Tuesday, November 28, 2017

River Isle - IBC Winter League 4 - 26th November 2017

Before I get on to this weeks blog I would like to pay my respects to Bob Hammond who passed away recently, he fished with both Ilminster and Chard clubs and his very dry sense of humour will be missed by many, rest in peace mate.
Bob with a nice bream caught at Dillington
Me and Steve P with Bob back in the Summer
After several hard frosts, I thought it could be hard going today and when I swap my faithful Bait-Tech baseball cap for my Drennan fleece hat, I know winter has arrived! With Hurf not fishing again this week, it was down to me and Steve P to arrange the match and I have to say it's a bloody nightmare, everybody has an opinion on what pegs should and shouldn't be in, I've said it loads of times on the blog, match organisers deserve a medal as it's a thankless task and there is no way I could do it every week.

I must admit I do worry about the future of the clubs match fishing, we're getting healthier turnouts than we have for years and there's a great bunch of lads that want to fish every week but it's a huge commitment running the matches and people have busy lives these days, I certainly can't devote enough time to do it every week and I do fear it will just fizzle out which would be a massive shame for the club but that seems to be the way it's going.

Anyway, onto this weeks match, after much debate, the pegs decided on were at Redbridge and Isle Brewers and with Hambridge not being used (where the winner came from last week), I knew peg 120 would take some beating, I also really fancied peg 110. As I was holding the bucket I could see what everybody had drawn, Baz pulled out the peg everyone wanted but the first thing he said was 'Bloody long walk!', I think most people would have happily swapped mate! Young Stuart drew 110, Rob was on 108, John D had 126, Frank was on 128 with Bill on 128a, Karl on 129 and Adie on 127. I had the last ball which was 124 and I must admit to feeling a little deflated as it hasn't been great, I had the choice of that one or 124a and decided on the latter as it can throw up a big weight, although normally with some colour on it.

I got to the river and as I was unloading the car, Adie said 127 looked nice despite the river being low and clear, I dropped my kit off on peg 124a before checking out 124 as well, if anything it looked the better peg but I decided to stick with my original choice. Steve P was below me on 125 so I would be able to keep an eye on my pound and Jake was up on 123. I managed to get my box in although I was sat quite high off the water, while I was setting up several fish topped below me on the bend and above me in the shallow water which got me thinking I could be in for a good day.
Peg 124a (you can just about see Steve P down on 125)
I set up two rigs, a 1 gram bodied float to fish the deeper water in the middle of the peg and a 0.6 gram DH16 for fishing across and down the peg in the shallower water, on the side tray I had maggots, casters and Bait-Tech Super Seed hemp. I was just about ready in time and started with single caster in the deeper water at about seven metres, I started getting bites but only from minnows so I tried near the top of the peg and a decent bite resulted in a little gudgeon but it certainly wasn't the start I'd hoped for. I had a little dace and small roach but minnows were already being a pain, a quick shout down to Steve and he said he was struggling too.

I stuck on another section to fish slightly further down the peg, I held back, the float sunk from view and a nice roach flashed in the clear water, I shipped back gently only for it to come off! I was feeding casters and hemp at the top of the peg plus feeding casters across and flicking a few down the peg as well, hopefully to bring those fish up the swim. After the first hour, I only had a few ounces in the net but there are usually a few chub about in this swim and as I thought 5-6lb would be a decent weight today, it would only take a couple of fish and they could show up at any time.

I put another section on to search further down the peg and a good bite resulted in another good roach nodding it's head, I safely netted this one and it was a decent fish of 4-6oz, next chuck I had another but any thoughts of bagging up disappeared when I went a further ten minutes without a bite. I laid the rig in further across, where it was shallower and the float didn't even settle and slid across the surface, I struck and I hooked what felt like a better fish but as I shipped back it came off and I've got a sneaking suspicion that as I laid the rig in, it went over a fish and I foul hooked it.
At last a better fish
Jake wandered down and said all he could catch was minnows, even if he put a worm on, while he was with me I had a couple of minnows and a gudgeon but it looked like it was going to be a real struggle. As the match passed the halfway mark (we were only fishing five hours today), I probably only had a pound or so in the net and had to try something else. There were still fish topping down the peg so I picked up the shallower rig with the intention of having a go for them at 13 metres but first I tried over by the far bank and to my surprise, the float settled and then buried and the strike resulted in solid resistance as a fair bit of blue hydro showed itself. I shipped back so the fish was in the middle of the peg, I could see it was a decent chub and thankfully it didn't give me too much trouble and I slipped the net under a two pounder.
A 2lb chub boosted my weight
I went back over and a few minutes later another good bite resulted in a decent roach around 8oz and it felt like there were a lot of fish there, they were just wary of feeding in the gin clear water. Steve wandered up and said he was thinking of having an early bath, I told him to stick at it as it wouldn't take a lot to get in the money today. Over the next hour or so, I added a few more minnows and a couple of tiny dace but I thought I needed another chub or two to do well today.

Going into the last hour, there were still small fish topping above and below me so I stuck the pole 10 metres upstream where it was only about a foot deep, the float went under and I had a little roach, three more followed before they wised up to that. With only about ten minutes left, I decided to go back across by the far bank in search of another chub, time was ticking by and then the float sailed away and the strike resulted in a decent fish ripping the elastic out. I stuck the pole under the water, hoping the fish wouldn't find the sanctuary of the far bank cover and shipped back. I lifted the pole and it was in the middle of the peg, it was a slightly smaller chub but much more feisty and I have to admit, I had butterflies as it went into the landing net. I didn't have time to go in again and shouted the all out.

I packed up and as Jake had the scales, I walked up to weigh him in, he had a few dace plus loads of minnows for 1lb 7oz, I was next and I was pleased when the needle settled on 5lb 12oz, Steve had started to get a few fish late and when he pulled his net out it was close between him and Jake but he fell just short with 1lb 6oz.
Jake had 1lb 7oz from peg 123
I had 5lb 12oz which included two chub and some quality roach
Steve P had 1lb 6oz from peg 125
We took our kit back to the cars and as the others started arriving back, it had been really hard below the bridge as well, John D had the top weight there with 4lb 1oz from 126 followed by Frank with 1lb 10oz from 128, Adie with 1lb 7oz from 127, Karl with 1lb 5oz from 129 and Bill on 128a didn't weigh. So I was still leading but there were still the Redbridge pegs to come and I knew Baz would beat my weight in 120 and apparently Stuart had landed a good chub early.

