2010 – Late October Blog

I fished the tidal Trent last week. Although the water level remained high and carried a bit of colour fish activity was parctically zero. For a midweek day I’ve never seen the place so busy with a good ten anglers in less than 800 yards of river. Time for pastures new, I guess.

I fished through the middle of the day, as usual, and during the 4 hours it took me to read the paper I saw one bream and one chub landed. Both to anglers upstream of me. Those below appeared to catch nothing but I’m sure things would improve for them later on as the light went. I just enjoyed a pleasant day reading and relaxing in the sunshine.

I did have a couple of chances, albeit not from barbel. On my first cast I saw no indications but when I came to reel in the terminal tackle appeared to be stuck. A bit of brute force saw it pull free and I presumed the feeder had rolled into some weed. Cranking in as fast as I could to keep the bundle of debris out of the nearside rocks I got quite a shock when the ‘crap’ kicked back, just under the rod tip.

It was a fish. Presumably a bream as its fighting capabilities were apparently nil. And then it shook its head, just the once, and the hook fell out. Oh well. At least my net remained snot free.

Half an hour later I reeled in a rather large eel. I couldn’t see me managing a self-take shot so I drew it right up into the margins on my side of the rocks, grabbed the forceps and reached round to grab my camera and switch it on. A close-up of it’s head  would do fine and with a bit of luck I might just be able to unhook it in the water, thus avoiding getting completely caked in crap.

On the positive side, the eel unhooked itself. On the negative side, it did so before I got a picture. Oh well. I knew I should have fished higher up but the opportunity to park behind my swim was irresistable on a short session when the main priority was to chill out and catch up on a bit of reading.

I did have to smile though. One of the other anglers wandered up to my swim and said, “D’you know, you look just like that John Roberts!”

“No,” I said, “That’s not me, I’m Bob Roberts…”

“Oh yeah, that’s him!”

God Luck Roo

I see Roo (Newby) has announced his resignation as CEMEX Angling’s Fisheries & Venues Manager leaving on amicable terms but with no other job waiting. Shame that.

A little birdie also tells me that CEMEX’s angling magazine is to cease publication after the next issue. Can that really be true? After all, it doesn’t owe me any money and every other magazine that’s gone under in the past twenty years has left me out of pocket!

A quick Google search reveals nothing. You can still take out a subscription but my source is pretty certain the end is nigh. If it is then that’s a shame. Two magazines down in the space of a few months. Who’s next?

Autumn Is Prime Sturgeon Time

Richard Donnelly dropped me an email this week to say what a fantastic time he was having over on the Fraser River in British Colombia. Richard attended a live show that Stu and I put on for the Barbel Catchers AGM in Rugby last year and was taken with some of the film footage of us catching sturgeon. We put him in touch with top guides, told him what he needed and he was clearly having a lot of fun out there.

Autumn is prime time over there and the scenery ‘in the fall’ is spectacular, so what better excuse to show this little cameo of out trip. Enjoy!


Reality Check For Wannabe Angling Superstars

One of my all-time favourite angling books is I Know A Good Place, by Clive Gammon. There are 10 second hand copies available on Amazon as I write so be quick and you can pick up a bargain. They start at £3.74 going up to a tenner. The book charts his time as a writer for Sports Illustrated magazine in the US and he travels far and wide, living the high life while catching some fabulous fish. It’s a great read.

Indeed go here and read his bio on the Medlar Press site. You’ll be impressed for sure.

How sad then, to learn that Clive is currently scratching out a living in sheltered accommodation.

I shall be attending the Angling Writers Awards at the beginning of next month where, with luck, we’ll raise a few bob on his behalf, but it does go to show what a nickel and dimes sport angling is. You couldn’t imagine a Beckham or a Rooney in sheltered accommodation, could you?

Like He’d Never Been Gone

My namesake Adam Roberts and fellow member of the DVSG has been back on the Trent for the first time in two years and he’s only gone and caught his biggest ever barbel at 15lb 3oz. It was one of half a dozen doubles he caught in a 3-night session that produced around 40 fish in total.

They were all taken fishing well out using a 6oz Fisky’s Fantastic Feeder containing scalded pellets and broken boilies. Reel line was 12lb Daiwa Sensor, 30lb braid hook link and an Owner C5 size 8 hook.

Adam also caught his first ever Zander which snatched at a boilie as he went to reel in.

