Match held at Sedges Brick Lake and the History of Screech Owl Ponds.

Eleven members of the Watchet Angling gang decided to ply their so called match fishing skills on Brick lake at the Sedges Fishery on Saturday 21st in the year of our lord 2000 and 22. The weather was very accommodating warm with little wind. The atmosphere was jovial and jolly with the usual abundance of banter being dished out and the competitive spirit was very much alive.

Carp basher extraordinaire One Eric Searle managed to occupy top spot from corner peg 11. Eric did not do any thing complicated and caught the majority of his haul on feeder and worm. Eric’s all carp catch came to a tidy total of 86 lb 10 oz. So it is a hearty congrats to him.

Rob Dodd fished straight out in front of him at a comfortable 9 meters on the pole to nab top silvers of 29 lb 02 oz plus a carp weight 49 lb 14 oz for a grand total of 79 lb. The bait was double red which was fished over ground bait. Rob pulled peg 13 out of the hat.

Robs dad Phil got 3rd spot. If there was ever a prize for being Britains most laid back angler surely he should get first prize. It appears that Mr Dodd senior employed his most favoured approach that of feeder and dead maggot. From peg 16 Phil put on the scales 41 lb 03 oz, Phil also got 2nd silvers.

Paul Smith who was next to me on my left had another corner swim, peg 10. Paul fished the feeder and pole at varying distances with mostly pellet. Paul put on the sacles 38 lb 15 oz. Paul vented a slight fustration in the car park before the match started, the reason being was that the match before some one paid in to the pools (which Mr Smith is the guardian of) some american coins instead of proper money and managed to have gotten away with it, this left poor Paul short out of pocket. Hey mate try them on the coffee machine at work.

5th placed was Pawlett ponds bailiff Nigel Coram, Nige on peg 6 bagged a weight of 34 lb 07 oz with pole and corn.

Much beloved match secretary Alan Bland had peg 12 and struggled most of the match but managed to bank three hefty carp and some bits of silvers for an end weight of 31 lb 03 oz. Paste was mostly used to get 6th place.

7th place went to Dave Nash the silvers maestro who used pole and waggler with caster and maggot. Mr Nash obtained a weight of 27 lb from peg 7. Dave got 3rd place in the silvers.

Yours truly on peg 9 got 8th spot. Up until 30 minutes to go I just had one small skimmer and that was it. But the last half hour I got 2 carp and 3 descent sized skimmers just fishing in the margins to my left with meat on the hook. This took my tally up to 25 lb 12 oz. Thanks to the last half hour I managed to ward of utter disaster.

Tony Richards the bee man had an all silvers bag of 21 lb 10 oz. From peg 14 Tony started of on bread but then switched to maggot. Fishing the pole throughout.

In 10th was Alan the tackle shop Jenkins. Alan who drew out peg 8 got a weight of 18 lb 2oz, He had 2 carp, one on tip and pellet and the other was on pole and maggot.

Last but not least and that is for sure is every ones friend Bob Pascoe. This veteran angler had an all silvers catch of 17 lb 12 oz which was tempted on the pole with meat.

The History of Screech Owl Ponds

The history of Screech Owl ponds is difficult to assess. Rumour, and vague stories handed down , suggest that it was a place of consequence for fishing even before Dunwear. The brick works long since been demolished, appeared to have been amongst the older established installations of that kind. There fore many of the ponds must have been dug out very long ago. In spite of the comparative antiquity, excavations for clay continued off and on up until about the 1940’s, and much of the water space was created during the period between the two world wars. The Orchard pond which is on the west side of the venue was dug in the 1920’s.

Some of the stories told by older angler and had since been passed down were about large carp, but how large did not appear. None of these accounts suggested any degree of popularity. Even in the 1920’s there was only a small coterie who held the fishing in great favour. It was possible to visit Screech Owl day after day without meeting another fisherman. When the brick works were in operation the water levels were kept much lower than they are now and there were pathways through all the reed beds. This with the solitude made it a fascinating to explore and find unknown ponds. It was not until the 1970’s that the place became popular.

During the 1920’s and up to the 1930’s the only freshwater fish known in these ponds were roach and carp. Both suffered from over population and were numerous with low average size. There were places where the carp might be caught remarkably easily. Catches of over twenty in a day were quite possible but none could be over three pounds-most much less. Most of the roach would have been about two ounces, with a very occasional half pounder from one of the smaller ponds. However it was a very pleasant place to spend a days fishing.

In the 1940’s the drainage authorities seemed to adopt a new policy of linking ponds with rhines. A channel was cut to join the Screech Owl ponds with the rhine running along the south side. This rhine passed under the railway to meet the one following along the canal to wide waters. It contained a remarkable variety of fish. It may be assumed that during the floods these fish found their way in to the ponds because not much later the stocks were greatly augmented by tench, pike, perch and later bream, and some rudd also appeared. The tench multiplied and gave great sport, with fine catches. This was apparent soon after the war and it was then that Screech Owl started getting notice by a small band of anglers which lead to a slow growth to popularity. This invasion of new species had some effect on the carp population. Rapidly they diminished in number, and began to grow larger. Better and better fish were taken until it seemed that a specimen carp water was developing. However, it appears that their place had been taken by bream.

Around about the time of the arrival of the new species a very big shoal of mullet found their way in via one of the rhines which joins the river Parrett. They soon scattered widely over the ponds and were at times clearly visible. They were a great provocation to some of the anglers because they proved uncatchable. They might be seen to be feeding on the small prawns which had also invaded the water but invariably these failed as bait on the hook.

It was not long after the war that the brick works went out of use, and the whole area was sold to become a bird sanctuary. Then Bridgwater angling secured proper fishing rights. It was a satisfactory arrangement lasting until the death of the owner. Afterwards the venue was acquired by the Somerset County Council and was designated a nature reserve in accordance with the appropriate laws. These required priority to be given to conservation of wild life. It had been decided that the region was eminently suited for the purpose. The continuation of fishing was acceptable and it was possible to rent part of the bank space for anglers. but alas continuation of renting bank space was terminated during the mid 2010’s and thus Screech Owl is no longer a venue to fish.

The next match for the Watchet Club is at Trinity Waters on saturday the 4th of June.

Until then tight lines.

Pete C

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