2009 – Early December Blog

Can you believe Christmas is almost here? I can’t. Where did the summer go? It’s another year over, a new one just begun and all that. No doubt lots of anglers will be dreaming of getting new rods, reels, poles and accessories amongst their prezzies but the chances are it’ll be slippers and socks again!

Hey ho, but if you’re a barbel fanatic and no-one sends you a fishing calender then feel free to print off this one:  

2010 Calendar

Each page is in a seperate PDF file so you can adjust the size to suit. For best results just click through the link above each page or from the summary at the foot of the page.

If I get a chance I might create a second one based around some of my favourite angling photographs. We’ll have to see but the beauty is I can easily make it a monthly publication or maybe three monthly, published on a rolling basis. Time will tell.

All I Want For Christmas Is Some Decent Weather!

The weather’s been absolutely pants for weeks now, hasn’t it? And judging by the number of calls I’ve had from various journalists this month they’re really struggling for any kind of catch news. Discussions with journo’s tend to be a two way street. You give a bit, you get a bit back but there’s been precious little to tell for a while. Practically no-one is going out fishing because no-where seems to be fishing well.

Thank God for the commercials because at least you can get a bite or two, but even they are hard going.

When the weatherman announced fronts coming in from the west bearing lots of rain all the barbel anglers were excitedly rubbing their hands but it didn’t come to much, did it? High water, lots of leaves and very few fish on the bank. Rain was followed by more rain and the longer the levels stayed high the worse everyone’s chances became. Then the temperatures began to fall and it was goodnight Irene.

Still, you have to be optimistic but I’d sooner see the back of the high water. Let’s get into some cold weather so I can concentrate on a few chub. The Swale produced a number of big fish for me last winter and the Trent revealed a few gems recently, too.

Cold weather will see what dwindling roach shoals are left heading for their winter quarters and a few bites will be on the cards there. And of course the old pike will follow them…

We just need the levels and colour to settle down.

A Triumph Over Absurdity

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing” (Edmund Burke)

I’m sure I mentioned recently that certain individuals were behaving rather disgracefully on what they claim is a witty forum and that if they wished to play silly games then they would face the consequences.

Unfortunately, some folk don’t listen; they think they’re imune, hiding behind their assumed names but registering as ‘Bob Roberts’ and then posting demeaning garbage was not exactly the smartest move one particular adversary ever made.

You see, web hosts tend to get kinda nervous about certain things as can be seen from this message:

Thank you for the report. The account in question has been globally banned. If there is anything else you need help with, please let me know.
Yuku legal dept.

That’s one IP address down. Perhaps there will be more to follow.

I suspect Yuku’s legal team will be monitoring the web site very carefully. How long before the plug (or should that be chain?) is pulled? Well, that depends on the folk who use it…

As Jas says, ‘Play nice’ folks.

The object now is to work out who was banned.

I’m reminded of Brian Hanrahan’s report during the Falklands conflict, ‘I counted them all out and I counted them all back again’. It’ll be intriguing to see who suddenly stops posting on the Yuku boards…

It was only ever going to be someone from a certain tight knit bunch but it’s shaping up like I scored a bulls-eye! Of course he may be smart enough to change his IP address but that only delays the inevitable. Once the chase begins there can only be one outcome.

I’d say quit now with whatever dignity you have left.

Blogging – A Definitive Description

I heard a very apt description of blogging the other day:

Blogging is like wetting your pants. Everyone can see it but only you can feel it.


Catch Magazine Sets Unrivalled Standards

I get a lot of kind and complimentary feedback about my web site, particularly the blogs, but I have to hold my hands up and say I’m nowhere near the standard set by Catch Magazine. If you’ve yet to discover Catch the you are in for a real treat. It contains the most stunning angling imagary imaginable both stills and in film clips. What makes it even more special is that it is completely free to view.

Okay, it’s mostly fly fishing based and set in some of the world’s finest and most exotic fishing locations but I still reckon you’ll marvel at the content. It is simply breathtaking and on a completely different level to anything that is available from the UK angling magazine publishers.

Click on the image above and you will be transported to an angling paradise (or ten).


Bringing The Past To Life

You’ll have noticed that I managed to make a couple of old articles available as PDF files elsewhere on the site, thanks in no small part to Dave Lumb who pointed out that I probably already had the hardware capability to create them. From there on it was just a case of finding a host server.

