A Mixed Bag - Benjamin Pond - Longshoreman

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A Mixed Bag

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Anglers World, March 1967
By Benjamin Pond

Darkness had descended, set in, fallen, or whatever it never fails to do, and I had just lit my oil lamp in my shack when a loud thump came upon the one and only door.
Now to get a visitor in this out-of-this-world place was rare, once in three years perhaps, but never when the said darkness had descended, you see, my shack was over four miles from any road or abode, so with some misgiving and much caution I moved to the said door just as a second heavy thump came upon it.


Peeping out into the gloom I was confronted by a fellow, gun in hand and black stocking over his features.
"I've got one cartridge left, I shot him dead with t'other," he mumbled.
Trembling, playing for time, I said: "Do-do, er- come in, there must be some mistake, er- who did you kill?" Then, although darkness had descended I recognised the chap by the flickering lamp. "What's the game?" I demanded.
He explained in a few words, "You know I'm hard up, well the fishery officer is paying five bob for the lower beak of every cormorant so I'm at war, had seven since dawn yesterday, was passing that pen of flatflsh of yours near Bush Point tonight when I saw a cormorant about to grab a fish, got him with one barrel, wore this old stocking to hide that shiny nose you were on about, thought I'd pay you back for that personal poke. Hope you feel better now, fetched up any brandy out of the well latelv?"
Yes, I still had a reserve of spirits, t'was when smuggling was a sideline and this chap was one of our crew.
We both drank long into the night, after all, what was TIME?

Big plaice

At dawn we both had a drift down Wych Channel for the big plaice, picked up several one to two pounds, no bigguns, but I see in a local pa.per that Dr. Blackburn has had another good season, fish between 4 and 5½ lb.
It is surprising that large plaice, also soles, get up this narrow channel just north of Brownsea Island, Poole Harbour. Pipe worm are there in millions, maybe the reason.
How opinions change, I read not only angling papers, but our local press as well, not only that, I go to the coast and rivers and meet many anglers old and new.
We used to be told that pike fishing was no good during summer, now we hear you can catch 'em anytime of year.
"Fine and Far Off" has been debunked, thank goodness, anyway it only applies to Australia.
Almost,every bait has been described as "deadly," perhaps it is due to its pong.
A few years back the cry was: ."Never show a light at the waterside," now it's a different story, I know I've always used some sort of light, both river and sea and had good results.

Far out

Then there are those who condemn night fishing, this problem I will go into at another time, as a keeper I could say a lot. Just read in my evening paper that whiting in harbour weigh an ounce, out in the wide bay they are up to a pound, and far out on the English Channel they might be anything up to 10 Ib.
At this rate, out in mid-ocean perhaps they weigh I50 lb. so I give a warning to beginners: "As these fish are often taken three at a time, beware, three 150 pounders hooked together, add up to 450 lb., and you would be pulled out of your boat and go on a fact finding mission." Best get insured!

Back to the river. For the past seven months I've been going to a famous trout fishery on the middle Test to train a new young fellow on all chalk stream matters and hatchery work, I go one day a week, do some work there myself, no sense in standing still and getting cold.

Getting cold? ? ? Fell in three weeks ago!

It was a bitterly cold day and strong north-west wind, the hour 2 p.m., was rush-pulling (roots and all) when I got into a very soft spot, in trying to get on harder bottom I went right under.

Not that this worried me much, trouble was I had to walk 2½ miles back to the estate car, then wait while a wheel had to be changed. The chap at the farm took ages at this job, purposely so that the water would drip from my clothes before I got in the car. Finally got home 4.15, no fire, wife out, no change of clothes - all in the wash, went to bed and dreamed of 450 lb. trout.

Heavy work

Much of a riverkeeper's day is real heavy work, lifting awkward hatches, pole-scything, mud-pulling, trees, and bank-trimming, wear on boots and clothes is awful, that's why we get a suit, hat, and waders annually.
In clearing the masses of rushes in this side stream we came upon areas of open water, these contained a number of rainbow trout averaging 4½ lb., these we caught up and returned to the main river, what they had been feeding on heaven knows, in such confined areas.
Regarding river fishing I have long lost interest in pulling out huge quantities of just one species of uneatable fish, only the salmon, trout and perch appeai to me now.


I positively prefer sea fishing in almost all its various ahd rewarding aspects, if only for these reasons: (1) More exciting, (2) The flsh are eatable. (3) You get a greater variety. (4) You can cover more area of water. (5) Outlay in cash is less for tackle. (6) There are no season or daily charges, provided you have your own boat.

Earlier in life I often indulged in both sea and river fishing on the SAME day, by getting a salmon at sunrise (best time) and then spending the time at sea. Back along I could average 40 shillings for a salmon of about 20 lb., but for 20 lb. of mixed sea fish only 4/- or 5/-.
Now today salmon go up to 15/- a pound and sea fish about 4/6 a pound, seems I was born sixty years too early. But I would not that it be otherwise.

Unrefined I may be but I know that the long green shadow is Mr. E. Sox, to me he is just Jack Pike. Good enough.

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