Get Out There And Give It A Go!
In the last blog I showed it was quite possible to catch fish in these arctic conditions providing you are determined enough. Either that or you’re completely bonkers! But seriously, you really can go fishing in what appear to be terrible conditions and face one of angling’s toughest challenges but always remember – no fish is worth risking your life over. If you are going to brave the weather then take a few simple precautions.
Many commercial fisheries will have smashed the ice on their lakes and although it won’t be the most exciting days fishing you’ll ever have these heavily stocked waters will still produce – especially if you find where the fish are shoaled because fish do tend to shoal up tight in cold weather. Surprisingly you can catch carp on bread popped up several feet from the bottom which sounds weird but it’s just a case of the fish finding the warmest band of water.
We’re going to face major problems this winter unless there’s a dramatic upturn in temperatures. Back in that terrible winter of 1963 whole lakes were wiped out after being iced-over for a prolonged period. Shallow weedy waters are most at risk because rotting vegetation deoxygenates the water which may cause massive fish kills.
The up side is we’ll be seeing a lot less cormorants next year with a bit of luck. Unfortunately we’ll be seeing less herons, grebes and kingfishers, too. Perhaps this is what we’ve been waiting for on the cormorant front. The Government did us no favours so Mother Nature is lending us a big hand. If thousands of cormorants perish it won’t be a bad thing and if we then get a good spawning season with no flash floods after the fry hatch then wild river fish stocks might see a resurgence.
Unfortunately barbel will be pretty inactive right now making them easy prey for otters.
I’m sure lots of anglers are suffering a severe dose of cabin fever but now the roads are fairly clear there’s no reason why you can’t go fishing. Small rivers would be my choice but most rivers will start to produce a few fish as they acclimatise to the cold. Just and take your time getting there and back safely.
Typical baits like maggots, casters and worms are a waste of time in severe conditions but a pinch of flake is invariably a winner. Try feeding tiny pinches of liquidised bread and offering punched flake on the hook beneath a stick float. It may sound odd but roach and chub will frequently intercept a moving bait while they ignore a static, legered bait.
Bites tend to come in the first couple of trots down or not at all. Consequently you should keep on the move, spending no more than ten minutes in each swim. Chub and roach are prime targets but if you aren’t fussy, game fish like trout and grayling will feed in any temperatures. And yes, I did say grayling is a game fish. Coarse fish don’t have adipose fins, do they?
With today’s modern angling clothing there’s no excuse for feeling cold. Last time I went out I removed my gloves half way through the day because my hands were as warm as toast.
If you fancy giving fishing in the snow here are 12 top tips:
1. Check your brakes, fluids and fuel before setting out and always carry a shovel in the car
2. Take hot drinks in at least two flasks just in case one breaks
3. Wear layered, thermal clothing that’s not too tight
5. Insulated wellies or ‘moon boots’ will keep your feet warm in the coldest temperatures. Alternatively wear a good pair of waterproof hiking boots
6. Keep away from the water’s edge – that platform of snow might be sat on a clump of grass hanging over fresh air and water
7. Plan short sessions so you never get too cold
8. If you do get cold and start feeling sleepy, pack in straight away and get yourself back to the car – it could be hypothermia!
9. Take the minimum amount of tackle, stay mobile and keep trying different swims. The fish will be shoaled up and you have to find them – they will not come to you. Moving around helps keep you warm
10. Carry two towels and make sure you keep your hands dry
12. If you’re not enjoying it, pack up and go home
It may all sound extreme but it’s no dafter than taking your dog for a walk in the snow, sledging or skiing in the Alps. It’ll clear away the cobwebs and you’ll feel brilliantly refreshed when you eventually get home. Trust me, a hot toddy, drunk while sitting by a roaring fire afterwards, reflecting on the day you’ve just enjoyed will taste like Ambrosia, nectar of the Gods.
Go on, give it a go.
The Good Old Days
I well remember the winter of 1963 that is mentioned at least 15 times in every news bulletin at the moment because I actually went fishing – once. Keith Gale was a mate and his family owned Gale’s tackle shop in Bentley. It was Keith’s idea that we went to fish the Torne, near Crowle, in the snow.
