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Lee Swords “Poo” stories….The bouncing bomb



y first experience of a “wildie” was during a trout fishing session on the upper river Don. The year was 1983 and the day as I remember it was somewhat overcast. The weather over the previous three or four days had been unseasonably bad, this had resulted in what should have been a gin clear river running like a chocolate fountain, excepting that this was the river Don during the eighties and not Willy Wonkas Chocolate Factory,  so anything that you found floating in the “chocolate” coloured water wasn’t likely to be a marshmallow!

don grime

The section we chose to fish that day was about a mile and a half above the tissue factory at Oughtibridge  We never fished below the tissue factory because the river had a habit of changing colour at least three times a day and even though we were young at the time we were far from stupid, therefore a river that changed colours was obviously not a good place to be.

However before I go on I feel I am getting in front of myself, so before I tell the story of my first encounter with a “wildie” I should first lay some foundation to how my brother and myself along with a rag tag bunch of mates started fishing the River Don

paper mill on the Don

Nowhere on the Don was yet what you could class as “pristine” but Oughtibridge and above was as close as it got, it actually held trout.  We had started catching fish in the river Don the season previous. Before that point in time we regarded the place as a “dead zone” as it had, even in our short lifetimes been so grossly polluted it won awards for the levels of toxins it held.

England’s most polluted river Europe’s most Polluted River, it had all the trophies n the mantelpiece!!

don grime 2

The Otters that had at one time in the distant past given their name to “Otter”- “Atter”- cliffe had long since departed leaving the river Don with little more than a multitude of rat-tailed maggots, a green and black scummy river bed and midge larvae by the tens of billions as evidence of higher life forms .

However the chance sighting of a fish (an extremely small fish I should add) jumping clear of the waters surface as we looked over a bridge on Leppings Lane outside Fortress Hillsborough heralded the start our river campaign in earnest!

Our ( My brother Jamie and Me) first port of call however would not be the Hillsborough section of the river it would be a little further to the east end of Sheffield on a section of the River Don called Washford Bridge; aka Salmon Pastures this was because it was easily accessible to anyone that could catch a number 17 bus.

urban water salmon pastures

As we approached the rivers edge at Salmon Pastures on our first ever mission to the Don we saw that on the opposite bank, no more than thirty foot away from where we would be fishing was a huge bore sewage and waste water pipe that was dripping a sickly sweet smelling grey effluent into the river we wondered if we had indeed seen the fish swimming in the Don…Or had we been suffering from some kind of mass hallucination brought about by being in too close a proximity to such a cocktail of toxic chemicals that was still passing itself off as a river.

We set up our fishing tackle with a lot of foreboding and dark thoughts that morning…Were we simply wasting our time? Would we contract some evil disease that would cause our skin to peel off and our eyeballs to turn into sludge and bring us back from the dead as zombies to feed on the brains of the untainted…The smell coming from that pipe was not good…Not good at all!

images (2)

The maggot was chosen and impaled upon the size 20 crystal pattern hook the line was checked one last time by gently running it through my fingers the stick float given a little pull to make sure that the rubbers were holding and plop!

I was fishing on the River Don, wait till we got home and told dad…he would probably call us idiots for doing it, “We would have been better on the Flask” he would say!

We were fishing in what was without doubt (even within my short lifetime) one of Europe’s most polluted waterways….and my float has slipped under the surface!

The memory of that moment is still vivid…My float has gone under, no that cannot be right… I must be dragging the bottom….And a fish is stuck on the  hook!!

Indeed my float had gone under and on the hook was by far the biggest Gudgeon ( To be known as Gonks from now on) I have ever seen!

And that Gonk was not alone , hundreds of gudgeon were caught that day as well as some small roach and a lot of minnows, minnows by the bucket full! The River Don was indeed a fishery and so a new era began.

One year later and seven or so miles upriver I return to the beginning of this tale ready to tell the story of my first encounter with a “wildie” on the Don.

My brother Jamie, my good mate (and still regular fishing partner) Dan Stewart Smith and myself were clambering down the very steep craggy access to a Don weir pool in Oughtibridge unconcerned by such lunacy as health and safety, we were not the flaccid youth of today types, we had no X-box, no Wii and certainly no Nintendo…We were so hardcore we didn’t even have an Atari!