Back at the results and Baz had won it with 7lb 10oz, Stuart hadn't added to his early chub but it was a cracking fish of 4lb 4oz which was good enough for third place, Rob had lost a couple of chub early but didn't weigh. So I ended up in second place and picked up £35 plus a pound off Steve P (and the score is now 4-2 to me on the side bets). Thanks to Rob Cox for the photos*
Baz won it with a nice net of dace and chublets weighing 7lb 10oz*
Stuart had this lovely chub of 4lb 4oz, cracking fish*
1 - Baz Morgan (Somerset Angling) - 7lb 10oz
2 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 5lb 12oz
3 - Stuart Aplin (Ilminster) - 4lb 4oz

A - Jake Woodard (Ilminster) - 1lb 7oz
B - John Dursley (Enterprise Angling) - 4lb 1oz

After four matches and dropping the worst result, here's how the IBC league is shaping up,

Graham Field - 3 pts (dropping 30)
John Dursley - 6 pts (dropping 30)
Jake Woodard - 7 pts (dropping 4)
Adie Bishop - 7 pts (dropping 4)
Jamie Rich - 8 pts (dropping 30)
Karl Aplin - 11 pts (dropping 6)

I've also updated the list of framing pegs so far in the eight matches we've had on the river,

120 - 6 times (won 2)
110 - 4 times (won 2)
128 - 4 times (won 1)
126 - 3 times (won 1)
128a - 2 times
124a - 2 times
123 - 1 time (won 1)
H4 - 1 time (won 1)
125 - 1 time
125a - 1 time

We've now had seven different winners so far with Frank Woodard the only angler to win more than one match.

Next week it's the Xmas Fayre and with over twenty anglers booked in, I thought it would be the ideal opportunity to try a few different areas of the river but the decision has been made to fish the pond and the canal. I can understand it makes it easier to organise but with the temperature set to plummet over the next few days, I think it will be rock hard, I hope I'm wrong. I'd quite fancy giving the canal a go as I haven't fished it for ages so that's bound to mean I draw out the pond!

Next up - Xmas Fayre

Coming soon - My next great interview

Check Out - My latest trip down memory lane (below)

Friday, November 24, 2017

The Archives - Part 5 - Exciting times (1985)

The start of the 1985 season saw a sixteen year old me fish my first match as a 'senior' (although I use the term very loosely!). These were exciting times, two of my angling mentors, Adrian Green and Barney Crockett had opened a fishing shop in Ilminster called A and R Tackle and I helped out at weekends which meant when my name appeared in the paper, the shops name appeared in brackets after it, I was now a sponsored angler, I'd made it, I'd hit the big time! Although in reality, I was just getting my bait cheap because I worked there! It's funny really, because even now, over thirty years later, people still want to have a coveted sponsors name in brackets, even if they're actually only getting bait at a reduced price!


That first match was on the King's Sedgemoor Drain and fished to the points and ounces format, Adrian, Barney and me had been down practising (another perk of working in the shop!) and formulated a plan, we would fish maggot and groundbait just off the marginal weed while feeding hemp and caster down the middle of the drain. We would stay on the inside line as long as we were getting bites before going out when sport slowed. It worked a treat, Adrian won the first match with 95 fish weighing 8lb 15oz to give him 238 points, Pete Womack was second with 59 fish for 9lb 5oz and I was third with 37 fish for 7lb. Andy Warner had all the headlines though, when he caught 123 fish for 15oz giving him a total of 138 points and fifth place.
The first match was on the KSD
Round two was a week later but conditions were very different, there was a strong wind blowing down the drain which brought with it massive rafts of duckweed that almost made the drain unfishable. The odd small fish was being caught when people could get a hook down through the weed, I was next to Ian 'Jock' McGown for the second week running and he had the genius idea of using his pole as a kind of floating boom to hold back a lot of the weed, to be honest, he was still having problems but for a little while I could actually fish the waggler half sensibly and hooked a good fish which turned out to be a nice tench of 3lb 9oz. I only managed another five fish to give me a total of 4lb which equalled 70 points and third place again (plus the heaviest fish pot) behind Roger Russell with 83 points (34 fish for 3lb 1oz) and Barney who won with 42 fish for 2lb 11oz and 85 points

Back then the club also used to fish against Langport with a match on both club's waters, the first fixture was on the River Parrett and we took the verdict with 87lb 15.5oz compared to Langport's 63lb 4oz, Jim Lock had the top weight with 17lb 12oz and I was fourth overall with 8lb 7oz despite suffering some pike trouble.

In between matches, I was still managing some pleasure fishing and a trip to Perry St Pond resulted in catching my first tench there with a nice three fish haul and another trip to Crockerton saw me have a lovely days fishing catching 26lb 8oz of skimmers, tench, carp, roach, rudd and I even had a sizeable trout.

I was enjoying a great run of form in my first season as a 'senior' and as the Isle matches started, this continued when I finished second in the Club Cup with 11lb 3oz from the swim above the 'Roach Hole' at North Bradon, I remember being at Barney's the previous day (we were picking casters) and he'd just go back from walking the river and said there were loads of fish topping in that swim (I can't remember what number it was) and I only went and drew it the following day (shame my drawing arm isn't as good these days!). Dave 'Chippy' Back won on the day with 15lb 9oz of chub and roach from the 'Ding' swim (if I remember correctly) and Den Loveday was third with 10lb 13oz.

I went one better in the next points match when I won with 6lb 11oz of quality roach on a peg downstream of North Bradon, the river was up, coloured and still rising. I was on a non descript straight and just kept running a little peacock waggler down the peg where it would drag under as it reached the tail of the swim and I would hook a submerged 'stick up'. This happened for the umpteenth time and once again the rod curved round as I snagged up but then there was a satisfying thump, thump as a big roach objected to having its lunch interrupted. It was a cracking fish too, around the pound mark and I added five more and a few smaller samples on double bronze or red maggot throughout the day for my first win as a senior. Martin Hill was second with 5lb 10oz and my travelling partner, Vernon Case was third with 5lb 6oz.
My first senior win
I framed in a couple more matches and then we hosted Langport in the return inter-club fixture and I drew the last peg in the copse, the famous 'Stump' swim (now peg 29), although in those days we fished it on the opposite bank, the river was in perfect condition, coloured and fining down. I had another lovely day fishing the waggler, I fished it overdepth to slow the hookbait down and the float would drag under before popping back up (it was a relatively clean bottom) and on the occasions it didn't, the strike usually resulted in a nice roach. I ended up with a level 9lb for another really nice match win, Pete Womack was second with 7lb 15.5oz and Bob Filler jnr was third from the 'Big Bend' above me with 6lb 3oz. We also completed the double over Langport, 45lb 3.5oz to 10lb 8oz.
So my senior match fishing career was off to a great start, what was noticeable going through my old diaries and photo albums was firstly the lack of photos! (no camera phones back then) and secondly how I think we very often look back at the 'old days' through rose tinted spectacles, anglers I fish with are always saying how the river doesn't fish as well as it used to but looking at the results back then, 10lb was a good weight and 15lb a real red letter day, 20lb was virtually unheard of (Colin Dyer did win the open with 20lb 8oz one year), whereas nowadays, high teens is common and there are normally several twenty pound plus winning weights in a season and the match record now stands at over 43lb!

Like most clubs, Ilminster had some real characters including Pete Womack who was a brilliant angler, albeit a little eccentric and was always dressed in full camouflage gear and I have to mention John Hill, another great angler who helped me loads and even showed me how to fix a waggler on the line upside down so it would collapse on the strike in shallow water.