At 14-years-old Keith was slightly older and more experienced than me, plus, living in a tackle shop meant he got lots of information. You also should consider that clothing wasn’t anything like what we have today, but we wrapped up with two pairs of jeans, multiple layers of T-shirts and jumpers and an anorak. This was the time before moon boots were invented so you had un-insulated wellies – the coldest footwear ever invented.
To reach the Torne meant catching a bus to Doncaster and then a train to Crowle. The river was only about a mile away so a brisk walk soon had us on the banks. Unfortunately we hadn’t thought the plan through very well because the river was frozen solid. Indeed we walked across it!
However, we had a long time to wait for our train back so we walked and walked until we found a road bridge and guess what? The river was ice free for a few yards beneath it and that’s where we fished.
I’d love to tell you we caught a few fish but the chances of that were slim to say the least, but at least we gave it our best shot.
Can you imagine two kids doing what we did today?
Barbel Wars – The Site!
Before I launch into my long winded and probably ill-considered response to the goadings of ‘Fred the Beard’ (see further down the blog) I have to give credit where it’s due and take my hat off to the creative talents behind BFAMW as they’ve has excelled themselves by providing the world with its very own dedicated Barbel Wars web site.
Sheer bloody genius and not before time!
There is absolutely no reason why every other site should be clogged up with the cock measuring that goes on in the name of barbel by the same (limited) bunch of argumentative tossers! If only the moderators on every other web site/ forum would agree to divert their barbel wars traffic straight to this single collecting point the Internet would be a much nicer place, don’t you think?
But, you know what, when a bunch of reprobates like the BFAMWers give up on you, going so far as to set up a site just for you, it’s maybe time to call it a day with all the back biting once and for all.
The UK’s Biggest Rod Caught Fish
Have you any clue as to what the biggest fish ever caught from the British Isles is? Well, if you thought it was that 100lb catfish from Joke Lodge, think again. You’re miles out. You see, depending on who you believe the biggest fish caught on rod and line from these fair isles weighed either 851lb or 852lb which is about as heavy as a small car.
“What?” You may ask in astonishment.
Well, it’s true. Back in the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s it was possible to catch monster blue fin tuna off the Yorkshire coast and Scarborough was at the epicentre of big game fishing. Huge tuna followed the shoals of herring inshore where big game anglers would catch them from tiny rowing boats.
Back then Scarborough’s Grand Hotel played host to David Niven, Errol Flynn and Lord Rothschild, to name but three of the luminaries who were drawn to Yorkshire by these amazing monsters.
The debate over which fish was heavier caused massive controversy, one side claiming the rope used to hoist the 852-pounder onto the scales was wet countered by claims that the rope use to hoist the 851-pounder was thicker. However you look at it, these were giants.
You can witness the fish and hear the story first hand from folk who were actually present by clicking ‘Play’ below. The Tuna piece starts about 7 minutes in if you want to go straight to it.
Be warned though. If you like your field sports you could be hooked into the channel for many hours but it beats watching the soaps.
By all acounts the shifting path of the gulf stream has brought Tuna back to our shores and a number of massive specimens have been landed off the coast of Donegal, Ireland, recently. In true Irish logic, you’re not actually allowed to fish for them so they have to be caught ‘by accident’…
As usual, an amusing little selection of tunes (complete with hidden messages!) for your delectation…
Reminder: Trent Anglers’ Night Out
Just another reminder that Stu Walker and I will be giving a talk at a Trent Anglers’ Night Out on 26th Feb 2010 at The Old Chandlery Cafe, Sawley Marina, Long Eaton (NG10 3AE for Sat Nav owners) – kicking off at 7.30pm.
Our show will feature us providing a running commentary to two unique 45 minute film-based presentations that cover barbel feeding behaviour, their reactions to tackle, rigs, baits, PVA, outtakes, cartoons, rock ‘n roll, gladiators, the Internet, Hitler, keepnets and will include lots of preciously unseen footage from both home and abroad. Hopefully we’ll have some brand new footage from our expedition to Uganda.
We’ll wrap the evening up with a Q&A session and just for good measure there’s an opportunity to see the cased barbel with which FWK Wallis (of Wallis casting fame) claimed the UK barbel record. The fish, landed in 1937 from the Royalty Fishery’s famous Railway Pool, weighed 14lb 6oz.
