This may be a rushed blog – depends how I feel as it progresses but now the river season’s open my opportunities to sit down and write are being restricted for all the right reasons – and the desire to sit here bashing away at a keyboard when I could be fishing rapidly diminishes. I’ll do my best though!
Had a lovely email passed on to me from the Jon Arthur, editor of Advanced Pole Fishing magazine. It read:
Whilst reading this months Pole fishing magazine, the article by Bob Roberts – The Rise And Rise Of Pole Fishing – he refers to a boy fishing with his pole at Fish’O’Mania. The boy was in fact my son Adam and I have attached a photo of the fish he caught. It was at the first Fish’O’Mania in August 1994.
Bob was very good with Adam showing him how to fish with the pole and giving him plenty of advice for the future.
If possible could you forward a copy of this photo attachment to Bob Roberts.
Isn’t that nice…? Was it really 16 years ago? How time flies.
Wye Valley Wanderings
I’ve just spent the best part of a week on the River Wye running one of my coaching sessions out of the Caer Beris Manor hotel. Frustratingly the World Cup led to a few late cancellations but such is life. Those who did attend simply had more river to play on and a lot more of my time. By contrast the next one’s a complete sell out.
Dropping off to see Archie and Shirley Braddock on the way down, then a hold up on the M5, meant I was always chasing an impossible schedule to get there for England’s kick-off against the Germans. In the end I missed the first half and rather wish I’d missed the second, too. What an inept performance! Our full backs are seemingly used as wingers, which is fine against the lesser sides but the first time we face an organised side we’re found badly wanting at the back.
I said at the outset we weren’t good enough and that the level of expectation was ridiculous. I take no pleasure in being proved right. Indeed I hoped I’d be proved wrong. But there you go. Back to the drawing board guys.
But I digress. The folk who joined me on the Wye enjoyed a great experience but the fishing was a bit pants to say the least. A low, stale, clear river was not going to give up its treasures easily. Yes, we caught chub and barbel, but not in the numbers we could reasonably expect.
I spend a lot of time walking around on these trips, looking at new swims, searching out fresh areas but it was almost as if the river had been stripped of its assets. You could see pebbles on the river bed all the way to the far bank in most places but you could see nary a fish.
The number of brightly finished canoes bearing schoolkids with a penchant for screeching and capsizing didn’t exactly help, either.
Catching chub on the surface was fun mind.
Hats off to Peter Heard though. At 77 he is the oldest customer I’ve had a chance to help and he did extremely well getting up and down what are not exactly the kindest banks in the world.
I gather there’s been a bit of a tournament taking place in South London. Tennis doesn’t do it for me I’m afraid but there can be no doubting Wimbledon’s popularity. You see, no matter how many frilly pairs of nickers the ladies parade I still think the ones who win look more like fellers. As for the fellers, when did we truly have an English contender?
Please don’t give me Henman. He wouldn’t have won the Ladies’ never mind the Men’s championships. And Murray’s a Jock. Please let him be Scotland’s hero. He’s not ours, he’s not British, he’s Scottish and good luck to him.
However, has anyone else noticed the striking similarities between one Didier Drogba and Serena Williams…?
On the other hand…,
I’ll spare Frank the hair-do!
Macca’s At It Again
Dave McIntyre’s having the kind of season down on the Ouse that most would have thought was consigned to history. He’s knocking up doubles for fun, in fact here’s another he had recently:
And he’s getting the odd nice chub:
He also sent me a picture of the dead barbel he found. Apparently the local fish shop was right out of both fish fingers and jellied eels so in those circumstances it’s hardly fair to blame old Tarka for ripping the guts out of a prime barbel, is it…?
Queue the wailing Minnies who will no doubt cry, ‘How do you know it was an otter?’ and, ‘Otters don’t do any harm to fish!’ Well, the six that Dave saw ain’t eating veggie burgers, are they?
So why is no-one calling for the re-introduction of tyrannosaurus rex in Teddington and sabre tooth tigers in Sunbury? Packs of wolves in Wolverhampton, maybe? At what point do we accept animals come and go? A quarter of the world’s mammal species currently face extinction.
According to scientists 492 species have become extinct in England since the first Century AD. All but 12 of these disappeared after 1800. We’re in the midst of an extinction crisis so what criteria makes it right to re-introduce a species when it is done at the expense of another, or in this case, several others?
Because it’s cuddly? Don’t make me laugh!
