As we roll headlong into December the fishing isn’t getting any easier but nagging away at the back of my consciousness is the certain knowledge that it’ll get a lot harder before things improve. I spent a pleasant morning throwing lures for no return whatsoever, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The day had dawned grey and misty and it made sense to stay close to home rather than drive any distance in the conditions so I kicked off on a local canal. It’s barely two miles from home but I have never wet a line here, ever. In fact I’ve never set foot on its banks so that would be a novelty.
The trouble with the canals in South Yorkshire is that they connect with the River Don. In fact the canal and river become one in parts and the canals can actually suffer from dirty water after heavy rains. I’m guessing someone had run a load of river water through this canal because it was chocolate brown and there was a load of debris floating on the surface – enough to make a clean cast tricky.
I gave it a little go though but within half an hour I’d got itchy feet. It seldom takes me long to recognise that I’m going to catch nowt. So I moved less than a mile up the road to a small river that looked in better shape than the canal. The beauty of lure fishing is you don’t exactly need a lot of gear. A box of lures, a pair of pliers, landing net and a camera.
The river also failed to deliver although I fished quite hard covering a lot of water in a relatively short time. I even bumped into a fellow piker who had a couple of deadbaits out but he’d seen no action either. Guess it was just one of these days.
I topped off the morning with a few casts on a nearby pond. Again, it’s on my doorstep yet I’d never even walked around it before. Now I know why. Most of it is so shallow that you cannot even run a floating lue through it. Oh well, it’s sometimes nice just to be out in the fresh air.
Trouble is, deciding where to hit next. A trip to the Trent with just a lure rod might be interesting. The exercise would do me good and I’m sure if I put in enough effort something would turn up. But the drains are calling, too, even though they respond better to deadbaits. Oh well, we’ll see.
Is Travelling As Important As Fishing?
There’s a small commercial fishery barely half a mile away from where I’m sitting and although I’ve walked round it a couple of times I’ve never once fished there. Indeed I called in the other morning and got chatting with a bloke who was pleasure fishing for F1’s. He was telling me how he’d had numerous doubles from the place this past summer including fish to over 20lb.
Turned out he knew me from the days when we both fished for the Smithies Team in Barnsley (several lifetimes ago) and it was lovely to chat about the old days and who was still around. I could happily have plonked myself down on the next peg and ‘shot the breeze’ all day. We talked nostalgically of the days when venues like the Middle Level, the Witham, Welland and Trent were the places everyone from our neck of the woods fished, getting up at 5am and regularly travelling two or 3 hours just to get to venues.
Our conversation came back round to commercial fisheries and I asked if he’d heard much about a place just up the road from Worsborough that is stuffed full of orfe, ‘Lewden Springs, you mean? That’s half a mile from where I live! Never fished it though.’ So here we were half a mile from mine on a venue I’d never fished talking about a water half a mile from his that he’d never fished.
It just doesn’t seem like a day out if you haven’t spent 40 minutes at least in the car, does it?
Milestones And Millstones
I’ve been keeping an eye on the traffic through my site in recent days in anticipation of a significant milestone. To be fair the milestone was passed many months ago, possibly a year ago, but the guy who set up my web site moved on from the company he was with and changed the codes for accessing Google Stats. Consequently all my data was lost to me, so I began again from scratch on 8th July, 2010, a little over 4 months ago.
During that time over 20,000 unique visitors have logged on to the site and I’ve been eagerly anticipating the 100,000th page view. I might even have a cup of tea to celebrate when it happens. In the past month alone I’ve recorded 8,500 visitors. That’s way more than I ever envisaged when I set out and it just goes to show how anglers’ reading habits are changing. If Coarse Fisherman could have boasted 8,500 customers a month it would still be in business. The problem is, how on earth do I generate a discernible income from my efforts? It’s not exactly difficult to be a busy fool, is it?
(Footnote: Tuesday 23rd November, 08.37am – Page hits have reached 100,464. I’ll go and put the kettle on!)
Me…? A Kleptomaniac?
