2010 – Early September

Blimey, the past two weeks have been a bit of a blur and serious fishing time has been somewhat at a premium. However I have squeezed a bit of time in on the bank and although I’ve caught precious little of note it has been great fun and also whetted my appetite for things to come.

Before I start let me just say this blog may differ a little from my regular blog, more of a travelogue perhaps, but things will probably be back to normal next time.

I made my first trip to the Derbyshire Derwent in two years and it was easy to recall why I like this river so much. Small enough to feel intimate although sadly everyone seems to be fishing multiple rods with barbel in mind but if you take off your blinkers there are other species to target. The Derwent is a fine perch river, it also holds some cracking pike and it’s one of the few places I visit that you can run a stick through with a good chance of it going under.

In past visits I’ve had chub over 6lb and perch over 3lb from the Derwent but today I’d gone down there hoping for a pike. Of course that meant catching a few baits but they’re never the right size, are they? Too big, too small or the wrong species. Some folk are impossible to please. But I was just happy to see the float bury on most trots down but there were so many tiny chublets in some swims I had no choice but to move on.

A late start didn’t help me but I needed a lie-in just to catch up so by the time I caught what I decided would make decent sized baits the day was disappearing fast. I’ll not bore you with the details but I blanked spectacularly with the pike. Bright sunshine, clear skies are not exactly ideal but it was a surprise not to get a single run. Oh well, I’ll be back.

One little afterthought. The farming practices around here appear to date back to the middle ages if this is the crow scaring method they’re still using…

On The Road Again

I needed to get home early to pack as I was heading down to Norfolk the following day (Friday). I was due to spend Saturday in the Angling Direct Tackle Store along with Brian Skoyles, Julian Cundiff and Tom Dove.

I’ve known Brian and Jules for ever but it was my first meeting with Tom and what a fine young lad he turned out to be. He’s young, has his head screwed on and is destined to enjoy a great career in angling if he sticks at it. Already he’s had plenty of BIG carp and he’s not been affected by it at all. What’s more he’s managing to juggle a career with catching fish and it’s a tall ask for anyone. Ask Brian or Jules if you see them.

Shop open days are always interesting occasions as you’re never sure  how many people will turn up or where their interests lie as locations can vary significantly. Anyway, Norwich was good even if the road between my hotel and the shop was closed off for repairs – thank the Lord for Sat Nav technology, eh?

It’s rare to attend a shop and not gain a bit of knowledge or get an invite to some obscure but wonderful fishery and this one didn’t let us down so I guess I’ve got to arrange a trip back to deepest Norfolk as soon as I can clear a space in the diary.

One guy we chatted with had the most amazing carp tattoo’s on his leg but most of the real laughs we had centred around Jule’s and Tom’s obsession with rigs. Both insist on changing their entire rigs each time they catch a fish or even if they don’t. To me it’s madness but if you do happen to doubt it, check out Jule’s rig box – and he carries four of them with him!

It’s not always the big things you learn which make a difference though. I didn’t realise you could get tiny hook point protectors which, if like me, you leave your rods set up until the next time you go fishing, will protect the most vital area of your entire kit from getting damaged.

And then there’s the baits on offer. Angling Direct actually sell frozen maggots and I can’t understand for the life of me why more shops don’t do this. Dead maggots are fantastic fish catchers, especially on silty bottoms or when you’re using a groundbait feeder. On lakes they’re brilliant for tench, bream and carp although I’ve used them specifically to target big roach and perch in the past. On rivers there’s hardly a better winter barbel bait.

I chose to make a weekend out of the Norwich leg of my journey. After all it’s a near 4-hour drive away so Sue and I checked into the The Nelson Premier Inn which sits right on the side of the Wensum in the heart of Norwich – which happens to be a capital city for hen nights galore and all manner of mayhem. It’s also directly opposite the railway station and over the road from the Compleat Angler pub.

Of course, I had to check out Norwich City’s ground as it would be rude not to. What a fine ground. Delia’s restaurant was doing good business and of course, Stephen Fry has just signed up as a director. Oh, and I can thoroughly recommend the Thai Lanna restaurant. I also found a pub just off the river serving Theakston’s Old Peculiar – a speciality of the Masham brewery in North Yorkshire. What a pleasant surprise!

