Well the long wait is finally over. As June 16th approached I was buzzing to get out on the rivers and start fishing again. Quite what made me so excited this year I haven’t a clue but I was straining at the leash as the big day approached.
My main desire was to dig out the old stick floats and see if I couldn’t catch a chub or three but for the first time in a donkey’s age I just felt I had to be out there at midnight on the 15th. It’s a crazy notion but there you are. So I drove down to the Trent and pitched up in readiness.
The river looked amazing. Sunday’s rain looked to have lifted it by a foot and it was pushing through at a fair old rate of knots but the clarity remained good. The only unsettling observation was that no fish were topping. Usually you can see or at least hear the slaps of barbel tails as the light fades.
Sound travels across water and I’d not even got my gear in the peg when I could hear someone on the far bank talking into his mobile phone, “Yeah, Bob Roberts has just turned up on the opposite bank!” And here’s me thinking that my Infinity Realtree gear is supposed to make me invisible…
By the time I’d set up the rods darkness was gathering so I took up Chris Smith’s offer of a cuppa and joined him in his swim. We put the world to rights over a coffee and a custard cream and then we heard the unmistakable ‘bosh, blippety, blip’ of someone casting in, rapidly followed by a second ‘bosh, blippety, blip’. It was all of 11.30pm!
We both sat it out for another half hour and then got down to business. I hadn’t even loaded the feeder on my second rod when the first one was away. Further up the bank I could hear splashing as Chris was clearly into one as well. It had been my intention to catch myself a barbel and then get my head down for a few hours but there was not a chance of that happening. I was simply buzzing and there was not a chance I’d nod off, so I fished on for a while to get it out of my system.
I was playing a barbel when the alarm went off on my phone, set to wake me at 3.30am. By now the last of the darkness was retreating beneath the hedgerows and I was treated to one of those special Trent dawns where wraiths of mist rise from the water. Once the sun had struggled above the far bank as a watery orange ball of fire it was obvious we were in for a hot one. This was set to be a clear blue sky day.
With everything set up and ready I began feeding maggots beyond the near shelf. I was in no rush and kept it up for half an hour or more until I felt in my mind that the fish would be lined up and gagging for it.
And they were.
I had around a dozen chub on the float with a few good lumps among them. It was good to note, too, that there were a few smaller chub around, weighing no more than a couple of pounds. Unfortunately it turned out there was a snag of some sorts in my swim. It might have been weed, I couldn’t tell but it cost me several fish. I also found myself well undergunned for the barbel that had a look in on me from time to time.
One stripped twenty, maybe 30 yards of line but there’s not a lot you can do except step up to a heavier rod and line but then you’re not chub fishing, are you? Fortunately if you give them enough stick the small hook will pull free and you can get back to what you’re supposed to be doing.
Greg Whitehead from AnglingTimes had called earlier in the week to ask if he might join me and maybe get a few pictures (see spread in Tuesday’s paper for some cracking action shots).
It was good to see him and he was fortunate to get some superb action shots including a series of me playing and landing a barbel. I shall be doing a lot more of the old float fishingwith a bit of luck this season.
The barbel was about six or 7lb which is quite a challenge on light tackle when the flow is ploughing through, as it does, on the tidal Trent. It fought like a demon and by the time I had it in the net it was exhausted so we just stood there, in the water admiring it and allowing it to recover. I’d say it was in the net a good five minutes before I even unhooked it because I could see it was expelling gas bubbles periodically from its gills.
Anyway we took a couple of pictures and then popped it back in the landing net. Across the far side I could hear someone moaning to his mate, “Are they still f***ing about with that fish?” As his mate slipped another barbel into his keepnet.
The answer is, and I do hope he’s reading this, is yes. If you count looking after the welfare of a tired fish as ‘f***ing about’.
Later on a dead barbel came floating past. It was a big ‘un, too. Greg and I ran down the bank to intercept it, just to see it it had been ottered but it clearly hadn’t. Probably a spawning casualty that had been dead for a while, the only visual damage being a trailing bit of intestine but that could have happened in all manner of ways as it undoubtedly had come over several weirs.
As I packed up I dropped in and said goodbye to Chris who was fishing a hundred yards above me.
“What do you make of that prat?” He asked.
