Sunday, 24 May 2020

Windmill Fishery

After my midweek bag up I had decided to pop out to Windmill again on the Sunday, I booked in with Dave Haines and was going to meet up with keener Kev Winstone. I did have a little trip out on Friday afternoon, not fishing, but to see a rare bird that had turned up at New Passage (in between the two Severn bridges). It was a bird called a Collared Pratincole, I doubt many anglers have heard of it, and I had never seen one before, but with little traffic about it was a quick drive to see it. The wind was awful but I still got to see it, a great tick for me.

As the wind was really bad Saturday (battered some of my plants in the garden) I was hoping it would drop for Sunday. Of course the wind did drop from about 40mph, to about 16mph so still enough to be a pain and I chucked some lead rods in today. I got to the lake about 7:40am and wandered off to my peg I set up on peg 9 whilst Kev was on peg 8, also there was Gary Bowden sat on peg 12. Gary very kindly brought some bacon and sausage rolls from a garage and that was a nice start to the day. I had an island to fish to which would be attacked with the lead rod, a 15g ICS lead, with 0.17 to 16 KKM-B for hard pellet was already set up and ready to go. I set up a shallow rig for the pole, a depth rig for fishing at 5m and a margin rig. I only had pellets with me, but was later to regret this.

I decided to kick off on the lead as it would be a good indicator of how the lake was fishing, I had an idea it would be hard as there was little sign of fish moving. Indeed it was a very slow start, and I think after an hour I had 1 carp and had lost 1 fouler on the lead. Kev had dropped off a skimmer on the pole and had nothing, Gary hadn't had a bite. I had been feeding some 8mm pellet across to the island, and 6mm pellet out 14m for the pole shallow, unfortunately I never had a bite shallow. Back on the lead and all of a sudden 3 carp in as many casts, these fell to a Fluoro pink Bandum, but everything went quiet again. At times I would get liners on the lead but no bites, and no matter what hookbait I tried I could not get a proper bite. Kev broke his duck with a rudd and soon after had a small carp, on the pole about 8m out. My lead line had another wake up, and carp could now be seen feeding in amongst the ducks. I had a few carp and a couple of nice 7/8lb fish then it was back to liners. I tried pellet at 6m, and hooked 5 fish in 5 drops, all were foul hooked and 4 were landed all in reverse gear! They weren't shallow as I had hooked all of them on the bottom. I got one in the mouth in the end but it soon petered out.

The rest on the lead seemed to have been a good thing and I had 3 carp in 3 casts, and there were lots of liners and fish about now, Kev was also catching on the pole but was letting all the big ones get off lol, Gary had managed some lumps on 12. I was doing OK then disaster, and on one cast I caught something that would not give, I lost the lot. Being lazy I could not be bothered to re tackle the lead rod, so thought I would try to the pole again. The 6m line was no good, but I did get a few in the margin before they drifted away. Kev was now getting regular fish on meat, he had some good skimmers and some carp approaching 10lb. One of my lead fish being returned.

I packed up with 93lb on my clicker, and by the time I had packed up and walked past Kev he was up to 130lb, when I stopped fishing he was on 97lb so gives you some idea how well he began to catch.

To be honest I need to tie some hooks, make rigs etc for match preparation, but without knowing what is happening on that front, and if I can fish the super league then it is a bit of an unknown as what to do... do I do river rigs or more commercial stuff? In 3 weeks the river season begins, I'd like to get on there for a go, the fish should have all spawned this year, so hopefully the fishing might be OK.

Finally Clive Branson who runs the "Match Fishing" Facebook page has asked me to do a talk, and I agreed to do it. I'm doing it this Tuesday (26th May)  at 7pm. Anyone can join the group, and if you have any questions at all, about anything, then please go on Facebook on the match fishing page for 7pm Tuesday, then you can type in your questions.

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Fishing again! Two days out already for me.