I only saw one angler on the Wensum and he was fishing in the dark. Aparently he was on ‘dad duties’ and would be taxiing his lad home when the party finished. He’d had a bream and a few bits and pieces on maggot feeder but I’d much rather fancy a bash here in the winter when, I’m reliably assured, shoals of roach turn up and provide fantastic sport. Apparently there are a few really big carp around, too.

State Of The Nation(al) Speech

Meanwhile, a hundred miles or so to the north, 670 anglers had lined the Trent that same day to compete in the Angling Trust Ist Division National Championships. The ever versatile Starlets won the event with an average 49.8 points per man.

Now for those who are ignorant of what team fishing entails, catching huge weights of barbel, bream or chub is irrelevant except to a few lucky individuals. Indeed any team going all-out with a team plan to target big fish would fail miserably because you have ten anglers spread out over ten sections of river with a random draw within each section and that would mean several anglers in your team would probably blank.

It would be easy to believe that every swim on the Trent is full of specimen fish but that is simply not the case. The bigger fish are not spread evenly and huge areas are practically devoid of barbel and chub in summer. Those that are there will hardly be unaware of 670 anglers setting up at the exact same time along with stewards, bank runners, spectators, dog walkers, hikers and boats all adding to the disturbance, plus it is staged through the middle of the day.

The National is a team event. It’s about team plans and your job as a team member is to gather points. Individual glory is secondary. The key to success is consistency through all ten sections. Dip in just one section and the chances are you’ll fail as a team. The target is two kilos per man if you’re lucky, but realistically if every single team player nets at least one kilo of fish you will be up there in the running for honours.

Take Barnsley as an example. Five anglers had a kilo, one had 2, another 3 while Eddie Bridon had whacking five (11lb). Not what you would call earth shattering but because two anglers failed to make the required one kilo they dipped out and finished fourth some 44 points behind Starlets.

Maver VDE were remarkably consistent over 7 sections but dipped in 3. It meant they finished an agonising 4 points adrift. Just a smattering of silver fish between those three anglers would have won them the UK’s premier team event. It’s not the spectacular hauls that win National team events it’s the scratchers who land you titles.

As it happens the lowest average  weight per angler in any section was more than a kilo. Four sections, that’s almost 300 anglers averaged over 2 kilos per man, near enough 5lb. This is why anglers have to target silver fish and why they have to stick at if for five hours as it takes time to build a swim. Only nine anglers blanked – a far cry from the banner headlines in Angling Times a few years back when they declared the river was offically ‘dead’ after a disastrous National.

But let’s not forget the weather has been kind. River levels and colour have been good this year and temperatures rather moderate.

You always have a good idea which teams will do well in a National – Starlets, Barnsley, Trentmen, Shakespeare, Drennan NorthWest and so on. They will be there or there abouts because they have strength in depth, understand the mentality and have the strength of character to see a team plan through. But even they will have to overcome some difficult draws.

For example, Andy Renton was fishing for Doncaster and District. Andy is a vastly experienced match angler. He was also a member of the DVSG specimen group for several years and he’s had more than his fair share of big Trent barbel and multiple catches of barbel, believe me. I’ve even seen him catch 70lb of chub from the Stainy canal. The guy can fish, has great temperament and knows the Trent well yet he returned a miserly 120g (about 4oz) for a pitiful 7 points. I doubt he could have changed a great deal either.

Web Warriors Are So Predictable

The individual outcome is slightly more predictable. Only a given number of pegs out of the 670 can produce a winner and to win a National on the Trent today you have to beat the man who draws permanent peg 1A on Collingham weir. However, even that isn’t as predictable as the outbursts of the keyboard warriors on the Internet who you can guarantee will slaughter whichever angler draws the peg. All eyes are on the man who draws this flier because he’s going to catch barbel and put them in a keepnet.

How dare he?!!!!

Well those are the rules in match fishing. You catch fish, you put them in a net, they are weighed by stewards at the end and they’re then returned to the river. Collingham offered their top stretch, as did Barnsley with Hazelford and Fiskerton. So did Worksop, Newark, Nottingham and so on. The individual clubs wanted the revenue that a National generates. Call it greed if you like but complaining afterwards is futile so I had a degree of sympathy with the winner, Stephen Collett of Farnborough and District AS.