“Dunno, which one?”
“Him over there. When that barbel came floating down he asked his mate if he thought it was the one you caught yet you were miles below it!”
I smiled. Some folk do like to moan, don’t they? Although this incident does highlight how some of the rather cynical rumours spread and not necessarily out of malice, just warped perspective and maybe ignorance.
In the UK we have three different barbel organisations operating on a National scale, the Barbel Society, the Barbel Catchers and the Barbel Specialists. If you were to combine the entire membership I doubt it would add up to a thousand souls in total. Indeed it might only be 500 or so.
Each has its own constitution, AGM, meetings, magazines or newsletters, seeks fair treatment for the species, wants to carry out research and conservation, has a limited degree of political will yet they seem to fall out with each other all the time like nine-year-olds. Surely it would be better if we had ONE group to represent the species ?
The underlying problem as I see it is that each group want to represent their members and preserve their power bases when the prime focus ought to be on the fish itself. I (with Stu Walker) delivered a presentation to the Conferences of all three groups last year and in all honesty the guys we met were absolutely spot on. Warm, friendly, generous and welcoming.
So how come they don’t rub along together in harmony when they share the same interests? Why are they multiplying administration costs? Why are they duplicating jobs? Why are they creating three pamphlets rather than one cracking magazine? Why can’t they have one press spokesman who could earn the respect of the various magazines and newspapers and be their sole point of contact?
I know that there are open sores between individuals, wounds that apparently won’t heal and folk who seem unable to bury the past and move on, but one of the fundamental principles of management is this:
If two people always agree then one of them is useless and you should get rid of him.
If two people always disagree then they’re both useless and you need to get rid of BOTH.
The barbel is under increasing pressure from predation, from abstraction, from habitat destruction and a whole host of other issues. Well meaning folk are running round in circles to achieve very little and they are not getting the public recognition they deserve. Meetings up and down the country are attracting abysmal turn-outs. Membership numbers are, shall we be kind and say, in a state of flux.
Get your acts together folks before it’s too late. It’s no good clinging on to the past, look to the future and unite – carpe diem!
I had an email recently from someone who was once well-connected within barbel’s inner sanctum before he retired, with a degree of grace it must be said, however he appears to have lost a bit of that grace…
The little tinca sent me a couple of images asking if I thought there was an uncanny similarity. “Don’t you dare put them on the site,” He added, “I shall deny everything!”
Yeah, right! Like he thought I wouldn’t 😉
Squeal all he likes but what cannot be denied is the striking similarity between the two pictures, don’t you agree…?
And the look-alikes don’t end there. I was up in the loft one day last week, clearing out some of the accumulated rubbish that we all collect, when I came across a few old cartoons I’d drawn while still at school. Though I say it myself they weren’t half bad for a nipper but one of them struck me as being familiar for some reason and then the penny dropped…
Here’s the sketch:
Now you tell me, does the chap on the left (below) look rather like Allan Parbery, boss of Mistral Baits? Don’t know who the chappie on the right looks like though…
There’s Nothing Quite Like Blowing Sunshine Up Your Own Orifice!
It’s been a year and more since I launched this web site after receiving about half an hour’s instruction and an article written on four sides of A4 paper explaining how to add images. Honestly I thought it would be a nightmare but it’s been anything but. As time has gone by I’ve grown to love having the freedom and opportunity to publish practically anything I want without editorial interference.
Editors come in many guises. Some you’d trust with your life, others give lots of encouragement and guidance. Others you wonder whether they could spell dimwit without an electronic spell checker! And sometimes you get one that actually alters what you’re saying because he thinks he knows better.
I had one of them once. Only once, mind. Despite going out and catching a 30-odd pound carp on float tactics for the images this bloke decided to re-write the entire article and published a ‘how to catch using a sunken float’ piece. I have never in my life used such a method and doubt I ever will. Needless to say I didn’t write anything else for that gentleman!
In the harsh commercial world your articles are always at the mercy of the advertising team. If they can sell an extra quarter page then your article is at risk of being shortened by that amount. Advertisements pay for the editorial and therefore take priority.
In the real world adding extra pages to a magazine costs a lot of money and it doesn’t matter how fabulous your contribution to the editorial content is, or how good your pictures are, the publisher will never sanction extra pages unless they are paid for by even more advertising.