I was also the junior match secretary and although attendances never reached the highs of a few years previous, the turn outs were still healthy with the likes of David Tolman, Jon Newby, Jason Miles, Toby Beasley and Stephen Hallett all doing well.
Another well attended presentation night, from left to right, John Hill, Toby Beasley, Dennis Priddle, Roger Russell, Dave Back, me, somebody I can't make out, Pete Womack, Jason Miles, Jackie Cole, Jon Newby, Stephen Hallett, Jack Newman, Jim Lock, Barney Crockett, Bob Filler snr and Vernon Case
I picked up three trophies at that years presentation evening at the George Hotel, the aggregate shield, the aggregate trophy and for the fourth year in a row, the pairs trophy, this time with Roger Russell as my partner.

Next up - Part 6 takes a look back at 1986

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

River Isle - V.E.S. Precision League 4 - 19th November 2017

With a couple of frosts during the week, winter continues it's inevitable march towards us although on waking this morning it was actually pretty mild. On a personal level, my back has been playing me up again and to top things off, I've got a stinking cold, which is nice! Hurf was back to take over the reigns and decided to put a few pegs in at Hambridge as most of it has been dredged now, so it would be interesting to see how that fished today. After another lovely bowling club breakfast it was time to draw, per usual I've gone in the bucket with only a couple of ping pong balls left and pulled out H5 at Hambridge, it can be a brilliant peg, although I struggled the last time I was on it. For company I had Adie below me by the bridge and Fieldy was on H6 above me.

I got to the river and put my gear over the fence (with the help of Adie - cheers mate) before taking the car up to the car park. As I walked across the field and got to my peg, it looked lovely with loads of tiny fish (and the odd better one) topping, I said to Adie it was solid and really thought I was going to bag up. I set up a 1 gram bodied float to fish down the middle in the deepest part of the peg along with a 0.2 gram Drennan AS1 to fish three sections to hand. I flicked the lighter rig out to check it and a tiny roach took the bare hook so there were obviously a few fish there! On the side tray I had maggots, casters and Bait-Tech Super Seed hemp.
The swim looked nice and I was looking forward to this
I had time for a quick coffee so went down to have a quick chat with Adie, his swim looked nice although it was still pretty weedy, Graham joined us briefly before we all wandered back as the start time approached. I shouted the all in and flicked out the lighter rig with a single red maggot on and was sure it would go under straight away, but it didn't, in fact, after ten minutes, I still hadn't had a fish!, although to be fair I had missed a couple of indications. I shouted down to ask if Adie had caught and he said he was getting a few small fish, finally my float sunk from view and I swung in a small roach, two more followed before the next bite resulted in more solid resistance and a decent roach of 4-6oz came to the top, like an idiot, I went to swing it and it dropped off, never mind I thought, plenty more where that one came from.

Another small roach next chuck and then the bites just stopped and this wasn't in the script! After a another fruitless five minutes, I had to try something else so picked up the heavier rig and held it back in the flow but never had a touch, despite trying several different areas. Back on the three sections to hand rig and the float dipped before sliding away and on the strike, a much better fish was hooked, from the way it was fighting I knew it was a perch and I slid the net under a beautifully coloured fish of a pound plus, this was more like it!
A lovely looking pound plus perch
A couple more tiny roach followed as the first hour came to a close but then I couldn't buy a bite again, I was just thinking what my next move should be when the float disappeared and another decent fish was on, it felt like another good perch but I'll never know as the hook pulled out and when I swung the rig in, there was a weed on the hook - gutted. No more bites so I had another quick go with the heavier rig but it was a waste of time, back on the lighter rig and another positive bite saw a decent perch shaking it's head, I was praying it would stay on and breathed a sigh of relief as I slid the net under another pound fish. So after ninety minutes I probably had 2.5lb and although I wasn't bagging, I know the swim holds more perch and it does throw up chub on occasion, so a good weight was still possible.

I shouted up for a quick update from Adie who replied he was catching small fish and had also landed a decent perch, I heard some shouting from above me and it sounded like Fieldy was having a few problems with the cows which had so far left me alone. Once again my bites dried up and I tried the heavier rig again but still couldn't get a bite on it, I started feeding quite heavily down the peg and tried holding the rig back at the bottom of the bend (where I'd caught a few fish the last time I was here) but not a sniff and I was out of ideas.

Over the next couple of hours I swapped between the two rigs and tried different areas but the only fish I added to the net was a tiny minnow. Going into the last sixty minutes, I went back to the bottom of the swim with the heavier rig and as I picked up the catty to feed, the float went under and although it took me by surprise I managed to hit the bite which was from a small roach. I had four in as many chucks and was just thinking I could end the match with a flourish when the bites stopped as quickly as they'd started.

After another biteless five minutes, I was going to try the lighter rig and as I shipped the pole back, I looked behind me and as I did so I heard a splash, looking back my pole elastic was all over the place and I guessed a pike had grabbed the rig, I shipped back gently in case it was a chub that had been hanging on to the bait but after five minutes, I could see it was a  jack pike and eventually landed a fish around 5lb hooked squarely in the scissors.
Possibly the reason the roach wouldn't settle!
After all that commotion, I was sure that would be the last of the action for me but next put in, the float barely settled before going under and another roach was on. I don't know whether it was the time of day or the fact I'd upset that pike but I couldn't get the rig in fast enough. I did bump what felt like a better fish and as it neared the end of the match, the roach were getting bigger and I netted a couple of 3-4oz fish. In the last half an hour, I think I had 15 roach for probably a pound or so, why couldn't they have switched on earlier?

I shouted the all out and after I packed up, I walked up to weigh Adie in, he had loads of fish for 14lb 2oz and I said he'd be there or thereabouts with that today. As we walked to my peg, we realised we couldn't see Graham and I think he'd had a nightmare with the cows and gone for an early bath. My 25 fish weighed 3lb 13oz so no pick up today but hopefully I'd still get half decent section points for the league.
Adie had loads of fish for 14lb 2oz
I had 3lb 13oz which included two nice perch
Back at the results and Adie had won it with Karl in second place from 120 with a nice net of chublets and dace weighing 9lb 2oz and Paul Homewood was third with loads of small fish for 6lb from 125a. Bill Hopping won the top section with 3lb 15oz from 124 and Terry 'The Toast' Morgan won our section with 5lb 1.5oz from 127. So I ended with three points which is my worst score so far, so not a total disaster. Quite a few big fish lost today, I lost enough to win the section or even possibly frame but then Steve P lost a big chub which has cost him as he weighed 2lb 12oz (so I've now gone 3-2 ahead in the side bets) and Hurf lost a beast in 108 as well. Thanks to Steve Hurford for the photo*

Karl was second with a nice net of fish weighing 9lb 2oz from peg 120*
1 - Adie Bishop (Taunton) - 14lb 2oz
2 - Karl Aplin (Ilminster) - 9lb 2oz
3 - Paul Homewood (Taunton) - 6lb

A - Bill Hopping (Ilminster) - 3lb 15oz
B - Terry Morgan (Ilminster) - 5lb 1.5oz

After four matches and dropping the worst result, this is how the league looks so far,

Adie Bishop - 4 pts (dropping 4)
Bill Hopping - 5 pts (dropping 8)
Jamie Rich - 6 pts (dropping 3)
Steve Parker  - 6 pts (dropping 4)
Karl Aplin - 8 pts (dropping 20)
Stu Aplin - 10 pts (dropping 6)

I've also updated the list of framing pegs so far in the seven matches we've had on the river,

120 - 5 times (won 1)
128 - 4 times (won 1)
110 - 3 times (won 2)
126 - 3 times (won 1)
128a - 2 times
123 - 1 time (won 1)
H4 - 1 time (won 1)
124a - 1 time
125 - 1 time
125a - 1 time

We've had six different winners so far with Frank Woodard the only angler to win more than one match.