Yippee do dah and way hey hey! It is great we can go fishing again, and hopefully for those of us who like fishing matches that will come soon as I can't wait for a match. I decided to go pleasure fishing on the first Sunday, letting all the other people get out before me I thought. I booked in to fish Windmill match lake, and got there about 7:30am and Kev Winstone was sat fishing on peg 1 and I got on 25 so we could have a chat. There had been plenty of fish caught here in the previous few days so I was happy to fish at this end. It is the deepest part of the lake here and so I opted to fish two methods, a shallow pellet rig at 13m, and a margin rig to my left. I had not taken any rods and was just happy to mess around on the pole. Though I did have the end of the island to fish to if I had brought rods, I let the Romanian angler on my right have the island. He was a good angler, spoke brilliant English and I found after I left he landed a near 17lb carp.

Anyway, back to my start, I fed 6mm pellets out to 13m and flicked a shallow rig out, within 30 seconds I was attached to my first carp, a nice 5lb fish and what a way to get back to fishing. Next drop out and another carp, and the same next drop. This could be good.. It took a bit longer to get the 4th carp, but the 5th, well it never came on the shallow line! The wind got up and had was blowing straight down the lake to the other end, and it seemed the carp went with it. Kev had only a couple of carp shallow and was soon struggling like me. I came into the margin where I had about 2 feet of depth on a slope , OK I would unlikely do this in a match but this was different and I was prepared to give it a good go. I only had to wait about 15 minutes for the first bite and another carp, happy days. By sitting there and feeding carefully and waiting patiently I would catch the odd carp, not bagging but it was enough to keep me interested. Trying back at shallow a few times was fruitless.

I had fished the margin quite close, a top set plus one, but eventually the fish just seemed to go, and I was forced to go further then the peg towards some reeds. The reeds had been knocking all day, but fishing against them would likely bring a few issues. Well it did bring bites, a few carp landed and a few lost. Trouble was it was a deeper margin by the reeds and I fouled a few which is never ideal next to reeds lol. I ended up with 60lb on my clicker, not a massive weight at all, but I thoroughly enjoyed being back out. There were lots of pleasure anglers catching carp, and seeing a couple of families fishing and all catching was really nice to see. Dave Haines was doing a good job helping and encouraging all the anglers, whislt making sure social distancing was kept in place. Kev stayed on after me and had a good run on the paste later on in the day. Martin Rayet and Martin McMahon did well further down the lake on pellet shallow.

Wednesday 20th May and I was off to the prolific Todber Manor Fishery with six other reprobates; Glenn and Mark Bailey, Gary Bowden, Mark Jefferies, Dave Haines and Kev Winstone. We all arrived within a few minutes of each other, and the venue was enshrouded in mist, a tad chilly when I was wearing shorts. Everyone was unloading kit and picking their pegs around the bottom of Hillview, I couldn't see a free peg so wandered up with some gear and plonked myself on a peg I would very much like to draw 49, a big time flyer. There were carp spawning on the far bank and the odd one on the point, but not anywhere else. Today I had rods with me as well as the pole, but having sat on 49 I decided on only getting one top set out for use in the margin. A bit of a gamble but my instincts told me there would be no need to fish anywhere else than the LH margin.

Having never fished the peg before I had a bit of a plum around, it was really shallow right in the edge and just seemed to slope off as I went out. In the end I went for a spot halfway along (just past the reeds stuck out halfway in the photo) and a couple of feet out from the bank. A 4x10 Preston Edge float with 0.17 to 18 KKM-B for banded pellet was set up with about 18" depth. Well it wasn't long before I was fishing, threw some 6mm pellet in and it wasn't long before the float shot under and carp number one was hooked and netted. It was a stupendous day, there were fish coming into the margin all day long, and I treated today like a match in terms of focus and kept using the clicker. I was always trying to keep catching as fast as possible and sometimes I'd drop the rig in and within 5 seconds fish on, but then I might get a spell of missed bites / foulers. By adjusting the feed and by coming shallower this would work before having to go deeper again. I avoided going right in to the shallowest water all day.