On the Internet you can pretty much create as much content as you like and no-one has to worry about budgets or profits and that’s a freedom which appeals to me. Unfortunately it’s addictive, as others have found out. Hours, even days can be lost when you get stuck into something you’re enjoying doing.
But I have to say there is a degree of vanity involved in being a blogger or in contributing to any web site – even if it’s just a few posts on a forum – and claims to the contrary are a load of bullshine. No one does it for the money because there isn’t any, so what other altruistic reason is there?
Stop fooling yourselves folks, it’s ego driven, be honest with yourselves for a change!
And why do folk puff out their chests and spout bile on forums (should that be fora?) when they could just as easily send a private email? It’s because they want to be noticed. They want to sound knowledgeable and important, to impress their peers. Usually they’re about 5 foot 7 with an inferiority complex but us six foot plussers have to live with that!
I guess when it comes to the real currency of c*ck measuring it’s the stats that count or to be precise Google Analytics. Some think that it’s about the number of messages left beneath each article but let’s get real here, it’s not a forum. Indeed the disgraceful behaviour of a small number of bullies on the angling forums all-but killed them off. Compared with the number of posts and hits of say 5 years ago the traffic today must be pretty disappointing to the owners.
So how is this site doing?
According to Google, since launching the site its popularity has grown steadily rather than dramatically. Like most site owners I check my Google Analytics religiously (they don’t contain the word anal by accident!) although the daily information means very little. Hits can suddenly double or suffer a big dip for no apparent reason. Beyond this, Saturdays are always a rubbish whereas Mondays tend to be good. However, this is how things stood just before the river season opened:
As you can see, there have been more than 70,000 visits to the site of which 36,000 or so are ‘absolute unique visitors’. Page hits are steadily approaching a quarter of a million, a figure that should be exceed sometime during July, all being well – that will be quite a milestone in my view. Thank you.
Of course if you don’t like that then you can always p*** off and read someone else’s blog! Only kidding. 😉
Well, that’s not strictly true. There are some who I would gladly deny access but it’s a small price to pay for the advertising they provide by constantly harping on about me. Quite why they keep coming back and then writing about what I write in their own blogs and on obscure forums is beyond me. Shows a lack of imagination if you ask me.
Just praying for a mention, I guess, so you can rest assured the last few paragraphs draw a mention or two!!!
Or, as Bob the Fish would put it:
And there’s one worm who’s guaranteed to bite…
So We Think We Have Problems With Syndicate Waters…
Or Day Tickets, Even…
I accepted a commission from Angling Times last week to feature a stretch of the Trent that offered a variety of species and was available on a day ticket. Good parking and night fishing would be deemed an even bigger bonus. Now I will take every oportunity I get to promote river fishing because if we ain’t careful there won’t be any river fishing except on poxy little up-their-own-backsides syndicates. Clubs are going skint and they simply cannot afford the rents any more. Even the Barbel Society has had to give up an excellent stretch of the River Severn.
No, it’s short sighted to pretend everything’s okay and selfish to want everything for yourself on your terms.
I originally plumped to cover Burton Joyce/ Shelford but it looks like no day tickets any more from Stoke Bardolph Weir to just above Gunthorpe on the old Notts Fed stretch as Ashfield Angling have taken it over.
I gather day tickets for the road length will be available for an inflation busting £7.50 Alas no-one was available for comment at Ashfield and with a pressing deadline I had to choose an alternative. A cheeky Fiskerton feature did spring to mind but I decided against that as day ticket and match anglers now have to fish in dead men’s shoes when the night shift goes home.
So I plumped for the A1 Pits length. Hmmm, that went down well then according to their forum…
Apparently I’ve never fished there. Well, I joined the forum and put them straight on the facts as you can see.
And just for the record, this is me fishing the very stretch in 1984:
Note that there are no electrification overhead wires in those days. In fact I could have used a different picture with an old yellow Inter City 125 train going over the bridge.
And here’s me again 20 years later, note the electrics:
Funny how folks turn up and suddenly they think they own a place, isn’t it? Talk about Little Englanders!
Where Is Everyone?
