Angling: Characters who had their own way of doing things

River Swale at Richmond
River Swale at Richmond
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THE piece I wrote a few weeks ago about the lack of characters in the sport these days created quite a lot of interest especially with older readers as it brought back a lot of memories.

So, I will continue with that theme this week in the hope it will bring back even more with names from the not too distant past.

Top of the list has to be Ferdy Ljudevitch who came to this country during the last War from his native Poland along with many of his countrymen. They were known at the time as DPs (Displaced Persons).

Ferdy found employment quickly as a farm labourer in the Boroughbridge area.

He married a local girl and remained here for the rest of his life.

Apart from being a very talented angler he was also a naturalist. It was his proud boast that the only bait that he ever bought was loaves of bread; his range of baits were phenomenal.

He never in his life purchased maggots, pellets or bags of ground bait but relied on what he could find in the fields.

When I first met him many years ago he was in a field turning over hardened “cow pats” and used the grubs and creatures he found as bait.

Whenever you saw him on the river bank he would be surrounded by small tobacco tins, all containing some samples.

When in season, elderberries were another favourite and over the years he built up a tremendous record.

In one year alone he won over 20 of the local club matches, mostly on the River Swale and Ure with massive catches of roach. In later years, as the roach population declined, he decided to concentrate on catching chub from the Ouse.

There was no finesse about his gear as he used the same 15 foot wooden rod that he used for his float fishing coupled with very strong line and hooks.

I watched him one day and his method was unbelievable. He scorned swimfeeders as he just moulded a full slice of bread around his leger weight and then another huge piece around the hook and when he finally hooked a three-pound chub he just lifted it straight out of the water, scorning the use of a landing net. He carried on fishing well into his nineties but sadly passed away a few years ago.

During my research on Ferdy I collected so much information I could have written a book about him.

Another character at the same time was Bradford’s Jos Smith, who for years had a caravan parked near a farm in Boroughbridge. And he spent all of his weekends there in winter and summer.

He was also the bailiff for the Bradford City club and used to peg out all of their contests on the local River Ure. He also enjoyed a round of golf every week.

And he did all this despite the fact that he had only one leg. His false one was not one of the modern type made of plastic but a wooden one. It must have weighed a ton.

He did not use crutches or walking sticks either, but he could still manage the roughest of terrains – snow, mud and ploughed fields had no fears for him.

And he was a decent angler too. He once finished second in the Trent Championships with an entry of a thousand anglers.

When he finally retired he went to live with some relatives in Staffordshire but still fished the local canals there.

Top rod Darren Starkey with a 3-02 perch from the bungalows section on the River Ouse. PIC: Steve Fearnley

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