2011 – Early March Blog

Grab a cuppa, make yourself comfortable and settle down for one of Bob’s mega blogs. Sometimes, when there’s so much happening, I struggle to get around to pressing the publish button before a fresh idea crops up and consequently it just grows and grows. This is a good example and already runs to well over 5,000 words!

Enjoy it though as I’m intending to be fishing quite a bit in the next fortnight and probably won’t have a chance to write another until after the season ends. Perhaps you can treat it as a magazine or newspaper, just read the bits that grab your attention now and maybe read the rest later.

I hate to accept the fact but the season is staggering to its inevitable conclusion and it grieves me to say I’m going to miss my traditional last day on the Trent for once. After what’s been a tough old winter that few will reflect fondly on (although fish still continued to grace the nets of those who knew what they were doing) the weather suddenly improves dramatically and the fish get their feeding heads on. Sounds like fish are coming out all over the place right now.

Nothing’s actually spawning as yet but we’ll still banish ourselves from the riverbanks for 93 miserable days all thanks to the crazy and in my view, misguided Mundella Act. However, let’s not get too despondent. There’s still time for you to get out there on the banks before the end so make the most of what time there is left. The end of my season is about to be derailed although I still hope to get out at least a couple more times, so it ain’t all bad.

Going Down The Drain

When Stu and I sat down to map out a schedule for all the filming we’re hoping to do this year we feared the piking section would possibly be a little tricky. So much so we hatched a few plans to possibly involve a guest or two. The harsh winter and unpredictable conditions might make for a difficult challenge. It’s not as if we are what you might call dedicated pikers. Okay, we both enjoy the odd session but the Turners and Ficklings of this world aren’t going to lose any sleep over our efforts.

But the canal piece fell into place brilliantly and with the Swale too high to film a chub piece we headed for round two with old Essox on a Lincolnshire drain. The morning dawned grey and misty, cold but not frosty and the traffic was murder. The intention was that I’d pick up Stu. In the end I called him and said I’d meet him there.

So we had a late start and then a long walk. The old adage, walk as far as you can manage is a good one for most fish but for pike especially. Not to worry, my first rod had not been out five minutes when I noticed the rod tip knock. The bite alarm remained silent, the line still in the clip. And then it knocked again. Cameras were already rolling so I wound down and struck into a fish that was too lethargic to run off with my bait. It was almost too lazy to fight, too.

A nice double though.

Then Stu had one, and I had another.

We were on the move constantly. Leapfrogging our way back up the drain. Fifteen minutes and move. Each time we needed two trips for the gear and the cameras. Sort out angles, set up cameras on tripods, cast out two rods each, check time, count down and move again. And then repeat.

By the time we were in something like the 20th swim we were both feeling a bit shattered, but we’d had enough doubles to make a cracking piece, but Stu was still feeling greedy, ‘We just need a big ‘un to round it off!’  I found the prefect swim. One I really fancied. After ten minutes the line pulled out of the clip and the alarm wailed. My strike set the hooks into something that didn’t budge. This was what Stu wanted.

This filming lark is dead easy, you know…

If only.

Improve Your Relaunch

Try and get a look at the latest issue of Improve Your Coarse Fishing magazine in the relaunched format. Times are tough in the print game so it’s encouraging to see that Kev Green and his team have the confidence to change what has been  for a very long time, a winning and bankable format.

The Dynamite Baits web site describes the relaunch issue thus:

In the main 132-page magazine you’ll find a host of great features on day ticket waters YOU can visit – this is a festival of real fishing not fantasy fishing. Then you’ll find a 48-page FREE supplement called Tips & Tactics.

I do think they’ve hit the nail firmly on the head there, real fishing – not fantasy fishing. Kind of puts any Internet knockers right were they belong, don’t you think?

On a personal level I’m chuffed to see my diary column has been expanded to four pages and has a nice modern feel to it. Rest assured that maintaining the high standard will keep me busy and very much on my toes. Then again, I’ve enough exciting trips lined up to keep the interest alive.

New Mag Provides ‘Stiff’ Opposition

If Improve Your Coarse Fishing magazine doesn’t float your boat then perhaps Fish ‘n’ Tips might be the magazine of your dreams. I think ‘tips’ is spelt correctly…

You see FnT is a brand new top shelf styled fishing magazine featuring a scantily clad nurse on the cover next to the strap line, ‘Get a throb in you’. It also promises features like Belle of the Bivvy and Tackle Tart, the latter being illustrated by a cartoon wench in thigh boots.

Obviously it isn’t aimed at the IYCF reader. Perhaps I dare reverse the Dynamite description of IYCF, unreal fishing – definitely fantasy fishing!

The target audience is laddish in the twenty to 45-year-old age group. Perhaps it’ll do well, who knows. Somehow I don’t think it’s for me.

Fishing’s Like Sex

Saad contacted me recently, ‘Would I pen a few words for his new book?’

Of course I will. To be asked is an honour.

He sent me a few draft chapters and it’s enthralling stuff, but one line struck a chord…

‘Fishing for mahseer is like sex. Either it is over in seconds with your line smashed and your rod goes miserably limp because you have struck too soon or it could take up to a few hours as your bucking rod causes you to go crazy trying to control the animal at the end of your line.’

Now that’s how to Get a throb in you.

As the late Kennt Everrett would have said, ‘It’s all done in the best possible taste.’

Sum Up The Internet In Two Quotes:

                                              

I stumbled across a couple of quotes the other day that kind of sum up the internet to me:

Trying to get information from the Internet is like trying to get a glass of water from Niagara FallsArthur C Clarke

We used to have lots of questions to which there were no answers, but now, thanks to the computer, there are lots of answers to which we haven’t thought up the questionsPeter Ustinov

New Books On The Way:

Dave Steuart’s new book, “Minnows to Marlin” is now available and you can purchase copies online at Fishing Booksender. Alternatively if you wish to pay by cheque or postal order then please send them made payable to Fishingbooksender to Fishingbooksender, Caerbannog, Sarn, Powys, SY16 4EX. Copies cost £35 plus £5.00 P&P per copy.

Signed copies can be ordered but will not be available until after the Launch at the Land’s End Inn on the 16th April.

We will be holding back 150 copies for the launch and only one copy per customer will be available to buy on the day, we have around 70 copies that have NOT been reserved and these will be sold pre-launch on a first come first served basis!

The book contains a foreword by Trefor West.

Dr Terry Baxter’s eagerly awaited book, Barbel Mystique will be published by Little Egret Pressin May. perfect timing for the new season and no doubt the Barbel Society’s big bash at Hinkley on June 5th.

This book follows Dr Baxter’s lifelong obsession with barbel in 64 fascinating chapters, the Little Egret Press’s largest tome to date. My spy tells me it contains a wealth of wonderful barbel fishing experiences, beautifully and eloquently written.

‘Although I have shared in these pages those things I consider worthy of mention, a distillate gleaned over the years and faithful to diary accounts, it is through physical contact with England’s wild and secret heart, a place of unparalleled beauty and reward, that barbel fishing finds its place in my life…’ Says Dr. Terry Baxter in the Preface 

Barbel Mystique is over 280 pages long, and fully illustrated throughout with pen and ink drawings and photography, together with a section of colour photography. The book measures 255 x 180mm with the cloth bound edition – limited to 400 copies only, numbered and signed by the illustrator – costing £32.95

25 leather bound copies, numbered and signed by both author and illustrator will be made available at £185.00

If you would like to take up this offer, please put the name you wish printed in the ‘Instructions from buyer’ box on your PayPal order. Or, if paying by cheque, please include a note clearly stating the name. It is your responsibility to ensure the information you provide is legible!

Swordsey’s Been Catching A Few

I hear the Handsworth Horse has been having a busy time but alas I’m sworn to secrecy, well at least until my next blog when I’ll share a few details and pictures with you. All will be explained in due course…

Alan’s No Dud Either

One catch I don’t have to keep a lid on is that taken by Retford-based PAC organiser Alan Dudhill. Alan and I enjoyed a fascinating trip to the Trent last Autumn, you may recall we fished for zander, on lures, in the dark. Here he is in daylight on his way to amassing a six fish, 60lb bag of pike in a match. This twenty plusser was the pick of the bunch.

“When I saw this beauty come up to the net I thought I was into my first thirty!” Said Alan. Turned out not to be a 30 but he wishes he could do that in every match…

Kev and Mandy’s Big Bash

When Kev Allen’s wife Mandy underwent successful treatment for breast cancer the pair decided they needed to repay the kindness of the hospital staff in by organising a charity fishing match. The initial goal was to raise £10,000 for the local Scunthorpe hospital, a target they achieved in just 2 years. Five years on the total has risen to the staggering sum of £47,071 and they’re not done yet. This year they can confidently expect to push that figure past £50,000.

The match they organise has become known as ‘The Big Bash’ and is widely recognised as the biggest charity open fishing match in the UK. 421 anglers took part in 2008 and rising to a remarkable 471 in 2009.

They’re holding another one this year at the prolific Lindholme Lakes near Doncaster, which is the only venue in the area big enough to handle it.

Wednesday May 11th is the date for your diary if you want to go along and support them. You don’t have to be a match angler to take part, although many of the country’s top match men do take part. Pleasure anglers and specimen anglers alike turn up to support the charity and have a good day out.

Although there’s a sizeable cash pay out and a trophy for the overall winner, the bulk of the prize money is divided up into small sections of around ten anglers, giving everyone a chance of winning something.

Post-match, £3000 worth of prizes are raffled off in the club house so even if you don’t catch much there’s still a chance you can walk away with a prize, not to mention you can return home satisfied in the knowledge that you have helped a truly worthwhile cause.

Tickets for the match cost £20 including pools and peg fees with a rolling draw takingplace from 8am. Cheques should be made out as payable to NLAG CHARITABLE TRUST (Breast cancer) and posted along with a stamped addressed envelope to:

The Big Bash 2011, Mr K Allen, 20 Russet Close, Scunthorpe, North Lincs, DN15 8YJ  

By printing this form and returning it with your cheque the charity will gain further benefit from tax relief.