Everyone was catching, Mark Bailey on the other point peg (48 I think) was catching on paste close in, Gary next to him had lots on the method and then paste in close, he had one that must of been nudging 18lb. Podge was catching in margin, Glenn on the method and later paste, Kev on soft pellet and Hainer on meat. Below the view looking behind me, Gary still fishing, but Mark Bailey had packed up having caught approx 250lb.

I just carried on catching, a lad who fished two pegs to my right asked if I was bored, but I wasn't, I was trying to get everything right and keep landing fish regularly. I had two spells where missed bites and foulers were an issue, but always managed to get over that. A lot of the fish are 2 to 3lb, but I caught many bigger than that, with at least three doubles, and I think this was the best of  the bunch. You may also see Gary pouring lake water over me via his pole cup, I didn't mind on such a hot day!

I finished at 3:15pm, having fished for about 6 hours, I did have a mid session lunch break watching Gary and Mark, it didn't affect my fishing. At the end my clicker had 365lb on it, never had that much on it before, probably never will again lol. Pretty much everyone had around 200lb so it had fished very well.

I will be glad when matches start, but for now it's good to be out and enjoying the fishing and the weather, I hope you can too.

Sunday, 10 May 2020

1993 Memories Brought to Life

As you will have noticed I have not blogged for a couple of weeks, mainly due to lockdown blues I guess, though I have been trying to keep fit and nurturing some vegetables along in my garden and keeping the plants alive. Fingers crossed for some nice tasty salads in a few months time.

During the week I received a message from Kev Boltz, he had been doing some clearing up and came across an old angling newspaper from 1993, he wondered why he had it and so had a flick through and found out it covered a famous win for our Bristol team at the time, more of that in a mo. Kev kindly dropped the paper off outside my door so I could take a look and make some use of it for rekindling some memories. The paper was called Angling West, and I must confess I really don't remember seeing it in my youth, it was published by Grenville Jones, and the regular contributors were Colin Scull, Dave Tait and Ted Tuckerman. Looking through this edition it covers all aspects of fishing over a wide area as shown in the picture I have taken, notice it says distributed via 130 tackle shops. Shops that were advertising in this issue were; Veals, Bacons, Twerton Tackle, Clevedon Angling Supplies, Wests Tackle, The Angling Centre (St Austell), Batemans, D&J Sports, TK Tackle, Cotswold Angling, Mevagissey Shark & Angling Centre. I am sure some of you will remember these fondly, how many are still open I don't know but if any are I would be pleased if you could comment. Or if it was your regular shop back in the day please share.

Of course there were many local leagues back in the early 90's, and this issue covers quite a few, so here are a few pictures with some names from the past, and some still casting a line. Perhaps it may spark a memory or two for some of you.

A Very young looking Derek Jarman in this one, a very good angler to this day, and the results of the famous ACL league which was the Bath anglers league to be in.

Next photo shows two matches I have competed in. Firstly the Veals individual Classic League, fished on a Wednesday I struggled to get time off to commit to the league, but did get into it at least one or two years and managed to win one of the matches and frame in the overall league. However, in this year I didn't fish,but this particular round Clive Rayner was pegged up at Rotork and soon realised he had most of the bream in the river in his peg. He went on to win the match with a new 5 hour record for the stretch of 155lb 2oz. Godfrey Hargreaves was on the next peg to Clive, and the weights went downhill after them. It was quite some years before the record was broken.

The SWWL was my old stomping ground of course, and so I have this actual match recorded in my 1993 diary. The weights here look low for an Autumn match, and it was because the river was in flood. As far as I know all of the anglers in the top 6 are now just on commercials or don't fish anymore. My team were 3rd and as a result we got within 2 points of Bathampton. I only had 6 eels for 14oz down at the Chequers stretch, all caught on lobworm for 6 1/2 points.