It’s not quite ‘Walking With Dinosaurs’ but it is warming to know that all the archived articles I’ve been hanging onto can now live again without me having to re-type them or to even begin trying to source the original images.

Some of the editors I’ve worked with down the years have been brilliant at returning pictures after they’ve used them. Some haven’t. One, who I won’t name, took 20 of my best ever carp pictures to select one for a cover shot. He never used me on the cover and to rub salt in my wounds he then claimed to have ‘lost’ them all.

Yeah, like who was he trying to kid? Losing my best 20 shots – each a potential magazine cover shot – is an irreplaceable loss, one that I can only imagine was engineered to damage my potential publishing capabilities with rival magazines because pictures like that simply don’t come along every day.

How bitter and devious would someone have to be to do something like that?

Oh well, at least the old pages can come to life again and it’ll be fun digging out some of the articles which were in many ways the fore-runners of today’s angling blogs, as you’ll see when I eventually get around to re-publishing ‘Tales Of The Riverbank’. Even I can’t wait for that!

Tenchfishers Talk

Stu (Walker) and I gave a talk to the Tenchfishers AGM at the Rushden and Diamonds Football Ground which went down very well judging by the stream of phone calls and emails we received afterwards. It struck me what a great bunch of blokes they were. There seemed to be none of the bickering and dick measuring you get within some factions of the barbel scene and they were quite open and receptive to a presentation that didn’t include a single reference to tench. Thanks guys.

The Tenchfishers appear to be pretty well organised – with the exception of Fundraising Co-ordinator Pete Harding.


He introduced us with a, ‘Don’t forget to switch your mobile phones back on when they’ve finished their talk’, which I thought was a really subtle way to ask folk to turn off their phones because nothing is more annoying when you’re in mid-flow.

Anyway, half way through the first half a phone went off. All eyes in the room swivelled round to see it was Pete’s phone. Stu hit the DVD pause button while I bellowed‘Hello Love!!!’ to Pete’s missus. And we didn’t start the show again until he finished the call and switched off his phone. Still, I did draw his ticket out for the star prize in the raffle so it wasn’t a completely bad day for him!

The Tenchfishers have a pretty cool web site that’s worth checking out:

Click Here

Did I Hear Bells…?

As a number of you may be aware I spliced the knot with the delightful Sue last month but I still managed to squeeze in an hours fishing on the morning of the wedding.

Seemed such a shame to waste the whole day…!

Guess who’s in trouble now?

Sue’s a primary school head and of course it’s term time. What with Christmas looming and my planned trip to Uganda barely 8 weeks away we couldn’t fit in a honeymoon until Easter although a cruise round the Caribbean will be just reward for the delay.

A big thank you goes out to Keith Arthur who announced the wedding on his Talk Sport radio show, Fishermans Blues.

By way of a scratch back here’s Keith doing his bit to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support, performing the show’s theme tune Fishermans Blues (by the Waterboys) at a fund raiser for Stoney and Friends http://www.stoneyandfriends.co.uk/.

Great work everyone and a worthy cause. Keep it up!

Anyway, enough of Keith…

Sue and I had a fantastic day with friends from far and wide. You know, I’d love to share the pictures but sadly that would play straight into the hands of my Photoshop loving Internet stalkers which is such a shame, eh?

Maybe we’ll settle for this one, taken in church with the school choir. They sang like little angels.

©The image above is copyrighted. It must not  be reproduced or modified in any way without specific written permission from the owner.

And a special thanks to everyone who sent gifts, cards and messages of support.

Uh-Oh! Winter’s Arrived

December 1st and winter finally arrived with sub zero temperatures, ice on my garden pond and just for good measure the rivers are bank high, too. Only the brave will be venturing out this week especially as the chances of barbel slump despite the coloured water. Better dust down the pike rods and head for the lakes methinks.

Barbel Specialists Meeting

The Barbel Specialists meeting at the Northampton Town Football Club was an absolute cracker and it gave Stu and I another chance to present our stage show. I hesitate to call it a slide show because it’s nothing of the sort. It’s essentially a film to which we give a running commentary, pausing the action every now and then to expand on what’s happening on screen. Most of it is specially shot footage which doesn’t appear in our Barbel Days and Ways DVDs although we include a few exclusive previews of some of the underwater stuff that’ll appear in Volume’s 3 and 4 of plus lots of previously unseen stuff from around the world, too.