Next up - River Isle

Coming soon - My next great interview

Check Out - My latest trip down memory lane (below)

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Archives - Part 4 - More pastures new and growing up (1984)

My last trip down memory lane documented me winning a couple more matches and I started visiting some new venues and catching some nice fish, the start of the 1984 season saw me still as keen as ever and down the canal the night before 'The Glorious 16th' with base camp established ready for my first ever night fishing session.


My diary showed that I caught a mixed bag of fish, small tench and carp (which I think had been recently stocked ) plus perch, roach and rudd. My first match was as senior fixture the next day at Ash Ponds and I caught 2lb 9oz of rudd, roach and small skimmers, I used a Drennan 2AA Crystal Waggler (it's hard to believe they've been around that long!) and for bait I had mixed maggots, bronze pinkies and a bag of plain old brown breadcrumb (none of this fancy, expensive, continental stuff!).
Fishing a match at Ash Ponds (note the Angling Times Rodbenders badges on the back of my body warmer)
The first junior match of the year down the canal saw my Points and Ounces campaign get off to a great start when I won it with 76.5 points. I caught another golden orfe, this one was 2lb 7oz and added a good eel, five gudgeon, five rudd, a roach and a small carp to give me a total weight of 3lb 12.5oz. My good friends Stephen Hallett and David Tolman were second and third with 23 and 10.5 points respectively. Stephen also lost four carp and in all the junior matches I fished there were loads hooked but only one or two were ever successfully landed.

Looking through my diary from that year, on 14th July I recorded I fished down the canal with my roach pole, the first mention I could find, so possibly it's first outing. It was a 6 metre Crystal fibreglass model, if I remember correctly it was French although I'm not overly sure whether Crystal was the make or model! It was a put in pole and had graphite on the joints, back then the main method of using elastic was with a crook. A few juniors bought poles around the same time and we had fun and games cutting the tip section back to accommodate the crook, I think mine got cut back a tiny bit too much and we had to use wide bore float rubber so the crook would fit snuggly. The crooks came already fitted with internal elastic which was quite a light grade.

I caught a few fish including a 1lb tench, roach, rudd, gudgeon and a small carp for a total weight of 2lb 2oz and I also lost a carp. For bait I had bronze maggots and I used to buy ready tied hooks to nylon (from Rules of course) and was using a size 20 gold hook (which were very popular at the time) to 1.7lb.

The second match of the Points and Ounces series saw me finish in second place with 12 fish for 14 ounces which gave me 26 points, James Parsons won with 41.5 points which included a nice crucian carp of 1lb 4oz and Jason Miles was third with 10 points. With two matches to go, I was leading the series with 102.5 points with James my nearest rival with 51.5 points.

We were still visiting lots of new venues and our parents took a few of us to the Taunton and Bridgwater canal and I had a lovely day catching 30 eels, rudd, roach, a couple of nice skimmers and a tench of 2lb 12oz on a variety of baits (the tench was on bread), for a total weight of 11lb 6oz and any double figure net of fish was noteworthy back then.
A nice tench from the Taunton and Bridgwater canal
There were also regular trips to Chard reservoir (Holemoor Fisheries in those days) and Perry St Pond along with some more night fishing sessions down the canal. I also won the Summer Cup held on the canal with 2lb 2oz which included a couple of little tench, a gudgeon, an eel plus rudd and roach. I was so keen I would often go home for dinner after the match in the morning and then go back down the canal in the evening, normally floating crust for carp and had one of 6lb 4oz to make it a very successful day.

These were very exciting times for us youngsters and with each different venue came a new adventure, a first visit to the Tiverton canal to catch tench was a bit of a flop with just a few small roach and rudd to show for our efforts, another team match on the Huntspill was equally unsuccessful when I caught just a roach and an eel for a massive 1.5oz.

A family holiday to Christchurch was an altogether different matter however when I got to fish the famous Royalty Fishery. The first days fishing wasn't anything special but I had plenty of bites catching some eels on a maggot feeder and dace and minnows on a little 2BB balsa float. The second day was a real red letter affair, I ledgered luncheon meat and caught a small chub of 12oz or so before moving swims, I saw a couple of barbel roll and as the light started to fade, the rod hooped over and I hooked a big fish, a proper scrap followed before I eventually netted a barbel that to me, looked huge. Some anglers fishing above me came down and weighed it using some Avon scales, 6lb 11oz and still my biggest barbel despite the best efforts of Justin Charles who keeps taking me to the River Wye and I keep blanking!
6lb 11oz of Royalty barbel
My grandad and I fished a couple more times during that holiday and we both blanked but I didn't care, I'd caught my first barbel!

Another little stream we used to fish was by the Clark's factory at Dowlish, we never caught any monsters but always caught a few little brown trout along with the odd eel and bullhead - great fun! I was now on Ilminster Angling Club's committee as a junior representative and as such was entitled to fish the committee cup. This year it was held at a lake in Crockerton and what a match it was, I had a lovely days fishing catching skimmers to a pound along with quality roach and rudd on the waggler to weigh 18lb 13oz which was my biggest match weight to date and enough for third place (and £4.50!) behind Don Jobson who had 26lb which included a 4lb 3oz tench and Adrian Green who won with a stunning 35lb 12oz which included some big 2lb plus eels, bream, roach and rudd.

Another match I was looking forward to was the juniors versus seniors, which this year we fished on Westport canal, a nice little venue that held loads of small fish, sadly I couldn't emulate the success of the previous years event and my 7oz (one eel plus gudgeon and roach) was only good enough for second in the juniors and sixth overall. My records also didn't show whether the juniors or seniors were victorious on the day, one interesting thing was that I used Cosmic Cloud groundbait on the day, anybody remember that and who made it?

I'd also been asked to fish for one of the Ilminster senior teams in the Mini League where all the participating clubs hosted one or more of the rounds, to be honest I struggled on some of venues, blanking twice at Sherborne Lake and only managing a gudgeon and a roach on the River Yeo for a magnificent 1oz!

I did better in the remaining junior matches though, winning the final round of the Points and Ounces series with 15 fish for 12.5oz which also saw my name etched on the shield and for good measure added the Club Cup with 1lb 8oz of roach and dace on the Isle and along with my partner, David Tolman, won the pairs for the third year on the trot.

