Angling: Dramatic weights rise leads to record

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I have been quite a while compiling the match results for the newspaper; in fact my first effort was back in 1960, 54 years ago.

Over that period both fishing and the results have changed dramatically. In those days the target fish were roach and dace and big match wins were rarely taken by double-figure catches.

Of course there were exceptions and occasionally someone would draw on a shoal of bream, usually on the Ouse, and would come up with 30 or 40 pounds.

Do not forget that in those days anglers could only set up one rod so everyone travelled fairly light, not like these days when some people would have to hire Pickfords to get their mountain of gear to their pegs. I well remember a big contest on the Wharfe at Ulleskelf where the top 10 all recorded double-figure weights of dace and that made the headlines in the angling press.

All of that changed in the 1990s with the conduct of the commercial fisheries and, to me, that made anglers very lazy with only short walks to their pegs, bankside facilities such as cafés, toilets and lakes stuffed with hungry carp, so at the same time the match weights soared and as the fish put on weight, so did the catches. One of the first in our area was the Woodlands complex near Thirsk and 20 years ago contests were being won with weights of 30 to 40 pounds and they comprised mainly of stock fish, but these days 100lb catches are commonplace at this venue and there have been several over 200lbs recently.

So my answerphone now comes up with all sorts of surprises at the weekend, from hundreds of pounds on a commercial to a couple of pounds in a canal. But one result that really shocked me the other day was the biggest that I have had reported to me in over half a century.

Let me tell you the story. Bert Cockwood is a very old friend of mine and since his retirement from the gas board he works a couple of days a week in the Bobco tackle store where, among other things, he is an expert on repairs to rods and poles.

His club is the Beeston-based Peggy Tub Social, which recently had a match booked on the small lake at Moorfields Farm near Goole, and pre-match Bert was chatting to the owner who told him the best catches had been taken by people fishing shallow, a foot deep in six feet of water.

When Bert got to his peg there were no signs of surface activity or fish basking in the sunshine but he decided to give the advice a try and first put-in he hooked and landed a six-pound carp. That set the pattern for the rest of the day as fish after fish responded to his pellet bait, and after a couple of hours he had filled both of his keepnets that he had brought with him.

He then stopped fishing for 10 minutes as he tried to borrow any spare nets from his club-mates.

He then carried on catching and filled the three nets that he had managed to cadge from his mates and at the end of the six-hour match he had amassed a huge catch of 356lb 2oz which is a new record weight for both the venue and his parent club.

On the count Bert reckoned he had around 90 fish between three and seven pounds.

A remarkable catch because Bert had a severe stroke earlier this year and lost the sight of his left eye.

Daz Ratcliffe of Forum AC with a winter barbel that fell to summer tactics from Hammertons Horseshoe Bend on the Nidd.

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