Tickets cost £10 and this includes an excellent buffet.
A charity raffle will be held in aid of Help for Heroes.
Advance tickets are available from Fishing Synergy, 469 Tamworth Rd, Sawley, Long Eaton, NG10 3GR. Tel: 0115 9722 525
We escaped the snow for a couple of day by way of a luxury spa break with some friends. On the journey I espied an advertising hoarding, on a trailer, in a farmers field. It announced, ‘PRECISION HAIR CUTS’.
I don’t know about you but I wasn’t aware that you could get an imprecise haircut, so what exactly is a precision one? Do they use lasers? Does it involve clamping your head in some kind of vice first so you can’t move? Or maybe it involves a scientific calculation based on hair length to diameter ratios.
Precision Haircutting reminds me of Monty Python’s Parrot sketch…
CUSTOMER Hello, I wish to register a complaint… Hello? Miss?
HAIRDRESSER What do you mean, miss?
CUSTOMER Oh, I’m sorry, I have a cold. I wish to make a complaint.
HAIRDRESSER Sorry, we’re closing for lunch.
CUSTOMER Never mind that my lad, I wish to make a complain about this haircut what I purchased not half an hour ago from this very boutique.
HAIRDRESSER Oh yes, the precision job. What’s wrong with it?
CUSTOMER I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it. It’s imprecise, that’s what wrong with it.
HAIRDRESSER No, no it needs a bit of laquer, look!
CUSTOMER Look my lad, I know an imprecise haircut when I see one and I’m looking at one right now.
HAIRDRESSER No, no sir, it’s not imprecise. It’s un-laquered…
Winter Leagues? Don’t Make Me Laugh!
Do you remember when match anglers used to fish in winter leagues before the whole shebang became known as the Angling Times Team Championship? Credit where it’s due, the old Angling Times practically created winter league fishing. Match fishing used to be pretty much a summer and autumn sport before some bright spark came up with an idea for holding team matches through the colder months; matches that rewarded every angler for what they caught, no matter how little, by contributing to the overall catch of their team, be that by points or weight.
And then everyone went soft. ‘Winter’ leagues started earlier and earlier until the point where some of them were over by October. I remember when the Christmas edition of the Times would run two pages showing the league standings of each division. Nowadays it would be simply old news. Pretty much all the matches are over and done with long before Christmas.
But I’ve heard it all now. Saints captian Derek Bennett is calling for the semi final, due to be fished on the Stainforth and Keadby Canal in March, to be put back to May because it will be a more pleasant experience for the anglers. He doesn’t fancy trekking over from Liverpool and scratching for a few perch if it’s a bit nippy.
Derek, none of us is getting any younger but come on! Or could it be he thinks Saints stand a better chance of making the final when it’s warmer…?
Crisis? What Crisis?
Sue is forever threatening to buy me a stick so I can wave it at the TV when I get angry. Can’t imagine where she gets the idea I’m ever upset with the dipsticks who appear on the idiot box but there is a degree of truth in what she says – ‘You’re turning into your mum. She talks to the TV!’
And she’s right (to a point), only I shout at it, presumably like Jeremy Clarkson does. But tell me, am I the only person in the country who gets wound up by the news presenters who all seem to be paid up members of the Harbingers Of Doom Society?
Tonight the focus was on the weather, surprise, surprise. Three days in and it’s getting worse they claim. There’s no salt, no schools, gas and electric is running out, black ice is causing road traffic accidents and hospitals can’t cope with folk who keep falling over. And here’s a woman who’s central heating is broken down and she only had a gas fire to keep her council house warm.
How many of us spent every winter with nothing but a coal fire to huddle round? Who remembers frost patterns on the inside of their bedroom windows in a morning and who can recall frozen cream sticking up an inch from the top of milk bottles?
This ain’t the ice age but folk are treating it like a national disaster. The main roads are all clear now and the only accidents they could show on the box were clearly caused by excess speed. On a normal day folk get killed in high speed crashes and they ain’t happening, are they? All but emergency operations have been cancelled by the hospitals so surely there should be extra staff available to man A&E.