While trying to get hold of a picture Adam sent me a message to say he was tied up in Casualty with a chunk of steel in his eye – ouch! Four hours later they removed it with a needle. That night I received a message saying Matt would send the picture as he was wearing a ‘Wye’ patch and was struggling to use computer with one eye.

I hope he meant eye patch because if Adam ever goes to the Wye the barbel down there won’t know what’s hit them!

Piking With The Pikemaster

A chance to fish with Alan Dudhill seemed too good an oportunity to miss. Alan’s a PAC Regional Organiser, a tackle shop owner and he’s also the man behind Pikemaster accessories. In the past year alone he has commercially produced something like 100,000 pike traces so a chance to pick his brains wouldn’t go amiss.

It sounded too good to be true. The carp lake he’s a member of hadn’t been pike fished all year, he’d been pre-baiting for weeks and if everything went to plan we should be able to turn up and catch a few. The lake doesn’t do what many would call ‘big’ pike. It has produced the odd twenty in the past but cormorants have reduced the silver fish population quite significantly so the the biggest now probably top-out in the high teens. But I wouldn’t turn my nose up at one like that. Would you?

Cometh the day, cometh the men and a near flat calm, crystal clear, shallow lake didn’t appear inclined to do us any favours. The odd carp showed its presence, but of pike there were precious few signs. Only one ‘weaner’ put in an appearance which is not exactly the stuff our dreams were made of. But that’s fishing. It fell to Alan’s rods.

On the other hand we did witness an egret, a few barn owls, sparrow hawks and one bird I have never seen before in my life. At first I thought I was seeing things and felt foolish suggesting I’d even seen it. Surely I was mistaken? A little while later Alan said, ‘Look Bob, it’s there. It’s definitely a bittern, we get a few around here…’ Made my trip, really, but there were many other things yet to happen that would make it truly memorable.

For example, I found conclusive proof that we now have the dreaded Tarkas on the tidal Trent. Take a look at these ptints and the otter slide where it slipped into the water. Not much else it could have been, eh? How long before we start getting stories of carcasses on the banks?

We spent a couple of hours wandering around another nearby water with plugs but neither of us managed to raise a fish. Not even a follow. I think the pike Gods were trying to tell us something. But piking’s like that. When they’re feeding they can be so easy. When they’re not you might get the odd one out with dynamite but lures and deadbaits are a waste of time.

Our talk turned to zander during the late afternoon, Trent zander in particular. ‘We get them down here, too.’ Said Alan. I’ll show you something tonight. So, once the first hour of darkness had passed we nipped up to a spot where he promissed me a sight I’d not forget in a hurry. ‘You won’t believe how many fry turn up in this swim at night.’ And sure enough, when we shone a powerful torch the water was filled with millions of tiny fish. As he swung the torch round two swirls errupted on the surface, ‘They’ll be zander. They don’t like the light. We get a lot of them around here. They seem to follow the fry in.’

What followed was astonishing. In pitch blackness we dug out a lure rod and commenced to take turns casting out a rubber shad. On one of my early casts I felt the lure stop. It wasn’t a violent take and for all the world I might just have caught the bottom but examining the lure revealed teeth marks.

A few casts later my retrieve stopped dead and I felt a slight kick. I struck in response and there was little doubt I’d hooked something. That something was a zander which would have gone the better part of 6lb. Not only my first ever Trent Zander but a zed on a lure, in the pitch black of night! The only other time that I’ve ever lure fished in the dark was for mahseer in the Himalayas.

We were dancing around like idiots! I rang Sue to tell her, ‘Is that good?’ She asked. It was then that I realised you had to be a lifelong angler to even have a clue what had set my pulse racing. Even so, this was definitely a first and something very special (to me). Who else catches zander in the dark, on lures, on the Trent? No-one, surely, so this was nigh-on most certainly a river record, night fishing, lure-caught, tidal Trent zander. And a Trent PB for me to boot!!!

While I basked in glory Alan had a few more chucks and low and behold he hooked another, very similar in size to the one I’d just had. Unfortunately it fell off as I tried to lift it from the river and that was that. No more takes but it had been a fascinating hour to say the least. I fancy some more of that as well. Maybe with a bucket of small livebaits.

One thing’s for sure. Zander have spread right through the Trent now, from way above Nottingham all the way down to Gainsborough. They are there in numbers and they’re growing fast. We saw how quickly they spread throughout Fenland from an initial stocking of less than a hundred fish. I’ve already had one from the Derbyshire Derwent so I guess we can look forward to them making their way up the Dove, Idle and all the other tributaries sometime soon. 

