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”


“your uncle Joss what did he say”


“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

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