I dropped in on the River Don today at Sprotborough, just with a lure rod plus a bunch of rubber lures and spinner baits. The river above the weir is controlled by Rotherham UAF and it is stuffed with fish. The drawback is it’s deep, probably averaging 15 feet or more, but the bottom is littered with twigs, branches and other snags.
The forecasters are talking of snow tonight, an icy arctic blast but although there was a nip in the air the oak trees are still clinging to their leaves, bright gold and vivid when the sun catches them. But not for much longer I fear.
Although there are lots of skimmers running to a couple of pounds in the Don – a 4lb bream here is a real monster – roach are the main target and these tend to be mainly 1 to 4ozs although caster and hemp does sometimes sort out a few better specimens. The main approaches are chopped worm and fishmeal groundbait through a feeder for the bream or a variety of float fishing styles for the roach. These include long rod and stick float, sliding waggler, bolo or pole.
The day I was there five blokes held a knock-up match and they averaged an ounce shy of 12lb apiece. Joe Murray won it with 19lb 8oz but the previous weekend’s winning weight was even better. I hope you’re getting an idea of how well stocked the place is because these fish are getting caught in the middle of winter fishing 18 inches off the bottom. Go any deeper and you’ll be snagged up all the time.
Even the fact that an otter has taken up residence and is been seen fairly often by the matchmen doesn’t seem to worry anyone unduly as it’ll have a job munching through all the small fish. The upside is it will probably see off the mink.
With all these roach around the cogs in my mind brain kept niggling away at me. If there are so many roach and the place never gets pike fished…
Neglect and all that.
Well, I just had to have a go, didn’t I? Bearing in mind the snags I clipped on a spinner bait and started working my way upstream. “Tha’ll catch nowt on that mate!” Said a passer by. “We fish here all the time and we never have a roach chased by pike. In fact I’ve only heard of one and that was a little Jack.”
It didn’t do my confidence a deal of good but he went on to suggest a few other areas where he knew for certain that pike did show. And as I knew some of them he was pretty accurate in what he was telling me. But I still can’t help wondering. If there is no real head of pike here, could there be a proper old monster kicking around that hangs around until late afternoon waiting for the matchman’s casualties to be thrown back after the weigh-in? You never know, eh?
The otter got me to thinking about predators of the furry kind. I had an email earlier this year from a naturalist asking if I could help her locate some water voles. Unfortunately there was once a mink farm in the nearby village of Cadeby, barely a mile away. I say ‘used to be’ because a bunch of Animal Liberationists broke in and set the mink free in a protest against the fur trade. Sadly this act of kindness signed the death warrant of every vole for miles around and countless birds, too.
Mink have subsequently spread through the river corridors of South Yorkshire and now turn up everywhere. They can be quite vicious, too. A bloke fishing the Don not a million miles from the giant Meadowhall shopping complex with his 14-year-old son had a disturbing encounter only last weekend. Mark Burke was catching lots of quality dace and grayling. He’d also landed a cracking 3lb chub but was quite alarmed when a large mink ran along the riverbank directly towards him. It was big enough to send his son scampering for cover.
Clouting the mink with the end of his rod had no effect at all so he hurled a tree branch at it. That appeared to do the trick! When he got home he contacted the Environment Agency to suggest these aggressive creatures had no place on our river banks. They passed him on to Natural England but they’ve not been back in touch.
Mink are a regular sighting on the River Rother at Woodhouse Mill, too. But the trouble is the fishing on the Don around Meadowhall is free and that means no controlling body will be doing anything about this vermin problem.
Talking to a guy on the Don he told me his club had suffered with a mink problem in the past so they spent £75 on two traps. Worked a treat. Three mink were caught and dispatched in the first week and then, to quote him: “Some gypos nicked them!”
The Natives Are Restless
Sue drew my attention to a letter in the village newsletter complaining about anglers leaving litteron the banks of the River Dearne. This is the same river Dearne where anglers have been objecting to canoeists but the fishing is free so not only do we have put up with some real knobheads fishing there, we don’t have any say in their behaviour either.