More coverage of a local winter league I took part in, the Commercial House, where I fished for Bendix. My team romped the match at Swineford to Crane, with Ian Spriggs getting in the frame. I was on a long walk peg 49, probably end of Cornfield, and had 4lb 10oz for 10 points out of 14 all on the feeder.

The next round was at Laycock, and would have been the Abbey fields and Queens fields. Once again my team smashed it on the day, and captain Andy Floyd won the match and I was last in the main money coming 6th overall. I drew a noted chub peg that was easily identified as it had a rope hanging from a tree where sometimes kids swung from. On the day luckily no kids appeared, but unfortunately the rope was trailing in the river and I could not fish past it to where I really needed to. I fished a stick float in close for dace and gudgeon, then switch to waggler fished as close to the rope as I could get. I had 5 small chub on this which made up the weight to 8lb 4oz. Viv Bees weight of 12lb 13oz included a 10lb 2oz barbel which he had on the stick float with a 20 to 2lb bottom.

Some more winter leagues with good anglers and good teams, look out for Mike Stone, Tim Rowe, Rob Randall, Glenn Bailey, Kev Boltz, Sean Glover and many more!  Oh and Darren Shipp, I wonder if that was actually Des Shipp?

Onto the main reason Kevin kept this paper, the NFA South West & South Wales Regional Championship fished on the Gloucester Canal Saturday 4th September 1993. This match attracted a record turnout of 23 teams of 12 anglers! I've done the math for you, it was 276 anglers, wow. I was fishing for my team which were known as Team Bristol Amalgamation. I don't think we would have considered ourselves as one of the top teams for this match with so many locals fishing, and at the time Avon Bait were the best side in the South West and they were winning all over the country. In fact Avon Bait were nailed on favourites with the Bookie in attendance, the famous Bill Knott Jnr. Never the less it was a big match and my team would fish every team match it could at the time. I do not remember the name of the area I drew, but it was peg 134, but straight away I had a little bit of luck. I had fished this area recently and what I noticed last time was that groundbait seemed to be a real waste of time here, and loose feeding was better. I therefore was going down a loose feed only approach, but still knocked up a little gbait just in case it was needed later. I fished the pole at 11m and 12.5m loose feeding maggots and hemp. A 1.25g rig set 1 foot overdepth  worked an absolute treat on the day without much tow. At the start everyone chucked in their gbait bar me, but I was confident of my approach. I ended up catching 2 skimmers, 5 roach and 5 eels for 3lb 10oz, that was worth a decent 18 points out of 23. To give you some idea of how well my approach worked, the angler one side of me had 1 roach, and the other side he blanked. It really seemed the fish stayed away from the gbait.

As it turned out the team had done well in nearly all sections, and we totted up we had nearly 200 points but it was too close to call. Then Bill Knott walked up to us with a big smile before the results, he didn't say anything about the result, but said "You've made my day". Finally as the results were read out in reverse order it turned out we had won the match with 200 points, with Glevum AC 2nd with 196, and Avon Bait 3rd 194. Wow, this was a truly amazing result for us and we were ready to celebrate! Bill Knott came back into the bar to see us, after having paid out the lucky people in the frame. Bill said "You lot have saved me a fortune today, Avon Bait put a huge wedge on winning and thank f... you boys won it!  Now what would you like to drink, help yourself." Bill paid for the beer, all of it, I will never forget that day as it was just an unexpected win and fabulous day, with free beer the icing on the cake lol!

The picture of the winning team below, and the names from left to right.. Top row.. Rod Hill (RIP), Mike Nicholls, Pete Sivell, Kev Boltz, Paul Lumbard, Glenn Bailey, Ian Spriggs.  Bottom row.. Me, Martyn Woodington, Mark Jefferies, Andy Floyd and Bob Sheppard.  I am pleased to say I am still fishing (and drinking lol) with many of these guys, but I remain friends with all of them and would always be happy to bump into them. Great blokes, and a great time for fishing. We will be able to get back out there again guys, but for now lift your spirits with your memories of good times.

