My Friend, Simon King
Bob Hornegold mourns the passing of a fine angler and regular FishingMagic contributor – his dear friend, Simon King.
It must have been about twelve years ago that I first met Simon King; I was an Area Bailiff for RMC Angling and I had been asked by Ian Welch (the then Boss) to check permits anywhere within the then RMC portfolio of waters. It just happened to be on the confluence between the Old River Lea and the Relief Channel at Fishers Green where I decided to do a quick ticket check.
It was raining if I remember rightly and Simon had set up his umbrella so that I had to tap on the top of it in order to ask to see his ticket.
Simon was on a ‘high’ and he told me he had just had a 6lb Chub - a new PB - but I was a little less than diplomatic when I replied, “There are loads of 6’s in here mate!” Although that was, of course, before the big fish kill that decimated the chub and barbel stocks of the venue. Somewhere there is an article that Simon wrote, in which he comments that my statement upset him a little bit; it was not meant to, it was an honest statement of the huge population of big chub and barbel that lived in Fishers Green at that time.
As we conversed it started raining harder and as the rain got heavier and heavier I settled under Simon’s umbrella and we had a long chat about the chub and barbel that lived in the Old River and the Relief Channel. During that initial conversation I explained that I was in the RMC Specimen Group as Records Officer and that the group was about to be replaced by a new group, to be called the Osprey Specimen Group.
Over the next few months we chatted quite a lot and Simon seemed keen to join Osprey, I put it to the committee that he would be just the sort of angler we needed within the group and so it proved, Simon had the mental fortitude to do the time, endure the blanks and to put up with the ribald comment about lack of fish on difficult waters. He was also willing to listen and learn; to take on board what more experienced anglers said, but not just accept it as gospel, but to sit down and analyse it, then put his own spin on it.Simon was every inch the old fashion Specimen Hunter and becoming a very competent angler at catching big fish.
Simon was not one for following current fashions; his fishing tackle had to do the job, but if a £10.00 Dragon rod did the job or a Badger umbrella kept him dry, why pay any more?
With time Simon and I became good friends, we fished together for many species and we pooled our knowledge for mutual benefit. He joined me at my 60th Birthday party and lots of parties we had at my house over the years. In addition, as I have suffered from a bad back for years and more recently had a heart attack which required a triple bypass, Simon was always there to ferry me and my tackle around in times of need.
Our first serious campaign together was at Jerry Hammond’s Carthagena Fishery, where we targeted the River Lea zander. We had a great couple of years on the venue, but just could not manage a double; I ended up with a best of 9lb 4oz and Simon had one of 9lb 10oz. He of course went on to catch a 15lb 5oz zander from the Wyboston Complex, a brilliant effort from a venue where big fish don’t come that easily!
Simon built up a reputation as a very good barbel angler at Fishers Green, where he used single/double maggot, very small hooks and fluorocarbon hooklinks to great effect and caught a large amount of fish, both in darkness and in the daytime.
Simon also became a valued member of the Fishers Green bailiff team and was held in high esteem, both amongst the bailiffs and the members who fished the Green, as he was ever helpful and courteous.
And then there was Landridge - a ball breaker of a pit – where many so called carp anglers who tried to succeed on the venue looked upon Simon as some poor ‘lost soul’, who fished with non matching rods, small Baitrunner reels, a tatty cheap umbrella and slept on decidedly dodgy bedchair. But Simon had heeded advice from some very good carp anglers; he had good watercraft, sound carp rigs that worked and some very good bait made by Kevin Wilkinson of All Season Bait Developments. On top of this he was prepared to do his time and over the years he learnt the water well, listened to anglers who had been successful there and studied the ways of the Landridge carp.
He kept his captures quiet, no bad thing in this modern age of carp fishing, and his last close season of carp fishing on Landridge produced six carp, some so called Landridge carpers have never seen six carp from Landridge in their lifetime!
Having photographed most of Simon’s carp, I’m sure he would not mind if I recounted a lasting memory of one of his captures.