Of course, not all who fish there leave litter or cause damage to property, but some do and that’s enough to have all anglers tarred with the same brush. Not all the litter is left by anglers either, as teenagers frequently have parties down there in the warmer months when it’s not uncommon to find dozens of empty cans strewn around and various items of clothing, too. This isn’t conventional anglers’ clothing but then again, who knows what the guy next to you is wearing under those waterproofs…?
But the bottom line is we get the blame for it every time, although the groundbait bags, hook packets and meat tins are definitely left by anglers. I was sorely tempted to respond, but how do you defend angling when faced with insurmountable evidence. You can’t, can you?
Yes, I could point to the fact that when plans were submitted to divert the river and open cast mine for coal through the valley with hundreds of lorries ploughing up and down our leafy lanes it was me who went on TV to defend the river. It was me who delivered the story to the angling press and put it in the headlines, but sadly all that counts for nothing when anglers show such disregard for the environment by lighting fires and leaving piles of litter on view to all and sundry to see.
I was sorely tempted to respond in the newsletter but that would simply stir the pot and invite others to add weight to the criticism. Ultimately we could and probably will lose the fishing but what a pathetic situation when I have to turn a blind eye to litter louts in order to defend angling. It’s madness.
Would You Buy A Panasonic?
We’re coming to that time of year when folk splash out on luxuries, like big electrical items. We all know how tempting the January sales are and this year we’ll be told to buy now and beat the upcoming hike in VAT, so how many folk will find that big screen plasma irresistible?
So what better time to share this cautionary tale with you.
A little while ago I bought a magnificent state of the art TV; a high definition flat screen 42″ plasma screen made by Panasonic. The manager in Richer sounds told me this was the best TV money could buy and what’s more, it comes with a 5-year guarantee. It wasn’t a difficult sale. I also splashed out on the super-dooper DVD/Tape player/recorder and a Yamaha sound system. Was I like a dog with two tails?!!!!
Well, no. Take a look at my TV screen:
Impressed by all those vertical lines? No, nor am I. And they’re progressively getting worse. But let me tell you this. Panasonic’s customer care team are even less impressive. I have been dealing with a guy called Chris Swatridge, a Customer Communications Advisor based in Bracknell.
Now this TV started deteriorating within a few months of me purchasing it. I was in no hurry to get it fixed because I had a 5-year warranty and I was doing all sorts of other stuff in the house that took a higher priority. I actually thought it was a cable issue and as I’d sunk the cables inside the wall I didn’t fancy the mess involved with channelling out plaster but things have gradually deteriorated to the point where watching the TV is not a pleasant experience, so I contacted Panasonic.
‘Sorry sir,’ Said Mr Swatridge, ‘You may have posted off your warranty but we’ve no record of it arriving so you’re not covered. It’s not our responsibility. Take the TV to a Panasonic repair centre, pay for an engineers report and we may contribute to the cost of repair. Although we may offer assistance I cannot immediately ascertain whether repair cost assistance would be appropriate on this particular occasion.’
Now I can smell a rat when it’s waived under my nose. There wasn’t a single positive affirmation in Swatridge’s reply. Lot’s of platitudes and maybes but no commitment to do anything whatsoever, only an opportunity for me to spend more money with one of Panasonic’s partners.
So I spoke with a guy at the recommended centre and let me tell you it was not going to be cheap to have it examined. In any case, he said: “I can pretty much see exactly what’s wrong. It’s an expensive repair, top side of £600.”
Apparently I’m not the first to suffer this kind of failure. When I searched the web I came up witha whole catalogue of unhappy customers who were both dissatisfied with Panasonic’s products and their customer support.
So I’ve put the ball back in Panasonic’s court. Let’s stop messing around, I said. So they’ve just ignored me. Not even so much as an acknowledgement from this Chris Swatridge, the aforementioned Panasonic Customer Communications Advisor.
I’ve sent the documents to a Sunday newspaper to see if their consumer guy is prepared to follow it up on my behalf. I shall no doubt be contacting BBC’s Watchdog programme – as you already know from my fairly regular TV appearances and DVDs, I’m pretty relaxed in front of a TV camera.