Stephen actually wrote to me afterwards about the stick he’d taken on Internet forums by those who are completely ignorant of any facts. I’m sure he won’t mind me pointing out that he actually knows his barbel because he’s a multi-disciplined angler. In the week following the National he actually netted a brace of 13-pound barbel, caught by design. You see he’s a barbel angler as well as a matchman and he understands how to care for barbel.

In my view it’s simply down to jealousy because he blanked during the first hour of the event yet he still managed to net 20 barbel in the last 4 hours of the match. Now three parts of his knockers would struggle to land 20 barbel in a season and most of these would come during the hours of darkness. My advice to these pathetic individuals is get a life!

All 20 fish swam away strongly and safely, which is what barbel do when they’ve been properly rested in a keepnet despite what those who would have them banned bang on about. It’s a sad fact of life but the chances are more barbel die every year at the hands of supposed experienced barbel anglers than ever do in those of match anglers. Feel free to discuss it by all means but you only have to watch the endless weighing and photgraphing of mediocre sized fish by the ‘serious’ anglers out there to realise they’ve got their principles in a complete muddle.

To then pan others is somewhat hypocritical. Like I said, get a life guys. (And it’s always guys…)

Stupid Punts…

Sunday saw us hit the road and head over towards Abingdon on the Thames, via Cambridge. Well, that was the plan. We were due to meet up with Peter Smith and Katherine and spend a few days on his newly acquired boat, a rather smart, high powered cruiser. Unfortunately he’d had a catastrophe at the hotel and a tree had blown down blocking the drive completely. That meant guests could neither arrive or leave until it was sorted. I’ll not bore you with the details but it meant he would be a day late arriving.

We spent the afternoon wandering around Cambridge, one of England’s fine cities. As tempting as it was to rent a punt I resisted because the number of clowns on the river without a clue as to how you control a pole were causing mayhem. There was near gridlock in some places and those who were enjoying a tipple hardly helped matters. But it was fun to watch!

The buskers in Cambridge are a class apart from the towns of my experience. Clearly there is much competition for the tourist pound and you get far more than a miserable git with a dog on a string shaking a begging bowl. In Cambridge you don’t just get the solo guitarist, either. You get the full band including full drum kit. The lone performers seek other ways to grab attention as this photo shows.

The journey in on the Park and Ride took us past United’sfootball ground and it looks a little miserable compared with Carrow Road but I guess that’s the difference between spending most of your existence trading in the lower leagues as opposed to the giddy heights of the Championship and beyond. Norwich didn’t belong in League One and they proved that by winning it at a canter after a 7-1 mauling by rivals Colchester on opening day last year. What I like about the club is they quietly got on with getting promoted at the first attempt and didn’t ram it down everyone’s throats what a big club they are and that they deserved to be in a higher league ‘where they belong’. A lesson some others might learn.

…And Dreamy Spires

We headed over to Oxford that evening and booked into Gorselands Hall, a fabulous B&B built in that buttery Cotswold stone from the tip of roof to the very foundations. Comfy rooms and a memorable breakfast. I wouldn’t hesitate to stay there again.

Back home the choice of eateries is pretty dismal but there’s an abundance of great foody pubs in the clearly more affluent South. We picked out the Royal Oak at Ramsden, which happens to be in David Cameron’s constituency, and ate there. Great food and the the special guest beer was Wye Valley Ale. Quite fitting as that’s where Peter was stuck and was the reason for me being there in the first place.

The delay in Peter’s arrival meant we could spend the day in Oxford itself, the city of dreaming spires. No sign of Morse though and not a murder in sight. Just lots of spectacular architecture and a reminder of the UK’s heritage and lost skills. The beauty of the stone masonry simply has to be admired. Oxford is a grand city and one I’ll return to when I get a chance.

Welcome Aboard My Gin Palace

We eventually wound our way round to the marina in Abingdon to meet Peter and Katherine, via a local hostelry, of course, to check out his new toy and our floating gin palace for the next two nights. Actually it’s not a gin palace, it’s a floating wine cellar. He’s got bottles stashed in every nook and cranny, or so it seemed!

It’s a cracking little boat and we cruised our way up and down the river for a while, catching up and of course sharing the odd glass or three before mooring up somewhere in the middle of no-where. Out came the disposable barbecues for Peter to cook on and in the blink of an eye I had a rod assembled and ready to go. It perhaps wasn’t the best of evenings weather wise, a bit blowy but I soon had a float purring through. Alas bites were few and far between but you can’t have everything.

