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Bygone days

Anything fishing here including Tackle and Bait.
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bill yards
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#1

Unread post by bill yards » May 1st, 2015, 12:46 pm

This article, as far as I know was never published, - I wrote it many years ago. I hope someone finds it interesting. I have another one about the old days on the River Trent if anyone wants to see it.

Here we go.

Like many of my era I first started fishing, as a youngster, in the mid 1950's and again like many a small perch on my local river was my introduction. I, quite unusually I gather, combine both pleasure and match fishing but there is no doubt that I do not do as well with my match fishing as I used to. however, I still thoroughly enjoy the camaraderie and the competition as I am as keen as ever. On that score Friday night is 'little sleep' night as I eagerly look forward to the weekend ahead. There are many occasions that I am up at 3am on a Saturday morning fine tuning rigs and gear yet my 'lift' doesn't usually arrive until the time arranged which was around 8am! - you could say I was quite well prepared!

The very best bit of advice I was ever given as a youngster still applies now and that was to listen, watch and learn from the best anglers around, it makes no difference if they are older or younger than yourself. If anyone ever asks me for advice I always repeat those very same words that were said to me.

I have been very fortunate to have watched some of the top anglers in the world that have ever drawn breath. I well remember years ago watching Roberto Trabucco giving a complete 'masterclass' on Bolognese fishing on the River Erne in Enniskillen, - it was a real eye opener watching him fishing three parts across this wide, deep river, - he made the job look simple. Mind you, later on he set up quite an alien method to him, the feeder! He cracked the first two off and turned to the large crowd and just laughed, - this in turn encouraged the crowd to do the same. That was some experience, I took a few photos of him, with his Bolognese roach haul, on my old Nikkon. The picture was in the Angler's Mail a few times - some may well remember it.

Still in Ireland I sat and watched who I believe is the best ever angler to set foot on this planet. His name is Kevin Ashurst and I watched in utter bewilderment as he talked me through his five hours match on the Airport section of the River Erne. It was the final of a series of qualifiers (Gold Cup) and he told me that at best his peg was only worth fourth place and that was if he had a really good match. He fished a decent sized waggler, at distance and what a brilliant performance to see. Out went the waggler and he was permanently fishing within the confines of the rings made by the splash of a ball of groundbait as it landed with unerring consistency just a few inches from his float. This was even more astonishing than you think as no catapults were involved, he threw it all by hand, his left one at that! I have never witnessed any feeding that accurate before or since, - what an education. To conclude this paragraph there are no prizes for guessing where Kevin finished in this match but he was a mighty close fourth!

Many years before that I went to Shrewsbury with the sole purpose of watching Kevin, - he was right at the top of the game at this period. The Severn was up, slightly coloured and Kevin drew a boily, snaggy swim on the Frankland car park. He was absolutely convinced there were roach there but with the extra water on it was a bit more than a stick float job as Kevin found out after changing floats and shotting patterns more times than you would ever believe; he also fished all sorts of variations of the straight bomb with only the minimal of success. For all this he was getting bites, - they were impossible to hit but Kevin knew they were roach. The anglers near him had long given up the ghost but the belief was still with Kevin that there was a way to sort this out. He again talked me through his every move, - he said a lot that day! Then it happened, - he reached in his wicker basket and produced a short length of quill, - not just any quill but a short stubby length of goose quill. He arranged the shot as he saw fit. Kevin will probably never remember this match but for me, the onlooker, he was incredible. Although doing a fair bit of 'cussing' in the last hour he had it well sorted and put over 9 lb of roach on the scales. It was a very close finish but Kevin never went back for the payout, he was fuming that he hadn't sorted it out a bit earlier. For the record this was a sellout and whenever anyone says to me those immortal words, " I have tried everything" I always think of that day.