And if that doesn’t bring about a result I shall pursue a settlement in the small claims court. The cost to me will be not dissimilar to that of paying a Panasonic partner to look at the set. The cost to Panasonic will be of legal representation in a Doncaster court, possible mediation and certain damage to their reputation. After all, when, like me, you are a newspaper columnist you tend to have a few contacts who’ll run with the story…
And, of course, there’s this here blog. You are not alone in reading it. Remember those stats I published recently? 100,000 page hits in the past 4 months alone. This statement will remain here, in this blog until they at least contact me, and as you know, it comes up on the front page of Google every time. The images are tagged, too, so they should come up on any Google images search when anyone happens to type in Panasonic TV.
And I’m going to publish exactly what Panasonic’s responses are in this blog until we reach a fair and satisfactory conclusion. One would hope that Panasonic might see this as an opportunity to woo not just me but all my readers, too.
So, what’s the worst case scenario? I may end up footing the bill for a new TV (which it looks like I’ll have to do anyway) but it won’t be a Panasonic, will it? Not now, not ever. They will have lost a valuable customer for life. Potentially they may lose many more who read this blog as well.
And if they still don’t care, or don’t respond, then it tells you all you need to know about Panasonic and every product they manufacture. This is a question of trust, belief and honesty. It’s about Panasonic’s entire ethic and integrity.
Meantime I’m going to track down the Company Chairman’s address and send him a link to this blog. What he’ll make of Chris Swatridge, I don’t know. But I can tell him this. Chris Swatridge’s name will appear in this blog every time until we reach a conclusion.
And by the way, if you want to see what other folk think of Panasonic, simply follow any of these links:
Perhaps I didn’t explain my problem clearly to Panasonic at the outset. Perhaps there has been some misunderstanding and I am doing them an injustice. If so, it will have been all my fault, the matter will be resolved I’ll remove any mention of Panasonic from my web site.
On the other hand perhaps they simply do not care. If so you can look forward to further updates. In the meantime I will not consider purchasing any Panasonic product and I would urge you to consider very carefully whether you should, too. After all, is the quality of the screen captures I’ve shown you (above) the kind of TV image you’re looking for? I don’t think so.
Baldwin Balls It In For Big Barbel
Interesting article in Angling Times (Tues Nov 16th) written by Steve Stones featuring Severn barbel expert Lewis Baldwin. “If I’m on the river for a couple of days I think nothing of putting in 10kg of bait every 24 hours.” He said. “Over the years I’ve learnt that if you want to catch big barbel from the Severn, you need to give them plenty of bait.”
Bait, and lots of it, is the simple key to unlocking the river according to Lewis.
Last year he fed 20kg in a single session and the results speak for them self: 22 barbel, 13 bream and a dozen chub in two days. “Those fish got through more than 20kg of bait and were still having it when I packed up!”
“Luck plays a big part but on the Severn you’ll massively increase your chances if you bait heavily.” He added.
How dare he! What a heretic! But it’s strange, isn’t it, how successful anglers all seem to use a fair bit of bait. And those who struggle reckon they only use a couple of kilos over an entire season. Odd that.
Even so, I’m surprised he hasn’t been crucified. Perhaps the barbel police were all napping when that one slipped under the radar… 😉
Trent Throws Up A Cracking Brace OF Berties
Adam’s biggest fish, a phenomenal looking specimen weighing 15lb 6oz was backed up with a ‘pup’ of 12lb 4oz. Both fish beat his previous best and came during a short evening session.
In the past Adam has often struggled to secure one of the river’s hot spots but on this occasion he found he had the whole river to himself. Near freezing temperatures didn’t exacly fill him with confidence but a tinge of colour in the water made a massive difference.
Fishing a 5oz feeder with a home made boilie hair rigged on a size 12 hook he caught the big girl on his first cast just 20 minutes ito the session. Barely 3 hours later he had the second fish for a stunning 27lb 10oz brace.
A phone call to his dad brought an end to the session. Top, top angling. Well done son!
Is Your Computer Sexist?
Seriously, try typing ‘She Invented’ into popular search engine Google…
Google responds with, Did you mean ‘He Invented’.
Or Are You Out Of Your Tiny Mind…?
Not wishing to take any sides in the endless spats that seem to become more bitter as winter sets in, but here’s an observation that certain bloggers might just care to contemplate…
Maybe they should try fishing for chub, or grayling even. Or pike. Anything in fact that gets them out of the house. A cold day on the riverbank does wonders for the spirit when you return home.