A Shift In The Cosmos
I honestly don’t know about you but the rather nasty spat that erupted recently amongst a group of angling blog writers and their nefarious hangers-on left a lot to be desired, don’t you think?
They clearly think it’s okay to be so openly bitter, abusive and downright aggressive towards each other. I’ve no wish to take sides because none of the combatants exactly covered themselves in glory but mostly they’re the same old stooges who used to kick off against me on sites like Fishing Magic, the difference being they now seem to be at each others throats.
This road sign, photographed near hay-On-Wye kind of sums them up perfectly. Although Six Cocks would have been more accurate. However there’s an identical sign as you approach in the opposite direction so 3 on one side and 3 on the other does make six…
Unfortunately picking out a top three would be so difficult, even six won’t be enough soon as the list appears to grow organically. One of the, ahem, ‘gentlemen’ involved left a comment beneath my last blog. In fact let’s name (ahem) names, it was from Graham “Elliott“. The response wasn’t nasty or stupid like some of his previous missives, it was almost jokey, but I deleted it. You may wonder why?
Well frankly it’s because I don’t want the likes of him around here. I don’t wish to have any contact whatsoever with him because as far as I’m concerned he’s a wrong ‘un, bad for the sport and so are those who appear to be his mates. Let them play on their own sites.
I do like to think folk can come here and be entertained and a reasonable degree of controversy is all grist to the mill, but the personal malice being bandied around at the moment goes way beyond any sense of common decency. It’s not as if I’ve ever knowingly met any of these people and that’s what makes it all the more ridiculous.
On the other hand if they are going to continue trading insults they might at least try and do it with a bit of panache and style. These are the top 100 movie insults but do be warned there’s invariably a little choice language:
I’ve done my best to fairly moderate the more extreme comments left beneath my blog postings to date but I fear I may have to be a little more draconian in the future. There are individuals on the barbel scene that I intend to distance myself from and as much as it can be jolly to taunt them they simply do not deserve the light I shine into their sordid little lives.
Go away, will you? You know exactly who you are. And yes, you will be reading this!
But before I move on there’s just one point to clarify. My views on coarse fishing syndicates are well documented. I’m positively in favour of them on stillwaters where the controlling group of anglers invest in the development of a fishery, planting vegetation, creating habitat, enriching the water, controlling pests, purchasing, growing on and managing the stocks until they reach specimen size. In other words they invest in and develop a fishery from scratch.
What I’m dead against is folks who crawl out of the woodwork to secure barbel fisheries at the expense of club anglers who have used those waters for donkey’s years, long before barbel became the new carp. Nor do I agree with deep pocketed individuals outbidding clubs for their previously held waters simply because the fish in those waters have grown in numbers or size to a point where, to quote Gollum, “I wants it…, my preciousssss…”
During the recent angling course I ran at the Caer Beris Manor hotel we fished three days on waters controlled by the Wye and Usk Foundation and one on a private syndicate stretch. This brought a sneering comment about me being prepared to use sundicate waters when it suits from Mike ‘Whiskerton’ Joyce. Yes Mike, it was a syndicate – A SALMON FISHING SYNDICATE! It happens to be run by a good friend of mine and we were there as guests of the salmon boys. We certainly were not denying a single coarse angler by being there because it is a water that simply isn’t available to them and never has been.
If only Mike would do his homework and grasp the fundamentals of how and why the fabulous Wye coarse fishing has become so widely available to the coarse angler he might begin to understand the situation.
I first fished the Wye in the 1980’s with Des Taylor and I’m one of a number of journalists who have been supporting the excellent work of the W&UF for the better part of ten years since Dr Stephen Marsh came along to the Angling Writers Awards dinner at Caer Beris Manor to share the Foundation’s aspirations.
And guess who was secretary of the Angling Writers Association at that time? That’s right, yours truly.
What a cock!
One To Keep An Eye On…?
I see Stuart Morgan has launched his own web site and blog. Now I may be jumping the gun here but Stu has produced some fascinating underwater footage and stills in recent times and I’m hoping we’re going to see more of it in the future on his web site. Meanwhile he’s only dipping a toe tentatively in the water with his first blog.
It’s a clip used widely on YouTube with different subtitles to suit the genre. You’ll find a version of it in one of my old blogs where Hitler is portrayed as a Newcastle United fan.
This time he’s a barbel angler and there are one or two very clever lines in it. Enjoy…
River Anglers Rejoice!
If you’ve ever phoned the EA’s riverline to check the river levels and then looked at your phone bill you’ll understand why it wasn’t exactly a popular service. Too expensive by far. However, worry no more about the cost of phone calls, the Environment Agency has now made all its river level informationavailable online for free.
