There aren’t many anglers on the modern match circuit who haven’t got a good sense of humour. Personally, one of my favourite parts of the sport is mingling with some of the sports more eccentric characters, and enjoying the banter.
I remember sitting in the pub when I joined my first club at the tender age of 16, sitting awestruck listening to some of the more outspoken members battling wits. Dave Loveday was amongst the most notable. He found fame in the national press after losing not one, but two cars in commercial fisheries after leaving his handbreak off. We would always have a £1 sidebet, even if we were on different matches, and I quickly learned to take full advantage if I managed to win - as when I lost his mickey taking was relentless.
I made another great friend on my first ever trip to White Acres, when I met Jim Smith. I drew a couple of pegs away from him on Porth reservoir, and thought it was rather strange when I looked around and saw him kissing his reel. He caught my eye, and told me in a thick Evesham accent that he had just bought his ‘baby’, and how much he loved it!
Later that same day, we got chance to have a proper chat. I went around to his lodge, and he told me how he was “48 years of age and had never had a serious conversation in his life.” I have never seen a man so passionate about his bait. There were maggot trays literally everywhere. I went to pick up a handful of casters for a closer look and I was quickly shot down. “Don’t get your scent on the bait!” he cried. I didn’t agree with his science, but couldn’t help but admire his passion.
I invited him up the following winter, and he fished as a guest on one of our club matches. Being amongst strangers, he was understandably quiet on the morning of the match. After a day shouting banter across the lake, he was far more confident in the pub after though, especially as he had won his section. When he collected his money, he announced “well you bunch of northern monkeys, the fishing up here is nearly as easy as your women. ” As you might expect, this produced hilarity and outrage in equal measure.
For some reason, I was under the impression that top flight ‘professional’ match fishing would be free of such characters. Having worked and fished with the best in the country, I can confirm that there are just as many eccentrics at the top end of the sport than at the bottom.
When I drew next to Phil Ringer on Porth Reservoir, I expected him to be deadly serious and fish a very intensive match. What followed couldn’t have been further from this though, he even broke off halfway through his match to bring me a Jammy Dodger. There is nothing I like better than talking nonsense, and Phil is among the best I have ever conversed with. We spent a very pleasurable day comparing our strategy when approaching women in nightclubs to how a gang of pike would ravage a shoal of roach.
While I believe very strongly that angling needs professionalism, I also think that it is equally important to keep your sense of humour on the bankside. Afterall, we all go fishing to enjoy ourselves, don’t we?
They say that like attracts like, and worryingly after knocking around with all these characters, I find myself getting more and more eccentric as I get older. It is almost as if the shyness and self awareness of youth is slowly deserting me, leaving me madder by the minute. Still, I’m happy so who is to judge?
My travelling partner, Matt Godfrey certainly doesn’t help in that regard. I am told that it is debatable who is madder, me or him. We have started to put some of our weekly comic ramblings online. If you are at a loose end and want to see a couple of young lads acting the goat, feel free to check them out on the link below: