Great Memories

On the anniversary of Frank Barlow’s untimely passing, Dean Barlow reflects on a very memorable day’s fishing with his dearly missed dad.


November 2nd is the anniversary of my dad’s death 18 years ago. As well as being a little sad I look back with great pleasure as it gets me thinking of all the great fishing adventures we had together.

One of my favourites is when we fished the 500-peg Embassy Pairs qualifier on the Erewash Canal in 1993. I had been working 12-hour night shifts and also had an eye infection so I wasn’t in the best frame of mind! The old man came to pick me up and his first words were, “Have you done the bread punch?”

“Oh no, I forgot,” I replied. “Well that’s great” the old man groaned and then went on to tell me he’d been up all night taking casters off! So, as you can imagine, the atmosphere was a little frosty on the way to the draw!

We drew our pegs out of the respective bags. I had drawn in the dreaded narrows at Dockholme while my dad drew the fancied ‘bomb hole’ on the Middleton stretch of the canal. “Of course, with no bread punch we don’t stand much of a chance,” he digged!

He dropped me off, still mumbling about the bread punch, and I made the long walk down the canal to my peg. It was only 9m wide with some reeds across and gin clear. I knew there was an odd chub around so decided to fish up to the rushes in two or three holes. Back then we used to catapult everything in, so light feeding with bronze maggots was the order of the day. Rigwise it was just an old Drennan Pug dibber float with a size 20 Carbon Barbless hook to 1.7lb Bayer line (how did we manage back then lol).

Bites were always going to be at a premium but my softly softly approach paid off as in the whole five hours I had four bites; three chub and a roach for a weight of 3.05kg. That was enough for 2nd in my 250 pegs!

As I sat there waiting to be picked up I was thinking of how the old man would have struggled with no bread as that was the bait everyone had been catching on. The van pulled up and if I’m honest it didn’t look good! He asked me what I’d had and when I told him a huge smile appeared, “Woo, well done me duck! I didn’t think you’d get a bite there, never mind come 2nd!”

Dad finished 3rd in his 250 pegs. I actually finished 2nd overall and dad was 5th, giving us 5 penalty points, which was a record at the time.

best-of-barlow-bookHe went on to tell me how everyone around him fished bread punch and caught nothing. He fished caster down the track to catch 2.78kg of big gudgeon! He then turned around and boldly claimed, “I knew bread was going to be crap today!”

Frank Barlow was a legendary match angler and a columnist for the Angler’s Mail for 10 years. A book entitled The Best Of Barlow tracks some of his most memorable escapades.