Former footballer Carl who loves to fish

Carl Lowndes with his prize salmon catchCarl Lowndes has been a angler for as long as he can remember but last year will long remain in his fishing memory because the 'big one that got away' didn't escape his rod, line and hook as he caught a massive 16lbs 11ozs salmon on the Western Cleddau, followed by a 9lb 8ozs sea trout later in the season
For the salmon he had travelled to Treffgarne with his friend Wyn John and after parking their car walked down to the riverbank and eventually settled to fish at what is known as 'Fortune's Pool' on the Haverfordwest side of the river, away from the Treffgarne Bends.

The Haverfordwest duo had fished for almost five hours without even the hint of a nibble but decided to stay for another 30 minutes before packing up - when no sooner had Carl cast out then there was an almighty thump on the line and he knew he had caught a decent-sized fish.

This was soon confirmed by Wyn, who caught a glimpse as the fish gleamed when it turned upstream, saying to Carl,

"You've got a beauty there!"

As Carl played out the salmon he admitted,

"My heart was thumping because I was convinced that it had so much power it would pull off the hook so I had to play it carefully for almost 20 minutes as it ran me ragged with little darts in different directions.

"But eventually it tired and I got it close to the bank but then the next problem came because the bank was so high that Wyn had to lean out over the water with my net to take it in.

"Once he told me it was safe I had to drop my rod and haul him in by his waders and when the fish was safely on the bank we weighed it and its weight was confirmed as over 16 lbs.

"It was the fish of a lifetime for me and there was no way I would even think of killing it so I did what us old softies on the riverbank do - and that was give it a bit of a sly kiss and release it back into the water because it somehow belongs there and not on several plates!"

It comes as no surprise that Carl is a highly respected angler because he has been involved for almost 50 years after his dad Cecil used to take him to Cartlett Brook, where in those days there were loads of sea trout, brown trout and the occasional salmon - and for a special treat he would be taken to Nant y Coy on the Treffgarne Bends.

"It was much better than doing homework, "said Carl with a chuckle, "and I'll never forget catching my first fish, a six-inch salmon parr,  but to me it seemed like a monster - and I know it's a cliché but from there I was always well and truly hooked!"

As well as his passion for fishing it is a well-known fact that in his younger days he was also a very useful footballer with clubs like Camrose, Milford Athletic and Clarbeston Road, where he regularly finished top scorer with his natural pace and nose for goals.

But he had been something of a late starter in organised football, despite having a ball at hand to kick around as a nipper throughout his time as a nipper, when an old school friend called Tony Jenkins asked him if he fancied a game with Camrose Seconds.

Carl decided he would give it a go and was soon scoring his share of goals as he regularly outpaced bigger but slower defenders whom he caught on the turn.

"Steve Goddard was manager at Camrose and h was brilliant at building my confidence as I soon made it into the first team, said Carl, "and I scored 29 goals in my first season there.

"I had three smashing years there but then I moved to live in Milford and decided to play for Milford Athletic on their pitch at Pill Lane.

"To be honest I loved breaking up the slope from deep positions and although I wasn’t one of the tallest strikers around I still managed to score a few headed goals, with the best being from a cross by Phil Morgan which I caught perfectly with my forehead and bulleted into the top corner.

"My top goal haul came when I moved back to Haverfordwest and joined Clarbeston Road, where I scored seven goals in one league match.

"I joined Clarbie after a good night out in town and I met up with some pals from school and agreed to sign for them - and it proved to be the best move I made in the game despite my being involved with some great characters like the Harding brothers Jimmy, Barry and Alan at the Athletic.

"Huw Bevan was an inspirational leader at Clarbie whilst Dan Rees was outstanding as captain - and Huw told me that I grabbed 98 goals in my first two seasons, with 52 of them in the second season.

"It was brilliant there but then the aches and pains began to take their toll, especially in my back and neck, so I had little option but to call it a day, even though I was only 30 because when I went to hospital with tingling sensations down my spine and it was diagnosed that I had a prolapsed disc.

"It meant I was in intensive care for two days and they had to move my voice box so that they could get at the problem. Very scary!"

As a result, Carl understandably decided it was time to call it a day but his fishing involvement remained undiminished and he is still a member of the committee of the Pembrokeshire Angling Association, based on the Western Cleddau, where he says that an additional bonus is seeing some amazing wildlife.

"I've seen voles, badgers, the odd otter and some brilliant birds that include a distressed baby tawny owl that must have fallen out of a nest. My brother Wayne and I looked after it overnight and then it was picked up by a lady from Amroth who is skilled in looking after owls.

"It was great to catch my big trout too but again I returned it to the water – and another highlight was sitting on the bank with my lunch box and having a fox sitting six feet from me and eventually stealing one of my sandwiches before nonchalantly trotting into the undergrowth."

One only has to chat to Carl Lowndes for a short time to see his genuine love of fishing and football - and he has lovely memories of both, including that epic moment when he caught his 16lb 11oz and enjoyed the experience before putting it back into the river, where it lived to battle another day!