I was also now fishing a few senior matches on the Isle with Vernon Case picking me up on Sunday mornings in his Ford Escort diesel which sounded like a tractor! I enjoyed moderate success with the highlight probably being a third place in the senior Club Cup with 9lb 7oz which included a chub of 2lb 15oz and won me and extra £2.50 for the heaviest fish of the day on top of £6 for third place! It was an opportunuity missed really because, Jim Lock won with 10lb 6oz and I lost a chub and bumped off loads of roach and dace. In my last match of the year, which was also a senior fixture, I struggled to catch six roach for 2lb 3oz and I only mention it here because one was nice fish of 1lb 3.5oz, a cracking roach to end my look back at 1984.
Headlines at that years presentation evening. Some very young faces there! From left to right, Dennis Priddle, Adrian Green, Robin Pike, Ollie Brister, someone I don't recognise, Bob Filler snr, Jason Miles, Dave Back, Jim Lock, me, Phil Rainford, Don Jobson and Steve Bishop
At that years presentation night I had quite a haul, points shield, points and ounces shield, club cup, heaviest match weight, aggregate trophy, summer cup, heaviest fish, pairs (with David Tolman), trophies for winning two rounds of the points and ounces series and for good measure I won the senior heaviest fish trophy with that 2lb 15oz chub!

Next up - So as I wave goodbye to the juniors part 5 takes a look back at 1985

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

River Isle - IBC Winter League 3 - 12th November 2017

With more rain and the temperature definitely dropping a few notches during the week, winter is certainly on its way. With Rob still away and Hurf unable to fish, it was down to me and Steve P to organise this one and I have to say a big thanks to Frank and Jake who went down and checked out Hambridge yesterday (still too weedy) and also did some work at Isle Brewers, cutting out swims so people can get their boxes in.

We had quite a bit of rain on Saturday night although there wasn't much forecast for Sunday. On my way to Ilminster in the morning, I had a quick look at the river at Donyatt and it looked quite nice, I then stopped at Horlicks where it was chocolate and pushing through and I thought the pond would be the best bet but on arriving at the bowling club, the general consensus was that the river would be okay and should drop during the day. I put in five pegs at Redbridge with the rest at Isle Brewers and really fancied pegs 125, 126, 128 or 129.

Adie went in the bucket early and unbelievably managed to pull out peg 128 for the third match running, a great peg although I think he'd quite fancy a change of scenery! Steve P drew 125 and his drawing hand is on fire at the moment, Langport invader Baz Morgan pulled out 128a and wasn't impressed at all. By the time I got to stick my hand in the bucket, there was only one ball left, I said to Frank that I hoped it wasn't peg 111 and he said he already had that. I took the last ball and was chuffed to see I was on 126 (Barney's Bend), a great peg and one that normally does well with extra water on.

Driving to the river, there was loads of standing water about and I was starting the fear the worst, as I pulled up, Baz said the river looked horrible and when I took my kit to the peg, it was chomping through but I did have some slacker water on the far side. Of greater concern was the howling wind and I felt sorry for the guys at Redbridge as they would be pretty exposed up there. I'd made up some new rigs yesterday and put one on but it was a bit of a nightmare trying to plumb up with the flow and the wind and I was still faffing about when I noticed the start time had come and gone.
Peg 126 (up and coloured!)
I started with two red maggots on the hook and trying to run the float through in the flow but there was just too much pace on it so I stuck another section on and went further over into the steadier water. A couple of small fish had topped and I thought I'd get indications straight away, even if it was from minnows. The problem was the wind and I just couldn't present the rig any sense and it wasn't helping with my feeding either. After half an hour I hadn't had a bite and was surprised when Steve P appeared behind me, he said his peg was racing through and he hadn't had bite either.

I was just starting to think it might be a case of going through the motions until the last hour or so, by which time, hopefully, the level would have dropped a bit, when my float sailed away and the strike resulted in some blue hydro showing itself, I shipped back gently and swung in a 2oz dace, Steve had seen enough and left me to it. Next chuck, I had another dace and started to think I was going to bag up but then, typically, I couldn't get a bite. I tried double bronze maggot and started getting some small roach and then had a slightly better one of 4oz or so.
Bronze maggot was definitely better
The wind was absolutely horrendous and I dread to think how bad it was for the lads at Redbridge, I just netted another roach of 3oz or so when Frank arrived behind me, he'd walked down from peg 111 and said his swim was basically unfishable at the moment, he reported that everybody in his section was struggling and above the bridge, Steve P was fishless and Bill just had two minnows. He walked down to see how Adie, Baz and Terry 'The Toast' were getting on. On his return he said I was winning the match easily as Baz and Terry hadn't caught and Adie had a fish so small he couldn't tell if it was a dace or a minnow! I didn't want to start counting my chickens yet as I certainly wasn't bagging and as things stood it would only take a chub or a few good roach to blow me out of the water.

I kept trying caster and had the odd fish on it but they weren't any bigger than the fish I was catching on maggot and I was having to wait ages for bites. I was catching mainly dace and roach along with a couple of gudgeon, I'd only had one minnow which is normally a good sign and I was still hopeful that some bigger roach might put in an appearance. I'd been keeping an eye on the water level and it was dropping quite quickly. With a couple of hours to go Terry popped to his car to get something and came over and said he still hadn't caught.

I kept putting the odd small fish in the net and with about half an hour to go I probably only had 2lb or so. I heard somebody come through the gate and when I looked around Scott Jackson and Mike Board were walking across the field, I looked back at my float just in time to see it slide under and this time the strike resulted in more solid resistance, I carefully shipped back and slid the net under a lovely roach of 8-10oz, the best fish of the day. While they were with me I caught quite well and I don't know whether it was the time or day, the fact the river had dropped or a combination of both but I added another 5 or 6 fish to finish with 47 and I hoped I might have 3lb or so.

I packed up and as I had the scales I walked down to weigh Terry in first but met him coming the other way, he'd packed up and chucked a 4oz roach back. I hoped that wasn't going to cost him as I've done something similar in the past and missed out on a default section win so now as long as I've caught, I always weigh in. Baz had managed to winkle out a couple of decent roach for 9oz and then Adie had done well catching loads of small fish shallow for 2lb 4oz.
A camera shy Baz had two roach for 9oz
Adie had a lot of small fish for 2lb 4oz from peg 128
We got to my peg and my fish went 3lb 10oz and when the others came down from above the bridge, Jake had 3oz from 123, Bill had 2oz from 124 and Steve P hadn't caught, it had been that hard! Back at the results and they'd struggled at Redbridge as well where Fieldy had done the best with a few dace for a 1lb from 120. So I'd won my first match for a while and picked up £56 plus a nugget from Steve P to make the side bet score 2-2.
My first win for a while
1 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 3lb 10oz
2 - Adie Bishop (Taunton) - 2lb 4oz
3 - Graham Field (Taunton) - 1lb

A - Jake Woodard (Ilminster) - 3oz
B - Baz Morgan (Somerset Angling) - 9oz

We should have fished the pond today and that's twice in recent weeks we've got it wrong but as I've said many times, it's a thankless task running matches which is why I'm glad I don't do it very often and fair play to those that do.