You simply click on the area you’re visiting, drill down to the river you intend to fish and then click on the nearest guaging station to reveal the exact state of the river.
I’m not exaggerating when I say this but it is possible the most useful bit of information available to serious UK river anglers on the entire world wide web and will save lots of wasted trips to the river.
What I find particularly exciting is that here in Yorkshire we can easily have, say, the River Swale in flood and the Nidd at normal levels because they drain different Dales and the rain can be localised. It also means I can see quickly whether a river is rising or falling over the past 48 hours and knowledge like that is invaluable.
Needs No Introduction really.
Born To Boogie
Paul Dennis is the Deputy Editor of Anglers Mail is a bit of a barbel nut on the quiet. Well, he would be, hailing from Burton on Trent. Anyway, it turns out he’s a bit of a music fan, too. Having listened to my Sleepy Sun recommendation in the last blog he emailed to suggest I check out Wilson T King’s latest cut, Born Into This.
It’s an ‘old school’ powerhouse electric blues number that runs nearly nine minutes. Just one guitar, bass and drums feature in his ode to the madness and beauty of this thing called life. ‘PLAY IT LOUD!’ Says Paul.
We Cannot Keep Doing This
I watched an item on breakfast TV yesterday about polution in the seas around our coast. First image up on the screen showed an underwater shot of an anglers’ lead weight prominently positioned amid a load of other debris. The seas cover 70% of the earth’s surface so the impact of lead weights lost by recreational sea anglers has to be infinitesimally small but the BBC won’t let a small matter like that get in the way of a story.
However it’s a different case when we look at freshwater. I am sick and tired of seeing articles in magazines and books urging anglers to rig up in a way that jetisons the lead whenever a fish is hooked. From a lead manufacturers point of view it’s fantastic for business but in an era when we’ve already lost the most useful range of split shots to beauracracy on environmental grounds how on earth can we justify littering lakes and rivers with great big lumps of the stuff?
It’s an indefensible practice and one that we should be showing great caution over. If we are going to do it then it should be kept quiet or we should be using Stonze which are completely environmentally friendly.
And why do we need to do this in the first place? Because anglers are targeting what were once ‘safe’ areas. They’re fishing straight into weed and snags and increasing their chances of landing fish from what were once secure areas for the fish. That in itself is fish at all costs to me, but can we seriously justify the practise of dumping leads willy-nilly into lakes? No!
What is being widely promoted by ‘top’ anglers is completely irresponsible in my view.
Wooops! Sorry About That
As countless hundreds of visitors to this site will testify, if a sensible message or question is posted for me via the ‘Contact Me’ button then an answer will follow in timeley fashion, if not the same day then within a relatively short space of time. With the notable exception of a couple of abusive messages every single message submitted through the site to date has been answered.
It’s no small undertaking when you consider the average three or so messages each day adds up to over a thousand individual questions in a single year but it’s something I’m particularly proud of. That was until the early part of last week when I inadvertently deleted a visitor message without opening it.
You need to understand that due to the volume of questions coming through they are identified by my Inbox as a Spam and I have to check the spam box for these daily. To open one I simply click ‘Not Spam’ and just like magic it transfers to my regular Inbox. Unfortunately the ‘Delete Forever’ button and the ‘Not Spam’ buttons are adjacent and last week I deleted a message when I wanted to transfer it. Unfortunately the ‘forever’ bit does exactly what it says on the tin.
If you were expecting a reply and haven’t received one then it was your question I deleted, Just resubmit it, will you? Cheers.
It’s What I Am
I was fishing the Trent on Tuesday, running a float through, as I’ve been doing a fair bit this year, when a small boat, loaded to the gunnels with a pair of anglers and all their kit, came chugging it’s way upstream. They were still some way below when I clearly heard one of them say, ‘That’s Bob Roberts and his stick float! I always wondered where he fished.’
It reminded me of something that Motorhead’s Lemmy said in a BBC documentary, ‘It’s not what I do any more, it’s what I am.’
Guess I’m now the man with a stick. Time was when every angler had a stick float collection. These days the method is so rarely used I appear to now own it. I’ll settle for that!
As for ‘where I fish’, well, where I’m fishing is simply where I happen to be at a particular moment in time as I’ve a bit of the old Romany inside me. I have tickets for various parts of the tidal, middle and upper Trent, the Dove, Derbyshire Derwent, Idle, Swale, Ure, Nidd, Wharfe, Aire, Calder and Yorkshire Derwent for starters and I quickly tire of places. Rarely do I stay long on any one stretch but folk seem to like to tread in my footsteps for some reason and those who follow tend to boost the coffers of the angling clubs which is no bad thing these days.