We were back on the deadbaits in the carp lake the next morning but once more to no avail. The stillwater pike simply weren’t having it so i mooted we move onto the river a throw some more lures, which we did. In the space of an hour or so I had three small pike, again on the Daiwa Dictator rubber shads. They have a cracking action, can be fished sink and draw or simply reeld back but the large single hook generally manages to avoid any snags and despite bumping them across the bottom I didn’t snag up once. 

 I gave them another try when the tide backed up but nothing was playing so we decided to call it a wrap. Despite not connecting with any of the better fish it was a thoroughly enjoyable trip in excellent company. In fact I might just have to go back. Soon.

Ban On Eel Fishing – Is It Too Little, Too Late?

As an angling writer I sometimes feel I’m like the canary in a coal mine. It’s my job to keel over when something’s wrong with the atmosphere, to stop tweeting and just shut up. Trouble is, when the canary stops singing it’s possibly too late to avert a disaster.

Regular readers will know I’ve complained long and hard about the vast number of cormorants on our rivers and lakes. Untouchable birds that systematically destroy entire fish populations fully protected by European legislation and the ever vigilant RSPB.

I’ve moaned about the re-introduction of otters, cuddly and cute as they are. They have almost wiped out 20 years of work on the Wensum where practically every single adult barbel has been killed. They are doing the same to the upper Thames and its tributaries. Before long every river in England will suffer to a greater or lesser degree because there simply aren’t enough wild fish left to feed the growing number of predators.

Otters and cormorants have something in common. They eat eels, and lots of them. At least they used to. Unfortunately there are very few eels left to eat. After 20 years of decline the Environment Agency has finally taken decisive action by imposing a ban on catching eels for six months starting October 1. Suddenly they’re telling us the eel population is in freefall across the whole of England and Wales. The ban is in line with demands for action by the European Commission which has been horrified by the decline of the species, too.

Yeah. Now tell us something we don’t already know!

Research indicates that the number of eels in our river systems has slumped by 95 per cent. Fisheries enforcement officials have been instructed to search for nets set illegally to catch them and to be on the watch for other equipment used to catch eels. Anyone attempting to catch eels faces prosecution and could have their equipment confiscated.

Bylaws already in force mean that rod and line anglers who hook an eel are legally bound to return their catch to the water.

Roger Handford, Regional Fisheries Strategic Specialist for the Environment Agency, said, “We have seen the numbers of eels in our rivers fall over the last few decades, it is vital that we act now to reverse the decline and ensure there are healthy populations of the species in the future.

“As well as our own planned bailiff activities, if members of the public observe illegal nets in a river we would encourage them to contact the Agency’s emergency hotline 0800 80 70 60 with this information.”

But why only 6 months? It’s too little, too late in my view.

Next thing you know they’ll be informing us that cormorants eat fish.

Urban Countryfile

To coincide with the ban on eel fishing the good old Beeb chose to feature eel trapping in the Cambridgeshire fens – the old fashioned way, of course, on Countryfile. Perhaps they could balance up their gaffe with a Cormorant recipe or three…

I love the way townies like to meddle in the country. Especially the BBC luvvy types. The programme also did a piece about urban foxes and showed folk feeding them. They’re vermin stupid! But why should I care. Any excuse to play a bit of Keith Urban is a gift. Here’s an urban countryfile you might just enjoy…

 Make sure you play it through to the end, mind!

A Working Class Hero Is Something To Be

So Tony Blair has admitted in his memoirs that banning fox hunting was a grave error and that he had been blackmailed into it by the Left of his party. Too late now old son. Was it also their fault that he didn’t find any weapons of mass destruction, or that he waged a war many still believe was illegal, too?

What exactly was he responsible for?

Or could it just be that the social circles he now mixes in are not happy about the hunting ban and they’ve no reservations about sharing the fact with him? So he tries to placate them.

One thing’s for sure, he ain’t no working class hero either. Never was, probably never wanted to be. Tony’s a real no-where man.

Who Me…?

Andrew Marr the BBC politics presenter doesn’t appear to be impressed by bloggers, describing them as socially inadequate, pimpled, single, slightly seedy, cauliflower nosed young men sitting in their mother’s basements spewing and ranting their citizen jourmalism, very drunk and late at night.

‘Most of the blogging is too angry and too abusive,’ He adds, ‘Terrible things are said online because people are anonymous.’

Phew! For a moment there I thought he might have meant me.

I can see where he’s coming from though.