After three matches and dropping the worst result, here's how the IBC league is shaping up,

Graham Field - 2 pts (dropping 1)
Jake Woodard - 4 pts (dropping 3)
Adie Bishop - 4 pts (dropping 4)
Paul Homewood - 5 pts (dropping 30)
John Dursley - 5 pts (dropping 30)

We've had six matches in the two leagues so far and out of interest, I had a look at which pegs have framed,

120 - 4 times (won 1)
128 - 4 times (won 1)
110 - 3 times (won 2)
126 - 3 times (won 1)
128a - 2 times
123 - 1 time (won 1)
124a - 1 time
125 - 1 time

obviously that doesn't necessarily tell the whole story as conditions can play a massive part and others factors like peg 123 has only been used a few times whereas 120 has been in every match but I do enjoy looking at facts and figures and I'll keep this list updated as we fish the rest of the league fixtures and I'll try and put some interesting stats on here regularly. At the moment, the dominance of Isle Brewers is pretty evident (with the exception of 110) although I do think Hambridge will have a say when we start using it, I also think Coxes would have been a better bet than Redbridge today and would probably have provided the winner.

Next up - River Isle

Coming soon - Another great interview

Check Out - My latest trip down memory lane (below)

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

The Archives - Part 3 - New venues and a big goldfish! (1983)

So at the end of Part 2, I'd won my first match and thanks to mum and dad at Xmas I was the proud owner of my first carbon fibre rod. I was still super keen and getting on the bank as often as possible, if I wasn't fishing myself, I was watching other anglers and asking questions. I was also buying all the fishing magazines, Angling Times, Anglers Mail and Coarse Fisherman.


I was fishing the canal at every opportunity and enjoying catching carp off the top, there were also several good sized golden orfe that had found their way in there from somebody's garden pond and although orange in colour, they weren't the brightest of fish and were caught on a regular basis. They also weren't the best of fighters and used to come in like a wet paper bag, almost bream like!

One of the first matches of the season was a juniors versus seniors competition on the canal and all the youngsters were chomping at the bit, hoping to teach the 'oldies' a lesson on our home water. I can't remember exactly how many anglers fished only that there was a good turnout and the senior team consisted of members of the committee.

I drew a peg near the top of the canal, it may have even been the famous 'Alcove' peg (which I'm sure people will remember if they fished the canal back then) but with loads of anglers lining the banks, the fishing was really tough with just the odd tiny rudd being caught and it was looking like being a low weight affair. It was neck and neck between the two teams with most people having caught a few small fish when all of a sudden a big orange shape appeared and was heading my way. I cast out so the float landed in the orfe's path and my single maggot sunk slowly in front of it, the float slid away and the strike was met with solid resistance, thankfully the fish didn't put up much of a scrap and I landed a good fish with shaking hands.

One of the seniors, Ian 'Ollie' Brister, was on my right and later in the match he also landed a 'carrot' of his own although his looked smaller than mine. The rest of the match passed without a lot happening and then it was time for the all important weigh in. The scales started at the bottom end and by the time they reached Ollie, the top weight was a fellow junior, Andrew Crouch, with 6.5oz, Ollie weighed 1lb 2.5oz and then it was my turn, my golden bonus weighed 3lb 8oz and I added 2oz of tiny rudd to give me a total of 3lb 10oz.
This lovely golden orfe made my second match win, a memorable one

After the totals had been added up, the juniors had won comprehensively, beating the seniors 5lb 3.5oz to 1lb 7oz. What was really pleasing was that we'd have still edged it, even without my bonus fish.

As it was a good size for a golden orfe at that time, I entered it into the Anglers Mail Top Fish contest and was over the moon when I received a letter to say I was a winner in the junior category and had won a Daiwa Harrier match rod, it was a nice bit of kit but not a patch on my Rule's carbon rod. I also submitted an entry later in the year with another orfe of 2lb 7oz and won a Daiwa reel!

Clipping from the Angler's Mail
So the season got off to a great start and 1983 turned out to be a really good year as we started to visit different venues although I was still fishing the canal and the Isle as often as I could. We started fishing Chard reservoir quite a bit, it was producing lots of big roach with many topping 2lb, I never managed to break that magical barrier, my biggest roach was 1lb 12oz, which was still a lovely fish. Mum and dad took me to Longleat a couple of times and it was great fishing, catching plenty of skimmers and roach along with the odd crucian and tench.
A nice 6lb 2oz common carp caught down the canal
Two cracking roach caught at Chard reservoir, biggest 1lb 12oz
Longleat, nice surroundings for a days fishing!
Towards the end of the summer I caught a good sized carp on floating crust down the canal but it bottomed out my 7lb spring balance scales so I'll never know how big it was!
My biggest ever carp from the canal but how big?

A rather blurry photo of me fishing the Isle (Vernon's peg which is now peg 23), note the Barbour wax jacket (which was the Halkon Hunt of it's day) and the Hunter wellies. I'd also upgraded to a fibreglass seat box and used an Abu Diplomat closed face reel for most of my river fishing
I was still doing okay in the junior matches and won the Club Cup which was fished on the Isle, with a weight of 2lb 4.5oz, I also won the Points Shield, the Aggregate Trophy and for good measure won the pairs for the second year running but this time with Jason Miles as Mark England was no longer eligible to fish the junior matches, which meant the trophies were a bit more spread out this year!
The presentation night was held at the George Hotel (apologies for the poor photo quality but it's scanned from a newspaper clipping)
Back row from left to right, Robert Tolman, Don Jobson, Aubrey Tulk, Stuart Brown, P Wright, somebody I can't make out!, Bob Filler jnr, Jason Miles, Ian Brister, me, Kevin Tolman, Adrian Green and Dave Back
Front row, Bob Filler snr, Roger Russell, Barney Crockett
Next up - Part 4 takes a look back at 1984

Monday, November 06, 2017

River Isle - V.E.S. Precision League 3 - 5th November 2017

With Rob and Hurf both away, it was down to me and Steve P to arrange this weeks match and I was hoping to get us all down the lower end after last week when everybody at Coxes struggled. Also we had the first few frosts in the week and the river desperately needed some rain. I woke up nice and early and it looked like we'd had some rain overnight, I arrived at the bowling club and there was a slightly depleted turnout this week which although a shame, made deciding on pegs a lot easier!

I put a couple of pegs at Redbridge (110 and 120) with the rest at Isle Brewers and to be honest I didn't really mind where I drew although all week I'd been dreaming about peg 110 which has been fishing really well and as I've only ever drawn it once, I'd love another crack at it. For several of the pegs, I gave people a couple of options as well, so hopefully we'd be in for a good day.