Some six or seven years ago the late, great Ivan Marks, with his son Chris and a couple of mates stayed in Mahon's Hotel in Irvinestown, Northern Ireland. What brilliant company and a week that will always remain with me. I was with a crowd of mates too, I go every year and still do. One early morning (such is life over there!) I asked Ivan whether there was any possible way to solve the problem of masking the hook with a maggot or a pinkie. This was music to Ivan's ears and for the next hour or so he - and the rest of us were in our element. In a jiffy he cleared a polished oak table of its contents, namely glasses and asked Chris to fetch him a few maggots from the bait shed (OK it was late and the bar staff hadn't a clue what we were up to). He put the maggots on this oak table and told everyone to watch. To my eyes they were crawling everywhere but someone shouted up that they were all the same way up. Ivan told me there and then this was my answer was here but owing to copious amounts of Smithwicks I just couldn't work it out. Then, in the only was Ivan could put it over he asked me where I hooked a maggot. I said the protruding bit where the 'eyes' are. He told me, with that beaming infectious smile he always carried that I was hooking maggots wrongly. I was totally dumfounded, - forty odd years of fishing and I was hooking maggots wrong! Ivan said that it was best to hook them in the 'bevel' on the opposite side to the eyes. He also said that this, barring a complete fluke, would alleviate the problem. I tried it, it took ages to get used to doing it but it was a winner. On the canals I had lost count of the number of fish that had shed the hook because the pinkie had shrouded the point, - I only wish I had known some forty years earlier! If you are having these problems described try it, it really does work but remember the tip came from Ivan Marks, I am just passing it down the line.

Watch, learn and listen - the best advice anyone can give or take in our wonderful sport of angling>>>>>>See you next time.

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#2

Unread post by MrV » May 1st, 2015, 12:57 pm

Nice little read Bill :thumsup :thumsup

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#3

Unread post by cheslynboy » May 1st, 2015, 2:15 pm

Good read Tony hope you aint learning anything off the old codgers on a wednesday thats my job as i'm the youngest of them all :rofl :rofl :rofl :rofl :rofl

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#4

Unread post by TK » May 1st, 2015, 7:20 pm

Look forward to the Trent un Bill :thumsup :tiphat

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#5

Unread post by Mark Wintle » May 1st, 2015, 7:43 pm

Ivan wrote about the correct way to hook maggots about 40 years ago; I picked up on it at the time and in my discussions with other anglers, so did they. P77, Ivan Marks on Match Fishing.

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#6

Unread post by bill yards » May 2nd, 2015, 7:49 am

Bygone days number 2

Remember these are all factual and they are my impartial version of true events as I saw them. This is the first time they have been reproduced in writing.

This weeks' story takes me back a very large amount of years. There were two very well known anglers and gentlemen based in the Derby area, Dennis Neale and the late John Rhone of Bacchus and Rhone fame plus a few helpers. They were real top guys and between them streamlined and dare I say it revolutionised match fishing in the East Midlands.

Of course they had their doubters but these two guys were way above that and they not only brought match fishing into the present day period but light years ahead of its time. Hence Alpha Match Group came into being, - a club designed specifically for match anglers and match anglers only. The idea was that the club would run a complete series of big matches, 100-pegs or more, on some of the very best venues in the East midlands at the time. The area undoubtedly had some of the best match fishing waters, the River Trent in the Swarkestone and Long Eaton areas, the River Soar at Kegworth, various gravel pits and the unforgettable Derby County Council controlled River Derwent at Borrowash and Elvaston Castle. At the time I once drew the scales at Borrowash with my late angling pal Robin Tooth. It took us over two hours just to weigh the twenty pegs here; everybody and his uncle weighed in well over 20 lb, I am sure I was well last in these twenty pegs with something silly like 26 lbs!

Like I mentioned the Alpha Match Group was many light years ahead of its time and a real kick up the backside for a lot of the other contests in those days. Most of them did take notice though and eventually came round to improving their own matches and formats. The Alpha matches proved to be amazingly popular, it was no good turning up on the day for any of these! The pegging was hugely improved with anglers getting more room than ever before. The old days of awarding pots and pans to the winners went straight out of the window as these matches reaped sensible cash amounts if they were successful. I would be thinking correct in saying that the Alpha revolutionised match fishing, - I stand to be corrected but I thought these were the first matches that introduced 10-peg sections, prior to these the sections were much bigger. Naturally these Alpha matches brought the very best of the East Midlands matchmen onto the scene and in turn dragged in the very best anglers from the West Midlands and further a field from Yorkshire and many other counties.

