Another former world angling champion appears in our list of the top ten greatest anglers, in the form of consistent north-west money-winner Dave Roper.
Based in Preston, Dave got hooked on canal fishing after dabbling with fly-fishing and big chub. Living for a short time with his grandmother on the banks of the Lancaster Canal gave Dave the opportunity to fish virtually every day. At this time in the north west, canal matches were plentiful and often run by large clubs like the Northern Anglers Association, with up to 700 competitors. The Lancashire Evening Post match could put out as many as 1,200 pegs covering miles and miles of canal. Like other canal anglers of the period, Dave fished with rod and line and the waggler.
Not surprisingly, Dave’s greatest success came with bloodworm on the pole, after being introduced to this relatively new style by Graham Joint of the famous top northern team ‘The Firm’.
Dave’s first pole was a green glass fibre LERC job which seemed to weigh a ton, even though it was only eight metres long. The emergent lightweight carbon poles changed the face of canal fishing, allowing top anglers to present baits on the far bank at 10 metres, and then even further as carbon pole technology developed over the next decades.
It wasn’t long before Dave Roper became one of the most consistent money-winners in the north west. In the late 1970s he won the Northern AA match and in 1979 he won the prestigious 1,000 peg Lancashire Evening Post Open with 3.46 kg (7lb 10oz) of skimmers, caught on bloodworm using a ten-metre pole (short by today’s standards).
Under his captaincy, Izaak Walton (Preston) went on to win the Lancashire Winter League at least six times. They won the Division 2 National in 1976 and were runners-up in the East Anglian Cup. Dave finished in eleventh individual place in the 1980 National Championship and secured another medal by winning tenth place in 1982. After a series of near misses, the Silstar-backed team finally won the 1991 Division 1 National Championship on the Trent & Mersey Canal.
Angling for England
At the age of 36, Dave came to the attention of England manager Stan Smith and, along with his team mate Dave Brogden, fished a series of ‘pole’ trials in 1981 on Ireland’s Newry Canal. Finishing in the top six, both Daves secured a place in the 1982 World Championship squad.
Dave Roper didn’t fish on day one and blanked in the individual event on day two. He collected a silver team medal in 1983, but 1985 on the Arno, Italy, proved to be his year. Dave was left out on day one as the jubilant Team England won the event for the first time in their history. However, he was nominated to fish the individual event on the Sunday and destroyed the opposition, fishing the waggler and maggot to take 14lbs. He took the gold medal and the title of world angling champion. Dave’s final appearance for England was in 1988 in Belgium where once again England took the team gold.
Dave also won the North West Pole Championship and the Great Britain Pole Championships at Mallory Park in the late 1980s.
Dave’s two angling heroes are Ivan Marks and Kevin Ashurst, both past England internationals with great angling ability. Dave no longer fishes competitions but prefers to fish for salmon and sea trout in his semi-retirement.
Last date edited: 13 January 2021