2010 – Early March Blog

Well, the news is that this winter has been the coldest for 31 years – even longer if you live in Scotland or Northern Ireland. It has been a bit grim, hasn’t it? I’m writing this on the morning of Tuesday 2nd March. According to the Met Office spring starts officially on 1st March and runs to 31st May but looking out of the window I can see there’s a fresh dusting of snow. Doesn’t feel much like Spring, does it?

Even so, I’d have been fishing were it not for a dental appointment at noon. I really want to make the most of this final fortnight of the river season. Unfortunately the rivers are high, coloured and very cold. Hardly the stuff of inspiration.

Yesterday I was on the Trent for the first time in what seems like months. The river was a good five feet up, possibly more, it’s really hard to tell on the Tidal. It was¬†the colour of chocolate and cold. My chances weren’t great but unless you’re out there you ain’t going to catch, are you? Anyway, the light was looking good for photography so it wouldn’t be a wasted day.

The fishing was less than inspiring but at least I caught my first barbel of 2010. Not a monster by any means but it was a barbel and that’s all that matters. I did lose a couple of 6oz feeders though and wasn’t too happy about that. In the end I switched from fishing two rods to one. That way I could concentrate better on it. I also changed to a semi-mobile approach and fished three different swims. The swim I caught from had a nice crease created by a bush that would normally be on dry land.

On reflection there was a better looking swim 70 yards upstream and should have given it at least an hour.

The bite, when it came was a gentle pull. Nothing dramatic and could just as easily been a bit of debris. As for the fight, well, apart from when I showed it the landing net it might as well have been a bream.

The setting sun afforded me a few nice photographic opportunities – where’s Matt when you really need him(!) – and had I stayed on a couple of hours or so I’m sure I’d have had another fish or two but my fireside was calling and I’d not taken any food with me so the promise of tea on the table in an hour was too much to resist.

I pulled up outside my house more or less an hour after the sun had set yet the strident song of a thrush could be heard piercing the night air, a sure sign spring is upon us. Normally they’d be paired up and building nests at this time of year but they’ll soon make up for lost time.

The previous Friday evening I’d put on a show, with Stu Walker, at Sawley Marina after being approached by a guy called John Paley. He rang me after walking out on a fishing meeting at half time where the speakers had left him feeling rather underwhelmed, “I’d never been to an undertakers convention before, can you put on something more entertaining, Bob?”

Is the Pope Catholic?

So, he made plans for a ‘Trent Anglers’ Evening’ in the Old Chandlery Restaurant. He even allowed carp anglers to attend – provided they were accompanied by a responsible adult. Several came, too, including Shaun Harrison who owns Quest Baits. It was good to see him again as it gave me many opportunities to poke fun at the ‘paintballers’.

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I was a little concerned that John didn’t appear to be pushing the date through the usual channels and very little advance publicity was evident. Imagine my surprise when I gave him a call ten days before hand to hear him say, “Don’t worry, Bob, there’s only a couple of tickets left!” Well, the evening was a complete sell out in advance. It was standing room only and when we factored in the guests, raffle sponsors and squeezed in a few late comers things were a little tight but it all added to the atmosphere.

A number of the regular posters on Barbel Adventures turned up and they’d promised to wear pink in order to recognise each other. My fears that the audience might look like a Village People re-union party didn’t materialise, fortunately.

The night raised over well over £400 towards Help For Heroes and the buffet was a cracker, too.

Nice people, nice place, nice night. We may have to do it again. In a bigger venue.

The film footage showing barbel interacting with tackle, with bait, how bait behaves, PVA bags and so on had numerous folk commenting¬†that they were going to have to change their tactics in future, which is nice.¬†There’s nothing to¬†beat a bit of concrete evidence to prove your points. Evidence contradicts regurgitated theories and speculation by providing hard facts, something that some folk seem unable to accept because it goes against everything they’ve¬†been preaching for years. Sadly they’re incapable of¬†changing their views and presumably they think the earth’s flat, too.

However, as always, it is the foreign footage that really brings out the gasps. There’s a point in the show where a large sturgeon lunges beneath our boat and the rod hoops over violently. It is millimetres away from the metal safety rail and if it were to touch the blank would literally explode. The sharp intake of breath by the entire audience¬† is audible and it works every time!

