2009 – Mid November Blog

The old fishing’s started to get a mite tricky in recent weeks. From the heydays and high days of summer when barbel proved as easy to catch as certain mugs on the Internet forums I’m reduced to scratching around for bites. The old timers used to write about the glories of autumn and how fish would feed up for the winter. Well, I don’t know about you but I reckon that was a right old load of tosh!

I’ve been back to the Trent but like everyone around me I blanked. Maybe if I stuck it out into the dark hours things would change but right now I really don’t fancy that. Perhaps the mood will grab me later but for the time being I rather like to be home in time for my evening meal. Perhaps it’s time to recognise that the world doesn’t revolve around barbel, barbel fishing and barbel ‘warriors’.

Trouble is, I’m not sure which way to turn. It’s a bit early for the perch, same goes for roach really. December is the time I start to think seriously about chub so where do I turn. Pike, maybe? I had a few nice fish last winter although I could quite fancy a bit of pastie bashing or even some skimmers and ide on the local commercials, but what I really need is to clear the next few weeks and get focused again. Unfortunately that’ll throw me into the run-up to Christmas which is followed by that trip to Uganda.

Bottom line is that I’m just like the rest of you. Any old excuse!

Barrie Rickards RIP

I’ve not met many actual professors in my lifetime but the one I did meet and got to know quite well was Barrie Rickards, Emeritus Professor in Palaeontology and Biostratigraphy at the Department of Earth Sciences, Cambridge University and Life Fellow of Emmanuel College. Quite a mouthful for a bloke who is best known to most of us as a bloke who went pike fishing.

Born in 1938, Barrie grew up in Leeds and Goole earning himself a BSc, MA, PhD, ScD, and a DScfrom the University of Hull. He went on to write over 250 academic papers, 700 articles on fishing and some 30 books related to both fishing and palaeontology but I probably remember him most fondly for the column he wrote in his local Cambridgeshire newspaper, much like I do in the Sheffield Green Un.

Barrie and I were both members of the Angling Writers Associationand as such we were keen competitors for the Local Newspaper Columnist Of The Year award. It seemed if I didn’t win it, he did, and vice versa. It now sits proudly in my living room and I seldom look at it without thinking of him.

It was at an AWA annual awards bash that I first really got to know him but others will know him better as a well-respected angler or for his long and distinguished career in angling politics. At one time he was President of the Lure Angling Society, President of the National Association of Specialist Anglers, a Founding Fellow of the Pike Anglers’ Club, and a former President of the Pike Society. He wrote extensively about pike and zander in particular yet his great love was tench.

Rickards’ classic work in fishing was Fishing For Big Pike, co-authored with the late Ray Webb while his final book was an homage to Richard Walker, Biography of an Angling Legend. (Medlar Press, 2007). In between times he wrote books like, Best of Pikelines (Ed),  Angling – Fundamental Principles, Success with Pike, Spinning and Plug Fishing(Rickards and Whitehead), The Ten Greatest Pike Anglers(Rickards and Bannister), Zander (Rickards and Fickling, Pike (Rickards and Gay) and his own personal story, Fishers Of The Green Roads.

I’m sure there will be others, too. Most of these books can be found in the River Thoughtful Fishing Books 2009 Winter Catalogue at prices ranging between £10 and £30 subject to condition The link to their ebay site doesn’t appear to be working so I’m afraid the way forward is to email riverthoughtful@btinternet.com or telephone 01684 541167.

Barrie died peacefully on 5 November 2009, but was active to the end, writing books on fishing and papers on graptolites from his hospital bed and pursuing new research when at home in remission.

His close friend Graham Marsden reckons, “He would have liked the idea of being shuffled off this mortal coil on Guy Fawkes night, for Barrie was no stranger himself to, at least verbally, blowing up the posturing of a few politicians.”

Barbel Specialists Meeting

Stu Walker and I will be giving a presentation to the Barbel Specialists Meeting in the Northampton Town Football Club Players’ Lounge on Sunday 6th December. Also on the bill is Chris Ponsford.