Greetings Fellow Bloggers
I have to say that a number of fellow bloggers have been rather kind in their comments towards me of late. Steve Pope actually went as far as to give me an award on his blog. Cheers Steve, I’ll take that. And keep up the good work yourself.
Writing a blog requires passion. Not only do you open your life up to the critical gaze of others, it only works if you actually do something constructive with your life in the first place. It has to be rather more than, ‘Went fishing yesterday, caught a barbel on legered pellets’.
Catching a fish may be important (to you) yet it is merely a tiny part of angling. Let me borrow from Luke Jennings excellent Blood Knots:
“There was living proof that I could catch not just a fish, but a big fish. At the same time I knew, deep down, that nobody else much cared. The only person I had to convince was myself.”
With snow lying on the ground I suspect many bloggers will face an insurmountable challenge. Catching fish in these conditions is far from easy, impossible even. So let’s all just be a little more creative and entertaining.
And on that subject I couldn’t resist this:
Sorry, ‘in joke’!
My DVD making partner Stu Walker’s job normally takes him to rather uninspiring places. He spends his time on grubby industrial installations, in factories, petrochemical plants and such like. It’s fair to say he’s never once sent me a picture of him at work before.
Last week he flew off to do some vibration analysis in the Sahara desert and from what he tells me it can be a bit hairy out there. “
“If you get hijacked just let them take your vehicle.” Was the advice proffered. “If you resist they’ll just shoot you!”
But at least there’s a code of honour:
“If they take your vehicle they always leave you a bottle of water…”
I think I’ll stick to writing.
Everybody Sing, Ay – Oh!
Why are folk getting so twitchy about the setting up of a new barbel group? It appears to be no more than a bunch of folk who don’t fit in with existing groups anyway, so what’s the problem? Let them have their fun.
Nit picking the acronym ABF because it happens to be identical to another organisation is simply petty. ABF might be a soldiers charity but it also stands for Asian Business Federation, Associated British Foods, the African Badminton Federation, Australian Baseball Federation and the American Bar Foundation for starters.
But no worries, we’ve been offered clarification. It’s not the ABF, it’s the AoBF. So there! All together now, “Everybody sing, Ay-oh!”
Hang on a minute, AOBF also stands for the Art of Beer Festival. It also stands for Aspirants of the Banishing Flame. Well, I can see the similarities there. But I’ll gamble you didn’t you know that aobfis a malicious spyware virus which uses malignant tricks to download malicious malware from the Internet? Well, Trojan GameThief.Win32.Magania.aobf opens up firewalls and gives hackers remote access to your PC.
Any advance on AoBF?
X Factor – Now We Have A Singing Contest
From the moment it was revealed Wagner was in the bottom three viewers knew he was out. Cheryl ‘Lets Rake Over The’ Cole(s) wasn’t going to turn down her chance of revenge. No refusal to vote this week, eh Shazza? Louie would save his darling Irish Colleen, Dannii had already appealed to the viewers to vote Wagner off and there was no way even Simon could make a great deal of money out of a Brazilian lion tamer on benefits, so the entire charade of a sing-off was pointless in the extreme.
The Weasel came rank last, bottom of the pile (again). Five times the public has spoken. This time even the judges couldn’t save here with platitudes and a sham vote. She was out. But hey, no worries, after yet another makeover she’s found ‘The real me’. Again.
With Wagner gone, Simon spoke to us, straight through our screens as he swaggered back to his suite, pointing out the silly business of viewers trying to wreck the competition by voting for Wagner.“It can’t end up that the end of the show is a joke. Now we have a singing competition.”
Morally affronted he conveniently forgets that the over-25s category was tweaked to over-28s enabling Wagner to be put in the finals as a wild card entry. Of course, he’ll claim it was Louie, or a producer, but really, does he think we’re all that stupid?
You’re right Simon, ‘it can’t end up that the end of the show is a joke’. Ask any Jedward fan…
But we are stupid, aren’t we? After all we had just witnessed Rock Week. Err…, Rock Week?