The days that followed were sublime. The Thames is a truly fabulous river, far prettier than the Trent with lots of backwaters to explore. I’m sorely tempted to buy a weir permit as it wouldn’t take too many trips to justify the outlay. I caught some nice roach, a few chub, the odd skimmer, a bleak and even a perch, all on corn. Indeed I wish I’d had some hemp and a few maggots with me.

Sadly this trip was all a bit rushed as Peter was hampered by the need to sort out a load of paperwork for the boat. Everything was paid for, the EA had it all on record but the vital bits of paper that Peter needed for peace of mind were not quite in his grasp and we all know what bureaucracy is like.

It was also Peter’s birthday which called for more drink and a slap-up meal in a riverside pub. I could easily get to like this boating lark and Sue’s already pestering the life out of me over such a possibility. Hmmm, a boat on the Trent…

Boats open up so much water to an angler. Moreover, they can make the exploring and studying of a river so much easier. It wasn’t until the day we were heading home that we bothered using the boat’s Lowrance depth finder – honestly, it wasn’t that kind of trip – well, not this time. But as we chugged along it was so easy to see that you might sail half a mile with little change in depth or features. You’d pick out the occasional fish, too, maybe a chub or pike, who knows even a carp and then suddenly you’d happen upon a shoal of fish, presumably bream as there’d be scores of them spread over 50 yards.

I learned more about the Abingdon reaches of the Thames in a couple of hours than I could possibly hope to in a couple of seasons, probably longer. What could I learn about the Trent?

Alas on Wednesday the heavens opened and we decided to leave Katherine and Peter in peace. We drove home to snatch a night in our own bed before hitting the road again on Thursday. This time we were Manchester bound with some friends with rooms booked in the rather grand Midland Hotel.

Bolton Wanderer…

It is one of the truly grand railway hotels that were built around the turn of the century, in this case when cotton was king. All red brick, burmantoft terracotta and polished granite it’s certainly very imposing and the list of celebrities who have stayed there includes Paul McCartney, the Beckhams, the Spice Girls, George Best, Mike Tyson, Jennifer Lopez, Luciano Pavarotti members of the royal family and various Prime Ministers. However the Midland is perhaps most famous for being the meeting place of Charles Stewart Rolls and Frederick Henry Royce leading to the formation of Rolls-Royce Limited in 1906.

Anyway it was my birthday on Friday when I would meet up with friends and family for a few surprises. I didn’t take my camera so it’s a big thanks to John and Pauline Walsh for taking the following pics on our trip. On the way over we stopped off at the Trafford Centre for lunch (Italian) and who was eating in the restaurant but Pete Waterman. Unfortunately I had food in front of me when we spotted him and he was just leaving but it would have been interesting to have a chat.

And just for the sake of completion, we ate Tapas that evening!

On Friday, my birthday, we headed over to Bolton, Peter Kay country (why do I hear Lee Swords saying ‘Double header!’at the merest mention of Peter Kay’s name?) to attend a food fayre. Or should I say Dr Fred Dibnah land – where else would they erect a statue to a steeplejack? Must say I like Bolton as it doesn’t break the bank to park your car. I didn’t mention it cost us nearly £20 to park the car overnight in Manchester, did I? What a bleeding rip-off!

Anyway, as good as the fayre was we perhaps should have been there a day later when the Hairy Bikers were appearing as the special guests. Instead we watched a somewha non-celebrity chef showing how to cook dustbin sourced food. Is it me or has the cult of the TV chef used up every worthwhile idea under the sun and now the BBC is making programmes about cooking food that the shops have thrown away? Talk about scraping the bottom of a barrel.

I’m all for not wasting food but get real. The Great British Menu chefs had a food hygienist checking the safety of the stuff they’d supposedly recovered from dustbins. Come on? For years these same chefs have hammered home the need for quality, fresh ingredients. This is fly fishing for barbel without a point on the hook (Mr Bailey!) Pointless to the extreme and downright bloody dangerous if it were to be practised widely.

And can you see the security staff allowing you to rummage through the bins behind Tesco? In fact I’m tempted to write to my local hypermarket and ask the manager what days he throws away the best meat cuts and see what his reaction is.

It’s irresponsible TV.

Anyway, we came away loaded with bags of show specials that we never went with the intention of buying and we’d sampled about 50 different tasters like children given free reign in a sweet shop. Ain’t chutneys, jams and bottles of wine heavy and doesn’t the plastic carrier dig into your fingers after a while?

