Words, photos and memories by Graeme Montague
I found a folded-up piece of my past today. It was tucked behind page 36 inside my first ever serious fishing book purchase “Match Fishing with Benny Ashurst”. I unfolded the fragile paper with care and what lay before me made me smile so much. It was an advertisement for the new range of Ivan Marks Super Match Floats, it was 1975 and I was 13 again. Page 36 also displayed a no-frills diagram showing “the right and wrong ways to shot a stick float when fishing the River Trent”, this was potent stuff.
This hand-out from my local tackle shop describing the latest exotic float ranges of Zoomers, Duckers and Darts from Marks and Marlow of Leicester would have been an important possession for me as it created a link to the exciting world of semi-professional match fishing which fascinated me at that age. Looking back, Benny and Ivan may well have unknowingly been performing a role for me as the stand-in fishing uncles I never had. I hung on their every printed word in the angling press at the time.
Most photographs in the book show Benny sporting an impressively ribbed chunky cardigan, paired with the ever present gravity defying roll-up dangling from his bottom lip. For me all this was influential imagery as I tried to emulate these guys and work out how to fill my keepnet at the weekend. They taught me well, even if it was unconsciously and I did go onto win several junior matches and yes a cardigan was worn at times (as well as an eyeshade just like Ivan’s). Although I admit my really effective tuition came from the bailiffs at the local lakes who liked to chat my mum up as she dropped me off in the car park, I was always going to be one of their favourites. I was doing fine until the summer of 1976, I saw a large carp being landed, punk rock came along and everything changed.