My angling life story – Jam Jars to open matches!

Jam Jar fishing

My angling life story stretches right back to the early 70’s when I was ‘knee high to a grasshopper’ My earliest memory was me and my childhood mate Nick Haywood fishing the River Evenlode near my home town of Moreton in March in the north Cotswolds when we were at Primary school. This river was really just a small brook and we fished or rather scooped fish with a 5 foot bamboo stick with a net on the end of it. We would spent many on hours during the school holidays trying to scoop up minnows and if we were lucky even a Bullhead which we’d often find hiding next to a sunken boulder or stone in the water. It was real ‘Jam Jar fishing’ This was real boyhood Country life. we’d often build dams on the river to try and catch fish and this is where my fascination with fishing started.

Teenage years

Moving onto Comprehensive school in the early 80’s my friends pool broadened and I gained some new friends also keen on fishing. Actually with rods! and it wasn’t long before I brought my first proper fishing rod. It was a 9ft spinning rod totally not the right rod for the float fishing I was now doing but I didn’t know any different. It was just a fishing rod and good enough for me and now I was doing proper fishing. We then joined the Moreton Angling Club which had its own lake 5 miles away called Alestrope Lake. This was still in push bike range and I fished there when ever I could. Nick and I began to fish proper but really we were only just learning the fishing ropes. We didn’t have the benefit of a family member into fishing and we had to learn it all for ourselves. We still enjoyed our fishing catch tiny Perch and Roach on cheese paste!

Unfortunately Nick’s Dad died around this time and his family moved away and I never saw him again but my fishing continued with my new school mates, mainly John Clarke and Stuart Hancox. As we were now a little older we began to fish Adlestrop lake over night. Our fishing tackle was growing and our parents would now drop us off and collect us the next day. We had a great time being up all night and once our parents had dropped us off at the lake we would often walk up to the pub in the village to see if we could get served with a pint! This carried on from a couple of years. The fishing was poor but we were just enjoying the independence the fishing was giving us. We even travelled to Evesham on the train from Moreton in Marsh a few times to fish the River Avon. Our tackle would go in the guards van and then it was a mile walk to the river. We didn’t catch much but happy memories.

My first match

We used to attend the Youth Club in Moreton in Marsh 3 nights a week in the early 80’s and here we learned about a fishing match organised by Gloucestershire youth clubs association at a lake in South Cerney. It was a team match and we entered a team. Myself John Clarke and Phil Durrant. I didn’t know Phil that well at the time but he’d impressed me with his fishing at Alestrope Lake. He could actually fish! and we travelled down to South Cerney one Saturday, driven down there by Brad the Youth Leader in the clubs mini bus for the match. I can’t remember much about the match but I do remember catching a lot of small fish on the waggler. (I only had the one rod) I probably weighed in 3 or 4 lb of fish. There were around 10 teams fishing and we actually came 2nd in the match. Returning home with a runners up shield to keep. You would have thought this would have been a start to my match fishing career, but no we were only from a small Cotswolds village and there were no fishing matches or local junior clubs to join. This match was a one off and my next match wouldn’t be until about 15 year later in 1999!

Learning to drive opened up my fishing options

Now into 1986 I passed my driving test. No more relying on parents to take me fishing. but being a young adult fishing went on the back burner, Beers, Fags and girls were on the agenda. But we still went fishing in between drunken nights at Moreton football club! We’d heard about other local lakes now, Moreton Angling Club had other venues, Lymham lake and some big lakes at Bourton on the Water. We fished them a little and then a few years later into the early 90’s we found a small pool in the middle of Bourton on the Water. This was full of easy to catch carp and was a revelation for me. I could actually catch them. We spent a good couple of years fishing this little lake and more friends fished there with us, Paul & Pete Teagle, Dex Hope, Steve Clear plus a few lads from the next Town, Stow on the Wold. These were never matches, just pleasure fishing but we were now all catching good bags of fish on various methods.

Moving to Evesham

1995 saw me getting married, buying my first house and moving to Evesham. Fishing took a back seat for a while. I would just go pleasure fishing with the father in law. Then through my wife I met one of her work colleague’s husband. A chap called Ken Savage. He was a good respected local angler and he took me under his wing. This was the start of my match fishing career. I never owned a pole at the time. Ken soon sorted that out and he got me into a local angling club. Evesham Jubilee A.S. I began fishing club matches most Sundays on the River Avon in Evesham plus canals and other local Stillwater’s. I had a lot to learn and Ken helped me out massively with tactics. We travelled together to matches for several years and this was a big learning curve for me. Then one day Ken’s said to me he was stopping fishing and taking up golf, so he could spend more time with his wife. I didn’t believe him at the time but he was true to his word and sadly I never fished with him again.