I’m currently in the process of revamping my study. Paper was piled everywhere and it was becoming increasingly more difficult to find anything. It’ll be a while before everything’s finished but when it is I’ll have a superb working environment and it’s a good excuse to throw a load of old stuff out but letting go is so hard when you’re a compulsive hoarder.
My notice board was a social history in itself. Unfortunately it’s a habit of mine is to scribble notes and phone numbers on scraps of paper and pin them to the board instead of writing them in the phone book. Consequently I can never find the numbers I need as there’s so many of them. So I had a tidying session but as I dug deeper into the layers of crap that were pinned upon other layers of crap I unearthed a few little gems. Indeed Tony Robinson would make an entire episode of Time Team from the discoveries.
For instance, there was my press pass from the 1994 World Championships (I was with Bob Nudd on the final whistle, the very first to shake his hand and offer congratulations). A pass from the first Fish’O’Mania final at Mallory Park was there, too, along with passes from Chatsworth and the Game Fair. My ticket from the 1993 Conference play-off final when Doncaster Rovers clawed their way back into the Football League. And yes, there’s even a ticket from Elland Road from the same era, Leeds vs PSV Eindhoven. (how the two clubs’ fortunes have changed in that time). There’s a BBC Broadcasting House pass, several rod licenses, my 007 Go Fishing car park pass, an Angling Times Catch Action Winner badge, but trust me when I say this was just a sample of the stuff that had accumulated on my notice board.
I was about to sling the lot and then I thought, hang on…
It’s Christmas – Already!
I don’t listen to much music radio these days and couldn’t tell you which song is topping the singles charts, or even who half of the artists are, outside of those who were created in Cowell’s X Factor sausage factory.
Now I know we’re in the season of goodwill again. I’ll resist the temptation to say it gets earlier every year for fear of sounding like me old mum. But it does. I’m now looking for the first Easter egg.
Vote Wagner – You Know It Makes Sense
Mentioning the X Factor, isn’t it great to see old Wagner doing so well and even funnier to see that sad excuse of a drama queen Cheryl Cole’s attempt to put him down, live on national TV, only for him to put her right in her place? Just who does this prima donna think she is, Betty Grable? But why does this trivial pursuit bring out the worst in me and countless others?
Last year a frustrated public enabled Rage Against The Machine and John Sargeant to make a mockery of the likes of Cowell and Co. This year we’ve Wobblybum and Wagner. Unfortunately, awful as he is, he cannot win outright as the judges will always have the final say. But at least it’s fun to see them squirming.
Four times the public has said we don’t rate Katie Weasel. Four times the judges have saved her. This week it was the Primark version of Chezza in the bottom two, Cher (how original, by the way). Kinda made the whole sing-off a pointless exercise, didn’t it, as the judges were always going to save Cheryl’s Mini-Me. And by the way, isn’t she a sour faced, ugly, spotty faced c**?
Oh, hang on, it wasn’t pointless, was it. Without the sing-off show there would have been no exposure for the cast’s charity single and no good reason to splash one of last year’s losers across our screens and push him straight into the charts. Congratulations Ollie, you’re a real star. Meanwhile as the various finalists of previous seasons slip into uncomfortable obscurity Simon’s record company Syco continues to rake in the cash.
Everything about this show is false, from the judges’ tans and smiles to the voting system. In the same way that New Faces, Opportunity Knocks and Come Dancing had their time, these shows are well past their sell by dates. So vote for Wagner and Wobblybottom. You know it makes sense.
In my Anglers Paradise Netting Party piece I mentioned we were raising funds for various charities. Well, the 5C’s newsletter arrived this morning furnishing details of where all the lolly went. Apparently the grand sum of £4,340 was raised (well done everyone!) and distributed as follows: RNLI (£1,240), Pakistan Flood Victims (£600), The Winsford Centre (£1,500) and Devon Air Ambulance (£1,000). Like I said, the total we’ve raised through the 5C’s Syndicate and Anglers Paradise now tops £50K. A sterling effort all round and here’s to the next big milestone, £100K.
Which brings me nicely to a piece I read this weekend about charity funding in the UK. A remarkable £9.9bn was raised last year (slightly more than we’re spending to bail out Ireland) of which 20% went into medical research and 15% into hospitals and hospices, which sounds about right.
