Angling: Billy’s tips from past show how times have changed

WINNING HAUl: Dave Pollitt, who won round six of the Spring Series at Carpvale with a catch of 89-8.
WINNING HAUl: Dave Pollitt, who won round six of the Spring Series at Carpvale with a catch of 89-8.
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I WAS clearing a cupboard at home packed with old angling material and match results and information on the Yorkshire Winter League going back almost 40 years and I found a long- lost book which brought back many memories.

It is called Match Fishing to Win and was written by England’s first world angling champion, Coventry’s Billy Lane, in conjunction with Sheffield-based angling journalist Colin Graham.

It was written in 1974 at a cost of just 35p which for a book of some 140 pages is ridiculously cheap for a reprint of the book in 1979 went for almost a fiver!

The book is full of information on Billy’s approaches to different venues and describes how he would compete on rivers such as the Witham, the Trent, Great Ouse, Severn, or the Oxford Canal as well as stillwaters and gravel pits.

For each of these venues he gives a list of tackle and baits that he would use and when you look at the details it is hard to believe how much prices and tactics have changed. For although he was a brilliant angler, some of Billy’s theories and thoughts would these days be laughed at.

For example, on the River Trent he advocates setting up two rods, one for the stick float and the other for the waggler. And the reels for each rod had to be loaded with 2lb breaking strain line.

For bait he suggests four parts of casters, two parts of maggots and 15 pounds of fine textured ground bait. I can understand his thinking here for at the time the river was dominated by caster as bait and Billy reckoned that it was a one-bait water and that anything else was a waste of time.

He also reckoned that the dominant species would be roach with the off-chance of connecting with a chub.

Ironically, it was only a short time later that Leeds angler Dave Thomas became the undisputed “King of the Trent” using bronze maggot as bait and he, too, went on to become a world champion. Throughout the book, Billy shows a great reliance on ground bait, for instance, on a bream-dominated river such as the Witham he would take no less than 24lbs of ground bait and a selection of hook baits such as worms, pinkies, maggots, bread and casters plus a gallon of squatts to add to the ground bait.

He reckoned that the cost of this would be – and don’t forget that these are 1974 prices – 24lbs ground bait £1.60; gallon of squatts £2; maggots and pinkies 25p a pint; and two pints of casters 75p.

Bearing in mind that most of the ground bait then was either sausage meat rusk or the crumbs from the machine which sliced our bread, it could be purchased very cheaply, but the equivalent today for that amount of ground bait would be £12 to £14. Maggots and pinkies are £2.50 a pint and casters £3 a pint, as are squatts.

Billy also mentions one big match that he fished on the Witham where his bait bill came to £4.23, the betting to cover match pools and a bookmaker £3.25 and match entry of just 50p.

Compare that to today when his match entry, including pool, would be at least £20, his bait bill around £25 and then add on the cost of travel.

One thing you have to consider, however, is that the average wage in those days was about £12, today, I am told, it is nearer £300!

● Bradford’s Dave Pollitt won the sixth round of the Bobco-sponsored Spring Series at Carpvale, fished in summer-like conditions with the fish responding well.

The match lake provided the best catches and Pollitt had a 89-8 haul comprising 66 fish, all carp.

Second was Mick Doyle from Leeds, who was only a couple of pegs away from the winner. He relied on small pellets of luncheon meat as bait to take 42 carp for his 69-14 catch.

● The Leeds club are running a series of contests on Tuesday evenings at their Kippax Park fishery.

Contact Stan Jeffreys on 0113 2941659 for further details.

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