Blackfords Progressive Angling Society is one of the friendliest and most progressive clubs around and affiliated with the Angling Trust, regardless of your chosen discipline we offer something for everyone, good quality fishing at affordable prices. With 4 different venues we offer a variety sport and various challenges, whether you are just starting out or seasoned veteran you will find something at Blackfords to cater for your needs. The general pleasure angler is simply spoilt for choice with some of the best sport to be found, we also have competitive match scene with events being held on a monthly basis and even the avid carp angler is catered for with both ‘runs’ and ‘specimen’ waters available.
We must stress that were a ‘mixed’ fishery and not an out and out carp fishery (although we have some fantastic carp fishing), we cater for many disciplines of angling & the bulk of our members are general pleasure anglers, this being said were a ‘days’ only fishery and should be regarded as such! We have a small security team who have access at night to police our waters, this access not something were looking to sell or, offer members, please keep this in mind when purchasing memberships.
Within these pages of this website you will find much that you need to know about our waters, such as how to find us, our rules and what is happening at the fishery. Whether you are planning your first trip to Blackfords or you’re a regular visitor to our waters, we are sure you will discover something of interest that will help stimulate you and your fishing.
This article looks back of the history of Blackfords Progressive Angling Society and some of the characters that helped build the club into what it is today. For some, Blackfords is much more than just a couple of lakes that are patrolled by bailiffs, for some its an escape from the rush of our hectic lives, for some its a place to create memories with children/ grandchildren and for some its place to revisit memories for people who are sadly no longer with us. This article is dedicated to Cecil Williams who recently passed away. He was a key member of the committee and helped shape the club into what it is today. From all the current and past committee members of BPAS our thanks goes out to Cecil and our thoughts are with his family and friends. So how was Blackfords Progressive Angling Society actually created? One February night in 1945, a group of miners were having a pint in Blackfords Progressive W.M.C when it was suggested by Jess Brough and Walter Brough to form an angling section. A meeting was then arranged and the Society was born.
They applied to Whitemore Reans and B.A.A for affiliation, and gained experiences by holding contests on their waters. First success came via Ben Smith, who won a Silver Trentman Badge, the first ever won on the Chase. Ben was then elected temporary secretary at the society’s inaugural meeting, a position he held for 26 years. 1949 was the year the club obtained its first lease of Calf Heath Reservoir, during the start of the sixties the society was half of W.R.C.A.A and this is where Cecil comes in. At the age of 68, Ben decided to hand over the reins to a younger man in the Shape of Cecil Williams. Cecil took over when angling was going through a bad era with fish disease ravaging the fisheries of Britain, including Calf Heath. Many clubs folded during this period but by careful management by the Secretary and his committee, the Society weathered the storm. Due to the increase commitments, Cecil stood down in 1977. Without Cecil the Society may have not have survived those rough times and the club could have easily folded like many others, for which the committee will always be grateful.
Cecil Williams holding the Whitmore Reans Sign on the left.Even though Blackfords Progressive Angling has been established since 1945, it has only ever had three club Sectaries. A certain Mr Tom Ponder took over from Cecil in 1977 and is still our club secutary to date. Tom has had a massive and positive impact on the club over the years. In the first year of leasing Calf Heath Reservoir, the lease cost was £100, unfortunately that first year the club didn’t revenue enough money to pay the lease, so Tom put the rest out his own back pocket to pay the lease on the pools.
Tom showing up some of the modern Carp Anglers.
One of Tom’s colleagues down the mine sold raffle tickets to help raise the money for the lease and nearly raised ten times the amount needed, this money was used to stock the Reservoir and help make it the outstanding water it is today. This club and committee have alot to thank Mr Ponder for, I often hear over the years of fishing the waters, Tom lives and breathes for this club, and if you cut Tom open you would find a BPAS badge inside. From 1945 to present, the club has changed a lot, only starting with a small stretch of canal and Calf Heath reservoir, to where it stands today with five pools and new stretch of canal. When Calf heath first opened up, until twenty odd years ago you could fish the wall along the road bank. Lurking in the depths of Calf Heath there sure was some surprises, as Ron Haynes found out. Who framed and preserved a four foot two inches Eel, weighing an incredible 8lb 12oz, the girth of this fish was Ten inches and was recorded as the second biggest capture of an Eel at the time in 1978. Are there still undiscovered monster Eels left in the reservoir, who knows?
4 Foot 2 inch Eel at 8 Lb 12 Oz from Calf Heath.We would all love to fish along that dam wall now as most the carp now congregate tight to the wall, somewhere along the mild of the wall, unfortunately because of the over head power lines which were added this is no longer possible. But when it was allowed Alan Carter who was on the committee had some fantastic days catching carp along this stretch. Alan was carp fishing before any modern day carp angler and has a wealth of knowledge on all the waters. Nowadays Alan still fishes the waters, mainly on Kingswood. If you are ever lucky enough to bump in to him on the bank, make sure you rattle his brain for some knowledge because the amount of bank time and experience he has fishing with the likes of Simon Crow, I’m pretty sure we can all learn a thing or two from him.
The second pool to be leased by the club was Leacroft. Back in the 90’s it was known as the Finger pool, a barren wasteland that was dumped on and vandalized regularly, many cars and rubbish was pulled out of there before it became fishable. However, in the present day the pool has matured and holds arguably two of the best looking commons in the West Midlands but those fish weren’t always that big.
Within these photos form the special stock that Leacroft has to offer, including the Big and small common, as well as oink and Robs Mirror. These fish now make up the ‘target fish’ of the pool, with the big common been caught at just over 40 pound, look at how these fish have grown over the years. To write this article I spoke to Tom as well as putting a plea out on the Facebook group asking for any old historic photos of the pools or stock. One lad contacted me by the name of Kerry who has been carp fishing up the Reservoir for over thirty-five years. “I have been fishing Calf Heath for the last 35 years still love the place now. Its where I cut my teeth fishing wise had some great times in there, many happy memories with my old man. He’s passed away now so it brings me close to him fishing there”. – Kerry Garner This just shows that a pool can be more than just a puddle of water stocked with fish, for Kerry it gives him time to reflect on the great memories that he shared with his Dad, Barry Garner, catching some incredible carp over the years at Calf heath.
Barry And Kerry making memories up Calf Heath.
Many people come and go throughout the years but some generations stay and influence their family to be involved in the club. Even our current President, Dennis Evans, who can be seen on the left with his son Gary who is part of our committee managing health and safety around the sites. But its not just his son Gary who was involved in the club, his brother Jo Evans was also heavily involved.
Dennis and Gary Evans Stocking Bream in to Kingswood early this year.
Jo Evans- Dennis’s BrotherSo if you are already a member of the club, or are thinking about joining the club just take a moment to reflect on the characters and people involved, who made this club what it is today. You may even bump in to some of these incredible men who have created, through years of hard work and dedication, an exceptional club, with amazingly stocked waters that we can all be proud of. The response on the Facebook page has been amazing with lots of you sharing your historical photos, I’ve created a gallery below with some old faces amongst them. Tight lines, BPAS.
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