Friends who are self-employed haven’t missed a day at work since the snow arrived. Supermarket staff who only get paid if they turn in have managed, too. Those who’s wages come out of our taxes haven’t. Kinda tells us something, doesn’t it? And of course, everyone complains if the bus drivers, the train drivers, the ambulance drivers and the gritter lorry men decide to stay in bed, don’t they? And if it’s so desperate out there how come the TV news presenter never fails to get into work every day? I guess the show must go on.
Clearly TV news presenters are desperate to turn every fall of snow into a crisis instead of promoting the positives. What happened to the good old British bulldog spirit? Why are they sympathising with moaners and folk who claim they can’t get to work instead of praising those who just get on with life?
Alas we’ve bred successive generations of shirkers who prefer to sit on their backsides playing with computers and X Boxes; an ASBO generation who hang around street corners drinking cheap alcohol, swearing and fighting. This lot would never win a war if there was another. No standards, no discipline.
Whew! I feel better for that little gripe. But while I’m shaking the stick…
Freddie’s Facts – (A tale of subterfuge and evasion…)
I’m sure you appreciate that I occasionally have to delete some of the comments (posted by visitors) at the foot of my web pages on the basis they’re rude, crude, or put there by those who are desperate for attention. Others get deleted because thay are libelous or confrontational towards third parties and it’s so easy to lose sight of the fact that this is a blog, not a forum.
Following my comments in the ‘Happy New Year’ blog regarding the wholly unnecessary hijacking of the Angling Trust poll on BFW, Fred Bonney (Barbel Society Communications Panel Chairman) left an indignant comment accusing me of fact bending. Here’s what he posted:
“It’s not the FACTS that concern me Bob, it’s your interpretation of FACTS
Statements like the following, are hardly knowledgeable FACT they give the impression that membership has fallen from sky high to ground zero!
“True, the membership numbers are falling like an anvil dropped from a Tiger Moth and yes, it will probably all end in tears.”
Journalistic licence perhaps is the excuse? Damaging information I would say
” BS membership fluctuations……..” is a far more factual statement statement to make.
Don’t you agree?
Steve Pope added a post just 13 minutes later stating, “Fred was right” and that I, “Was a little wide of the mark on this sort of detail.”
I removed both posts, not because I wanted to prevent them airing their views, but because the flames of another barbel war were being fanned and counter comments by those who wanted to have a pop at Messrs Pope and Bonney began appearing before I even had time to read Fred and Steve’s responses and they were less than respectful.
In fairness, I removed them all – both pro and anti – because it’s not my desire to wage some kind of crusade against these individuals or indeed the Barbel Society but I stand firmly behind what I said about the hijacking of the Angling Trust poll and the rebuke I dished out in the last blog was both measured and fair.
Indeed, the reason I’m dragging it up again is simply to answer Fred Bonney’s question posted on this (my) site. He poses a question so I’m damned if I don’t reply and damned if I do. Well done Fred!
I’ll be damned then.
But before I get down to business, I’d like to ask a simple question of Fred: How can speculation on BS membership numbers be considered as damaging information? What is damaged and how? What’s the big secret all of a sudden? Is someone trying to hide something? I’m sorry Fred, but I cannot grasp this damaging information claim. It’s nonsense.
So back to the real point; to date I’ve seen no sign of remorse by anyone involved in wrecking the Angling Trust thread presumably because they believe their precious barbel clubs are far more important than the Angling Trust. And there’s the rub. The EA sold how many licenses last year? A leaked document suggests 1.4 million.
I doubt very much that the Barbel Society, the Barbel Study Group and the Barbel Specialists combined could muster a thousand members between them. In other words it was a few militant individuals from within what are in effect minority groups (that in total don’t even represent one tenth of one per cent of angling license buyers) who misguidedly believe their petty arguments with each other count for more than the Angling Trust. Each and every one of those involved should feel ashamed of their actions, but they wont. These people simple don’t care.
How selfish is that?
“Glad to hear it Bob, too many fact benders out there. You included going by the the above report.
….numbers falling like anvils dropped…… where on earth could you have possibly got that information?
Just remember if you wrote of a business like that, you would be in all kinds of trouble.”
