Like so many of my generation, I started fishing as a lad aged 11 in 1970 and carried on enthusiastically until 1979. Fortunately, my uncle Lenny Bolton took the time to get me started and immerse me into the sport. This is my story, brought to you by Davey Jones.
How it all started
Back then, everyone knew someone who was a keen angler. Uncle Lenny took me on my first outing on the Shropshire Union Canal at Beeston. We fished close in on the inside shelf. We caught loads of bream, roach, gudgeon, and perch and I was hooked. Lenny still helps and supports me today. He remains a brilliant angler and a top guy.
Dad encouraged me to participate in the Ellesmere Port Labour club matches. They didn't have a separate junior section, so this was against the seniors. They didn't appreciate getting beaten, and a few of them complained vehemently that I shouldn't be allowed to fish in their matches.
Undeterred, I also fished the Vauxhall AC junior matches from age 12 to 16. This club had many good anglers in their membership ranks, including schoolmates Glynn Maddocks, Ian Lloyd and Terry Collins. Unlike me, all of them stayed with the sport long-term. All three remain incredibly good anglers, still regularly winning matches today.
As happens to so many, other priorities in life got in the way and I stopped fishing in 1979. Little was I to know that it would be 40 years before I was to ever wet a line again.
Let's Fish! encounter
In 2019, whilst walking along the Shropshire Union canal at Blacon, I just happened to stumble across a Let's Fish! event taking place. Intrigued, I started chatting to the lead coach on the reception desk. It turned out to be a bloke called Mark Parry.
After handing me a couple of leaflets, Mark showed how his pole was set up for canal fishing coaching and how it was elasticated. Poles as we know them today were in their infancy in the late 1970s when I packed up fishing and the London roach pole had never reached the north-west.
Getting back into fishing
Chatting to Mark and watching the joy on the youngster's face at the Let's Fish! day quickly made my mind up for me. I just had to get back into fishing again. A trip to the local tackle shop relived me of a few hard-earned pennies.
When I started back, I focussed my efforts on the Shroppy at Christleton. I would often pick the phone up to Mark. He was very helpful and gave me useful tips and information. He also encouraged me to join the thriving Port Sunlight club.
The benefits of angling club membership
Joining Port Sunlight Angling Club has been a very positive move for me. I've been fortunate to meet so many decent people and made many new friends. I've learnt so much from people in this club that has given me the confidence to start fishing matches again.
Much to my surprise, I actually managed to win one of them. There are far too many guys to name individually, but I'm sure they know who they are. I've attended a few club working parties too, which I enjoyed tremendously and found them invaluable to getting to know people as well as picking up some useful insights to the various club controlled ponds.
I'd like to say a massive thank you to my friend and fishing sidekick Tony Fulton. The days we've fished together have been brilliant; always a laugh and banter. I've noticed how much Tony has improved since joining PSAC and believe me he is a dark horse; a match win is just around the corner.
Growing the junior section
The work our club do through the Let's Fish! programme in getting juniors into the sport is amazing. Credit to the guys running this programme and the coaches that give up their time to do this. Tony is retired and was so inspired that he became a qualified licensed Level 1 coach. These juniors will be the future of our club.
Lenny, Tony and I have helped kit out a few of them to enable them to fish in the National Celebration event. In young Penny Prinold, we may even have a future Talent Pathway contender. The work the club's committee undertake more generally is a credit to the guys themselves and to the club. There is so much work to do behind the scenes, and much of it goes unseen and unrecognised by the average angler.
Returning to the competitive arena
Knowledge I've gleaned from the guys in the club gave me the confidence to start match fishing again. The Port Sunlight club matches are always well-supported and are a great day out. The banter is brilliant. For me, the social side is arguably the most important reason for taking part and for good measure, you never stop learning.
We have so many very good anglers in the club who are always willing to help and encourage others. I've also been fishing matches at Yew Tree fishery on a Thursday. There are so many top anglers participating there; it's scary. That said, these guys are also all willing to give advice and help me on the road to becoming a better angler.
It's not about the winning
When I fish in any match, I go to enjoy them, to meet new people and learn from as many people as I can. It's a great feeling to see an improvement in your own skill after you've practised things you have been taught.
I never expect to win any matches because the guys I fish against are very good, far better than me. The best I can hope for would be to win my section occasionally. If I do have a good day, then that fine, but if I don't then we go again next time.
Tips for returning anglers
If anyone reading this is new to fishing or starting back after years away from the sport, I would recommend the following three tips:
As a first step, join a Let's Fish! event.
Get out and meet as many anglers as possible and ask questions. In my experience, you will receive positive and useful answers.
Practice on your own and try to fish as many club level matches as possible. This will speed up the learning process.
Also try fish as many different venues as you can (within reason) for fishing different places and meeting new people will lead to new conversations and learning opportunities.
I hope you have enjoyed this article and who knows, we may bump into each other on the bank sometime soon.
Last Edited: 17 May 2023
Sign up to our monthly newsletter and be the first to hear about campaigns, upcoming events and fundraising inspiration