Chris will be talking about taking better photographs while Stu and I will unfurl our latest multi-media extravaganza which builds on the presentation I gave to the BS last May. This will be your first opportunity to see some of the amazing underwater footage that will be included in the next two Barbel Days And Ways DVDs

The day will be well attended by the membership but there are always a few places available for non member on a first come first severed basis. If you would like to attend please contact Dave Mason on 07792922464 or email Dave at: davetememason@ntlworld.com

Reality Is Hard To Swallow (Unless You’re A Cormorant)

Ron Clay rang the other teatime, “I’ve just been down to the Idle and I haven’t had so much as a bite. The river looked spot on and I just cant understand it. What’s happening, Bob?”

A wry smile crossed my face. Earlier the same week we’d been debating on Fishing Magic (see Ron’s Thread ) about Where have all the specimen river roach gone? My view is that the cormorants have not only wiped them out but there’s a greater chance of the North Sea’s cod stocks recovering that there is of the roach making a sustained revival in our rivers. We’re nearing the end of the road for river roach and despite folk managing to catch a few in the locations where they shoal up in winter the outlook is bleak (no pun intended).

Those who claim the blame lies elsewhere need to understand basic mathmatics. Cormorants eat fish. One cormorant eats up to a kilo of fish each day. That’s 800lb of fish each year. A flock of 200 cormorants eats 160,000lbs of fish in a year. The average size at which the EA stocks roach is considerably less than 4oz, probably nearer 2oz which means they would have to stock more than one and a quarter MILLION fish each year to feed just 200 cormorants and we know there are thousands of cormorants in the UK being protected by a phonyEEC directive that mistakenly gave all cormorants protection instead of just the intended pigmy cormorant.

Black Death

Black Death

Now just remind me also, what do otters eat? Burgers? Kebabs? Pizzas? A ruby murray? Chinky nosh?

No, we all know they eat fish. At least a cormorant consumes the whole fish when it catches one and not just a few ounces of flesh before moving on and killing another. Cormorants don’t kill for fun, either.

Re-introducing otters at this time is madness. It’s not fair on fish and it’s not even fair on the otters.

I watched End Of The Line recently. It shook me. Quite frankly it will change the way you think about what you put on your plate. What happened to cod is happening to tuna and we’re standing by while something similar happens to roach and every other fish in our rivers only this time it is not greed and hunger among humans that drives the catastrophe, it’s a stupid immigrant bird that has no place here.

Try the following link: Armagedon

Or better still, watch this and then watch some of the other clips. It’s chilling.


But back to Ron’s roach. I’ve spent a bit of time this season trotting maggots on the Tidal trent and have not caught a single roach. There are still a few roach around but they are shoaled up tightly. To catch roach to order right now is all but an impossibility (except in certain swims) or I’d be out there tomorrow doing it.

So convinced was I of this that I laid down a challenge to Ron and Fred Bonney (who offered counter arguments) in which we would fish together on the Trent. I would fish with Jelly Babies and they could fish with whatever baits they liked. If they could deliver a combined catch of roach that was 4lb greater than what I could catch on Jelly Babies (presumably nothing) then I would donate £25 to the Angling Trust. If they failed they in turn would donate £25. We would even invite the angling press to highlight the plight of river roach but alas, Fred said he didn’t want to spend a minute of his time in my company.

I’ll take that as meaning you’ve bottled it then Fred…? Because you’re quite happy to share your time withme when you’re crossing swords from a safe position behind a keyboard. After all, you responded to my last blog within 5 minutes of going live and no doubt you’ll respond to this.

Challenge stands. It’s for a good cause and I’m sure the £25 won’t break your bank.


I see Dave Lumb has placed a link from his blog to my site. Thank you, sir.

If you’ve not found Dave’s site yet, check it out. He writes a nice blog and there’s enough to keep you occupied for hours should you care to trawl round the site. You’ll find it here:

Dave Lumb

Shady Characters

Nipped down to Croyden earlier in the week for no better reason than I wanted to learn a little more about polarising spectacles. I’ve worn them for donkey’s years and in the first Barbel Days And Ways DVD I stated that I would turn round and go home if I realised I’d left mine behind on a barbel trip.

What I knew about glasses could have been written on a postage stamp and I’m guessing that most of those who make wild claims on forums are no wiser so a call to Tony Kerr at Optilabs gave me access to the laboratory and I was quite startled by what a complicated process it all is.

