Christmas Eve match 2019 Fordgate.

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

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

Up the Blades.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Right angling people here are the results.

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

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

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

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

The winner one Mr Tony Richards.

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

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

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

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

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