Sadly Dave Massey passed away back in May. We now take a brief look back at some of Dave’s fishing achievements.
The 2018 Dynamite Baits Canal Pairs championships kicked off on the Shropshire Union Canal at Goldstone a few days ago. As usual, there was a strong north west contingent taking part with Wigan especially well represented. Had the Ted Carter Southport lads not have been competing in the world club championships after their 2017 Division One National Victory, (they finished runners-up behind the French team) the qualifier would surely have sold out.
One Wigan canal legend who was not lining up was Dave Massey, for sadly Dave passed away back in May.
A Wigan lad born and bred, Dave grew up in one of the hotbeds of the skilful traditional art of narrow canal fishing. They breed ‘em tough up north and like so many top match-men, Dave could winkle out a few fish from pretty much any peg on his beloved north west canal circuit. Dave fished a lot with Dave Warmsley, the pair starting out together more than 30 years ago. They kicked off with club matches and then, when they felt they were competitive, venturing on to the more competitive open circuit.
Not long after, the two Dave’s were asked to get a team together for an upcoming Cheshire Winter League match on the Trent & Mersey Canal. Using gentle persuasion, they mustered up the requisite number of anglers. The name of the team back then was Star Angling. Several name changes followed, Crown Tackle & Bait Wigan, Van den Eynde Wigan, Sam’s Tackle Wigan and most recently the Wigan Match Group. The team was his pride and joy and his Wigan Match Group jumper was draped on his coffin at his funeral.
Dave was close to winning the 2012 Division One national on the Bristol Avon where he finished forth individual. As the all-in whistle sounded, he cast out with what he felt would be an appropriate weight of feeder, just to see if it would hold bottom. He didn’t even bother to fill the feeder with bait. Within half a second of hitting bottom, a hungry 6-pound bream had snapped up his hookbait. That fish certainly settled any early nerves once it was safely in the net and Dave went on to record nearly 23kgs. Here’s the top ten individual weights from that match:
Aside from the individual fourth placed national medal, Dave also has two Division To gold medals, a Division 5 silver medal and a bronze from division three. One of Dave’s best individual wins came in an Angling Times Winter league semi-final on the Trent & Mersey Canal at Willington with over 200 anglers taking part.
Dave’s first love were the canals of the North West and North Midlands. He won matches on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, Rochdale Canal, Trent & Mersey Canal, Lancaster Canal, Bridgewater and Shropshire Union Canal among others. He also won matches on Loch Ken in Scotland, Carr Mill Dam, (a feeder reservoir of the Sankey St Helens Canal) and the River Witham.
It is said that competitors always knew that Dave was pegged a few pegs away, even in the most foggy of conditions. For when Dave pondered tactics for the day ahead, he would invariably puff on a home-made roll-up cigarette which gave him a characteristic ‘cough and splutter’. Perhaps unusually for a match-man, he was never known to moan about a peg or a venue for Dave realised that we should always enjoy our fishing whatever the occasion. Like all wise men, Dave realised that one day his fishing career would end.
Dave retired at Christmas and just like Paul Turner hit a golden run of form, with more than a dozen match wins in 2018. Some of these were low weight affairs including a victory with just 1lbs 6 oz. Having recently won the inaugural Kenny Buxton memorial match, snaring a big match clinching bream in the last five minutes, he has now joined Kenny in another place for the final whistle blew all too soon for Dave following a sudden brain haemorrhage.
Dave will be sorely missed by friends, family and fellow competitors alike. Wouldn’t it be a fitting tribute to Dave if a Wigan based pair go on to take victory in this year’s Dynamite Bait canal pairs final.
The team undertake a diverse range of work including looking after the Trust's £40 million worth of fish stocks, managing agreements with over 250 different angling clubs and helping more people, especially youngsters, take up angling on the canal. Follow this blog to keep updated with the thoughts and work of the team.See more blogs from this author