I announced the draw and as people started delving into the bucket, I couldn't hear anybody mentioning 110 and with just two balls left, it still hadn't come out. There was just Bill and me left to draw so he went in, leaving me with the last ball in the bucket, was it the one I wanted? Was it fate that I'd end up on the peg I've been fantasising about all week, umm......nope, as I opened my fingers I could see I'd drawn peg 129 although I did also have the choice of 128a which has been doing well although people keep losing chub in there. Bill ended up on my dream peg and I fancied him to win from there today.

Driving down to Isle Brewers there was loads of water about and it looked like they'd had a fair bit of rain which would hopefully put some much needed colour in the river. I parked up and took my kit to 128a, it looked gorgeous and I really fancied it so decided against going to look at 129, Adie Bishop was on 128 again and as I wandered up to have a quick look, there were loads of small fish topping and I thought he'd be in for a good day.
Although not my dream peg, I was more than happy with 128a
It took me ages to set up and none of my rigs were really suitable, they were either too deep or not deep enough and I still wasn't quite ready when the start time arrived, I ended up using a 1 gram Drennan Tipo but if I'm honest there was way too much line between the float and the pole tip. The main flow was under my feet so I started there and the rig was long enough to fish three sections to hand, I put double red maggot on the hook and fully expected to catch small fish straight away, I had a tiny minnow to avoid the blank but also snagged bottom a couple of times so buried the hook in a caster and had a really positive bite but a miniature gudgeon wasn't the result I'd hoped for. A small roach followed but it certainly wasn't fast or furious.

Although not bagging, I'd seen Adie catching a couple of nice roach so I stuck a couple more sections on and went further across where I'd also been feeding some casters and Bait-Tech Super Seed hemp, another good bite but this time some elastic came out and I swung in a nice 4oz roach. Back to the same spot and the float just sat there, I tried tight against the far bank cover and the float sailed away, a positive strike saw another minnow come flying out of the water. Back to three sections fishing in the flow and I had a small dace but I just couldn't catch two fish in one place.

With two hours gone and less than a pound in the net, I shouted up to ask how Adie was doing and he said he was still getting the odd fish and probably had 3lb, I was starting to think I should have fished 129. I knew I needed chub if I was going to do any good now so started fishing as tight as I could to the far bank and upped the feed. I had a small chublet and then next put in, the float slid along the surface before submerging and this time it was a proper fish, I shipped back and the fish was just plodding around in the middle of the peg when all of a sudden the line went slack! I was sure the hook had pulled out but as I swung the rig in, the hooklength had gone and I really don't know what happened there.

I went back out and tried getting the rig as tight as possible to the far bank cover but it was proving difficult due to the long line between float and pole tip and you can probably guess what's coming next, yep, the rig got caught round an overhanging reed and I ended up losing the lot! I was now seriously hacked off and not for the first time this season, I didn't have a suitable spare rig, will I ever learn? I rooted around in my box and found a Drennan 0.75 gram Trio which had been in there for ages and I wasn't even sure what hooklength was on it but did I change it?, did I heck and I was just asking for even more trouble.

Back across against the cover and I was getting the odd indication and had another gudgeon but that lost fish was playing on my mind, then the float buried and the strike was met with solid resistance, I threw the pole back and once again, a big fish was plodding around in the middle of the peg, it didn't really give me any grief and thankfully the hooklength stayed intact and I slid the net under a lovely chub of 3lb plus.

My next bite was a little chublet but I still felt there was another big chub or two to be had as Fieldy had landed one and lost three a few weeks back. Adie asked how I was getting on, I told him and he replied he was still getting the odd fish, he also said he'd spoken to Bill on 110 who'd had two chub and some smaller fish. Then another really good bite saw me attached to another lump and again it was pretty well behaved and I added another 3lb to the keepnet. With half an hour left, I really thought I might get another one but it didn't happen and the last action of the match for me was hooking another piece of crap on the far bank and this time I got the rig back although it was trashed!

Adie was admitting to 7lb which I thought would be a little more and I fancied Bill would probably find a couple more and as I thought I had 6-7lb, I really needed that other chub. I took my kit back to the car and asked Steve P on 126 how he'd got on, he said he'd really struggled and only had, in his words, '72 pairs of eyeballs', as he had the scales I suggested we weigh him first but when he said we'd come back to his peg, my suspicions were raised somewhat and I thought he might have done better than he was letting on.

We got to Adie's peg and he had a nice net of fish that went 8lb 8oz and he's normally pretty close with his estimates, then it was my turn and it was closer than I thought but I still fell short with 7lb 15oz. Then we walked up to Mr Parker and when he pulled his net out, far from having 'eyeballs' he had some quality roach and it was going to be very close. The needle pulled round and settled on 7lb 10oz - phew, so I took a pound off him although he still leads 2-1 in the series. The others wandered down from above the bridge and Rich S had weighed 6lb 8oz on 125, Stu had 5lb 8oz from 123 and Fieldy had 2lb 4oz from 124 so I was second in my section again.
Adie had a nice net of roach for 8lb 8oz
I had 7lb 15oz which included two lovely chub (but I needed that third one!)
Steve had 7lb 10oz of 'eyeballs'!
Back at the results and Bill had the top weight at Redbridge with 8lb 10oz followed by Karl who had 4lb 8oz from 120 so I ended up in the third place overall and picked up £20 but that was an opportunity missed today and rig making is on the agenda for next Saturday! Although the river didn't fish as well as expected it was still a very close frame with just a pound separating the top four places. Thanks to Karl* and Stuart Aplin** for the photos.

Stuart Aplin had 5lb 8oz which included two nice chub from peg 123**

Karl had 4lb 8oz from peg 120*
Bill won on the day with 8lb 10oz from peg 110 at Redbridge*
1 - Bill Hopping (Ilminster) - 8lb 10oz
2 - Adie Bishop (Taunton) - 8lb 8oz
3 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 7lb 15oz

After three matches and dropping the worst result, this is how the league looks so far,

Bill Hopping - 2 pts (dropping 8)
Steve Parker  - 3 pts (dropping 3)
Adie Bishop - 3 pts (dropping 4)
Jamie Rich - 4 pts (dropping 2)
Stu Aplin - 5 pts (dropping 6)
Karl Aplin - 7 pts (dropping 20)
Graham Field - 7 pts (dropping 30)

Next up - River Isle

Coming soon - My next trip down memory lane

Check Out - My great interview with Billy Makin (below)

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Billy Makin Interview

Hi Billy, thank you so much for agreeing to do an interview, after reading your book earlier in the year (read the review here – Fishing and Testicles) and enjoying it very much, I wanted to find out a little more about what makes you tick!

Firstly, how did you get into fishing and what was your first fish?

Dad was a keen and pretty good matchman on the Northern canal circuit, so my introduction to fishing by-passed the more usual bent pin and worm approach. My tackle was a sort of hand me down stuff from dad's earlier days, but was good enough to catch fish. Catching fish is what keeps a kid interested. Like most kids, I guess that an odd perch were the initial takers.

When did you start fishing matches and do you remember your first win?