Thank you very much Kev for sharing this paper with me, it was a real pick me up.

Sunday, 19 April 2020

Match Fishing - My Beginning

As the lock down continues I am doing my best to pass the time and stay sane and safe. I am still working from home, and am really busy at times, so that does help a lot and I'm thankful for this. A few more adjustments to the garden (including a few new plants / shrubs gone in) but that's all done now bar the regular weeding / pruning. Of course I get my regular walk in every day, between 30 minutes and an hour, and keep my eye out for the various birds and butterflies, should be good for that this week. A bit of weight work at home and some cardio stuff, but I can feel the muscles reducing and see the fat increasing on the belly due to additional eating and drinking. Ah well it will be a good incentive to get back to pre lock down when the gym finally opens up again.

Trying to think about what I can write fishing wise that might be of some slight interest to others, or maybe stir some memories for you. This time how did I get into match fishing..

As I mentioned in my last post once I got my 13 feet fiberglass beach caster (lol) and half decent reel I was able to fish the river a bit better. I only had one of those plastic tackle boxes which opened up with a few trays in it, so nothing to sit on, but then we always stood up on the river. But then one day I was given a wicker basket, wow! I could put the plastic box in it and my bait as well as food and drink. The old cow food bag which I used to carry my keepnet and landing net eventually got replaced by a net bag, those small thin jobs that you could get nothing else in bar your nets. It was easier to walk to Jackie Whites now which was really the only place I fished other than the very rare foray to Bitterwell lake. I fished with numerous school friends at the time (secondary school) but eventually ended up mainly fishing with two lads Kevin and Dave. Kevin had the best gear, most of it bearing the name Shakespeare on it, a blue and white rod and a plastic box. He also seemed to do the best when we went fishing which I put down to luck, of course it wasn't. Kev and Dave lived close to each other on the local housing estate that had been built in the early 1970's, so they were able to see each other a fair bit, me being down on the farm we had to cycle to meet up. I spent a lot of my teenager years on their housing estate with them and a lot of other kids I met at school, we went everywhere on our bikes.

One day Kev told me that him and Dave had found out about a junior fishing club and they had been to a meeting and learn't lots, and did I want to go with them next time. Think it was Friday evening the club met, in a Church hall in Whitehall, and the club was called Silver Dace. It was a fair way to cycle there from Willsbridge on my 3 speed bike, and to be honest I would have got lost if my mates had left me behind! Going into the hall it was very intimidating with all these kids who knew each other and were chatting away and half of them looked right bruisers, lol only joking. Luckily two gents who were running it were dead nice and came and spoke to me, they were Mike Bird and Derek Floyd, and these two guys were brilliant for junior anglers. There were other adults at the meeting, some parents (of the juniors) who were anglers (John Hawkins and many of his family), and one I recall was Malcolm Holbrook (RIP) who was there with his son Mark. In the nicest possible way Mark seemed to be the top dog, other kids were around him like bees at a honey pot. Another lad was Clayton Hudson, he was a good mate of Mark too it seemed, Clayton was friendly, easy to talk to and I was glad of his company, he's the same these days, not a bad bone in his body.

Another adult was present and this was Eddy Shortman, he was taking charge of the team to fish the Junior National on the river 1985. I was 16, late into match fishing, and if I didn't get picked I would never fish a junior national. A lot of the juniors were younger than 16, so they foolishly thought I would be a good angler, which I wasn't, but it did make it easier to make friends and try to get some information, though most of the words used by the others meant sod all to me, paternoster, hook length, crowquill etc. I had no clue that I was so bad, but fishing a match would soon sort me out.