Strangely they don’t seem to be any more successful on the stretches I’ve just vacated than on the ones they fished before…
Interesting change in the river while I’ve been away…
It’s said that 24 hours is a long time in politics but if you happen to go away a river can change pretty dramatically in a fortnight. Where in previous trips I’ve caught ten or so chub quite quickly on the stick before switching my attentions to barbel, this time there was nary a sign of a chub. It was as if there wasn’t a chub in the river.
In my two previous trips I had caught a grand total of four small dace. Today I was plagued by them, nipping my maggots on practically every cast. Where did they materialise from? Not that they were big enough to be worth fishing for. They were 3-4 inches long at best. Perfect zander baits I guess. But I still managed to nab a few barbel, although it wasn’t as prolific as the last trip mind you. Saying that, I actually only fished my swim for an hour in the morning and another in the afternoon.
Why? well that’s a story for another place. Frustratingly for you it’s one that I’m saving for my Improve Your Coarse Fishing magazine diary. Let’s just say something happened that staggered me. A fishing experience to match any I’ve ever experienced on the Trent – or anywhere else for that matter. Were it not for the fact that Allan Parbery was with me to verify the events I doubt anyone would believe me anyway. It’s an astonishing mystery and one for which you’ll simply have to wait to hear the outcome of but when it is published I’ll guarantee you that tongues will wag…
Last Sunday we picked up me old mum to take her out for Sunday lunch. She really enjoys her trips to the Owston Park Lodge and it’s dead convenient being less than a couple of miles from where she lives. Indeed we even held our wedding reception there last November.
Won’t be going again for a while by the looks of things, though. Using local knowledge to filter through the back ways I managed to avoid several police road blocks and eventually get within about 50 yards of the Lodge. Thinking the problem was a bad road accident on the A19 I got quite a shock when I saw fire engines galore and the outline of charred rafters pointing skywards. Plenty of hot food by the looks of things but none being served.
The search is now on for a new Sunday lunch venue.
I spotted a lovely piece about Doncaster Rovers’ manager Sean O’Driscoll on the When Saturday Comesweb site. In fact there was an hour wasted on TalkSport this week suggesting he’d be an ideal appointment to replace Fabio as England boss – seriously!
He’s good, but dear me! Here’s what they said:
“Laws’s appointment ended three fraught days for Doncaster Rovers fans in which they had faced, for the first time, the very real prospect of losing their most prized possession – manager Sean O’Driscoll.
Rovers fans had not been blind to the possibility. Like taking your favourite toy to show off at primary school, the more you gleefully talk about how great it is, the more likely one of the bigger boys will come along and pluck it from your grasp. There were only so many times Steve Claridge could drone “Donny do like to knock the ball about” on The Football League Show before others would eventually take notice, even Manish Bhasin was starting to look vaguely interested.
Thankfully for Rovers it was the smallest of the bigger boys who cast an envious eye at our wares. A hefty compensation clause was able to put paid to Burnley’s interest and they slunk away claiming they didn’t want to play with our toys anyway. Instead they chose Brian Laws, going out of their way to show he was the right man for the job by producing a study which enforced Laws as the best Championship manager, on a results-to-budget ratio, in the last three years.
Had the study focused on just the last year the outcome would have been very different. Only three managers picked up more points in the Championship than O’Driscoll in 2009 and the playing squads assembled by Billy Davies, Dave Jones and Kevin Blackwell commanded a much greater outlay than that afforded at the Keepmoat Stadium. Of Rovers’ squad just three players came at a price – Brian Stock, James Hayter and James O’Connor transferred in for a combined cost less than £500,000.
To keep a squad in a division on a budget is one thing. To do so with reliance on an aesthetically pleasing brand of fluid football is another. O’Driscoll has achieved results with one of the most unfashionable teams in the Championship playing arguably its most fashionable football. The emphasis is on ball retention and movement. The system is fluid, the midfielders and full-backs are given freedom to roam – comparisons with Arsenal’s style have been made often. There is joy to be had in punching above your weight, but to do so while out-footballing players much more feted than your own carries an incredible amount of satisfaction.”
