Robin Ballard crowned 2020 Somerset Leveller Champion


This years 3 day Somerset Leveller festival was a little different this year. Due to Coronavirus it became a local 3 day festival aptly called Worcesterset.

A big part of previous Somerset festivals is the banter at the digs in the evenings over a few pints discussing the days fishing and taking the mickey out of the daily wooden spoon winners but with no bar and food available and having to adhere to the groups of six rule. This year we decided still fish three venues over the three days as normal. Last minute organising saw the Jam Factory, Cob House and Hawford Bridge used as this years venues. The league is run on small sections over the three days.

The first day saw us all meet at the Jam Factory for a match on the Ash pool. The weather wasn’t kind to us this time and strong winds made the fishing difficult. Andy Mitchell won this match with 125lb claiming a section win, with reigning champion Rob Butcher, 81lb and Robin Ballard, 77lb winning the other sections. Phil Seedhouse picked up the days wooden spoon!

Day two was on the Laurel pool at Cob House, the weather was much kinder and this produced some excellent weights and all anglers caught well. Robin Ballard won this match with an excellent weight of 183lb while the other two section winners were Rob Butcher, 113lb and Doug Smith also with 113lb. Graham Scott picked up the days wooden spoon.

Going into the last match on the Bridge pool at Hawford Bridge. Robin Ballard and Rob Butcher had a perfect 2 section wins and were each on 2 points closely followed by Andy Mitchell on 3 points who also had a good aggregate weight of 252lb. Doug Smith and Mark Birbeck were sitting on 4 points and it was all to play for on the final match. A cold night made the fishing hard at Hawford Bridge on the Bridge pool and bright conditions kept the weights down and the fishing was a struggle for all anglers. It became a straight fight out between Robin and Rob as they were both pegged in the same section this time with Robin last to weigh in. Rob was first to weigh and put 30lb 12oz on the scales. Robin was also claiming around 30lb so it was going to be a close finish. The other two sections were won by Graham Scott, 32lb and Stu Thomson who also had 32lb. Robin was last to weight in as we all gathered around but still with social distancing! Robins fish weighed 39lb which gave him the all important section win to take the festival win and also his 2nd match win of the festival. Doug Smith picked up the days wooden spoon. At the presentation of all the prizes festival organiser Mark Birbeck was thanked by all for his hard work. Especially harder this year having to cancel hotel rooms and fishery bookings due to Covid 19 and with the social distancing rules this year it wasn’t easy and then finding new venues to fish locally at short notice. So another Somerset festival was enjoyed by all even though this year it was Worcesterset!!Well done Robin.

Rob Butcher wins the 3 Day Somerset Leveller Festival


The Jubilee Nomads and guests fished Mark Birbeck’s, 3 day Somerset Leveller festival over a long weekend. Fishing Carey at Viaduct, Tile at The Sedges and Moor pool at Avalon fisheries. 

The festival was run over 3 sections over the 3 days which always gives everybody a chance of doing well.  8 Tonne plus weight were recorded over the 3 days and the fishing was generally very good for most. The weather forecast wasn’t that good with heavy rain and wind forecast but we managed to avoid the worst of the weather and there was no wet tackle left in the cars this year.  As always the fishing and the banter back at the digs in the evening was excellent and we all had a good couple of evening meals down at the local pub. 

Day One, Carey pool, Viaduct fishery. This match saw some big carp dominate on certain pegs but generally weights were poor for this noted big weight venue. Robin Ballard won the match with 131lb 10oz, 2nd was Phil Seedhouse with 123lb 13oz and 3rd was Pete Dutton 78lb 5oz.Section winners:- Robin Ballard, Graham Scott and James Gardner. Wooden spoon winner Stu Thomson. 

Day Two, Tile pool, The Sedges. This match saw all anglers catch some good bags of fish after a slow start. Rob Butcher won the match with 166lb 5oz, 2nd was Steve Foster with 92lb 13oz and 3rd was Pete Dutton with 73lb 2oz. Section Winners:- Rob Butcher, Phil Seedhouse and Steve Foster. Wooden Spoon winner Doug Smith.

Day Three, Moors pool, Avalon Fisheries. Going into the final day Graham Scott and Phil Seedhouse led the points table with 3 points each, closely followed by Rob Butcher on 4 points. So everything was to play for. Avalon fished really well with 5 tonne plus weights recorded. Rob Butcher claimed his 2nd win, this time with 178lb 11oz. 2nd was Robin Ballard with 131lb 0oz and 3rd was Mark Birbeck with 119lb 13oz. The other tonne plus weights came from Steve Foster 114lb 8oz and Andy Mitchell with 113lb 4oz. Also of note was Phil Seedhouse’s net of fish that weighed in at 78lb 4oz which included 54lb of Silvers. The final day section winners were Rob Butcher, Robin Ballard and Mark Birbeck. Wooden Spoon shared between James Gardner and Richard Walker.