The very first junior match I fished was on the clubs water, Chequers on the Bristol Avon. I remember the peg I was on, top of the straight just opposite the rock face. The river was flowing right to left and I set up a driftbeater float to fish maggots. I cannot remember much of the match, but I got confused when the river started going left to right but as nobody said anything I carried on. I had half a dozen dace in the keepnet I guess when Derek asked how I was doing. He said look at your net your fish are dying, and the fish were literally in an inch of water in the net. Derek explained there had been a tide and had I not noticed the river drop four feet, ooops. Disaster of a first match, but I think I got given a plastic disgorger as a prize which was better than the old metal thing I had. To be honest the memory is a bit flaky after that match, and I really do not know how but Eddy picked me to fish the National.

On the day of the national I had two rods as I now had a 10 feet ledger rod which came with one screw in quiver tip that was white. I remember sitting on the coach going to my section with nobody saying a word, but not me, I asked the lad next to me if he had fished a national before. Turned out he had, he had only won the national last year, and then I told him my peg number and he was next to me, shit why didn't I keep my mouth shut. By now I had at least got some sensible floats, wagglers, crowquills and stick floats, as well as a small selection of feeders. I set up a waggler (far too much float showing and heavy shot for droppers) and a groundbait feeder. Both rigs were fished direct since I still didn't know why you needed a hooklength.... I was having a poor match, I just was not going to catch those clever roach was I. When I chucked the feeder out I was having problems with the feeder sliding down to the hook, the BB shot wouldn't stay in place (god this was bad) even when I squeezed it hard with pliers, yep I had no paternoster. Somehow I snared a small skimmer, and then a proper bite and proper fish on the end. I'd not felt anything like this fish on a rod before, and my heart was going mad. It took an age to get this fish in close after casting so far out, and I now had 3 or 4 adults watching me. It was a bream, and the adults said 4lb+  as it slid towards my landing net, but withing a couple of feet the hook came out. I felt like crying, that was my team points gone right there. My 350 grammes was atrocious, and Eddy was not best pleased, but a few of the other lads struggled and that was that.

As a junior I fished in the Silver Dace B team in a winterleague match on the Avon at Barton Farm. On the way to the peg the strap on my wicker basket broke at one end, but I could still carry it. I managed to catch a 2 1/2lb bream which was better than halfway in the section. During the match I had a sudden bad stomach and ended up shitting myself, you can't make it up. Walking back was not comfortable at all, and then the strap on the other end of the wicker broke. I was glad one of the other juniors Dad's carried my box for me, and did my best to "cover" my ass lol.

It would have been easy to give up on match fishing, after all I was miles behind, and nothing was going well. But I've always been a stubborn person from a very young age, and would rather struggle and fight to get something sorted than to give up. I carried on with the juniors that season, and Mark and Clayton helped me a lot, I also started buying Angling Times and Anglers Mail and reading all manor of books. Another junior match I recall was a team champs on the Huntspill, I fished a waggler feeding maggots using my new found shotting pattern, 1 no4 1 no6 and 1 no8. I had a 20 hook but this was still tied direct! Anyway I was doing OK it seemed when Andy Britt came along and told me to carry on doing what I was doing. He asked me what strength hook length I was using, and I said "what hook length?". He told me I would be catching twice as much if I used a thinner line. Well that stuck with me and it was an important lesson learned. I ended up 10th on the day in a big match for juniors and won a bait tray with 4 bait boxes in it, I was well chuffed!

The rest of my season for the juniors wasn't anything to write home about, but I was learning fast and as I was working I had been able to buy better gear, carbon rods, a closed face feel, a mitchell match, and of course a Shakespeare box. I was catching a lot more, but not enough to stand out, but things were now beginning to click and the basics were falling into place.

Stay Safe everyone.

Monday, 13 April 2020

The early days, very early days

It has been a fine Easter weekend that is for sure, lovely warm weather for the most part and other than a couple of walks out I've spent much of it in the garden. Painting a lot of the time, and I've got a small vegetable patch and have planted eight different vegetables, fingers crossed I'll get something to grow. As the garden is new I'm not sure exactly what plants are growing, so I'll wait and see and decide on future flowers, bushes etc. I've seen masses of butterflies this weekend so would like to get more of them hanging around the garden.

