Tony is left reeling by a clever bird

One of the wonderful sidelines of fishing is being in a prime position to observe nature in all its glory.

On Sunday a traditionally well supported Brighouse AC Christmas match took place along the Calder and Hebble canal from Elland to Brighouse.

The place to be is the canal basin at the rear of the Barge and Barrel pub. The reason for this is probably because it is the only part of the canal that has commercial buildings on either bank, which may raise the water temperature a notch or too.

Sunday was no exception with much of the action in these few pegs including Andy Lumb who won at a canter with a trio of bream for more than 9lbs.

However, it was something of a phenomenon taking place downstream near the Brookfoot gravel workings that was the talk of the pub after the event.

Tony Marsh had drawn a half decent peg on the Match Length and was busy catching small roach when he was visited on the far bank by a kingfisher.

Contrary to what some people will tell you, these birds are not as uncommon as might be imagined, in fact a stroll from Brighouse to Elland along the canal or river bank will usually result in a sighting.

So there was Tony admiring its shimmering colours when the float dipped with another small roach. But before he could swing it in the kingfisher dived into the water took the fish across its beak and set off in flight pulling elastic from the pole tip until it won the tug of war.

It was largely accepted afterwards that while most fishermen have had these birds fishing alongside them, nobody could remember one in search of a free meal on an angler’s hook.

Having wrestled with the elastic you might have thought that would be that. But no. The kingfisher returned to its perch another four times to feed from Tony’s endeavours.

Back to he match and the runners-up spot was taken by Neil Burland on the unpredictable Elland Bridge peg with 4lbs 14oz. 3. Martin Blagborough 3lbs 3oz; 4. Phil Mitchell 2lbs 4oz; 5. Richard Taylor 2lbs 3oz; 6. Stu Campbell 1lbs 15oz.

News reaches me of the sudden death of Bradford No1 trustee and life member Harry Foster, one of the longest serving committee members in the club’s history, having put in more than 50 years service. Over the years he has taken on many roles including president, vice chairman and match secretary. I knew Harry and his sons well, particularly back in the heyday of the Calder during the 1970s when he ran huge matches of up to 250 along the river from Elland to Cooper Bridge. That Bradford No1 has become one of the most successful fishing clubs in the country is in no small part down to Harry’s hard work and endeavour.

Tri-Cast Calder’s England intermediate international Frankie Gianoncelli came in a creditable sixth in the Thorne Individual League mixing it with some of the best anglers in the country including multiple world champion Alan Scotthorne. Meanwhile over on the Ouse, top local matchman Daz Taylor was second in the penultimate Yorkshire Winter League from a peg above Linton lock with 15lbs 10oz.

Trabucco Halifax’s Paul McMillan was forced to make a hasty decision when Sunday’s match at Riley Green on the Leeds and Liverpool canal was cancelled and he headed for another nearer to home on the Rochdale Canal at Castleton. His decision proved to be the right one and after breaking ice he managed to put together the only weight that broke a pound with roach on caster and punch.

HOT PEG: Try the back of the Barge and Barrel for nailed on action. You will need a Brighouse ticket.

TIP OF THE WEEK: Do yourself a favour and buy some top notch thermal/waterproof gear. It doesn’t have to break the bank.

Merry Christmas and tight lines.