet mob last saturday.

Pete had to put the light on in his hut to clear out the darkness. This said it all, clouds of battleship grey and darkest blue which laden the sky from horizon to horizon put paid to any sunlight. It was dim, grim and and unpleasantly cold. It was blustery and squally this was weather with attitude and spite. We anglers were buffeted, battered and bashed. But like the defenders at Rokes Drift we withstood and resisted we dug in and endured. The show went on regardless and all carried on to the bitter end.

Bites were at a premium and although weights weren’t catastrophic many an angler present has had better days.

The results

Well what a turn around in fortune for one Mr Ian Townsend, this gentleman if you remember packed up early in the last match owing to the fact he did not have a single bite. Hence being the recipient of  Abingdon Town FC award (see post Watchet Angling Club Winter League Match 5 11/01/2020) but boy what a come back. He certainly made amends this time with a very good performance by being top dog. From corner peg 8 Ian amassed a total of an all carp weight of 59 lb 13 oz. This was achieved with pole and corn.

The Winner.

2nd place was none other than Mr consistent Rob Dodd from car park peg 37. Poor Rob had the strong wind in his face, but that did not deter this maestro who managed to catch 36 lb 12 oz. Rob fished both margins and to the island with pole and maggot.

The runner up.

The NHS hero was 3rd, the one and only Dave Colley who made the long journey from Bristol. Dave who took my pound of of me (little beggar) fished peg 10 and put on the scales 20 lb 12 oz. This feat was achieved with feeder on the far side and maggot as bait.

Our NHS hero who got 3rd.

4th spot went to Eric Searle who managed 20 lb 08 oz. From roadside peg 28 Eric teased his fish with feeder and pellet.

5th went to slivers bagger Dave Nash who struggled on peg 32 in the first half with the pole. But improved things by switching to straight lead on the far side with maggot as bait. His total weight for the day was 20 lb 06 oz.

6th position was Mr architect Paul Smith. Paul had drawn peg 17 on the opposite side from the road . Like all anglers in his vicinity he struggled with the strong wind. But never or less put 16 lb 13 oz on the scales. Paul fished at 10 meters and down the edge with maggot.

Occuppying 7th spot was match secrectary Alan Bland. His home for the match was peg 30 on the road side. Mr bland managed to eek out 12 lb 10 oz all on pole and maggot.

8th was Bob Pascoe with sound mind and accumen on peg 12 acquired 11 lb 15 oz using pole and pinkie. Me and Bob had a walk around the lake before the start of the match and at the same time was having a good old chin wag “you know I was suprised that I had done better than I thouhght in the last Match ” spoke Bob ” well there you go Bob” I replied ” I was also suprised that you weren’t last” Bob responded. Thanks Bob.

Yours truly was 9th I scrapped together from peg 34 a weight of 11 lb 13 oz Although I did have some fish on expander at 10 meters. Most of my weight was caught from the margin to my left on white maggot.

Phil Dodd who fished in appalling conditions from peg 14 owing to the fact that he had the strong blustery wind and squally rain in his face, spent the entire match on the feeder for a result of 8 lb 11 oz. His bait was dead maggot. Phil finished 10th.

Next at 11th in the weights was my next door neighbour for the match Alan Jenkins AKA matrix man. Alan on peg 36 struggled through out and not having many bites did not seem to bother him because it was a good excuse to have a fag. Saying that Alan put 8 lb 02 oz on the scales his method was mainly pole with maggot and pinkie.

At 12th place and todays wooden spoonist was Dave Gartenfeld. Mr G did not have the best of pegs being on number 19. He put on the scales 2 lb 02 oz. His tactic was worm and maggot down the edge.

PositionAnglerSilversCarpTotalpeg
1stIan TownsendXXXX59 lb 13 oz59 lb 13 oz8
2ndRob Dodd5lb 12 oz31 lb36 lb 12 oz37
3rdDave Colley2 lb 14 oz17 lb 14 oz20 lb 12 oz10
4thEric Searle1 lb 07 oz19 lb 01 oz20 lb 08 oz28
5thDave Nash11 lb 04 oz9 lb 02 oz20 lb 06 oz32
7thPaul Smith5 lb 06 oz11 lb 07 oz16 lb 13 oz17
8thAlan Bland1 lb 01 oz11 lb 09 oz12 lb 10 oz30
9thBob Pascoe2 lb 06 oz9 lb 09 oz11 lb 15 oz12
10thPete Curnow3 lb 12 oz8 lb 01 oz11 lb 13 oz34
11thPhil Dodd1 lb 13 oz6 lb 14 oz8 lb 11 oz14
12 thAlan Jenkins02 oz8 lb8 lb 02 oz36
13thDave Gartenfeld2 lb 02 ozXXXX2 lb 02 oz19

This was the last Watchet club league match for 2020 and the fixtures begin again next year on March the 27th at once again Summerhayes on Sellicks. But in the meantime some of the die hards within the club will be fishing a series of one of matches throughout the winter break.

The fixture for this series of matches are listed below.

You will note that one of the fixtures is on the river Cripps at a place called middle bridge. Point of note for this venue is that it was once on the books of Bridgwater Angling Association but alas is no more. Hence it is free water, but bare in mind that a farmer either rents or own the land and hearsay says he can be a bit choosey whether he wants anglers on the banks or not. So be prepared for a change of venue. There is a map for people unfamiliar of the whereabouts of the proposed venue below.

Just to say that this blog is now one year old.

Well in true Bugs Bunny fashion just to say that’s all folks.

Pete C.