A very British Anging match!
The Fishing Match
Having been a fishing widow all my married life (20yrs+) I decided to investigate what happens at a fishing match. I calmly said to my husband, the night before, what time does it start? he replied 10am so I said, "I'll come".
UP AT THE CRACK OF DAWN
The alarm went off at 7am and I was dragged out of bed with a comment of "we'll be late". We arrived at Holly Farm Fishery at 7:20am to see the car park already filling up with vans and estate cars full of fishermen and equipment. Sorry girls, but I did not see any ladies at all.
A GOOD BREAKFAST TO START THE DAY
The day starts off with a social get together with breakfast prepared by Rita and served in the clubhouse. I opt for the full English and plough my way through, bacon, sausage, egg, beans and tomatoes. The other half has a bacon and egg sandwich with slices of bread that are the thickest I have ever seen. My breakfast is lovely, it must be the fresh air, but I am starving.
In the clubhouse there is a tackle and bait store. People are continually buying that elusive peice of kit or the bait that will win the match.
PRE-MATCH - JUST QUIET AND PEACEFUL
We take the opportunity to walk around the lakes in the quiet and look for fish. There are lots in there so my husband says. Each lake is pegged. What that means is that there is a small concrete area on which the angler can place his kit and this is given a number.
There is a rule board, not too many but breaking the rules, especially in a match is frowned upon, not only by the owners but also by the other fishermen.
Arriving back at the clubhouse, we find that they are ready for the draw. A line of bottle tops, each with a number is placed on the table. The match organiser then announces which pegs will be used and the corresponding bottle tops are placed in a drawstring bag. This is a tense moment as each angler wants to make sure that the correct peg numbers are put in the bag.
The draw begins. Each angler has his tail to tell. "I had 41 three times last month" "I don't want an odd" "21 to 27 will be fine". This means absolutely nothing to me. My other half draws and seems quite happy. Some anglers are raising their fists in the air in jubilation, others walk away with a determined air having drawn where they didn't want to go.
THE MATCH STARTS
The kit gets unloaded,bait is selected and placed in trays, hooks are threaded and rods checked and double checked, but no one enters their rod in the water. At ten o'clock there is a whistle which signals the start of the match.
The day passes in an effort of total concentration. It is a case of cast, watch, recast, watch, feel a bite, miss it, cast, feel a bit, play that fish, keep playing that fish and watching it as it breaks to the surface. With one hand on the fishing rod and the other on the landing net, the fish is brought expertly into the net. I noticed with all anglers that their immediate concern was for the safety of the fish, making sure that the hook ( barbless of course) was removed as quickly and deftly as possible. As it is a match the fish is transferred to a keep net which is lodged beside the peg. Those anglers expecting high yields have two or three keep nets so that the fish have more room to move about. These keep nets are very long nets that trail at least 10 feet into the water.
THE WEIGH IN
At four pm on the dot the whistle blows again and to a man, the rods are lifted out of the water. At this point the individual fisherman decides whether he wants to "weigh in". If the fisherman has done well in relation to his rivals he will wait and use the scales to check the weight of his fish. For those that have not done well it is the emptying of the nets and packing up of equipment that awaits, before trudging off whilst the others are anticipating their weights.
The weighing team arrive, made up of the organiser and everyone else! A large bag is produced and the nets are emptied one at a time into the bag. The bag is then attached to an A frame set of scales and the results recorded. The fish are quickly returned to the lake as some of them may have been in captivity for some hours. The scales team move from peg to peg recording the results and announce at the end who has won.
The winner walks away, perhaps with £20 in his pocket, but more importantly with pride, that he has won this week's fishing match!.
My husband? Well, there's always Wednesday's match!!
Photos taken with the kind permission of Del and Rita at Holly Farm Fishery and Caravan Park