Only 4% went to the elderly while twice that amount (8%) went to animals. However the telling graphic for me illustrated how monies raised compared against the numbers affected.
It is predicted that dementia will affect 1 in 6 of us yet the Dementia UK funding works out at just £2.43p per sufferer. Sounds like you’re far better off being a homeless cat. Even if you split your Battersea Bonus between nine lives you’ll still be 42 times better off than having dementia.
But that sum is nothing compared to the big winner. Out in front by a nautical mile is the RNLI which raises a staggering £5795.30p for each person saved.
The best inventions are those that make you ask, why didn’t I think of that? They’re not the fuel injection systems for space rockets, nor are they the latest computer chip. The best inventions are dead simple and have been staring us in the face for ever.
I bet there are peas scattered around the bottom of your deep freeze. And probably grains of sweetcorn, too? So Birds Eye have launched frozen peas in a zip lock bag.
That’s genius. Like putting strawberries with cream or Baileys on Ice Cream.
The zip lock might have been invented for storing frozen peas. So why didn’t anyone marry the two together until now?
One To Watch
If you’ve a bit of time on your hands try and catch The Accused while it’s still on iPlayer
Episode 1: Willie’s Story
Episode 2: Frankie’s Story
Each is a complete drama in a different setting. Jimmy McGovern, author of dramas like Cracker, The Lakes and The Street, demonstrates just why he’s one of the most powerful television scriptwriters around.
One To Read
I’ll be doing a separate book review on Luke Jennings’ Blood Knots but don’t even bother waiting. Just go out and buy this book. If you are desperate to escape the plethora of car repair manual style angling books this is for you. Shortlisted for the 2010 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction, you’ll not find a finer, better written angling book this year.
Softback editions are available on Amazon for less than £9 and it has received 5-star ratings from every single customer who has responded.
Seriously, you should read it. There’s no better time to drop a hint to your wife, girlfriend, mum, auntie Florrie, or anyone who’ll listen that you’d like it for Christmas.
Look, just buy it anyway. Okay?
Blood Knots is one of a number of books I am intending to review on this site in the next couple of weeks as we run up to Christmas. All will make perfect gifts or stocking fillers.
If A Picture Paints A Thousand Words…
I’ve selected the following images from some submissions to the National Geographic’s 2010 photographic competition. You can actually see a whole host of them here if you wish. It’s worth pouring a cuppa before you do though. Enjoy!
(Cheers for the link John).
It was so tempting to use the bottom image as a photo caption competition, Storm Brewing For Barbel Society, or something like that, but I’ll resist. Indeed, let me take this opportunity to welcome the UK’s fourth society of barbel anglers to the table, the newly lainched ABF. Living proof, if you actually needed it, that antimatter actually does exist.
It is my understanding that the ABF is very keen on sourcing a sack or two of those antiparticles. Apparently you can pile as many in as you like without affecting the fish but caution is advised when using antimatter boilies mainly because the digestion and breakdown rates are much slower.
And I’m hearing rumours that a junior section is a distinct possibility but due to the lack of youngsters in angling these days it is envisaged those who struggle (apparently) to understand plain English will be invited to swell the ranks instead:
Seriously, I wish them all well, even the one who sent a snidey text message to the guy sat on the next table to me in a Wetherby restaurant. We now have a Barbel Society, the Barbel Specialists, the Barbel Catchers and the Association of Barbel Fishers competing for members. Perhaps the Sports Minister should set up a Barbel Quango to look into recruitment, ethics and the effects on minority groups.
It’d be nice if they all joined the Angling Trust though, don’t you think?
Saying that, there’s still room for a fifth barbel group, Stillwater Barbel Society anyone?
The Donnybob Challenge
Weird things happen when you least expect them. I joined a Doncaster Rovers Fans’ Forum as Donnybob around 6 years ago. I don’t get too involved and rarely post, a confirmed lurker you might say. But at least when I do post it’s something constructive.
