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MATCH SCENE

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Notices went up announcing the


Severn-Trent Water Authority's
River Idle Improvement
Scheme. The floods were a
problem, no argument there, but

THE CLUB EVENTS to cure it the river was


devastated. Every bush and tree
was removed on the banks which
had the treatment, and the banks
landscaped so they could be
mown by tractor. The whole

And setbacks at top level! river bed was lowered by about a


yard, and Europe's largest pump
was installed at Stockwith.
Lew Grade's crack about
'Raise the Titanic' — that it

M OST anglers have


regrets about some
aspect of their sporting
life. In my case giving up match
angling at the tender age of 15 is
Nowhere is it much more than 20
yards wide, averaging between 3
and 5ft deep. It was a jungle of a
river, with rafts of weed making
roach of 21bs 4oz. I will never
forget that fish as long as I live. It
was beautiful, and almost
certainly had not been caught
would have been cheaper to
lower the Atlantic! — could have
been made reality by that pump.
I was devastated. Some boffin of
it almost unfishable during the before. Only someone who has an engineer had turned my
top of the list. I had done quite summer. Even a light shower caught his first genuine 21b dream river into a canal, without
well, for my age, winning would flood it in winter, a roach, by design, will understand even asking my permission, and
occasionally against good handicap which was to lead to its why I could not fish any more had added insult to injury by
opposition, but I packed it in for virtual destruction, though I was that day. An ambition had been calling it an improvement
the usual reasons. blissfully unaware of that at the achieved; there seemed no point scheme!
A few years on and settled time. in fishing on. It was time for another change,
down to married life, I took up Floods were such a problem Little did I know that my but where? Around that time I
fishing again, becoming that 22,000 acres of land went paradise was about to be lost. was fancying myself as a good
interested in both tench and under water almost every winter,
pike. Living in South Yorkshire, for weeks at a time. Fish stocks
however, and with transport were low and whilst the average
problems seriously limiting my size was high, good catches were
results, I soon became few and far between. So were
disillusioned and looked for other anglers!
another challenge. I am making it sound so
Maybe I should have gone uninviting, but I came to love
straight back into match fishing that river, haunting its banks
then, for it does not really matter from its confluence with the
where you live or what the level Trent at West Stockwith all the
of sport is like in match fishing. way up to Mattersey. It was my
The main aim is to compete river, and I fished it as often as I
against whoever is there on the could.
day, and to achieve a feasible It was hard work, but it was
target weight for the water. It rewarded. You could not catch
was perhaps fortunate for me on the Idle by fishing badly.
that I didn't, though, for the Baits had to be presented
intervening venture was the one perfectly with float tackle or the
which laid down the foundations bites did not come, but each year
for my future competitive bigger and bigger roach turned
efforts. up — glittering indications that I
The purchase of a motorcycle was getting better.
brought the River Idle within my Eventually came the fish, a
reach, and a great love of river
fishing developed. The Idle is a Opening day catch from the Idle
tributary of the lower Trent. in 1982