* * *
Old SOD might be one of the brightest young managerial prospects around but I’m beginning to feel a little bit twitchy about the coming season. So far we’ve lost a great defender to Derby, a midfielder to Barnsley (of all clubs!) and Billy Sharp looks to be staying with the Blades where, no doubt, he go back to warming the bench and scoring one goal every blue moon. JET’s returned to Arsenal and Much appears to be featuring in Birmingham’s plans. That’s a great big gaping hole rent in our structure and there seems little in the way of new and exciting blood coming in to replace what amounts to five key players.
We’ll see. Too early to actually panic yet but the prospect of live games on Sky in September and on the Beeb in October don’t fill me with the kind of excitement they would have done just a few short seasons ago. Not that I’m getting blase about it.
Pre-season training starts this week and we’re looking at a nervous season ahead if you ask me. Were SOD to leave I think a few folk would be suicidal but is it realistic to expect the man to produce miracles at an unfashionable club with what amounts to a bunch of unfashionable and out-of-favour journeymen each season?
Hold The Front Page!
Piggin’ hell! Donny have only gone and signed Billy Sharp!!!
Not only did Rovers beat off reported competition from Burnley and Leeds United, we’ve shelled out a club record £1.15 million to secure his services for 3 years. Oh my God! I really don’t believe it. I remember old Cloughie paying the very first million pounds for a player, Trevor Francis, way back in 1979 wrily suggesting ‘he had potential’.
Compared to the millions that slosh around in the Premiership or even the millions that Leeds United squandered when they ‘lived the dream’, or even the £3.5m Boro have just paid Rangers for Kris Boyd it’s small potatoes, but for a club who were in the Conference as recently as 2003 with rivals like Dover Athletic and Sutton United it’s a staggering statement of the club’s ambition.
There’s talk of more transfer news to come plus the recruitment of three on-loan players for good measure. At this rate folk’ll be taking us seriously as a Championship club soon.
Sharp doesn’t even make the bench for tonights pre-season game with nearby pit village team Askern Villa. That’s how you come down to earth with a bump…
Footnote 1: The previous highest fee paid out by Doncaster Rovers was £300,000 for Matt Mills in July 2008. Mills was sold to Reading in the summer of 2009 for a reputed £2m.
Footnote 2: Rovers’ second most expensive player is James Hayter who cost the club £200,000 in 2007.
Footnote 3: If he get’s injured we’re toast!
Well Done England
I see our boys out in Spain won the World Angling Championships – again. No doubt they’ll be ignored again by the press and TV. Ironically they secured Gold on the very day our England football team was knocked out of the World Cup.
The decision to take Terry despite his infidelities with a team mate’s wife and at the expense of that team mate can now be questioned. Was it worth it? What was it about him that we can forgive such an unacceptable discretion on the grounds he was indispensable? And sourpuss Rooney for that matter – why did we have to play him?
But I digress. Back to angling and our triumphal team. It’s so easy to complain that we don’t get the media coverage ‘we deserve’. So tell me, if we deserve some kind of recognition then why are the UK’s angling sites not headlining with the achievement? Go on, Google it – World Angling Championships 2010…
If we can’t treat it seriously, why should anyone else? And then think about who is organising the team on our behalf – the Angling Trust. And what are they if not penniless paupers with such limited media facilities it’s laughable.
We anglers are a bigger joke than the England football team. Join the Trust? You say, what for? What’s in it for me? And while ever we talk like that our sport will drift slowly into oblivion…
Don’t Forget To Smell The Flowers
Fishing means different things to us all. To some it’s a battleground. To others it’s an escape from the pressures of work and maybe even an unsatisfactory home life. To me it’s a privilege just to be there, to be alive in the great British countryside simply enjoying what matters so much to me. That’s why I tend to lose track of what I’m doing at times and the fishing becomes only part of the experience. I sometimes spend as much time taking pictures as fishing. Walking the banks peering through the glare with my polarising specs is often as engrossing as the fishing ever is.
Here’s a little gallery of images from the past week:
Footnote (and a warning):
Please don’t read on if you’ve only come here looking for things to feel offended by. I know you’re struggling but if that really is the case the following might help…
Old Monty Dalrymple has promised, in his blog, to award a ‘Wanker of the Week’ accolade to whoever he feels deserves it most. I, too, was planning to do this some while ago and one kind gentleman on BFAMWy actually created a trophy to honour the occasion in Photoshop.
Monty, feel free to copy and paste this image, it will give your competition gravitas, for such an award needs to be recognised as an important statement and be more than just a flippant, off-the-cuff remark!
Here is your trophy, use it wisely Monty…