I walked a short stretch of a local river last night. Normally I avoid fishing there because it is rammed out with the kind of anglers who give the sport a bad name – littering, lighting fires and other anti-social behaviour – but astonishingly there were only two guys fishing, almost identically it seemed, quiver tipping meat. One had caught three chub, the other a chub and a barbel, his boris weighing an ounce under 6lb which is a fine fish for such a small river.
I saw loads of small chub flitting around in the clear, shallow water and if it stays like that I might just sneak down for an hour next week when everyone’s at school or at work.
I’ve crossed the Don at Sprotborough Falls around half a dozen times since the season opened and there’s hardly been a car parked next to the river.
Same on the little river I spend the odd hour on. Dropped down for a couple of hours just to see if I could get in a decent swim and there was only one other car on the whole stretch. Normally I avoid this length because of the crowds.
I actually think Lee, who’s put on a few pounds since I first met him, likes to fish with Martin because it makes him look slim and waif-like. You see, Martin is a big bloke and you wouldn’t want to try and squeeze through the same turnstile with him at a football match!
Lee, as everyone knows, is occasionally outspoken and a bit of an extrovert while Martin is as quiet as the proverbial church mouse. Even their fishing styles differ radically but they seem to rub along together fine.
Anyway, Martin launched his own blog last year and he’s gradually getting into the swing of things. His aim was to restrict his blog purely to fishing matters, which is easy during the summer, but like everyone else he found the winter was tough going with not a lot to report on the fishing front so rather than compromise his ideals he launched a second blog containing various things that tickled him. Take a look, it contains some really funny stuff.
I’m guessing it’s only a matter of time before we have Swordsey on the blogging scene. Now THAT will be interesting providing he doesn’t get locked up for some of his less rational outbursts!
Take this retort on BFAMW by former ally, Mike ‘Whiskerton’ Joyce:
Yep, old Fat Fred has joined the land of the bloggers. If you want to know what he had for his tea last Tuesday, tune in. If it keeps him off other sites, it may not be a bad thing. Just think yourselve’s lucky that Frampoodle hasn’t ventured forth. We’d then have the father, son and holy ghost “blogging” us to within an inch of our lives.
Crikey, give the bloke a chance to get started – and do remember, reading these blogs isn’t compulsory, Mike. On the other hand you could maybe write your own blog and then we can all read about the fascinating life you must lead.
‘Went to the secret place, cant tell you what I did or caught, saw a cuckoo, a wasp and a dwarf, came home, went to bed. Can’t wait for next time… PS: Sorry about there being no pictures.’
On the other hand he might stick to ‘what he had for tea last Tuesday’ and tell us nothing about his catches because it’s HIS blog. That’s how blog’s work. Bloggers write whatever they like about whatever takes their fancy and those who are interested can read it. Those who aren’t needn’t bother. In fact why are you reading it in the first place, Mike?
Smacks of jealousy to me.
Or window licking…
And we mustn’t forget Dave Burr who’s also branching out into the forbidden world. Dave, a former policeman and Barbel Society secretary retired to the wilds of the Welsh borders and seems to be at peace with the world again. Indeed I hope to be meeting up with him shortly to share a pint and a few tales.
Perhaps he’ll tell you what kind of ale it was in his blog!
An angling blog that makes me chuckle is indeed a rare beast but so far Monty Dalrymple (clearly a made-up name) is making a fair fist of it. He does swear occasionally so if your ten-year-old is reading this, ask them what the words mean.
And what is it about these folk in the Welsh borders suddenly all writing blogs? You could pretty much lump Steve Pope into that category, too.
Shouldn’t they be made available in Welsh language versions or will they be restricting their reports to matters pertaining to the English Ditch?
How Much Bait?
I’m hoping that customers who purchased Barbel Days and Ways Volumes 3 & 4 have had their eyes suitably opened regarding bait behaviour and barbel reactions to it but it won’t end the usual paranoia surrounding bait application. It’s usually around the third or fourth week of the season when those who have failed to set the world on fire start looking to blame others for their failures.
So does the amount of bait introduced by others have such a detrimental effect. Well, you may feel I had reasonable cause for concern when I spotted a forum post by someone who is intending to fish one of stretches I frequent on the tidal Trent. He wrote:
“Tidal swims cleared and baited, everything prep’d ready to go!