Anyway, I was thinking after writing the last blog that I could have probably gone right back in time to when I first really thought about fishing and probably how did it come about. I was brought up on a farm in Willsbridge, just along from Londonderry Farm, and it had Siston Brook running through  which eventually flowed into the Bristol Avon at Jack Whites. As a very young boy I remember the stream had a weir, sluice gate and mill pool, and it was the weir pool that attracted anglers attention. I would sit and watch them occasionally, no idea what fish they were catching other than eels which I soon learned looked different to everything else. The weir pool must have been about 400 years old, and some of the fish that were in there (roach, chub, perch) were not to be found in the rest of the shallow stream. I was allowed to search the shallow part of the stream, where I used to see sticklebacks, millers thumb, and stone loach. I'd watch these little fish and learned to be naturally still and quiet, and of course other wildlife would show itself to me, water voles, grey wagtails and kingfisher. A few memories of the pool are once seeing the weir sill alive, it was covered with elvers. A lad's float being caught by a crayfish, and falling in over my head and being dragged out by my cousin (although that last memory is more like a dream but it did happen).

Disaster was to strike, the council informed us there were to be thousands of houses to be built along the stream and around it upstream. This would cause much more water to run into the stream and in all probability cause the farm to be regularly flooded. The council advised the weir pool, weir, and sluice gates would have to be destroyed and the brook itself be dug out, so instead of the banks being a couple of feet above the stream they would be in places 20 feet. Even though I was a very young boy the damage and destruction was very upsetting to me, but who listens to the complaints of a 8 year old. All we were left with were banks that were either steep and muddy, or piled and covered in stones. It was only a place where water flowed, there was no habitat.

It took quite some years, I do not remember how many now, for life to return to the banks of the brook, bushes, the odd reed, and saplings. Weed began to return to the brook, and eventually fish, but they were different fish. No more stone loach, now what appeared were mainly dace, the odd trout, and chublets. The weir pool was still a little deeper and wider for a few years, before eventually it became as any other part of the stream. One fish that I began to see was flat fish, think they were flounders, these obviously came up on the high tides, and in the early 1980's I often saw them in the stream, and caught a few on the river to (including one at Fry's in a Xmas match which saved a blank). The water voles returned to the stream, as did other bird life, and as I got older I was given a catalogue fiberglass rod and Intrepid Black Prince reel loaded with 6lb+ line. Didn't catch a lot on it, but you've got to start somewhere I guess. Then the black plague came to our waterways, mink, within a fairly short time all the water voles were wiped out and mallards and moorhen became less common. What we didn't realise was that the mink also had a liking for eels, and they were merrily churning through them. I hated those mink, let out of the cages of mink farms but "animal welfare" do gooders who ended up in that one act eradicating huge amounts of our native wildlife. I managed in later life to shoot a couple of mink that were in the stream, but the damage was done, no more water voles ever since. Thankfully Avon Wildlife Trust set some traps and mink were eventually wiped out or at the very least became a rarity.

When I got my first longer rod a 13 feet fiberglass job (known by others as a beach caster) and a half decent reel I began to be able to fish further out in the river. It had to double as a float rod and a ledger rod, and I still didn't catch a great deal but I got better, and luckier. Back then, a few roach or dace would be enough to keep me happy. Perch were absent on the river at this time, but eels were still plentiful. Bream and chub were just a dream. I could go out all day and just get a handful of fish and be happy, fishing on into the evening was the best though. 

These days the stream on the farm still contains mainly dace and the odd trout, but gudgeon and odd roach and perch are in there. I have seen heron, little egret, redshank, snipe, kingfisher, dipper, as well as lots more common birds there. Otters have also ventured up there too, and foxes and badgers make their homes in the steep sided banks where hedgerows now flourish, and even deer are often close by.  And, despite at least three pollution incidents over the years that I can recall, nature has returned to the farm stream and I hope it can remain. For sure living close to water gave me a great interest in wildlife and fishing, and I have a lot to thank that little stream for.