I’ll not go into it here, instead I’ll write a short article for the site in a day or two when I get a chance.

Swordsey On The Cutting Edge

Sometimes I wish I had half the talent old Lee Swords has got. If there was any justice he’d be making a living from drawing cartoons instead of cheffing. Mind you, he does cook up a good storm now and then.

Like with the rest of us, the recent Upper Trent pollutionstruck a sour chord with Lee and it comes only a couple of years after the massive fish kill we suffered on the Don. He sent me these cartoons this week and it’s pretty clear where he places the blame…

Clock This

I last went to Manningtree, Essex, about 15 years ago. I’d been invited there by Pete Clapperton, owner of Van Den Eynde groundbaits and it proved to be the start of a startling adventure that took me around the States and Canada, catching carp and catfish. Along the way we appeared in front of 56 million viewers on cable TV and featured in the very first carp article to be published in the massively influential In-Fisherman magazine.

(Check out the In-Fisherman web site here and maybe check the carp pages under ‘other species’. It’s a hell of a web site.)

We made a carp fishing DVD for the newly emerging US carp market and I even turned down the offer to write a book but nothing was quite so surreal as being driven around town by a Klan member while I cradled a loaded gun in my lap down in Oklahoma .

We fished the Arkansas River, the Mississippi, the Rum, the Red and the St Lawrence Seaway. Crikey, I even joined the American Carp Anglers Group members for their first ever fish-in at lake Mille Lacs in Minnesota. Talk about a buzz!

But Manningtree, in the heart of Constable country, always left me feeling that something was not quite right. Well, this week I spotted another clue. This is the recently repaired clock presented to the townsfolk by the Rotary Club…

Terrible Twins?
One of these men is now serving time for robbing the Ashton-in-Makerfield branch of TSB. It was a nasty business. However, is it just me who’s thinking… shave the beard, remove the hat, and…

David Travis

Steph Horak

Steph Horak

I’ll be watching Crimewatch intently next week and also keeping an eye open to see if Steph’s articles dry up in Coarse Angling Today over the coming months!


PS: The bank manager has denied that the perpetrator laid down a big bed of red maggots in order to terrify the counter staff. Apparently it’s an ugly rumour…

Free Tunes

As some of you will be aware I’m a bit of a music fan and I’m going to start introducing an occasional playlist in my blog. These tracks were cobbled together rapidly but in future blogs the list may be completely random, in a specific genre, or even suggested by you. Just press play or skip to the tracks you like…


You know, the lying and the bitching that goes off on some angling forums can be tedious – not so much for those that are involved but mainly for those who aren’t, which is probably why Old Fred has been getting it in the neck rather more than usual of late. The trouble is, do you sit there and say nothing when folks spout a load of bile about you or do you defend your integrity?

Take this fellow with one of those faceless, made-up names. He was mouthing-off (well, keyboarding-off would be more accurate) claiming I had called someone a paedophile on this site and was further claiming I was in the habit of leaving my vehicle illegally in the car park of a club I am no longer a member of.

Serious allegations, especially when you consider both of these statements were completely false. Do you ignore the remark and allow folk to interpret this as a sign of guilt, or do you challenge it? So I posted back on the thread and invited him to cut and paste the offending statement and then asked him to name the car park that I park in because I was as mystified by the allegation as you probably are now.

I don’t for the life of me understand why I would drive somewhere and park my car in a car park, legally or otherwise, if I wasn’t fishing there. After all, what possible benefit would that be to me?

You know, I checked back later the same day and ‘poof’ the whole thread had been deleted. What does that tell you?

It’s not the first instance of ‘poofing’ in the past couple of weeks and it probably won’t be the last. Just hope the host’s legal legal team doesn’t operate a ‘three strikes and you’re out’  policy or it could soon be game over.

Hit Parade

There’s no secret about the fact that I’m rather proud of my web site. I started it from nothing around a year ago with the help of Tom Scholey and Mark Cooper at Click Bathrooms and from the day it launched I took over uploading and managing all the content. It’s a lot easier than I expected but it is pretty time consuming. If I’m not fishing then I’m keeping up-to-date with my newsprint articles or I’m updating the web site. Angling has become a full-time job.

But I love it!