After the match the points and weights were all worked out. This saw Rob Butcher and Phil Seedhouse tied on 5 points. Robs aggregate weight (379lb 6oz) was much higher than Phil’s (274lb 5oz) and he took the Silver Salver plate home this year, with Phil Seedhouse the runner up.  Robin Ballard and Graham Scott finished on 6 points so weight count back again came into play. Robins 327lb 6oz weight was greater than Grahams 185lb 9oz and Robin took 3rd overall place.   The dredged Overall Wooden spoon winner this year was…………………. Doug Smith finishing on 12 points. This was yet another well run and organised festival from Mark Birbeck. Despite the bad weather forecast prior to travelling down to Somerset we just about got anyway with it weather wise this year. Roll on the next time. 

Doug Smith wins the 2019 Spring Somerset Festival


10 Nomads and guests enjoyed an excellent 3 days fishing down in Somerset fishing

at three great venues for our, now annual Spring Festival with matches on the Campbell pool at Viaduct on day 1, The Tile pool at the Sedges on day 2 and then Tealham pool at Lands End Fishery on the final day.With mini sections of 3 or 4 over the 3 days, the result would always be close with all to play for on the last day.

Day 1 – Viaduct Fishery – Campbell poolAfter an early morning drive down to Somerset the awesome Viaduct fishery was the venue for the first match. This is the main match pool at the complex. The match produced 3 tonne weights, 1st Graham Scott 159lb 5oz, 2nd Phil Seedhouse 142lb 15oz and 3rd Andy Mitchell 119lb 4oz. But the important section wins went to Graham Scott, Andy Mitchell and Doug Smith (87lb 13oz) Wooden Spoon winner was Rob Butcher. 

Day 2 – The Sedges – Tile pool After a evening at the digs with plenty of banter and a few drinks day 2 saw us at the Sedges fishing the Tile pool. Stu Thomson was the starman winning the match at a canter placing a fantastic 182lb 3oz on the scales for the win. 2nd was Doug Smith with 107lb and 3rd was Jim Gurney with 87lb 12oz. But the important section winners were, Stu Thomson, Doug Smith and Graham Scott, Doug and Graham’s both 2nd section wins. Wooden Spoon winner was Andy Mitchell.

Day 3 – Lands End Fishery – Tealham poolThe final day saw us all check out of the digs and head down to Lands End Fishery to fish their main match pool, Tealham. with one match to go Graham Scott and Doug Smith were level on 2 points each, closely followed by Stu Thomson on 3 points and Phil Seedhouse, Andy Mitchell and Jim Gurney on 4 points. So all to play for!The match was won by Festival organiser, Mark Birbeck with 90lb 2oz, 2nd was Rob Butcher 86lb 12oz and 3rd was Doug Smith with 71lb 2oz.Wooden Spoon winner Jim Gurney. As we all packed up and loaded up the cars and vans for the long drive home, the overall placings needed to be worked out. Section winners for the final match were Mark Birbeck, Andy Mitchell and Rob Butcher. The final results saw Graham Scott and Doug Smith level on points and the title needed to go to weight count back… Doug Smith aggregate weight was 266lb 5oz to Graham Scott’s 259lb 4oz making Doug Smith 2019 Spring Festival Champion…………… and the one no one wants, overall Wooden Spoon winner, Oh well someone called Pete

STAGfest – a 3 day fishing festival down in Somerset


What does a bloke addicted to match fishing do for a stag weekend

A night on the piss? Erh No, I’m to old for all that. Well why not go away for 3 days doing what I like best, a fishing festival down in somerset with 12 my fishing mates. That’s what I did, 24th-26th March 2017

So with my wedding coming up in Las Vegas soon STAGfest was born. I kitted out everyone fishing with a STAGfest fishing cap for the weekend and a nice engraved Silver Salver (well not quite silver, but it was still a bit pricey) was for the winner to keep forever. We fished 3 pools down in Somerset, Emerald pools, Avalon fisheries and Trinity Waters with 3 sections of 4 anglers each day counting towards the overall festival winner, The daily winner got a small payout which paid for his tea and we also had a daily silvers pool each day.