I also decided German beer isn’t as good as Theakston’s.

‘Out’ On The Town

By Saturday morning the week’s excesses were beginning to catch up. Could I possibly eat another cooked breakfast? Of course I could! On the celeb radar actor Marc Warren (Life on Mars, The Hustle, Messiah, Terry Pratchet’s Hogfather, etc) was eating alone just two tables away but we decided not to bother him. In any case my gaydar alert was going haywire. You see, today was the day of Manchester’s Gay Pride Procession and we planned to go and have a butchers at it.

Now you can all calm down as you’re not about to read the most unexpected out-of-the-closet revelation in the history of angling! No, it was just a bit of laugh really. You should worry more about those who’re in denial! Frankly I didn’t know what to expect but I have to say it was all a bit of a giggle and yes, it was a quite amazing spectacle. Fortunately I’m not quite as far back in the dark ages as me old mum (90) who, when told we’d been there came out with the immortal, “They’re everywhere these days. They’re even in soap operas!”

Anyway we positioned ourselves on Dean St about 40 yards away from this religious protest group who bleated out their bigotry and waved banners at all and sundry on the parade. If it was ever going to kick off we’d at least be in the pound seats but to be honest it was all handbags, if you’ll excuse the choice of expression!

The floats were certainly entertaining even if it wasn’t quite carnival in Rio. Sir Ian McKellen led the way in an open topped car. The cast and crew of Coronation danced around on the first float and the next two hours was pretty much a blur of floats and marching bands. Each individual group was it’s own moving theatre performance with all the various police, ambulance, fire and armed forces represented, hospitals, banks, corporate businesses, you name it. There were just so many floats and performers and the interesting bit for me was the way sport was represented.

We saw gay football teams, rugby, swimming, water polo, athletics you name it. All walks of life were represented and some were clearly not gay as we actually knew a few of the individuals on the corporate floats personally. They were there to show support and compete for the pink pound which set me thinking. I don’t actually know any openly gay anglers* and the only time I’ve ever heard homosexuality mentioned in an Internet fishing context is when it has been used in an entirely negative way or in an attempt to smear an adversary.

(*Actually that’s not strictly true as I have fished with a couple of lesbians…)

So, how would you feel if the Angling Trust had a float in a gay carnival? And before you laugh off the suggestion, just stop and think for a minute. Angling is very poorly supported in politics, in the media, on TV, in the press and anywhere else you care to mention outside of the angling press which is simply preaching to the converted. We are a country mile behind organisations like the RSPB and every other wildlife organisation. We cannot compete in any way with hunt saboteur types, against PETA or anyone else you care to name.

How do we break free of the insular mentality of ‘let’s ignore the protestors and what does the Angling Trust do for us’. Angling needs to break into the mainstream somehow. It needs to make the world sit up and recognise we’re a valuable asset to both the countryside and to the economy.

You never know. Something like this might be a start, but can you honestly see a single angler doing it? No, and neither can I. But somewhere, somehow, someone has to come up with a new diverse strategy that challenges the norm, that puts us in position where we draw support from other minorities and helps the wider populace see angling as a mature, worthwhile occupation that deserves saving.

Now that will get a few Internet anglers’ pounding away on their keyboards. At least it will give them a break from pounding something else ….

But let me just say it was a great laugh all the same and just in case you’re wondering…, NO !!!!  As Al Murray’s Pub Landlord character would say, ‘I’ve never been confused!’

Planning For A New Adventure

Anyway, while all this has been going on I was rather pleased to see my mug on the front cover of Coarse Fisherman again. A perfect surprise in my 60th Birthday month. However, every spare minute lately has been focused on researching our the next big adventure. I’m getting a bit tired of chasing up mountains and struggling through jungles to catch not a lot. I need to get my string pulled and I want it pulled proper.

Already high on my bucket list is a shark. Doesn’t really matter how big or what species. I ain’t caught one before and I’d like to put that right soon. I also want to catch a species that folks tell me will make the fight of a mahseer seem like that of a pussy cat. By all accounts the best fighting fish in the world, pound-for-pound is a Giant Trevally or GT’s as they are known. This fish, which runs to well over a hundred pounds (if you’re UNLUCKY), smashes rods and smokes reels. You catch them on lures skittered across the surface and the entire experience is supposedly mind blowing.