Caught In The Net Of Social Networking

Social networking has invaded all quarters of our lives. I don’t profess to even begin to understand it but apparently there’s a list of folk who want to be my friend on Facebook. It’s rude of me to ignore them. But what if I respond? Will my life ever be my own again?

I’ve appeared regularly in the angling press for nigh-on 25 years. Even without the books, videos, DVDs, TV appearances, shows and so on I’d still be a fairly recognisable face within the sport. My life has pretty much been ruled by fishing in this time and I’ve had a whale of a time (if you’ll excuse the pun). Prior to the Internet I don’t recall ever having a cross word with anyone outside of the hothouse that is match fishing team meetings.

Why? Because you used to meet people face-to-face. You knew who they were and what their REAL name was. There was no hiding behind pseudonyms or avatars. You could look them in the eye. You knew exactly what and who you were dealing with. You knew whether they were genuine or if indeed they actually existed at all.

There are fallouts in competitive fishing; always have been and that’s inevitable. It is after all a testosterone driven branch of the sport. Passions run high, but the fall-outs are seldom long lasting. It’s like the boxers who square up before a fight and trade insults. Afterwards you’ll see them with arms around each other, professing respect for both the victor and the vanquished.

Back in those hacyon days it was rare to get much more than a handful of letters a year from anglers you had never met. Those that did approach tended to be respectful. When Internet forums materialised the world changed. Suddenly you were dealing with every misfit and loudmouth in the world. You also came into contact with bullies and gangs, with irrational folk who demanded you ran your life to their rules. And before you knew it there was a real negative side to having a public profile.

The nice people kept their heads down, they became lurkers. They still get in touch, in their droves, but they do it privately. Only the very brave or reckless mixed it with the forum junkies, the abusive folk who got their jollies effectively from stalking.

Respect was never in their vocabulary.

Some site owners got so sick of it they made a stand, none more so than Graham Marsden but the effect has been spectacularly unsuccessful. The trolls are still there, albeit slightly better behaved but the tensions still exist. This past week several posters on Fishing Magic who have umpteen thousands of posts to their names have thrown their teddies in a collective heap, complaining about moderation and interference. Perhaps they’ve not learned the lessons of the wild west days.

Gagging the nastiest trolls was merely a temporary solution it seems. They didn’t go away. Instead they now spill bile in their own blogs or beneath others’ and it should be recognised the places that welcome them are guilty of encouraging them.

Creating this site has been an eye-opener. It’s been a bit of an incendiary device for a few poor souls. But who are they and how many individuals make up their little cartels? I reckon they barely muster more than a dozen agitators, a score at the most. And that’s out of an estimated angling population of millions, 20,000 of which visit here in any given month. They are a miniscule minority and sometimes I wonder if you could recognise them in the street by the huge chips they carry around on their shoulders…

They have something else in common too. Myopia. That and they’re all victims. They certainly don’t like it if someone turns the tables on them.

But there’s a way out now. Web 2.0 Suicide Machine promises to take you offline in 52 minutes. It’ll remove you from Facebook, Linkedin, MySpace, and Twitter in a fraction of the time it would take to do manually. Already there are 90,000 people on the waiting list. But that isn’t going down well with the likes of Facebook who are blocking any attempts to use it. They want you. They want to own your identity, your character and as many of your personal details, links and images that you are foolish enough to give them.

I don’t wan’t to remove me from the web but I’d pay good money if it was possible to remove others. Imagine if you could hand over a few quid and they’d wipe out the folk who cause all the trouble in angling at a stroke. That would be genious.

4 thoughts on “2010 – Late October Blog

  1. Nice blog Bob, what a crying shame to hear about Clive Gammons present situation, as soon as I saw the photo I knew the face, a true blast from the past from my childhood, good luck at the Angling Writers Awards, I hope more than a few bob are raised for the gent.

  2. Cheers for that Clive.

    How come the years are flying by faster and faster? We must get together next spring/ early summer for a floater fishing session.

    It’s been too long.



  3. Well done Bob. Great blog. Not seen or heard from you for ages I hope you’re well.

    I have been fishing with Alan Dudhill a few time and we have a lot planned for the future. I’ve had two nice twenties this year so far one was a hugh canal fish of over twenty-five pounds.

    I watched with interested your film footage in British Columbia. I have a contact there who is looking into the fishing oportunities there for me so at least the accomadation will be cheap!

    Tight lines mate, see ya soon.

    Seasonal cheer,