The site kicked off steadily and then it gained momentum. Clearly, controversy attracts readers and there’s been a bit of that in the blog, hasn’t there?

My first task every morning is to check the Google Analytics which reveal how I’m doing based on a rolling month. It gives me a daily updated total of hits, how you arrived at the site, how many pages you visit, how long you stay and so on. It also compares today with the exact same day a month ago. Today I’m in the green which indicates an increase and the % change is an encouraging 45.08%.

There are some who don’t like this one little bit. Indeed they dispute the figures openly basing their view on the fact that not many visitors leave comments at the foot of articles. Clearly they have not grasped that this is not a forum or that ‘normal’ people don’t feel a pressing need to express a view on everything and anything.

It also ignores the fact that visitors have an opportunity to contact me directly, in private, for advice, guidance and help. This is given freely and so far I have managed to reply to every single message they have left. If the measure of success for this site is in what the knockers can’t see, then so be it.

After all, who are these faceless people?

Maybe it’s just plain old jealousy.

How sad…

18 thoughts on “2009 – Mid November Blog

  1. Another highly entertaining blog,Bob,and looking forward to catching up with you at the Specialists and meeting Young Stu.

    Hey what a great idea with the music !

    Not arf pop pickers,but no Bachman turner overdrive,mate !

    My first selection was Lynryd Synyryd,what a track ,followed by Taylor Swift,and as I type Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat,are warbling away.She is new to me,but really excellent.

    And now she is falling for me………………………,



  2. I’m hoping to include a music playlist in all future blogs. Sometimes it’ll be my choice of music, depending on what kind of mood I’m in, but it would be nice to include guest playlists, too.

    If anyone wants to submitting their favourite 12 to 20 tracks I’ll see if I can source them and stick them in a future blog.

    Obviously the music won’t be to everyone’s taste but I like the fact that the music doesn’t play unless you click it and that means it’s completely unobtrusive.

    Keeping it towards the bottom of the blog means it doesn’t get in the way either.

    I could include a picture of the angler who suggests that month’s blog, too. Go on, it’s open to you now folks.

  3. Hi Bob,

    Leaving aside the more shall we say controversial subject matter I have to say that your Blog content is really good.

    The innovative features compliment the more serious issues and have to say your piece on Barrie Rickards is just superb.

    I love the music playlist idea, if it’s available for all think I might use it in my blog which along with my website is about to arrive very soon. End of next week in fact!

    I’ll be leaving all the controversy to you, my site will be there for people to chill out, I’ll be the nice guy to your Simon Cowell!!

    I’ll pull some Boss tunes together for a guest playlist!!



  4. Cheers for that Steve,

    Just email me your playlist and I’ll see what I can do to source the tunes.



  5. Quality read Bob I always enjoy your blogs, only seems 2 minutes ago I was reading your early November blog.

    I have been one of those folk contacting you directly through your website, your reply was prompt, free and exactly what I was after. Many thanks.


  6. Thank you Bob.
    I reckon the last request I had played was on hospital radio about 30 yrs ago.

    Are you my warm up act at the Specialists,tha noos ?

    I might even have to prepare something instead of winging it as usual.


  7. Hi Chris,

    If I were you I’d get on that stage first because you don’t want to follow the extravaganza we have planned for this show…

    I-I-I-t-t-t-s SHOWTIME….!!!!!!!

    This a show ‘like wot yew ain’t never sin b4!’.

    We’ve stopped short of bringing the dry ice and strobe lights but ear plugs could be useful. And tissues if you’re a Leeds United sympathiser (is there such a thing?). THAT goal will get another airing, as will the ladies boxing, gladiators, Hitler and his keepnet, the forums, Katherine Tate (Am I bovvered?), Pirates of the Caribbean, Big Bruv, Prodigy, Kid Rock, Simon and Garfunkel, you name it.

    We’ll be including previously unseen clips from next may’s DVD releases (vols 3 and 4) and these will blow you away!!!

    We’ve even secured an exclusive clip of feeding barbel by hand, underwater, in an Austrian trout stream, courtesy of Planet Prints.

    Oh, and Swordsey’s Trent groupies will definitely be shown again, as will many other misfortunes and bloopers.