These were great days and great contests and a place where match anglers could openly talk about their hobby and make scores of new acquaintances through fishing.
My memory takes me back to a sellout event on the River Trent at Trent Lock. These matches involved a 'ferry' trip across the river to the Scout Hut. I say 'ferry' in the very loosest sense of the word as it was a dilapidated old rowing boat that came very close to sinking a few times and came close to sinking a few times when it all but disappeared over the weir sills! The captain of this vessel was a real character and he put the often put the fear up us anglers by rocking the boat, - literally! I well remember England International Tony Scott, - he was not at his best on this boat and often turned a quite nasty shade of green before we reached the other side of the River Trent!

On this particular day it was quite cold and crispy. The river was letting off steam and with hardly any wind the conditions were about as perfect as they could be. I drew the monstrous walk to the Armaduct Bridge and with little flow here the only bites I could attract were all on the drop. With this in mind I hurriedly set up a rod and line with a dart float set at about three feet deep. Using maggot on the hook it was a big bleak every chuck in only interrupted by the occasional similar sized chub and roach. The scales came along and I weighed in 12 lb odd. As if it was today I can remember a young Pete Madeley declaring that he could not see any bleak topping. One wag, I am sure it was Barry Carr said that was because they were all in my bleepbleep keepnet! This brought about a few laughs and the scales moved on as I packed up. As I walked back I eventually caught up with the scalesmen and overtook them, - my weight was winning the match at the time! I reached Dennis Neale at the Scout Hut where he was pegged and asked him how he had done, he said he had only caught seven fish and when asked I told Dennis I had weighed in 12 lb odd he said with the tiniest of lump in his cheek that would give me a chance. Dennis lifted his net out and what a sight, - it will haunt me for the rest of my life! He has a double figure carp which were very rare on the river in those days, two ginormous chub, a huge bream, a big perch, a pike and a gudgeon, - they weighed over 27 lb! I had been well and truly stitched up. For the record Dennis used a new plastic invention was a swimfeeder! It was a very popular win for Dennis who now resides in Castle Donington and still goes bagging up with another 'legend' from those days, none other than Tex Lever, - anyone remember Baitex Groundbait, - I think it was endorsed by Peter Plant and Paul Turner?

The following year we were at Borowash and Elvaston on the incredible River Derwent and I drew a real deep hole on a bend. It had steel shuttering shoring up the bank and word had it that is wasn't the best of pegs owing to the rather deep water which was unusual in this area. The River Derwent was one of the most trickiest rivers to peg, it involved some right walks, I well remember walking a massive loop in the river to end up just fifty yards from the access as the loop came back! Some of the pegs were over 100 yards long because of the very nature of the swims but the regular guys that pegged it out knew exactly what they were doing to get the very best out of this wonderful river. Once I drew a shingle beach and had to wade through a very narrow channel of water to get on it. I caught many a roach and dace that day but my attentions were interrupted by some very big splashes in the channel behind me, at the exact point where I had started wading. I naturally thought they were ducks or swans before curiosity got the better of me and I stared at the place for a while, they were chub, - I was stitched up like the proverbial kipper, again! You simply couldn't get at these chub from the island I was on. On another quite well publicised occasion two very famous river anglers drew plum next to each other at the run-off from another bend. The downstream angler was far from happy with his draw as his peg was ripping through and had more boils on it than an overworked kettle. To cut a long story much shorter he thought there was a pegging mistake as twenty yards downstream there was a small patch of dead water and to be perfectly honest the peg screamed fish. Anyway he fished this peg and the scalesmen came along and weighed his 30 lb or so in the angler was well pleased. The scalesman then said to him that his 'peg' had never been in before and was mystified as to why it was, particularly as the peg above had produced a glut of winning catches of over 60 lbs in previous contests!

Anyway, back to this Alpha Match Group contest and I fished a very heavy stick float and caster as deep as I could manage. Dennis came along with the scales that day. He hadn't done a great deal but it was 'payback' time for me! Dennis asked what I had and I said a few roach and a skimmer. The 'roach', bit was spot on but they were really big fish. I owned up to a little 'porky pie' with my skimmer, - it weighed 6 lb 6 oz and at that time was the biggest bream I had ever caught in this country. Dennis was always a very mild natured fellow but I can not repeat even what he said at the sight of this 'skimmer'! This made it one a piece in the wind-up stakes, - we never did have the 'decider'. It is best to keep things that way though and call it a 'draw'.

Until next time<<<<<<keep catching!