Another question from Fred, although Fred clearly indicates he doesn’t see the Barbel Society as a business. Which is fair enough, but when it suits him, ie: on the ‘Christmas Card’ thread over of BFAMW he tells everyone, ‘We don’t need members from here either thank you, we are just ensuring our “business” is not affected’. Make up your mind Fred, it either is or is not a business.
But skipping over that, exactly what kind of trouble could I be in? And where did I get my information from?
None is the answer to the first question and, err…, Steve Pope, as it happens, to the second.
Fred was clearly hurt by the words: membership numbers falling like an anvil from a Tiger Moth.
Well, I can reveal that, at it’s peak, the Society had ‘about’ 1,400 members. The exact date or number hasn’t been revealed but as far as I’m aware the figure is not disputed. At it’s low point, prior to the recruitment drive, I’m told the figure reached (about) 600 although once again the data revealed is not specific. On the one hand Tony Rocca is adamant that the low point was 475 souls. On the other Steve Pope says, “Like in any other organisation, there are fluctuations and the mean figure is probably about 800.” Adding he’s, “Confident that, with the measures he plans to implement, the membership can be pushed up towards a thousand.”
Good answer. If you’re a politician. “I just wish everyone would concentrate on the fantastic work we’re doing in the Reseasch and Conservation field. That’s the success story.” Added Steve
Let’s imagine Manchester United, who are currently averaging 74,866 spectators at home games, see a fall in attendance to the mid-30 thousands. Could that fairly be described as ‘falling like an anvil from a Tiger Moth’ ? Few would disagree even if the resulting crowd would be welcomed at, say, Bolton Wanderers and let’s be accurate, no-one except Fred used the term, ‘fallen to ground zero’.
What it would be is a cause for serious concern and the board would want to know why they were falling and those overseeing the decline would have to question their performances.
Like it or not, everything is about proportionality, something that Fred fails (or refuses) to accept.
I did speak with Steve and he promised to supply the actual membership statistics for the past decade, stating they’re pretty much a matter of public record anyway, having been covered in an article he wrote for the Barbel Society web site and in various annual accounts. If I do receive them then rest assured I’ll present them here.
However, rather than beating his chest all over the Internet and then hiding behind subterfuge and innuendo, wouldn’t it be better all round if the Barbel Society Communications Panel Chairman, Mr Fred Bonney, simply issued a statement cataloging the actual membership figures once and for all, year-on-year, thereby putting an end to all the speculation and innuendo by those he seems to be permanently at odds with. Indeed he only needs to verify the table at the foot of this blog and fill in the gaps.
Let’s be perfectly honest, it was his flouncing and posturing on the Angling Trust Poll thread that led to questions being raised about membership numbers in the first place and not by me I must add. Anyone with half a brain would have kept clear of that debate.
Revealing the audited figures would surely nullify any further speculation, it would be game over, but I have to say, looking out at the snow from this study window, the ‘hell freezing over first’ option has stolen a big march…
Perhaps I may borrow from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle:
In other words, ‘No Shit Sherlock!’
The Barbel Society Communications Panel Chairman is quick to suggest we don’t know the FACTS yet appears to be afraid of revealing them himself. Why doesn’t he seize the high ground? After all, what possible harm would it do? Unless he’s hiding something I’m not even looking for.
Of course this suggestion assumes he actually knows the figures…
Now please, Fred, no more questions. You’ve had enough exposure on this site already. Take it off-line if you must and PM me.
For those who haven’t yet lost the will to live, a summary of all the available statistics is in the footnote appended to this blog plus a link to the resource notes.
Having re-read the entire Angling Trust cum Barbel war thread I’m left feeling rather sad because despite all the aggressive points scoring that went on, not only was there no winner but each of the protagonists appeared to be causing more damage to their own organisations than anyone else’s.
So let’s have a little poll of our own…
Meet The New Boss, He’s The Same As The Old Boss…
If you thought you were getting away without a mention of the ‘F’ word, think again. I wasn’t going to mention football seeing as the Rovers haven’t played a game since before Christmas thanks to the new ice age but the chilling news that Burnley had approached our manager for their vacancy has left me feeling rather queasy. Not because they approached him, he is after all a bloody miracle worker, but the fact that he’d gone for an interview and the two clubs were supposedly discussing compensation.