It’s a cracking show now, two halves each lasting around an hour. Each is a specially created film to which we deliver a live commentary and observations. There’s¬†footage from four Continents and lots of barbel dogma is exposed for the poppycock that it really is. Frankly, this kind of evening makes the old slideshow format somewhat redundant. Not only is the, “Here’s me with (insert name) at 16lb 10oz, I caught her on a pellet/ boilie/ piece of meat using incredible skill; Here’s me with her again three weeks later at 16lb 11oz…”, so old fashioned, so out of date and frankly boring that fishing meeting speakers really do need to reflect on what they’re providing for their paying customers.

Meetings up and¬†down the country are struggling for attendances. It’s no longer good enough to stand there like an accountant at an AGM delivering statistics from a balance sheet. No one is impressed any more by pictures of big fish and self congratulation. The world has changed, speakers need to be entertaining, humorous, educational, insightful and pushing back the bariers. We’re in a digital age when even¬†ten-year-olds can create amazing¬†graphics and text images yet folk still expect punters to be satisfied with a few grainy old slides.

The flip side of the coin is that meeting organisers and Societies expect star acts to turn up and entertain a room full of paying punters¬†for the price of a couple of gallons of diesel and a pint of beer if you’re lucky. No one actually sees where the profits go, do they, and unless things change the future for these kind of shows looks decidedly grim.

As well as Shaun it was good to see Catton Park owner Graham Davis and his wife, it’s been a while, and Archie Braddock, too. But overall it was good to see such a happy, enthusiastic crowd.

Goodbye Winter Paradise

There’s a little river not a million miles away that I rather enjoy fishing on occasion. Perhaps I should call it a stream. It’s insignificant in the bigger picture of angling, maybe only 20 feet or so wide, rarely is it more than a couple of feet deep and I go there to catch a few run-of-the-mill chub and some rather splendid roach.

When I say splendid I mean fish to perhaps a pound and a half. Okay, you don’t catch fish of that size every time you go but a pound fish is generally on the cards and there are plenty of fish in the six to 12oz range. I stay mobile, nicking a fish here and there and generally have a good time.

But let’s not get carried away thinking it’s stuffed with fish because it isn’t. I’m happy if I can catch a dozen fish in a day, even when conditions are right, so imagine my joy when I switch on the TV to hear the local news presenter¬†announcing that the local council has funded an otter holt on the river to ‘encourage’ otters. Apparently they’ve already been spotted in the river.

Aaaaagggghhhh!!!

Bet they don’t observe the closed season, either.

And Another Thing…

The closed season is about to start. That’s right, the CLOSED season. It’s not a close season, the river’s are closed – shut, as in not open. They are not close, as in near, or even Clouseau, as in Jacques the Chief Inspector. They are closed. Get over it.

We don’t require another debate on¬†whether it should be retained or not¬†on every God damn fishing forum, either. It’s the law. Prattle on the forums ain’t gonna change anything – ask Damian Kimmins who launched the most futile poll in history on the Number 10 web site last year. Totally pointless.

All this poll achieved was to reinforce the Government view that no-one actually gives a damn based on the fact that hardly anyone voted, except of course for the likes of Ivor Biggun and Mike Hunt, Dutch duo Avis and Hertz Van Rental and Ken Yahearme.

Stick to ‘Which pellet?’, ‘What hook?’ and ‘Have they spawned yet?’ To which the answer is no, they’re waiting for late June!!!!

Predators excepted – they’ve always have been a law unto themselves – special privileges, don’t fish for them until October, etc; I ask you,¬†what fish are likely to spawn in the next month, ignoring the fact that the Spring is already a month behind?

The fish have just had a 3-month lay-off, the tackle trade is in deep sh*t and we’re going to stop fishing for 3 months. Absolute madness. Meanwhile, with no anglers on the bank the otters and cormorants make hay.

Those who support the arbitrary 93-day break are purely selfish. We know that. They simply fancy a break and they don’t want you to enjoy yourself in their absence, harassing their rapidly dwindling target fish.

In the past 24 hours, across the UK, another hundred(*?)¬†mature fish will have had their throats ripped out by otters, it could be more (*? =¬†insert the number you think). Tomorrow it’ll be the same again, and the day after, until there are none left worth speaking of. Those fish will not spawn this year, nor will the progeny they would have given to us.

This is not just the breeding season for fish. In a few weeks time the otter population in the UK will have all but doubled. Doesn’t bear thinking about, does it?

Bear thinking…? There’s an idea. Let’s reintroduce bears. And while we’re at it, wolves.