I was around 12 when I won a club match on the breadpunch, having "borrowed" both the punch and the float from the tackle box of Harry Settle when he was in the pub during the interval between the morning and afternoon matches.

What was your favourite style of fishing?

I never really had a favourite style. Being quite an obsessive, anything that caught fish on the day was good enough for me. Whenever I pleasure fished, my mind was always fishing a match and was always in a sort of spatial competitive mode.

Your favourite species?

Anything except carp – they are the bastard spawn of Lucifer.

Favourite venue?

Anywhere full of fish, though I must admit that I was always eager for an Oxford canal match.

There’s been quite a bit of interest in this interview already and some of Against Men and Fish’s readers had questions they wanted to ask you, George Burton asked ‘Where did your angling ability come from? Did you have a mentor, your Dad perhaps? before you moved down south as you just seemed to be instantly that good?’

Dad of course was a major influence. Coming from the North West was also important. Leigh was the home of the caster, Wigan the bloodworm, and Bolton the breadpunch. Each of these towns always had someone who stood out from the rest, and I have to say that my obsessiveness was a critical factor in my development. I watched and learned from the top men in the area, and rather than being labelled with one particular tag, I began to combine all three methods. This isn't so difficult when you are young, as an obsessive mind is like a sponge, and once you become competent at something at an early age, you can take it to the next level. Damned hard as you get older though, that is why an early start in fishing and match fishing was so important.

Jeff Sparkes wanted to know ‘Have you still got that recipe for groundbait for gudgeon that you showed me?’

I can remember Ray Mills winning 3 matches on the trot at Womborne with gudgeon, I think that I won the next 2. The locals were going mad, convinced that we had some secret groundbait mix. I told them that the magic ingredient was HTW. We kept them going round in circles for a couple of seasons, both of us winning a few more matches each.

Eventually I had to tell them once they had bought us both a few drinks. HTW stood for Hinckley tap water – we always mixed our feed before we went to any match at Womborne just to wind them up.

With the creation of Makins Fisheries, you are often credited with changing the face of match fishing, some would say commercial fisheries have saved angling while others think it’s ruined it, one thing’s for sure, they are here to stay. Can you tell us a little bit about the vision you had and how you implemented it?

I suppose that the idea germinated because of Cuttle Mill. Here was a small lake that contained a few whacking great carp, and the brain deads' couldn't get enough of it. I reckoned that if I dug a lake, and stocked it with enough fish, people would pay to catch them. In a poor man's way, I pretty much used the golfing model. Instead of whacking a golf ball among a field of cows, why not build the fishing equivalent of a golf course? If there were toilets, anglers could bring their wives and kids – why not have hot food available. All these things went through my head for a number of years. It was only when I made a few bob out of the float making business that I could afford to start the project. As for the growth into the complex it became, I have to thank Roger Parfitt for that. Being my bank manager, he could see the potential in the project, and one way or another, managed to make the funds available.

The fishery was very successful, one of the premier venues in the country and then you sold it for a tidy sum, was selling it always part of the plan or was it too good an offer to refuse?

Everything in this world has a price except my bottom.

You now live in Thailand where you own a bar, how did that come about? Where did your journey take you after selling the fishery, did you go straight to Thailand or were there other pit stops along the way?

I spent 10 years in Tenerife in order to avoid the UK taxman after I sold my lakes. One day, wifey told me that she wanted a bit of space. I booked a 2 week holiday in Thailand, returning to Tenerife for 3 days to collect my fishing tackle and golf clubs. That was over 5 years ago.

Sandra, my ex-wife, is still my best friend in the world, but Rinda, my Thai fiance, reaches the parts that Heineken has yet to discover.
Billy is happily settled in Thailand
I love fishing in Thailand and have caught some amazing fish since my first trip in 2010, have you done any fishing since you’ve been there?

Just an odd chuck or two with friends, strangely, fishing without matches holds little attraction.

Do you think you’ll stay in Thailand long term or have you any plans to come back to the UK to live?

I can never return to the UK as I do not wish to live under Sharia law.

You recently wrote on Facebook about how you received a Masterclass in bream fishing from the Master himself, Ivan Marks and it was fascinating stuff but how do you think Ivan and other greats from that golden era would fare on today’s match circuit where big weights of carp dominate?

Comparisons from a different era are pretty pointless. A class act in any sport, in any era, will always be a class act. Ivan would simply assume the same sort of dominance that he had in his prime.

Georgie Best would still be a pretty decent footballer if he returned and put on a City shirt.

Red does no-one any favours.

Earlier we touched on how you got into fishing but why did you stop and do you ever miss it or get the urge to get back into it?

I occasionally dream of my match fishing days but the interest ends there. Never look back. Keep and enjoy the memories.

I packed in when the excitement went. Motivation is easy when you are young, but as you get older, and look at a raging blizzard through the bedroom window, the bed suddenly becomes very welcoming.

If you had a time machine is there one moment in fishing you wished you could go back and change? i.e. a dream fish coming off at the net or a decision in a match that’s cost you a title?

As I mentioned in my Facebook post, a one second lapse in concentration once cost me the present day equivalent of over 100 grand. Ten grand in the 1970's was a pension.

The Mills used to tell me that I didn't really lose anything. I would have given half the money to the wife that was at the time, and she would have taken the other half when she divorced me.

Have you got one piece of advice that will help the readers put more fish in their nets?

Talk to the fish. The Mills used to call it seeing into the water. Ask them what they want. Do they want it a little deeper, is the shotting right, would they like a little more feed, have they moved a little farther out, would they like a change of bait? The response of the fish will be passed on through the way the bites develop with each subtle change.

A fishing match is a dynamic, ever changing series of events. You have to constantly ask the fish what they want – when they begin to answer you with their response, and you in turn can read the messages that they are trying to give you, then, and only then will you be starting to think like Ivan.

Well thank you for giving up your time but before I let you go, here’s a few more quick-fire questions,

What’s your favourite drink?

Any real ale

Favourite meal?

Pretty cosmopolitan in my taste. Despite living in Thailand, I avoid Thai food. It not only looks, smells and tastes like buffalo dung, but helps to remind you why God gave you an arse.

Do you support a football team?

Man City since a kid. After seeming like centuries of pain, things are now looking pretty good.

Favourite film?

Not a great fan of films – possibly Slumdog Millionaire.

TV show?

Got none over here – usually documentaries on YouTube.

What music do you listen to?

Used to enjoy classical quite a bit, but as the bar is nonstop wall to wall pop type music, I have lost most of my interest.

What’s your idea of a perfect day?

Sitting on the biggest shoal of giant gudgeon in the world, and suppin a pint of Tetleys bitter, as half a dozen Thai barmaids feed me kebabs.

Lastly, any plans to write a book on your angling career or how you went about creating the fishery? I could see it being a bestseller!

No plans, I prefer to write novels. I have 4 published, plus Fishing and Testicles. There are two more half finished, but having been appointed head trainer to the 20 bar girls that work for me, I seem to be running out of energy.

Many thanks again Billy, from Against Men and Fish

All images courtesy of Billy Makin