Well, we’ve now nailed the venue, the boat, the skipper and the flights so come the closed season while folk are uploading counters to their web sites that say things like ’93 days before we can fish for barbel again’, Stu, James and I will be heading off to the Indian Ocean for another adventure of a lifetime. Boy oh boy, I can’t wait!

Just A Few Doubles

Mentioning Stu, we spoke on the phone while I was away:

“How’s it going? Have you been barbelling this week?”  I asked.

“Yeah, me and James went down the other night. We had a few doubles but nothing particularly big…”

He was more concerned about his umbrella leaking than the fish he caught. I ask you, how the other half live, eh? Anyway I told him not to send me any more pictures of him with barbel, send me one of James for a change.

Here he is with one of the ‘not particularly big, few doubles’  at 12lb 8oz! Hello, earth calling Stu, time to get your feet back on the ground, winter’s coming…

Anyway, back to Manchester. The traffic out of the city after the parade was dreadful and while we sat patiently going nowhere who should be stood right next to our car but Sophie (Brooke Vincent) and Sian (Sacha Parkinson) the two girls who gave us Coronation Street’s first lesbian kiss and they were quite happily posing with passers by for photo’s. Now I was all for jumping out of the car (tart that I am) and John was asking Pauline, urgently, “Quick, pass the camera!”

Trust the bloody battery to pack in right at that moment. Oh well. You’ll have to take my word for it. The conversation between John and me on the way home was very much along the lines of:

“I can’t believe some of those women were gay!”

Female voice from the back seat, “You two are bloody homophobic!”

Minutes later, same voice from rear seat, “Did you see those blokes dressed as soldiers (they were wearing helmets, tiny speedos and boots and boy were they pumped!), what a waste!”

Kettle, pot and black sprung to mind…!

The Beat Goes On

Well, the school holidays are all but over so theoretically I should get a bit more time to fish and write but there doesn’t seem to be much sign of a let up in my schedule. I’m scrambling up Mam Tor shortly followed by an activity week in Whitby and a kids fishing presentation to cram in between. I’m really looking forward to attending a cooking course at Jamie Oliver’s restaurant; there’s a pencilled-in open day at Browns of Leighton Buzzard and then I’m heading down to the Bristol Channel for a bit of sea fishing.

No-one would ever say my life is dull or boring but sometimes I’d like nothing more than to just put my feet up for a few days and chill out.

Chance would be a fine thing.   😉

One Swallow And All That…

This summer started with a heatwave in June and promptly fizzled out. Now it looks to be over as swallows are gathering on the telephone wires outside my study window and crapping all over my windscreen. I guess they’re fed up with the weather, too.

Swallows outside my study window today

We Get The Press We Deserve

Here’s a post I placed on a Fishing Magic forum thread recently, reproduced here because I’m not certain many of my readers ever go there these days. The thread was bemoaning the state of angling’s printed medium:

One of the biggest problems with specialist angling magazines is that the best writers are not necessarily the best fishermen, and vice versa.

Of course, we then have the plethora of repeated photographs – same fish, same angler, same capture – which is only made worse when we get the same angler, same fish, but yet another repeat capture of it.

Very few angling writers put sufficient emphasis on their photographs which, to me, is a cardinal sin in this day and age of digital cameras. Compare the layout and photographic quality of say, IYCF to CAT. There’s no comparison.

However, the fundamental difference between the two vehicles (and I’m lumping all speccy mags in one camp and all intstruction led ones in another) is that to create magazines of the highest quality the featured angler has to catch fish to order, normally within the working hours of the staff photographer. And then he has to do it again next month on a different water with a different species/ method/ bait/ etc. Try that for twenty years without repeating yourself…!

Angling magazines do not pay fortunes for the copy and the images they use. Indeed they pay miserably compared with most other media vehicles and this leads to a malaise among some of the contributors who do just enough work to get by.

It’s invariably clear when you read the mags who is taking the ‘Kings shilling’ by the way that certain products are featured. Quite honestly no magazine should be publishing a picture of a grubby product bag of XXX pellets these days unless it’s integral to the article – which you can argue it always is if the ‘writer’ is supplying advertorial copy.