Little Fat Gits

According to the TV this morning Donny is one of the fattest places in the country with one-in-five 6-year-olds being overweight. That’s because they don’t go fishing. They’re all lazy little bleeders who stay at home, afraid to venture out into the big bad dangerous world, scoffing chocolate and playing on the their computers.

Well, they want to think themselves lucky they don’t come under Social Services in Doncaster becausethings would be a whole lot worse. Our¬†local¬†SS don’t hang around waiting for kids to die of obesity related problems, oh no…

Apparently the Government is going to spend ¬£62m addressing the problem. Perhaps the answer is to buy ’em all a fishing rod and send them out in the fresh air, thust boosting the ailing fishing economy at the same time.

Unfortunately the cash will be wasted on ‘creative’ ways to exercise, like they’ll teach ’em karate. That’s all we need as we grow older, a disperate, useless, Jeremy Kyle generation that can seriously hurt us when they turn to mugging!

Methinks we mollycoddle kids too much these days, don’t you?

Terry’s A Tosser

Poor old John Terry. Shags a colleagues wife, damages his colleagues career, pisses off his own wife and we’re all supposed to feel sorry for him just because he’s a decent footballer. Well, I suppose Wayne Bridge sees it differently.

Look, Mr Terry, you don’t go there. It’s not some little slapper you’re roasting or the wife of a Fulham fan, it’s your colleague, your team mate. You’ve been made captain of that team because you¬†are¬†looked up to, able to¬†lead, to inspire; a man who can be trusted when¬†things are going wrong, a man who can think ahead, to urge, to encourage, to empathise. You’re there to get the absolute best from your colleagues and it’s not like a rich, fit, widely adored footballer is exactly hard up for a shag these days, is it?

To do what you’ve done to a team mate shows you’re morally bankrupt. Removing the captains arm band from you simply isn’t enough. Stop for a minute and consider if things were the other way round and and Bridge had dallied with your wife…

I suppose there’s little doubt Bridge would have been kicked out of the squad because Terry is deemed to be more important to the team in a World Cup year.

Terry has kept his place because of the selfish ambitions of the FA, the players, the fans and the press. This booing of him at Wembley is a charade. Those same fans will cheer his next goal, more so if it happens in South Africa.

Either way, Max Clifford gets richer.

But what kind of man is John Terry? Does he deserve adulation, special privileges, riches beyond the imagination of you and I. Is he a great father, an upright family man, someone we can all look up to for inspiration? Is he an icon? You tell me…

Of course, it’s fashionable to blame the actions of children on their parents these days, isn’t it? Well here’s John Terry’s¬†mother

On the other hand, old JT’s not exactly a stranger to being arrested, is he?

But rather than just picking headlines at random, perhaps I should offer you a summary of John Terry’s Top Ten Misdemeanours:

So there you have it. Click on any of the above images if you want to read the original articles. But please, don’t ask me to feel sorry for him. Will he be awarded a World Cup winners medal this year? Not a chance. Let’s stop deluding ourselves, we’re quarter finals fodder, perhaps a semi if we get a few breaks, but winners? Against the likes of Spain, Brazil, Germany, Argentina or say,¬†Italy…

No chance. Which makes pandering to his on-field skills all the more pointless. As captain of England he should have been kicked out of the England team for at least a year after shagging a team-mate’s wife.

By contrast Chester City face a winding up order for the sum of ¬£26,000. They have been expelled from the Conference. John Terry earns more than that in a day. Maybe if John Terry wants to prove to the game’s real fans out there that he actually cares about football rather than just about John Terry, maybe, just maybe, he might find enough loose change in his back pocket to save an entire club.

Forget Portsmouth. Forget Crystal Palace, Southampton, Cardiff, Leeds and all those other financially mismanaged clubs. They’ll survive administration and the attendant points deductions. It’s the townsfolk of Chester that I feel for. They could lose their identity, their place on the world map.

When Doncaster dropped into the Conference it was as if the town had died. It no longer existed. Today I can switch on the World Service and hear the name read out in the football results. I can even¬†pick up a newspaper in China and somewhere among the small print it will say ‘Doncaster-nil’ or maybe ‘one’ if I’m lucky.

That’s real football drama – not whether we drop Terry for his lack of civility, manners or indeed humanity. Important team player? Don’t make me laugh. Booing’s the least he deserves.

Time’s Running Out Fast

Okay, that’s it from me for now. The season’s fast running out and I’m hoping to squeeze in at least five more trips. It’s a hard life…

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