Club fishing

Evesham Jubilee members after a match 2010

So as relative comer to the sport of match fishing a carried on fishing club matches with Evesham Jubilee. These were great days and I was learning all the time. watching and learning from the other members of the club and it wasn’t long before I began to start to win some of the club matches. winning my first club match in 1999 around 13 years after that first Youth club match in the early 80’s! Evesham Jubilee was a great place to learn. Not only did I enjoy the fishing I made many good friends through the club. I was living away from my home town of Moreton in Marsh. I didn’t have many friends in Evesham but this club fishing with Evesham Jubilee changed all that and many are still great friends now years later.

My biggest fish. A 22lb Common caught on the pole during a match around 2009 (I’d have never got that in my Jam Jar in the 70’s!

As I progressed through the club I became the club secretary which coincided with the club getting it’s own water, later developed into Jubilee Fishery. This changed the club massively. The membership grew from around 30 members to two hundred members. Many just wanting to fish at the Jubilee fishery. Match attendances went from 10-15 on a Sunday morning to over 30 anglers most weeks. These were good times but club put had put all it’s eggs into the Jubilee fishery and river and canal anglers began to leave the club. Club matches were dominated by the fishery but the fishing was very good. I was now winning lots of matches and I think I won nearly every cup and Trophy in the club at least once winning many of the leagues and festivals and I still hold the venue match record of 163lb 1oz set in 2016.

Evesham Jubilee A.S Cup and Trophies – I won most of them at least once from my time with the club, Pictured here in 2015 with my mate Steve Foster. Club fishing also gives you great mates!

The end of club fishing

By 2017 sadly the Jubilee fishery began to decline. The fishing became harder and I wasn’t catching a lot. I began to start to look else ware for a decent days fishing and I took in the odd open match at Manor Farm Leisure. I didn’t do any good but at least I was catching fish. This continued for a year and it was nice to fish different venues. The club matches at the Jubilee fishery continued but by now I wasn’t enjoying fishing the same pool and same methods every week. It began to get a little boring. I wasn’t the only member feeling the same and at the end of the year I resigned as club secretary and a small group of us decided to leave the club.

Jubilee Nomads

From left – Jubilee Nomads – Mark Birbeck, Stu Thomson, Doug Smith, Robin Ballard, Phil Seedhouse, Rob Butcher, Andy Mitchell

This group of Ex Evesham Jubilee members, Mark Birbeck, Rob Butcher, Andy Mitchell, Robin Ballard, Stu Thomson, Doug Smith and myself started to fish open matches at various venues around the area. We are lucky to have a good choice of venues locally and we fished as a group of anglers within these open matches called ourselves Jubilee Nomads. We had our own super pool so we had something to fish for within these open matches but it wasn’t long before at least one of us would mainframe in the actual match and then the open match wins followed. We fished our own organised matches sometimes locally at Tirley Court, The Jam factory and the Vale golf club in between the open matches. We also travelled down to Somerset for several years fishing our own 3 day festival visiting venue’s such as Viaduct, Trinty Waters, Avalon etc which were all great places to visit. Stopping away for a long weekend with these lads was fantastic and there was always plenty of banter back at the digs in the evenings. When I remarried in 2017 prior to my wedding in Las Vegas! I decided my stag night would become one of these 3 day fishing festivals called, STAGfest Read more on STAGfest HERE

STAGfest
back at the digs during STAGfest

So these days we just fish open matches in the area. there’s plenty to choose from and we mainly go to Woodland View, Hillview, Manor Farm Leisure and Solhampton and also a few times at Tunnel Barn Farm, Moorlands and Larford. All within a hours drive. We like to move around these venues and it can be a little hard to compete with anglers who just fish one venue week in and week out becoming venue experts but travelling around as we do is what we all enjoy.

Up to date

So this bring my life of angling up to date but its still going, as strong as ever, from Jam Jar fishing for minnows in the 70’s as a kid in the Cotswolds, pleasure fishing in my youth during the 80’s. Moving to Evesham in the 90’s and the start of proper club fishing which then progressed into open matches. Having fishing as a hobby it has always been in my blood and its given me plenty of life long friendships along the way. Every bloke needs a hobby and I’m so glad fishing been my lifetime vocation. Only us anglers know that feeling. If you’ve read this all the way to the end, I hope you’ve enjoyed the read.

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