I personally would love to see more balance in features and I do try to adopt those some principles into my writing. Yes I’ll periodically throw in a picture where, say, a bag of bait is prominently positioned in a picture, or you can read what is written on a bag as I load a feeder, say. I will also include material items if I’m describing a technique but in many (indeed the vast majority of) cases I am not sponsored by that company, nor am I receiving any inducement to feature those products.

To suggest Angling Star is unique because it contains freelance articles is a complete misnomer. It is no different to CAT or CF except in the editing and reproduction quality which is somewhat substandard if we’re being totally honest, but let’s just agree to say it is ‘different’.

But back to the point, much of the stuff in other magazines and newspapers is done by freelancers. Do you think Martin Bowler, Des Taylor and Matt Hayes are employed by Angling Times? How many articles are written in CAT and CF by staff writers? Then compare this with how many articles in AS are commissioned and ghosted by Allain Urrity and Alan Barnes, plus those by the editor himself?

To those who say angling blogs are the way forward, I’d agree but only to a point. A blog requires good content and few are able to supply that. Many are repetitive or are simply vehicles used to attack those they do not like. They are often bigoted, lack any sense of humour or warmth. Good blogs are indeed rare, good angling blogs are like rocking horse manure.

Unfortunately they do not pay the bills and therefore they will never be more than hit-and-miss labours of love. But mentioning blogs, did anyone spot the picture of Ron Clay in my last one?

We have the press we have because that is what sells and makes a profit – albeit in some cases a rather small one. The reason why all these brilliant magazines disappear after only a couple of issues is that despite the rhetoric, they do not sell enough copies to attract advertisers or reach profitability.

Those we still see on our newsagent shelves are there because they achieve profitability and by virtue of that they confound this idea that they are bad and have no appeal. Believe it or not IYCF sells something like ten times the number of copies of CAT and CF and these are the two that have survived.

Strange but true, eh?

And finally…

I’m getting lots of emails from blog followers who are keen to know if I will be running any more angling courses on the Wye.

Not yet for 2011...

Well, the simple answer is yes, but not until next year. The bad news is the numbers who are appear keen to come along already exceeds the number of places available. However, talking about coming and paying a deposit which allows us to book the waters 9 months ahead is always the acid test. 🙂

I’m currently sorting out my next summer holiday arrangements and as soon as that’s done we will look at hotel availability. The first course will be announced on this web site as soon as I have definite dates and prices. Those who have written to me asking to be advised of the dates will be the first to hear from me by email but after that it’ll be first come, first served for the remaining places.

I may yet run two courses but time tends to be a bit precious in the summer holidays and it takes me a good week to recover afterwards!

6 thoughts on “2010 – Early September

  1. Hi Bob.

    Im very very interested in a days tuition with you ” on’t Trent ” do you do any private days where you could guide me?

    I had a couple of days on the Wye with Chris Ponsford a few years ago and am a regular customer of the fabulous Wye & Usk Foundation, not doing bad either. 71 Barbel in 4 days at the begining of June, thanks to a few tricks gained watching you on telly. So to have an insight to the places to fish and tactics on the Trent would be fab.

    I have picked up loads of hints and tips from your DVD’s (Barbel Days and Ways) and have the whole set, but to meet you in the flesh and gain some of that magic that you seem to have would be brill.

    As you seem to have an unrivaled knowledge of the river, your the man I need.

    Here’s hoping you have time in the future to make me a happy and more knoledgable angler.

    Well done, brilliant web site and cant wait to see you on Tight Lines again soon.

    Best Wishes

    Mick Brown

  2. Thanks for the enquiry Mick.

    Unfortunately I do not provide a guiding service on the River Trent. Perhaps you might like me to put you in touch with Archie Braddock…?


    Bob Roberts

  3. Mick

    Word of warning, if you have a guest day with Archie (mad as a box of frogs) Braddock you’ll go home smelling of Old Spice/ Brut and it’s got nothing to do with Archie B getting fruity with you either!

    Saying that, i had a day with him a few years ago now and learnt a fair bit and he’s a top bloke to boot (even though some of his ideas are a bit off the wall!!)


  4. Hi Bob.

    Just got back from My 1st trip out Barbelling since mid-July. Another red letter night, managed to get three more doubles.

    Going to Suriname on 1st October to fish for Lau Lau. Counting off the days, can’t wait.

    Another great blog….

    Tight lines,


  5. Hiya Bob,
    I live local to you & enjoy a session on ‘our’ local river.
    I wouldn’t mind a little sesh with You when you have a chance.