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#7

Unread post by joffmiester » May 2nd, 2015, 11:00 am

just had a good read of these stories over a nice cup of coffee . Brilliant Tony :thumsup

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#8

Unread post by Arch » May 2nd, 2015, 9:30 pm

Very good read that. Look forward to the next one.



.........I still visit "Rhoneys" every now and again.

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#9

Unread post by MrV » May 3rd, 2015, 12:53 pm

Tex Lever, - anyone remember Baitex Groundbait

I used to deliver some of his groundbaits around the Midlands and Yorkshire when I did a bit of repping nearly 20 years ago.

The "Baitex Black" was a big seller. Very fine powder like black crumb with a liquorice flavour that was brilliant for gobies in the Autumn/Winter. :thumsup

If I remember rightly he used to sponsor a team, and many of them were top cracks around the Midlands. I think messrs Turner and Plant were part of the crew. Sure you can name one or two others :tiphat :tiphat

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#10

Unread post by bill yards » May 3rd, 2015, 7:02 pm

Paul,

This is sure to stir a few memories then.

The front of the bag was a clear plastic with two white circles inside one another in the middle.
The word SUPRACRUMB was printed in yellow and white within the upper confines of the two circles.
At the bottom of the circles, printed in a white outlined scroll was BAITEX '91. There was the Union Jack in red, white and blue in the centre of the inner circle.
Underneath the circle, left it says " Pts WHEN PACKED and on the right a litter bin logo, again both these are in yellow and white.

On the back there was a solid white overprint.
Printed over the white background at the top was The Baitex Series of Groundbaits. underneath was the words Baitex '91.
Lower down there was then a blue ruled off panel.

The top panel had Black (in yellow) followed by A superfine sieved still water groundbait specially blended and proven to attract gudgeon and other small fish when feeding Bloodworm or Squats. (printed in blue).
Next panel following the same format, - Red. A Superfine sieved still water groundbait specially blended and proven to attract all species of fish especially Roach and Bream.
Third panel, - Gold Another of the superfine sieved still water groundbait products specially blended to attract fish on the drop.
Next panel Punch Feed Specially sieved still water pure breadcrumb groundbait for use when fishing a bread punch. Mixing:- Dampen with atomiser and use straight from the bag.
Next panel. MIXING YOUR GROUNDBAIT
a) Always use a large mixing bowl
b) Tip required amount of groundbait into bowl
c) Water should always be added gradually while mixing
d) A fast stirring action will ensure an even mix of water and groundbait
e) When groundbait holds together with a gentle squeeze the right consistency is achieved
f) For final adjustment, water should only be added with an atomiser
g) For winter menths this feed can be put through a sieve after mixing for an ultra fine finish.
Bottom panel AS FORMULATED AND EXTENSIVELY USED BY MIDLAND CANAL SPECIALISTS

Under this Peter Plant's signature followed by his name - then the same with Paul Turner.

I still have some unused bags, empty!!!!

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#11

Unread post by MrV » May 3rd, 2015, 8:06 pm

Bloody hell Bill, nice one. It certainly does stir up a few memories. Your house must be like an Angling museum ::) ::) :D :D

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#12

Unread post by bill yards » May 4th, 2015, 1:47 pm

Time and memory can play a big part in what is reality but these reports were written many years ago.

As we are just twenty years or so away from a brand new century there is no doubt that sport on the Upper Trent and the Severn has started to change dramatically. The roach days are all but over with just the odd bag of redfins winning contests. There are a few bright spots but in the main Shardlow my favourite all time venue stood head and shoulders above most stretches on this fabulous but slightly fading river.

