From the age of about ten I regularly fished with Dad and Granddad (Dad pictured right in the tea gardens below Keynsham weir). The tea gardens have now been combined with the car park for the "Lock Keeper" pub. The pub back then was named the White Hart. I can remember regularly fishing Jack Whites on the Bristol Avon with my Granddad George, who I always, referred, to him as Granfer (pictured below right with, a then the Bristol Avon river record 6lb Brown Trout caught on maggot on the "Scours" below Keynshan Bridge - County bridge). After a mornings fishing, Granfer would strip down to his underpants, and swim from Jack Whites bridge, up stream, to the lock gates. I would follow him, walking along the bank with his clothes. He would then dry himself, with his clothes, and go in to the White Hart and bring out a bottle of lemonade and a packet of Smiths crisps for me. He would then disappear for what seemed hours. Dad would carry on fishing for his beloved Dace and Roach, minding the fishing tackle.
Dad had spent many years match fishing, and had started to focused more on pleasure fishing and Trout fishing on the Reservoirs. However, in 1969 I decided I would like to take up match fishing and enthused Dad to start again, and persuaded him to join the Ridgeway Club.
Our first match together was the Ridgeway contest fished on the Crane stretch of the Bristol Avon at Keynsham. A part of the river that dad, had fished, many times over the years.
There would have been at least twenty anglers fishing. Each angler, would have only the one float rod, centre pin reel and a wicker basket. The bait would have been one pint of maggots, a couple of slices of white bread and brown crumb for ground bait. There wouldn't have been any feeder fishing, as quiver tips weren't invented! On the rare occasion some anglers would use their float rods to ledger, but rarely caught much, other than the odd "boot lace" Eels.
The following is the result of the match extracted from the Angling Times:
"Forty year old Peter Shellard of Bristol won the Ridgeway contest on the Bristol Avon at Keynsham with 2lb 6 ½ of Eels.
There was little flow on the river and boats were troublesome but Peter found fish throughout the match by laying on under the far bank with two white maggots on an 18 hook.
Runner-up was 33 year old Bristol engineer Doug Alderton with a mixed catch of Dace and Eels weighing 1 3/4lb."Peter Shellard - 2lb 6 ½ oz
Doug Alderton - 1lb 12 oz
Ivor Nicholls - 1lb 11 oz
Stephen Merrick - 1lb 9 oz
Peter Lewis - 1lb 7 oz
Mike Nicholls - 1lb 2 oz
I can’t remember much about the day, except, I was so proud to see my name in the paper along side Dad’s.
A few points to note:
- The weights were poor due to the river having suffered pollution.
- Two boats probably passed all match
- I don’t think Peter was laying on over the far bank. So match reporting hasn’t changed much!
Two white maggots, still today, the best "all round bait" for Eels.