Simon had caught another ‘30’ and had kept it securely resting in the landing net to await my arrival for the celebrity shots. “Si, I said, it’s looking a bit lively mate.”
“It will be okay” he replied...
“Are you sure?” said I
Well, we got everything ready and he lifted the big mirror onto the unhooking mat. I got ready with the camera, Simon lifted the carp from the net and in one swift movement it was off the unhooking mat and back into the lake... I followed the action through the viewfinder and have a prefect picture of my mate on the floor, arms outstretched waving goodbye to a huge Landridge Carp...
It’s at moments like that you don’t know what to say.I put away the camera, we had a cup of tea and I left the scene, we laughed later...
Simon and I did a lot of pike fishing together on Landridge too, and it was Simon who had the twenty pounder, we also went chub fishing every autumn and winter, Simon preferring the Relief Channel to my wanderings around a variety of Lea Valley venues and we caught a good number of 7s between us, but that 8lb fish eluded us both.
Try as we liked the eight never seemed to come our way; Simon had come the closest with a 7lb 15oz fish - a monster - but not the eight we so desired. That of course was until this year and many of you will have read the reports of our winter’s chubbing here on FishingMagic.
We had started our autumn campaign just below the confluence of the Old River and the Relief Channel but could not locate any of the bigger chub and Simon decided on a change of locations; it’s never easy finding the big chub on Fishers Green and to start with it was smaller fish that came Simon’s way with a string of 3, 4, and 5lb fish.
I chipped in with 6lb and 7lb chub but on the second of January 2013 I got that long awaited phone call from Simon.
“I’ve done it mate!” “How Big?” I said and Si replied, “It’s Huge!”
I picked up my old friend and fellow Osprey member Ray Taylor on the way down to the Relief Channel and we were privileged to witness the weighing of the current record chub at 8lbs 14oz, slightly below its peak weight. It was a fantastic effort from Simon after ten years’ hard work and he was the worthy winner of the Osprey Salver for the best ‘set’ of big fish recorded in 2012.
By this time Simon was not feeling too well and decided to have a bit of a rest from chub fishing in the exceptionally cold weather of last winter, but after a month he was back for one last go on the Relief Channel to record his second eight at 8lb 6oz, a completely unknown fish to us.
I kept going on the channel and finally got my biggie and although Simon was not very well,he came out and weighed and photographed the chub for me and I will always be grateful for that, and for the memories of all of the chub we caught together in all extremes of weather.
Simon was on the Osprey Specimen Group committee and was the Group’s Records Officer, he was also compiling a book currently being written by past and present Osprey members.
Simon was a well respected angler, not only in Osprey but the wider field of angling, he often appeared in the angling press with captures of huge fish, writing articles for a number of well known angling websites.
Fishing-wise we shared so much in a few short years and, as with his fishing, Simon was determined to fight the dreadful disease of cancer. He fought it bravely, with dignity and courage, a battle that only lasted six months; he will be sadly missed by all who knew him.
On a personal level; I will miss him terribly, he was a good friend who could be trusted, and likewise he trusted me.
Now when I fish the Lea, the Ivel, The Relief Channel or one of numerous places we fished together, I will think of Simon and remember him oh so fondly, like I’m sure many others will.
This has been a very difficult piece for me to edit, just as I’m sure it was for Bob to write.
Although I only fished with Simon on a few occasions we knew one another for a good few years and we spoke regularly, more so throughout the course of his recent illness. Like Bob I found him one of just a small number of friends I could trust and (just as Bob is to me!) one of those all too rare friends who remain true no matter what – he was there for you and you were there for him.
Si was a thoroughly good friend - one of the best in fact - he was a fine angler (anyone who wants a masterclass in chub fishing should read THIS) and, despite being a quiet and unassuming person, one of those individuals for whom the world will be the poorer for their passing.
Like Bob I too shall remember Si with great fondness, and with gratitude that my life crossed with his all too short one.