Regular readers of my stuff will forgive me for mentioning myself as this is something I rarely do; far preferring to put pen to paper either 'ghost writing' for other anglers or writing mainly about the top anglers of the day. A lot of my time was also spent building up the Izaak Walton (Stafford) AA side, the team were improving, keen to learn and as captain/manager there was undoubtedly a lot of potential there; hopefully that will ripen before too long. I also ran loads of matches on the local canals and some on the Leicester bank of the River Trent at Shardlow, - these were always sellouts!.
With all this mind I was also building up a printing business and writing the odd feature and results for the local newspapers.
My fishing trips were under a bit of a restriction so 1979 was a magical year and by far the best one I ever had. My neighbour was Pete Follows and we decided to try a match on the River Severn at Barbourne and Bevere run by Probables AC. These matches soon sold out but they apparently were blacklisted by a bigger organisation. I kept out of the politics and just wanted to fish, the fishing was that good here, nobody could give a damn about the politics. It was all stickfloat fishing then and I fell in with the rest of the matchmen by feeding a ball of brown crumb a chuck, caster and hemp. The scales came down and Pete was way ahead of the field with 15 lbs odd of roach. Then a lad came up from the other direction and said the venue record had been smashed out of sight by a Birmngham based angler named Mr Merchant with 29 lb odd of chub.
I hadn't weighed in yet, I was in an open field with an earth mound and tree roots to stand on, - it was a very comfortable swim, all I had to do was drop it down the edge and let it run down, holding back as strong as I could. I knew I had caught a lot of fish but never in my wildest of dreams did I even consider I had over 32 lbs, as far as I know that is still a record for the stretch, - they were all roach too.

Just two or three weeks later it was the Derby Railway Institute Fishing Club's Annual match, the Tom Draper Memorial as it was better known. The Trent at Shardlow was still coughing up lots of roach, I had over 20 lb in the opening match so this was enough match to write away for tickets. There was 305 in this match, more anglers on the sections than when the National was fished there! When we arrived there the river was obviously carry quite a bit of extra. At the draw the organisers took the famous 'Washlands' swims out as it was a huge problem getting to them. I drew one peg below the Washlands, the peg was generally crap and an 'early bath job'. I got to my peg and couldn't quite believe what I was seeing. The usual raging torrent was confined to the margins and there was a ten yards square of very sedate water at stickfloat range. The peg was definitely worth a shot although the sheer power of the water snapped my bank stick holding my keepnet in! Thankfully the keepnet itself got entangled around some roots and I got it back and guyed it down with a strong umbrella pole! I lost the first couple of fish in the margin flow so the key was to skim them across the top and net them as soon as you could. These were big roach by any Trent standards, I had six of just over the one pound mark and weighed in just 1 lb less than I had on the Severn. It was by far the biggest win I had ever had and more glory came with a 20 lb plus haul in the closing match to be placed third. I had five 20 lb plus roach weights at Shardlow that season. Whilst I was catching these roach Pete's son Perry Follows was watching me bagging up with these roach. Pete was in the Old Crown with most of the competitors. I do recall him having the drink with a pilot of all people!

A had a smashing surprise that Christmas as the then President of the Derby Railway Club sent me a cheque for my seasons' efforts, - apparently that was a complete one-off and had never happened before.

As an up to date addition to this article:

For the record Perry Follows, my former next door neighbour, went on to win the Angling Trust Division Two National Championships in 2014 on the Leeds-Liverpool Canal at Wigan with 20 odd pounds of bream.

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#13

Unread post by leeben1 » May 4th, 2015, 5:10 pm

great read! :tiphat :thumsup

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#14

Unread post by TK » May 7th, 2015, 9:30 am

:thumsup keep em coming Bill

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#15

Unread post by bill yards » May 8th, 2015, 11:30 am

For this one I have resurrected a few very old passages of text that I put pencil to over 50 years ago. I was going to use them for other features, eventually a book for thought better of that, but I never got round to it. The complete feature is now written today but the actual small passages come from all them years ago.

During my 'informative years' of angling or originally 'uninformative years' I went straight into senior match fishing as a spotty little teenager or even before that. The reason for this was quite simple, the school I went to were only interested in rugby union. The sight of my kit leaning against the outside of classroom wall to be used after my regular 'detention' stints offered no weight whatsoever to the 'fishing' idea. In fact I think I may have been the only angler at the school at that time, let only my class. I used to go down to the River Sow after 'detention' which was very close to the school I attended, KESS, - I don't even think the school exists nowadays.

We are firmly back in the early 1960s now in the days of huge canal turnouts. Attendance wise we are talking of lots of matches with over three hundred in them, - in fact these continued to quite recent times, anyone remember the Express and Star sponsored Annual Open? That had over three hundred in it. Going back further than both these, - sometimes there was as many as four or five hundred pegs out at Stafford.