Another 100kg of particle to work through before kick off on Tuesday night and away we go.”
I can think of some who would have apoplexy about such a selfish act (in their view). My feelings were good luck to the bloke. If he catches a shedful of fish he’ll have earned and paid for them. But the chances are he’ll attract a load of bream and carp for his troubles.
On the positive side he’ll most likely have spread his bait all over the place and in doing so will have weaned the fish off naturals and on to anglers’ baits.
And it appeared to have no impact on anyone’s fishing where I was fishing on opening day. Makes you wonder what the fuss is all about, eh?
Sometimes I’m rather pleased that fishing gets a bit harder as the season progresses because the opening weeks tend to be a bit easy, don’t they? Fish everywhere, completely gullible and just waiting to take our baits. Won’t be long before they wise up though, will it?
I was out again during the first week and this time took in an intimate river rather than the wide expanses of the Trent. The first thing that struck me was what a complete and utter b****x we have with the closed season. The very first swim I looked at was heaving with chub – literally dozens and dozens of them, and still in spawning mood.
I fired out some bait and they were competing for it like there was no tomorrow. Interestingly the fish would confuse feeding with spawning and the next thing you’d have would be a bunch of writhing shapes trying to have sex.
I watched, took a few pictures and then moved on elsewhere. Catching would have been so easy as to be pointless. It would also have been ‘gloriously’ irresponsible.
It took me two casts in a different swim to catch a barbel. A couple more to hook a second. As I watched it battling in the crystal clear water a second fish chased up and swam alongside it. No prizes for guessing what that fish had in mind.
I then worked my way downstream. Floating weed was making presentation a bit tricky but the fish were definitely in a feeding mood. Shame about the weather though, overcast and showery. I had a ball in one particular swim where i was able to climb into a small tree and watch the fishes reactions to my bait.
It’s fascinating to see a barbel make a mistake. The shake of the head tells you it’s hooked and strangely they don’t run all that far when there’s not a lot of pressure on them. Only when you pick up the rod and give them a bit of stick does the fighting actually start.
I could have continued and caught some more but five barbel and a few chub in four hours was more than enough to satiate me for one day.
Somehow me thinks it’ll get a lot harder in the coming weeks.
Cor – What A Picture!
He fished the Dove, which traditionally is a bit of a slow starter, and popped out this scraper double as dawn was breaking. It was one of three good fish he had and it simply captures the magic of why we go fishing.
And if you want to know how we do it, just buy the DVDs. On the other hand you might enjoy blanking. Each to their own!
Away We Go
The Championship football fixtures were released last week and it comes as no surprise that Donny are away on the opening day of the season, on Boxing Day and on the final day, too. That makes it three years in row that it’s happened. Why should it matter, you ask, everyone has to play 23 home and 23 away games.
Well it just happens that crowd-wise those are three bumper attendance days and we could certainly do with an extra few bob in the coffers as we compete against ‘rivals’ who have a track record of throwing money around they haven’t got while we have to stick within strict budgets.
Tell you what though, the old fixtures don’t half look tasty this coming season. There are no easy games in the Championship. The away games are predictably tough and our opening home fixtures will be pretty challenging as we take on Bristol City, Hull, Norwich, Leeds, Forest, Derby, and Sheff Utd in that order.
Do you know, I’ve looked but I can’t find our fixtures against Sheffield Wednesday anywhere. Is there some kind of mistake? Without those six points I can see us struggling to stay up this season…
Vuvuzelas, Erratic Balls, Shrek And The Italian Job
I’m dreading next season. Bad enough that we already have one idiot who thinks he improves the atmosphere at our Catherdal Of Hope with his incesant drumming (Cathedral? Well, we seem to pray for a regular miracle there). Next season we shall see those with limited brain cells trying to deafen everyone near them with their ten bob eBay vuvazelas. Not only are they an infernal distraction I’m sure they’re bad for both our hearing and the players concentration. I can also see them leading to flared tempers and possibly violence.
Imagine taking up that seat you have purchased for the whole season only to find a six-year-old with his shaven headed, tattooed dad sat behind you, brandishing his treasured vuvuzela and blowing it your ear for the next 90 minutes.