Anyway it all fell through. Can you believe the Claret and Blue Clowns have appointed Laws? I mean he’s just been sacked by a massive club like Sheffield Wednesday because they’re in the bottom three of the Championship! Not prepared to pay Donny compensation it would seem, so instead of going to Old Trafford on Saturday Sean O’Driscoll will be at the Keepmoat scheming against Watford. Ice permitting.
O’Driscoll has restructured this club from top to bottom on a budget of twopence. Our record signing is just £300,000 and this season we’ve already sold two players for seven figure sums. Another will go soon, too. In return he has a job for life – he’s the new Dario Grady (Crewe legend for you armchair Man U and Chelsea fans).
The joke is we’re now widely regarded as the Arsenal of the Championship by opposing fans who appreciate the way we knock the ball around and entertain. I’ve never seen anything like it in 50 years of watching Donny but the dream is fading. His head has been turned. Sooner (probably) rather than later, another club will like what they see. A club that’s prepared to give him time to change the fabric, to lay foundations, on a proper budget and he’ll be gone.
It’s like you come home from school to learn your mum’s run away with the coal man. Or your sister likes Chelsea.
I could create a special playlist for the occasion that might include, Stop Crying Your Heart Out – Oasis, and Won’t Get Fooled Again – The Who. But I won’t. I’ll save it for when he does go.
Do spare a thought for the poor folk of Lancashire who are now flooded out because 20,000 folk in Burnley are crying and 30,000 in Bolton are pissing themselves. I hope you both get relegated now.
At Last – Griff Gets Some Grief
Griff Rhys Jones didn’t exactly endear himself to the UK’s angling fraternity when his views on canoe access were broadcast in the BBC programme Rivers so you’ll forgive my wry smile when I learned he’d been dropped as frontman for the BBC flagship heritage series Restoration on the grounds of being too expensive. Too bloody stupid, more like!
Nice to learn that he’s actually been replaced by three ‘experts’ in the field who actually know what they’re talking about. Unfortunately he’s been retained to work on the Rivers project which he clearly knows even less about.
It was interesting to hear that Accidental Angler frontman, Charles Rangeley Wilson claims to have pitched the idea for Rivers to the BBC some time ago but was replaced as frontman by a ‘famous name’ (Jones) instead.
The news came out on the same day we learned that Jonathon ‘Woss’ will not have his £18m contwact wenewed. How sad – not! That’s our license money they’re squandering on these folk.
And Finally (well nearly) – All You’ll Ever Need To Be A Forum Participant
Having studied the behaviour of folk on web forums it is clear that few ever behave as they would in ‘real’ life, so why no go the whole hog and register as someone else (hang on, doesn’t Tony do that all the time?).
In future I’m going to be Arnold Schwarzenegger which means I can use any one of the generated sounds below for my posts, and you know what, honestly, there’s a statement here to suit every situation you’ll ever need in a forum debate.
You know, I particularly like the third column. Just click any box to hear a classic Arnie line. Best of all, apart from the top two soundbites the rest could have been created with angling forums specifically in mind…
In the absence of receiving any information to the contrary, here are the claimed BS membership details that are currently in the public domain. In case anyone wishes to check I have made the source documents (written by Steve Pope in articles for Barbel Fisher) available here:
Barbel Society Membership Figures 1995 – 2009
1995 – 200 plus
1996 – 500 plus
1997 – 1000 plus
1998 – 1000 plus (and looking forward towards 1500)
1999 – 1200
2000 – No figures disclosed
2001 – ‘Around’ 1200
2002 – No figures disclosed except a comment that membership ‘remained stable’
2003 – No figures disclosed
2004 – No figures disclosed (but described as a year of tightening belts)
2005 – No figures disclosed
2006 – No figures disclosed
2007 – No figures disclosed
2008 – No figures disclosed
2009 – “My post is as good as its going to get with regard to membership details, I could quite easily go to the end of my garden in a freezing cold studio and dig them out but I’m not doing that to satisfy a topical whim. The membership today stands around the 800 mark, that is a massive increase from when we started or a big fall from our peak or an expected fall from our mean. You can spin that whatever way you wish but those are the facts.” (Steve Pope)
Here endeth today’s sermon.