If I tell you that as well as the bloopers and outtakes, the footage included football, ladies boxing, gladiators, cartoon characters, big brother, Adolph Hitler, rock, rap, folk and orchestral music, not to mention some blow-away barbel footage it might just give you an inkling that this was NOT  your avearage slideshow!

The Pons was there to give a talk about taking better catch pictures, something that is so important to us all because we do like to drool over our trophy shots afterwards, don’t we? I thought Chris was exceptionally brave (or foolhardy) to give a presentation on photography without showing a single slide but he pulled it off. Well done mate and it’s great to see you’re keeping on top of your website updates.

You’ll find the Pons website here:


The turn-out was excellent and it was great to see such luminaries as Bob Church, Ray Walton, Phil Smith, Merv Wilkinson in attendance plus others too numerous to name. Swordsey laid on his infamous ‘smelly’ cheese board and it has to be said I indulged myself handsomely.

On returning home I leaned forward to kiss the missus and she recoiled. “What’s up?” I asked.

“Your breath,” She Said. “It’s a bit, er, fragrant!”

“That’ll be the two-year old cheddar then. Or maybe the blue, or that garlic one…”

Apologies to anyone I may have breathed on during the afternoon. Sorry!

But it was tasty.

I guess the best measure of how well the talk went would be Phil Smith’s parting shot as we were packing away at the end. “That was some talk. You’ve made me change the way I’ll be fishing for barbel in future.”

If you can challenge the thinking of Phil Smith, who has been without question one of the UK’s most successful barbel anglers in recent seasons, whilst still making folk laugh, then it’s not been a bad afternoon’s work.

Big thanks to Dave Mason for inviting us and good luck with the launch of the Barbel Specialists web site in February. Great to see the Barbel Specialists has got on board with the Angling Trust, too.

Footnote: Picture the scene, Stu and I are in full flow, the audience gazes on in rapt attention. The show’s going really well and then I became distracted by the muffled tone of a mobile ring tone. I tried to ignore it but it just rang and rang. Stu spotted my gesture and hit the pause button.

Silence fell across the room as I cocked my ear. Where was the ringing coming from? And then I espied a camou jacket shoved the the back of the stage beneath the projector screen. I picked it up and sure enough, the ringing is coming from within, “Right!” Says I, “The owner of this phone can come and collect it or it goes in the nearest pint pot…”

Anticipation mounts and if it’s possible the room goes even quieter. And then there’s a bustling right at the back of the room, somone comes shuffling down the side of the seating. “Err, sorry about that!” says Mr Ray Walton, Chairman of the Barbel Specialists.

Pope gets New Pulpit

Steve Pope’s also launched a new site. It’s good to see that a number of high profile anglers are going out of their way to put something back into the sport. Only the downright churlish will be muttering, ‘Aye, he’s only doing it to promote his guiding service…’ Well, if Steve’s prepared to offer such a service and customers are happy to pay then surely he’s entitled to promote it? Guiding isn’t a license to print money and it’s damned hard work if you do it right.

Anyway, Steve’s site is about much more than a guiding service. I’ll certainly be looking forward to his blog updates and to see how successful he is at pinching my best ideas!


Seriously, I wish him every success with the venture and to the various friends who will also be contributing to the site. Steve’s site can be found here:


Expect contributions from Fred Crouch, Lol Brakespeare and others in the near future in monthly updates.

Farmed Salmon Exposed

The following Youtube clip is an excerpt from a new film by Canadian documentarian Damien Gillis and visually portrays the damage caused by open-net salmon farms to marine ecosystems worldwide. It may help you to understand what cheap supermarket salmon really costs…

Guest Playlist – Mick Wood

As promised I’m including another music playlist and this one has been suggested by top Yorkshire barbel angler Mick Wood. Mick’s clearly a rocker and that shines through in his track choices.


Unlike every other angler I speak to Mick tells me he’s been enjoying a fantastic November on the Swale having made 7 trips and only blanking once. His best catch was three barbel weighing 8.11, 9.4 and 9.15 which is the best November catch he’s ever had in Yorkshire.

I guess it puts a lot of things into perspective. We may read about the 16, 18 and even twenty-pounders that get caught elsewhwere but those monsters are freaks – nowhere near typical of what real barbel angling is about.

Food for thought…

Total Football…?