14
angler. Local folklore always had Winter floods on the Idle and the
it that anyone who could fish the process of improvement* has
Idle could fish anywhere, and I
believed it. I knew I was the best begun
stick float angler in the world, Bob Roberts, with a 97/2/6 carpfron
and I had also acquired a inconsistent, was the winning method was working so well for That confirmed what I knew
quivertip rod. It was time to go method. With a little reluctance I me I decided to have a crack at already — that club standards in
match fishing again, and this decided to spend the rest of the the Burton Joyce Saturday series. my neck of the woods are very
time I was going for the top dogs. season on the 'pig,' and on Those who are familiar with that high. The exercise has been a real
I fished the Trent, Witham, September 24 finally made the scene will know it's tough, with eye-opener for me.
Derwent and Aire. I fished breakthrough at Fiskerton using top anglers at virtually every peg, I hope this article doesn't
ponds, lakes and reservoirs. I a block and feeder with hemp but I got a good start — section sound like trumpet blowing, for
even joined a winter league. And and caster. win at the first attempt from a that's not the intention. It's just
boy, was I found wanting! Whilst Within four weeks I had won bad draw. that the editor, Colin Dyson,
I framed in a 300-pegger on the two more, but the busy part of Sadly, though, that draw was noticed my resultsHt club level
Trent, had a second at the club season was then over. I the first of a long succession of and we ended up swapping
Worsborough Reservoir, of all carried on alone through the duff pegs. I always seemed to letters about various aspects of
places, and picked up the odd winter, practising hard with the draw the road stretch, which match fishing. He's always been
section I knew I was out of my feeder. I also read a lot, and went doesn't usually respond well to conscious of the fact that articles
depth. to forums. I sought out top the feeder method. It got me from top match anglers
I was still the best float angler anglers and pestered them to down in the dumps, and against sometimes go right over the head
in the world, seeing nobody who death. I wrote to people, and good advice I threw in the towel. of the club man, and was looking
looked better than I thought I listened and learned . . . I should have persevered, for someone who could maybe
was. But maybe that was because The summer of '84 was like a knowing a good draw would write with the club man in mind.
the waggler was winning all the dream. I drew well, and fished come sooner or later; but it was Whether I can do the job
matches at the time, and well. The groundbait feeder was easier said than done. remains to be seen, but I'll try.
something called a swimfeeder. working, and experiments I was It's easier to see, with This is just what Colin calls the
Even the pole was starting to doing with additives bolstered hindsight, one's mistakes. scene-setter, where I'm supposed
make an impact in places. my confidence. Fifteen matches Perhaps mine was to go to what is to introduce myself and set out
Disillusioned, I took stock of into the season I had made the arguably the most difficult match my qualifications for writing
the situation and realised I had top two 10 times, with three in England and expect to win. At about some of the methods. Club
aimed too high. I was also 32 other placings in the top four. It the time, though, I could not fishing has given me such a lot it
years old, and I had wasted 16 continued to go like that, but I understand why I didn't! will be a pleasure to try and put a
seasons when I could have been gradually realised that the It was probably a reaction .to little back.
learning to compete. I decided to dominance of the open-ended this that I went back on the float I'll be dealing with some of the
drop back to club match fishing feeder was declining. in 1986.1 had become bored with problems I faced, and how I
the following season, and start to For the opening match of the the feeder, and also had a spell of sorted them out, but I must
learn my trade from the bottom. following season I chose a illness. I needed to relax, and stress that I don't know all the
I had enjoyed my year on the 200-pegger at Burton Joyce and often I relaxed too much, going answers. Maybe you, out there,
open circuit, but didn't like got a top 10 placing. in for a bit of bank walking on can help me too, so if you
being shown up as often as I was. Unfortunately I blew this one by sunny days. In consequence the disagree with anything, or can
I vowed I would be back, but losing a carp — heartbreaking, number of wins dropped a bit, add something useful to my
only when I was ready. for £1000 went with it! I also though in a 20 match spell I contribution, why not write in
The summer of '83 saw me on contrived to drop a £100 scraped into first or second place and have your two-pennorth. I
the Trent every Saturday, at club skimmer at the net, but that's nine times, all on the float. am conscious of the fact that
level. I was still biased towards fishing. The '85 summer was Admittedly some of these were there are far better match anglers
the float and was quite dour on the Trent, but I had on the wasp grub, but it was the than me, even at club level.
consistent, finishing between continuing success with the float nevertheless, and it was It's really all about putting the
second and sixth most weeks, but block and feeder and maggot. very good fishing. Three times I pieces together. We all have vital
I could not seem to win one. I had perfected the technique went to the scales with over 251bs bits of the jigsaw. Put them all
Taking stock of the situation I to be described by Tom and failed to win, and on one together and we have Tom
had to admit that the feeder, Pickering in his Coarse Angler memorable occasion I scaled Pickering potential — at least in
whilst seeming to be article in February 1986, and the nearly 371bs and only came third! theory! •

'Little did! know that my paradise was about to be lost'


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