In October 2016 Simon Nickless and his partner Steve Dudley trounced a high class field in the 2016 Canal & River Trust/Angling Trust canal pairs final. I couldn’t wait to meet up with Simon to find out about his angling career and what makes him tick.
I recall competing in matches against Simon three decades ago but unlike me, Simon is still competing at the very top of the sport.Early angling experience
Like so many top class anglers, Simon's name can be added to the long list of people who first learnt to fish on their local canal. Simon was aged 10 when his father took him to a Cannock Festival of Sport match on his local Staffs and Worcester canal at Rodbaston. Simon lined up alongside 70 other juniors and stormed to victory with a weight of 6 oz 9 drams. Not a massive catch, although marginally better than the 4oz 4 drams the young Rob Hughes managed when he won his first ever match on the Llangollen Canal. Simon went on to win the next two junior canal matches he entered and thus was well and truly hooked. Not long afterwards, local tackle dealer Dave Willian had taken Simon under his wing and before very long, Simon was a signed up member of both Blackford Progressives and Broomhill Angling Clubs.
Travelling the circuit
As we munched our lunch, Simon reeled off a list of canal venues where he had money over the years. He tested my geographical knowledge of the network to its limit as we ran through the nations waterways. It begs the question as to whether there is another living angler in the UK who can boast a better record on the nations canals. Simon has been in the frame on the Lancaster, Sankey St Helens, Leeds & Liverpool, Calder & Hebble, New Junction, Stainforth & Keadby, Macclesfield, Erewash, Fossdyke, Grantham, Trent & Mersey, Caldon, Middlewich Branch, Shropshire Union, Llangollen, Staffs & Worcester, Birmingham & Fazeley, Worcester & Birmingham, Tame Valley, Anglesey Branch, Soho Loop, Birmingham Main Line, Dudley Number 1, Bridgwater, Coventry, Ashby, North Oxford, South Oxford, Grand Union mainline, Grand Union Leicester Line, Gloucester & Sharpness canal and Selby. Missing from the list thus far are the Basingstoke, Aylesbury Arm and Kennet & Avon all of which are holding qualifying events for the 2017 Canal Pairs. Maybe we can tempt him to add some new venues to his tally.Favourite methods
I think it's fair to say that like most anglers, Simon is happy catching fish on pretty much every method although he really enjoys fishing with bloodworm and joker. Putting Simon on the spot, I asked him to select an imaginary all time dream team of the top dozen bloodworm anglers ever and as a sweetener, I named him in the squad. While its hardly fair to give someone only five minutes to choose from hundreds of possible candidates, the side he selected would, I think, take some beating. In no particular order, Simon's selections were:
Sean Ashby, Dave Berrow, Steve Hemingray, Paul Hughes, Ian Moulton, Dave Vincent, Derek Young, Peter Vasey, Kevin Ashurst, William Raison, Simon Preece and Simon Nickless. Do you agree with Simons choices?National glory
One of Simon's proudest achievements was being part of the Silstar Izaac Walton Team who won the Division One national in 1991 in which 86 teams lined up. That match was fished on the Trent & Mersey. Individually, the canal legend Peter Hargreaves pegged on the first swim below Common Lock at Fradley, romped away with the title landing a catch of 14lb 8oz 4 dr. In the team stakes, the Preston based team scored 823 points, ahead of Dam Starlets and Carthy's Alrewas. It took Simon less than 30 seconds to recall the team of 12 who lined up that day; these being Dave Roper, Alan McAtee, Dave Brogden, Paul Hughes, Liam Green, Roy Meredith, Alan Mayer, Dave Bass, John Croasdale, Danny McGuire, Andy Davies and Simon Nickless. Simon admitted that he had lost count of the exact number of nationals he has fished but he estimated its getting on for about 20.