In those days there was a group of absolute brilliant anglers on the local scene. There were known to canal anglers all over the country as 'The Stafford Paste Men'! They frequented waters all round the Midlands rifling pool money from all directions and all quarters! They were that bloody good they were nigh on unbeatable! They used a special type of antennae float eventually called naturally, 'The Stafford Paste Float' or 'The Rattler' was another name because of the noise the 'hinge' of the float made when reeling or pulling a fish in.

I say reeling or pulling because these lads were so much on top of the game they converted some rods to poles. They fished them with a long line but the line also went through the length of the pole to cater for mishaps. Their paste was untouched by hand, much wetter that you thought, and kept on the butt of the pole or rod by a little metal dish or directly onto the butt. They used a very long shanked brand of Mustad hooks and to hook the paste it was a mere 'swish' along the surface of the paste. Groundbait was used, - I believed this to be plain and simple sausage rusk, careful mixed bit by bit with water to get the right dryish consistency to catch a lot of fish shallow. as fast as you can.
Bear in mind matches in those days came along every six weeks or so unless you were prepared to travel good distances. Nowadays you can seemingly pick a match to go to every other day if you so wish! Another observation was that these contests used be of three hours, four hours was not that common, five hours contests were almost unheard of. 'The Stafford Pastemen' would generally endure a solid ninety minutes, two hours at most, of catching small roach and they were around fifty or a few more to the pound. You would nearly always win with 4 lb, - often quite a bit less. With a weight of 3 lb you would always frame.

Wherever the big matches were in the Midlands you would find the 'Stafford Paste Men', - there was simply no fiddle whatsover with these guys they were just that bloody good at what they were doing. As a youngster though you had more chance of breaking through the Iron Curtain than getting any type of info from these guys, - totally the opposite to the help that is available today.

This went on for many, many years but all of a sudden something changed drastically, the weights just got big,- too big for the 'Stafford Paste Men', much too big. This was the arrival of our friends from Leigh and other places in Lancashire and the introduction of the new wonder bait, the caster. The 'Stafford Paste Men' just couldn't live with it. The caster didn't catch that many fish but it sorted out the bigger ones if fished correctly. Methodical feeding on any swim would see you get some bites in the last hour, - if you connected with them all the match was yours for the taking. Species like roach of over 1 lb were the backbone of the sport but bream and tench also took a real liking to the caster. In all honesty 'The Stafford Pastemen' and quite a few others didn't like the idea of these lads from Lancashire coming down and winning our money! It became monotonous at times and I well remember a strong call amongst some local anglers to ban the use of casters, - just how ridiculous could you get! Some of these Lancastrians were totally the opposite to some round here, they wanted to help you. I asked a few of them, I remember Frank Bellfield, Ginger Pennington and Vinnie Walsh, they were as good as gold and even gave us fresh casters on a Sunday before they travelled back oop north! We had some great sport on all the lengths of the local Staffs-Worcs learning about caster fishing, those evening stints after school or work will never be forgotten. I remember Vinnie Walsh having a roach over 2 lb in a math then fish another match at Sandon the following week where he had a 5 lb plus chub, - unheard of fish in those days but such was the power of the caster. The one bait alone had completely transformed canal match fishing in the Stafford area.

To put the record straight in those days you could buy as many entry tickets as you wanted and get a draw from each. This was a loophole in what rules there was in those days and it carried on for a while until it became uniformly one ticket, one draw. Nobody was breaking the law doing this but some didn't think it was the 'done thing'.
Having said that I have seen quite a few 'dodgy' incidents that I believe simply can not happen today. Buckets of gudgeon from other waters, mates passing fish and all that sort of thing has undoubtedly all gone on in the past.

Far worse than that was the 'dodgy organizer' a trap that I made fully sure I never fell into during my long career of organising. Peg fiddling was by far the worst, I and several other organisers of my day had one golden rule, - never draw a peg for yourself. We always got someone, preferably someone you didn't know to draw your peg in full view of everyone else; beware of those that don't do this! Match fishing, especially the organising part, should be 100% transparent.

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TrevorBeckett
Cashmores MG
Cashmores MG
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Bygone days

#16

Unread post by TrevorBeckett » May 8th, 2015, 11:50 am

Bill , what a great article , had no idea that sloppy bread paste was developed on the canal circuit - thaught it was a carp / commercial thing - still a total bugger to fish though !

regards

Trev
Trevor B
Enthusiastic but not always efficient

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