I find myself disliking the obnoxious little Cher more each time I see her. An April Lavigne pop tune is not rock. Nor is Run DMC’s Aerosmith collaboration, Walk This Way. It’s just a vehicle for her pathetic attempt at rapping (oh yeah, again. How original…)
“You’re a proper little pop star. I really luv you!”
“You’ve certainly got your mojo back this week, haven’t you?”
“You’re just so, of the moment!”
“It means so much to me…”
Look, if Ozzie Osbourne recorded ‘Rock-a-bye-baby’would that mean it was then a rock song and it could be sung during Rock Week? Of course not. So how come One Direction get away with singing a ballad on the premise it was ‘rock’ because an aging Joe Cocker had recorded it.
Does it mean Rod Stewart’s crooning and schmoozing American Songbook songs are now re-categorised as rock? Does it hell. There’s a world of difference between a rock song and an old crock song.
But at last we now have a singing competition and Syco can rake in a few more millions from the ever gullible public. Afraid we have to say goodbye to Louie’s Lady next week but that’s the price we all have to pay for Syco’s domination of the charts and airwaves.
Thank God there’s Garraways Law to follow on a bitter Sunday evening.
Ice, Ice Baby
Come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough!
Sue and I planned to spend the weekend in Bakewell, Derbyshire, home of the Tart. She’d booked me a special treat – a ride in a hot air balloon. It’s something I’ve always fancied and was meant to be a surprise. Alas the trip was cancelled late on Friday evening due to deteriorating weather conditions. Unfortunately we were already in town by then.
Bakewell’s is picture postcard pretty but rather cold, nestling in the heart of the Peak District. How unfortunate were we that a power cut knocked off the central heating in our B&B during the night? We rose at dawn to find the kind of ice on the inside of our bedroom window that I haven’t seen since I was a nipper. Do you remember what it was like before central heating?
Outside the snow wasn’t too bad. According to reports it was all around us and causing problems for travellers but we seemed to have missed the worst of it. But never in my life have I ever seen frost quite like that which had formed on the roof of the car. It had built up in layers, trapping snow flakes until it stood nearly an inch deep. Ice crystals reaching upwards like a forest of ferns. Unbelievable.
Not surprisingly we stuck around town. The farmers market, a bit of shopping, take a few pictures, but what sights would have greeted us had we been able to fly the balloon? Sadly you’ll have to make do with this scenic I took of the river Wye (No, not the Welsh one!) which runs through the town. Pretty, eh?
Come Sunday morning it was even colder. According to the radio it had been the coldest November night on record in some parts. We decided to head home but I did take a couple of nice shots on the way back.
Football’s Coming Home
Grimsby used to be the only club in the league who played every single game away from home (their ground is in nearby Cleethorpes, not Grimsby). Charlon, I believe, spent a while sharing with Palace. Bristol Rovers are currently in temporary accommodation, as are Brighton (shouldn’t that be is?). Seems fashionable because Rotherham United are homeless, too, so I was delighted to hear this week that they’ve been granted planning permission to build a new ground.
Even more delighted for the fans as they’ll soon be able to watch their team play in its home town of Rotherham again instead of at that God-awful soulless athletics stadium in one of Sheffield’s less attractive suburbs where you’ll find gentlemen’s clubs and massage parlours on every corner.
In the scale of things, teams like Rotherham (not forgetting Barnsley, and Scunthorpe) are our true rivals. Doncaster Rovers is merely a jumped up little pub team compared with giants like the two Sheffield clubs and Leeds United.
If anything it is they who have flattered us by treating us as rivals in recent years – you can tell that by the way they insist it’s our cup final each time we play them. Does that smack of denial to you? Funny how we seldom get beaten, mind…
But no, let’s be serious, Rotherham are our enemies. Barnsley likewise. Just because these smug ‘giants’ fall on hard times doesn’t mean they can muscle in on our party. We know our place and they theirs. So good luck to the Millers.
Now get that ground built and let’s see you promoted to the Championship where we can renew our rivalry, just like the old times, because we’ve no plans to drop back to your level anytime soon (fingers crossed). Indeed, the way things are shaping we seem more likely to do a Blackpool. Now wouldn’t that be a turn-up?
Don’t rule anything out just yet, threadbare squad or not!