    Chuck in a few salmon, sturgeon, mahseer, white water rafting, cartoons, mocked-up newspaper front pages and a whole lot more besides, it’s gonna be emotional!!!

  8. Great stuff with the music in your blogs, Bob. 🙂


    ps will you please put more pdf type articles in your blogs like the tench special you did in a previous blog, I would like to see some more articles on the likes of chub, pike, carp & barbel ect ect. 😉

  9. Unfortunately I don’t have the facility or expertise to upload pdf articles or I would do it like a shot.

    The tench one was created by the magazine I published in.

    If anyone out there could turn print copies into pdfs as afavour then I’d jump at the chance. Even better if they lived in South Yorkshire…

  10. hi bob,just found your site new convert to coarse angling mag.After jackin it all in ,in london in 2002 i have ended up in “toad hall”on the river at hampton loade.next door to unicorn inn.Being a river lee southern softy a day out with Trefor west put me right.MY partner katrina run the unicorn for a couple of years but now we are hopeing to buy the Green man on the wye at Fownhope early in 2010. I have a load of questions for you but thats for next time.Thought i would say hello! Dave aka alfie “toadhall”

  11. Looks like a hell of a good day out then Bob,really looking forward to it.

    Guess what I have updated my blog again,check out the Salmon shots from the Teme last week.


  12. Hello Bob,

    A great read yet again, it was a great shame to read about Barrie Rickards death a great guy who will be missed by many.

    On a different note, I watched from the sidelines the recent barbel wars and have to say that some of the comments made were really unbelievable. I must also add it gave an insight into just what goes on behind the scenes after a post by Judaspriest so nothing now surprises me. I was not surprised to see the topics disappear and have no doubt who brought about the deletion of the threads. It would appear that censorship is the order of the day, so it is very refreshing to read your blog and see that freedom of speech is still allowed.

    I was intrigued to read the announcement in the blog concerning the launch of another personal website. I was surprised given that the internet and forums by his own admission is not his cup of tea. I wonder if it would be as open and honest as yours or if it will follow the trend of barbel fishing in stifling free speech. Only time will tell I suppose I am sure the owner will be hoping for as many hits as you get. I am sure there will be many in the queue to either ask questions or cause some mischief once the site goes live so more fireworks loom on the horizon.

    I look forward to seeing you at the forth coming Barbel Specialists meeting; we did not have much time to chat the last time we met. I am sure your presentation will go down well as the specialists are a great bunch of guys.

  13. Cheers Ray,

    Stu and I are really looking forward to the show and no doubt we’ll have a chat at some point during the day.

    RE: The upcoming web site, he will certainly attract a few mischief makers but the best thing about running your own site is that you have full control. That gives you the option to remove offending comments, edit them to make the sender look relly stupid or you can simply block the sender as I have done with a number of, shall we say, idiots.

    You also capture their IP address if things need to be taken further but quite honestly I pity the stalkers. What petty and shallow lives they must lead.


  14. Just tried it myself & converted an old cv from ms office word format to pdf.

    If you create say a powerpoint presentation article then save it to my documents on your pc, right click on the said article & in the context menu click on create pdf, job done it will save the pdf to your my documents folder on your pc ready for you to upload to your future blogs. 😉

  15. Thank you for that William.

    Things have moved on a little since I wrote the blog. Unbeknown to me my scanner comes with software that creates pdf files from a scan (thanks to Dave Lumb’s suggestion). I’ve had a go and bingo, I can create pdfs of all my archived articles which I have the originals of dating back to 1986.

    So far so good.

    However I’ve encountered another stumbling block. The width of the pdfs is about 1800 whereas the maximum page width on the web site is nearer 500. If I reduce the size of the pdf it’s not readable. There is also an uploadable file size limit that prohibits me from actually uploading the pdfs.

    The solution is to host the pdf files in a seperate location and link them back to this site so when you click on the link it opens up in a fresh window.

    I’m working on that solution right now, just awaiting a call-back.

    If I get a positive response then I can start uploading all my early articles and much more besides. It’ll be so much quicker than the current method of uploading and laying out articles because the pdf files will show the article exactly as it appeared on the magazine pages.

    Keep your fingers crossed.

  16. Bob, I’ve just watched the footage of the barbel being hand fed in austria….awesome stuff!
    Great site by the way.