I do hope you don’t mind me mentioning Doncaster Rovers occasionally in what is loosely regarded as a fishing blog but this is our second season in the top division of the Fizzy Pop League, a place we’ve not been for 50 years and light years away from our recent daliance in the Conference so please indulge me while we live the dream and I shout about our good fortune.

Unfortunately we are mere paupers at a rich man’s table and there’s no way we can afford the same dishes that everyone else is eating. We may be Junior Masterchefs in a Michelle Roux world, but by heck, we can knock up a fair stew from a few scrag ends.

Last week we played the multi-millionaires of QPR. Now Rangers are rich beyond dreams by Championship standards, arguably one of the richest teams in the whole country. They’ve invested quite a bit of money on their squad this season and they’ve been knocking in a fair few goals.

By contrast we sold our best two players back in August, have several key players sidelined by long-term injuries and we regularly get someone sent off for completely daft reasons because we certainly ain’t a physical team.

As Christmas looms things could yet go either way for us as we hover between mid-table security and the bottom three but I’m not ruling out a relegation scrap just yet.

In spite of this we do like to knock the ball around and it’s warming to hear the Gunners being likened to us(!). Honestly, someone recently suggested on a football forum that, ‘Arsenal are the Doncaster Rovers of the South’. Oh yeah? Well check out this video clip from the QPR game. Count the passes, the patient build-up and see the two cynical fouls that brought the move to an end as loanee Billy Sharp was put though on goal…

mms://video.premiumtv.co.uk/doncaster/fearless football hi.wmv

Seven days later we completely failed to turn up at Notts (Notts? Only teasing you tricky trees!) Forest. I mean, getting beat 4-1 and barely putting up a resistance; what’s going on? We beat ’em 4-2 at the City Ground last year and they hadn’t beaten us in 6 previous attempts which is pretty lame for a team that were once European Champions (unlike Leeds! – WACCOE anyone?) and has spent something like £12m in the past year or so alone.

Another week pases, we go to Selhurst Park to take on an in-form Crystal Palace who were unbeaten in seven and undefeated at home all year. A banker home win you’d think but we turn in a cracking performance to turn them over 3-0. What’s going on?

A big local derby against the Wendies is next up but I’m a bit worried about our stats which are currently going W-L-W-L-W so we’re due a loss…

How easy it would be to adopt a Chelsea or a Man U like all the armchair-bound glory hunters.

Nah! Follow the Rovers and learn to enjoy the pain…

Getting Otter Under The Collar

Anglers in the North West have been getting a bit hot under the collar over a proposed otter park on the River Weaver. However Cheshire West and Chester Council have distanced themselves from any plans to actually introduce otters claiming the focus will be on improving habitat adjacent the river. Apparently the development plan simply used the otter as an iconic species, symbolic of the recovery of the area from the industrial past.

Isn’t that a bit like using red indians as iconic symbols of hair removal?

It begs a question, too. Why stop at otters as iconic symbols? What about grizzly bears, or wolves and sabre tooth tigers? I know – let’s reintroduce the burbot!

What I cannot understand is why, if we want to cite iconic tokens as indicators of regeneration, we don’t use the kingfisher? It is the UK’s most colourfull and spectacular riverside bird and at least you’ll see them darting along the river at regular intervals.

The only way the average man in the street will know an otter is in residence will be when someone tell’s him one has been there. The chances of your average dog walker actually seeing one in the flesh are about as likely as winning the lottery which makes the whole iconic status concept about as pointless as having the Invisible Man ‘appear’ on the X Factor.

Well, I’ll leave you on that note. All being well, now the wedding and various shows are out of the way, I’ll be able to concentrate more on my fishing in the next few weeks. And not before time!

PS: Just in case you’re not sure how fast Christmas is approaching the graphic below might disturb you…


2 thoughts on “2009 – Early December Blog

  1. Bob, i am pretty sure now Donny will have a long way to go to beat Forest. 🙂

    Problem with Forest now though is they ain’t got the like’s of Cloughie to kick their backsides into gear. 🙂

  2. Never mind Trent Angler, Cloughie was a Derby man, just like your present manager! 😉

    I’ve a special treat for you personally in the next blog – a little clip that shows just how far Forest must have progressed in a year and an example of what you must aspire to. It’s from last year’s Boxing Day massacre. 20-odd passes and wooops, it’s in the net…

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