Evening banter in full swing back at the digs

Day 1 – Ruby pool, Emerald pools

Ruby pool – Emerald pools

This was a early start for us all, on the road at 6.00am to travel down the motorway to Bridgwater for breakfast at our digs for the weekend and then onto Emerald pools for the first match. Ruby pool is a small pool and mainly full of Carp and well suited to us as it’s depth’s were similar to the Jubilee fishery.
Steve Foster caught well on the pole from the all in and won the match with 61lb 7oz, with the other section winners being Mark Birbeck 46lb 3oz and John Swain 29lb 3oz. I drew the wrong end of the pool and weighed in the grant total of 3lb 13oz!! Maybe my presents from Mark Birbeck and Ian Pitman put me off. I was told to wear a pink T-shirt for the duration of the match and also had a pink blow up doll by the name of Daisy who sat on her own deck-chair beside me for the match. Maybe she would have caught more fish than me if I’d have given her one of my rods. I was then presented with another prize after the weigh in…….The Wooden spoon. After the match we all returned to our digs and Steve foster promptly opened up a bottle of Vodka at 5.30pm. I think his idea was to ply me with drink before we hit the bar in the clubhouse.
So an evening of plenty of drink and banter followed in the bar where I was presented with another couple of gifts, a Pink blow up pig called Peter and a musical singing Willie from Ron Evans (thanks Ron) which then set the tone for the evening!! We were all in bed my 12 midnight because we all had another match in the morning.

Day 2 – Moors pool, Avalon

Moors pool – Avalon
25lb of Silvers

I made my come back on this match winning the match with 39lb 12oz which also included winning the silvers pool as I weighed in a nice bag of Silvers for 25lb along along with 3 Carp, one of which was a lovely looking ghostie.

The other section winners were Rob Butcher 33lb 7oz and Graham Scott with 20lb 11oz. Steve Foster day one winner, drew the wrong end of the pool this time and picked up the Wooden spoon.


The evening pretty much followed the same as the night before, plenty of banter and a few drinks. Mark Birbeck had a big surprise for me though.
About 9.00pm I was told to sit on a chair in the middle of the room. I was a bit worried what was to follow! He had gone and organised a stripper for me. We all had a great laugh. It was all good clean fun though. I was just glad she didn’t weigh 20 stone or was called Dave!!
Theclocks were going forward tonight and we were all losing another hours sleep so we all left the bar around midnight, as going into the last day things were looking tight on the points. John Swain was leading the festival on 3 points with Graham Scott in 2nd place with 4 points. There were then 7 of us all on 5 points. So it was all to play for on the last day.
Going into the 3rd day myself and Steve Foster my room mate, both had a match win but also a Wooden Spoon each. It was all on the last match.

Day 3 – Woodland pool, Trinity Waters

Woodland pool – Trinity Waters

After another cooked breakfast we all checked out of our rooms and travelled over to Trinity Waters for the final match of the festival. With the festival being decided on 4 man sections all over the 3 days everybody was in with a chance of lifting the title. John Swain was the man to beat.
John actually won the match with 70lb 12oz catching mainly Carp on the bomb and so he claimed the festival title in fine form with 2 section wins and a 2nd. Rob Butcher won his section with 62lb 15oz and Andy Mitchell won the final section with 57lb 13oz.
I struggled again and picked up another wooden spoon but to be honest a never really wanted to win my own trophy!

The final Result

John Swain, STAGfest winner

John Swain – STAGfest winner

I’d brought a nice engraved silver Salver for the winner and I didn’t want it so maybe I didn’t fish it in the right mind set. I was glad John won the festival. Apart from me I think he was the only angler to wear his STAGfest cap for the whole duration of the three days including the evenings!

STAGfest result

Thanks to Mark & The Journey home

I would like to thank Mark Birbeck for organising STAGfest, the weather for the time of year was fantastic over all three days and plenty of drink and banter flowed in the evenings. The only bad thing over the 3 days was the drive home. The M5 had major delays and it took me a couple of extra hours to get home.

I was starving when I got back to Evesham so I decided to go through the drive-though for a Big Mac. When I got to the window the girl on the till couldn’t stop laughing. I couldn’t work out why until I looked to my left. The picture below taken on the last day before the drive home explains why!! I’d driven all up the M5 with Daisy by my side. (a present from the lads) I was wondering why lots of people where looking at me puzzled all the time.
This weekend was great fun and I really enjoyed it, Thanks to everyone that came to STAGfest

Daisy and me going through the MacDonalds drive though back home in Eveshham