Gates have fallen off this season and in the lead up to the Swansea game concerns were expressed as to whether Doncaster as a town deserved a successful Championship side, let alone a potential Premiership one. Maybe the novelty of reaching the Championship is wearing thin but losing successive generations of fans to the likes of Leeds and the two Sheffield clubs has stunted our growth somewhat and there’s a degree of bitter truth in the cry, You’re just a town full of Leeds fans. You can even buy Leeds shirts in the town centre HMV for Christ’s sake!
(Mental note: Never, ever spend another penny in HMV)
Anyway, much effort was put into marketing this game to boost the attendance and on the forum I suggested that the Keepmoat could be sold out every week quite easily. All the fans had to do was invite a friend to the match. If each season ticket holder simply introduced one new fan each then the ground would be sold out completely.
I didn’t give the post another thought until someone grasped my idea and turned it into The Donnybob Challenge.
“I’m bringing a couple of friends”, said one guy. Then another reckoned he’d sold five tickets and from there the frenzy grew.
Someone even created this image of the club’s chief executine, Dave Morris, to support the push. And the outcome?
Not only did the home end sell out, the Swansea fans were moved to the East side block of the North Stand so even more home fans could be squeezed in. What a fantastic response! In all the club shifted 13,600-odd tickets making this the highest home gate of the season so far – higher than the derby games against Leeds United, Sheffield United, Nottingham Forest and Derby County – and the ninth highest attendance since the Keepmoat opened.
And most of those fans have no idea I write this blog!!!
I do like the way fans get carried away with their creativity in situations like this and sometimes you simply have to take your hat off to their skills and ingenuity.
Someone must have gone to considerable lengths to add a new tier to the East stand in readiness for the upsurge in ticket sales! Honestly – that upper tier doesn’t exist anywhere except on your computer screen.
But doesn’t it look nice!
Just imagine what this guy could do to images of the fish I catch…
So Was It Worth It?
Just back from the game and feeling completely deflated. It wasn’t what you would call a vintage attacking performance from Donny but they did enough to contain all Swansea’s efforts despite them having by far the lion’s share of possession. Indeed we played like the away side yet could so easily have been out of sight before Swansea’s injury time equaliser.
The last time I saw Rovers play Swansea we had a goal disallowed early on and they then hit us with four in reply from just five attempts on goal. When our first ‘goal’ was disallowed today I couldn’t help feeling history might repeat itself but Hayter’s fifth goal in five games gave reason for optimism.
That goal incidentally made Rovers the first team in the Championship this season to score in each of ten consecutive league games.
Meanwhile Swansea huffed and puffed prettily but the vital killer punch was missing. Sulivan was barely troubled all afternoon as Rovers simply wound the clock down for an hour yet still squandered a couple of gilt edged chances.
And then the fourth official came up with 4 extra minutes. Fergie would have smiled at three, never mind FOUR! And as so often happens Swansea got a break out of the blue. It wasn’t like anyone saw it coming, but what was Cops doing as last man and playing Rangel onside?
Well, some say it was offside, others claim handball but whichever way you look at it, we were punished for one momentary lapse. We’re not called the Arsenal Of The North for nothing you know (neither team can hold on to a lead…)
But as ever, I wish Swansea well. They play the game the right way. Lots of neat tippy-tappy passing! Who knows, we may yet meet them in the play-offs and that would be a delightful contest for connoisseurs of the beautiful game.
Sky Sports News was on the ball though: “Swansea held to a 1-1 draw at home by Doncaster but stay 3rd”. Swansea at home…?
Dingles up next. At Twickenham according to Sky, no doubt!
Old Friends Reunited
The recent piece about friends from Junior school set me thinking. Who really was my closest friend back in those far of days of endless summers and short trousers? Blow me, I only bumped into him at half time during the Swansea game. I attended my first ever Rovers game along with him and his parents, against Rochdale on 19th September, 1959, (at Belle Vue) and we won 2-1. The fixtures for that time make for interesting reading. Rovers’ next four opponents were Southport, Gateshead, Darlington and Aldershot. Not one survives in the NPower League today.
Meanwhile the clueless who follow Man U, City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal have the temerity to talk about being in various stages of crisis. Seriously, they haven’t got a clue!