No we were from a time when kids got filthy and still only had the one bath a week.

The river looked awful on arrival, sludgy and piling through at a hundred miles an hour…It certainly didn’t look any-more pristine nor any more likely to be holding trout than further down river at Attercliffe but Dan had taken three brown trout the week previous on a re-con mission so here we were..the first expeditionary force  ready for some action!


We found three pegs on the bowl of the weir pool with a steep scree bank to our backs that got ever steeper until it became a vertical crag that was covered with a curtain of ivy hanging over from the top rather than growing up from the bottom, it gave an effect of a bright green waterfall…it was quite stunning in fact.

My tackle that day was something of a talking point, I had purchased myself a new reel, it was a Ryobi job for about £12.00 as I remember  My most expensive piece of kit to date and I have to be honest I was over the moon with it, it was stunning.

( it was actually a piece of shit compared with today’s tackle but at that point in time it was bang on trend)

Anyway, moving on the days fishing was pretty good and we amused ourselves with the largest Minnows I had ever seen, I think they must have been rammed with tape worms because they were hugely distended, either that or they were holding onto their shit far to hard…Just like me!

That’s correct I was squeezing hard but fighting a losing battle ,very soon I would be touching cloth! What was I to do? Yes, I was a scruffy little bugger that would think nothing of wearing my pants for two days but I had never taken a turd anywhere else but on a toilet!!

bear shitting in woods

I was in a cold sweat! I had two choices to make…shit myself of shit in the woods and become as a bear!

I began to growl! I would become the bear!

keep calm

And just like a bear I disappeared up the track to find some place quiet to take a dump…My first “wildie” poo!

And that is when the idea took me, the Ivy curtain…

I would give birth to the little brown baby behind the cover of the Ivy curtain! And so up I climbed to the foot of the cliff where I snuck behind the vegetation and had the biggest turd I had taken in weeks, I think it was the thought of getting some fresh air and not being instantly drowned  and sent off to Skegness that did it but whatever the reason I felt that I had truly vacated my bowels that day, the whole thirty foot came out to play in the woods with this little bear.

looking back I admired the symmetry of the knarled collection of bum boulders, there was something aesthetic in the balance of light and dark matter and the flecking of sweet corn and peanuts added organic texture to my anal offspring.

I was impressed..but not so impressed as to leave it in the open to be tripped up on by some wild creature such as a badger or a weasel  I would never forgive myself If I was to cause a fox to fall in my newly dropped turds and ruin its coat.

And that is the moment when it all went tits up on the Don.

With the toe of my boot I turned over a large flattish rock in an attempt to place a stone sarcophagus over my still steaming pile of crap…I failed…what I did do instead was cause a very small avalanche of rocks ( and turd) that bounced all the way to where I had been sat! Barnes Wallace himself could not have made those rocks bounce any better and that is when time slowed to an almost standstill as one fist sized rock clattered down and hit my brand new reel, shattering it into a thousand little bits of black plastic…followed shortly afterwards by what looked to be a bouncing bomb made out of fresh brown bobbar.


The reel was a write off and at the side of my Shakespeare blue box was half of a steaming turd.


The day had taken a bit of a down turn for me …You may think it was at that point in time when I started crying like a little Justin Bieber type creature…Hell no…As I have already said we were children of the 80′s, the errant poo got kicked in the river and I finished the day off fishing my rod like a pole.

Dan caught the most minnows followed shortly afterwards by Jamie…I came last…But thirty years on I still have the story and it still makes me laugh from time to time.

Happy days indeed!




One Response to “Lee Swords “Poo” stories….The bouncing bomb”

  1. That brings back many memories Lee.

    I know the weir pool very well – my dad used to live on the main road opposite the way (steep way) down to the river and I fished the stretch regularly.

    Maggot for the very large minnows. The a size 10 through the minnow for the brownies – knobbled quite a few over the years.

    Also fished behind British Tissues (worked there for 4 years) – where the bottom of the river bed is pink and had a number of brownies out of the deep channel.

    Also fished the small tributary that runs down from Morehall Reservoir and caught brownies and rainbows on there.


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