Then remember he’s going to do that for the whole of the season…
When I heard a comment about erratic balls at the world cup I actually thought they were talking about John Terry because his erratic balls have cost us at least one good footballer (who must now be thinking Terry did him a favour) from the world cup squad…
But what of the other Wayne, isn’t he having a stinker? Old ‘R-o-o-n-e-e-y’ not only needs a shave but he also needs to put in a decent shift sometime soon or he’ll be on the next flight home and it won’t be to a heroes reception.
Sadly he’s not alone. Algeria were widely regarded as the weakest team in the entire competition yet they made us look inept. First to every ball, played the better football and were never put under any kind of sustained pressure in the whole 90 minutes. You’d have to say our man of the match was David James and that is embarassing. Oh, and Heskey was our star defender/ sweeper.
Bet old Theo Walcott is thanking his lucky stars he didn’t make the squad either.
But what about that big blunder which allowed one England fan to bypass all the security arrangements and get into the team dressing room where he remonstrated with the team over their inept performance. Are we really supposed to feel upset about this?
Right on, I say. As spokesman for us all I hope he gave them both barrels. One thing’s certain, he was the only one in there who was showing any kind of passion. England were gutless, spinless and completely incompetent. So far they’ve played for about 128 minutes (counting time added on) against mediocre opposition scoring just one goal and that was over two hours ago.
So does the team have any grounds for complaint? One fan expressed his frustration verbally. He didn’t steal anything, he didn’t physically attack anyone, he just told them how we all feel and in doing so showed that the team’s security was as poor as the football.
Lest he should forget, many of the thirty thousand or so fans in the stadium had made real sacrifices to be there and probably spent their entire life savings and he’d just played sh*te – again. If we’re being totally honest it was nice to see them booing because Rooney and the rest of the team deserved it. For a working class kid this overpaid prima donna has rapidly lost touch with his roots.
For the record, I’d like to see him lose a stone in weight, have a shave, sing his heart out to the national anthem and put in a decent shift which includes running after the ball and passing it to players in a better position than himself rather than punting it in the general direction of the nets. Otherwise, f**k off and let someone with true passion have that shirt!
When Fabio Capello was appointed England Coach we were told it was a new start. Discipline and structure would be applied to the talents of our world class players. Players who played against the world’s best week-in, week-out, in the world’s best league, the Premiership.
For this we agreed to take £4m away from grass roots football and give it to this one man, for he was a footballing God and would be worth every penny. He would deliver us success on a plate, at a price.
Oh well. It’s not just old age pensioners who get mugged on their doorsteps by con men, is it?
If this Italian had really wanted to help the Italian team progress through the later stages of the world cup then maybe the best thing he could do, in the circumstances, was to make sure England couldn’t impede their progress.
So, did we get value for money?
Answers on a post card to the FA.
My feelings go out to the ‘expert’ panels who have been turned into a new gospel band, Adrian Chiles and the Apologists – ‘Err, that was truly awful but let’s not get carried away, it’s not over yet, we can still qualify…’
Qualify? We were told we might actually win it, not scrape through with scrappy draws agains USA and Algeria topped off with a desperate performance against Slovenia. Isn’t it time we replaced the likes of Gareth Southgate and Andy bl**dy Townsend with Simon Cowell, Piers Morgan and Sharon Osbourne?
At least we’d get some straight talking honesty.
Piers Morgan: “That’s the worst performance I’ve seen in my entire life. Total rubbish. What’s Capello got to do now to change things Simon?”
Simon Cowell: “It’s obvious Piers, even to someone like me. He’s got to resign.”
One final word. We’ll no doubt claw our way out of this group on Wednesday by some fluke or miracle. But what on earth will we do if we come up against a Germany, a Spain, an Argentine or Brazil? Can we raise our game or would they simply embarass us? Even France would pose a big threat and they were diabolical the other night.
Capello Out! – You heard it here first.
And Mentioning Outing…
You’ll find more stuff like this on Martin’s alter ego site.
Okay That’s Your Lot
It’s been a marathon but I hope you feel it was worth it.
Right, you can all p*** off and go fishing now – that’s an order! The weather’s perfect, the river levels are fine, the fish are feeding and you won’t catch anything sat there with a mouse in your hand…