Organiser Kev Allan be contacted on Tel: 07878706752 for any enquires and sponsorship forms are available for those who want to try and raise that little bit extra. More details can be found on the Big bash web site.

Look You Lot – Learn To Bl**dy Type!!! 🙁

If you’re contemplating leaving a message on the site, as many do, then please, if your message involves me responding, at least make sure you type in your email address correctly. There’s nothing more frustrating than taking time out to compose an answer only for the sever to bounce it back with a delivery failure message that it will keep repeating for God knows how long.

 Today I’m addressing someone who goes by the name of Barbelnut. Dear Barbelnut, the answer to your question is:

I believe that if you’re fishing a single bait you’re fishing for a single barbel. Introducing feed enables you to stimulate a number of fish into feeding plus you can generate competition. Watch the DVDs and you’ll discover some alarming pitfalls with PVA, especially in fast water. Personally I’d use a feeder in fast water but the river bed make-up will have a great influence on your success – over sand and fine gravel you’ll be feeding fish a hundred yards away. Fishing over small stones and pebbles offers many advantages. Hate to sound like a stuck record, but watch the films we made. We put everything you need to know in them, especially in Vols 3 and 4 where we concentrate on how bait behaves and barbel interacting with tackle. Good luck.

Now do try and type your own email address correctly next time, eh? 🙁

I’m no fan of the National Lottery and have never bought a ticket. Probably never will, as I’m in the Jim Gibbinson camp. He calls it a tax on the stupid. I can see the benefit it provides for charities and one fishery owner friend of mine used to boast he’d won the lottery three times having been awarded vast sums in the form of grants for his lakes. You know the kind of stuff, ‘Please send me £50,000 and I’ll create a dragonfly pool’, or, ‘Please send me £500m and I’ll build a white elephant of an athletics stadium that’ll be no use to anyone except as a legacy’ – whatever a ‘legacy’ is.

The jackpots may not be so high but Premium Bonds offer a far better return, although personally I prefer to just invest my millions…!

Not everyone agrees and some see it as just a flutter. A long shot. My missus was convinced she would win it one day. Just before she became seriously ill she bought her last two tickets, three lines for Saturday, two for Wednesday. I never even bothered checking them. After all, why would I? In the circumstances it would have taken far more than a lottery win to cheer me up.

But I never threw them away. They sat there, in the draw, waiting to be thrown away. But there was always that niggling little voice saying, ‘What if?’

This week I succumbed. Curiosity got to me, so I looked on the Camelot site. Crikey, there’s millions of pounds in unclaimed prizes, and that’s just from the past 180 days. Who buys lottery ticketsand doesn’t check the draw, I ask? Can’t all have met with tragedy, surely? That’d be a sure fire way of putting folk off buying them.

Anyway, the winning numbers don’t go back very far, so I emailed, would you mind telling me, etc…

Sure enough, they did.

I knew I shouldn’t have bothered, but what if I’d had the jackpot in my grasp and thrown it away? What if I’d spurned the chance to be a millionaire?

You know what, I couldn’t have cared less. I’m happy with my lot. We’d all change a few things if we could but to be honest, I don’t think life gets much better than mine is already. This’ll do for me.

The Camera Doesn’t Lie

I find the duplicity of certain individuals very difficult to comprehend. When they want a favour they’re on the phone to you, or sending emails. Can you do a talk for us, have you got a projector, and so on. Yet you ask for a trivial favour like using a photograph and you’d think they were dealing in diamonds. It gets super serious.

Fortunately not everyone’s like that. Some folk genuinely want to celebrate angling for what it is and to share the true pleasure of catching a few fish. They realise it’s a hobby and not Middle East Politics. That its only fishing after all.

Take Mick Askham, for instance. He contacted me through the site after purchasing some DVDs, complimented us on the fantastic service we provide and then asked a favour, ‘I’ve just bought my first centrepin and was wondering, where might I use it to catch a few chub and barbel on the float…?’

So I offered up a few suggestions. Shortly afterwards he mailed me the images you see here. ‘Please accept this thanks in the knowledge that I get few opportunities to fish the Trent due to a young family and demanding working life with the Red Cross. Of course you can use the pictures in your blog, I’d be honoured.’

The images show Mick with a PB 5lb 5oz chub and his first Trent barbel, both taken on the new ‘pin. Why shouldn’t he be pleased to celebrate his achievement instead of being ultra cautious and secretive, unlike some miserly individuals who I fear have simply lost the plot.

Bloody Liars!

Well, swiftly moving on from matters Lottery and pott(er)y to matters ottery. I’m not sure if it’s an age thing but lately I’ve noticed I talk to myself a lot. I used to think it was a thought process but messing around with the video cameras while  fishing made me realise I externalise my thoughts rather too often . But that’s nothing compared to when I watch TV. I occasionally end up shouting at it – especially when the subject matter is otters!

Last night on the One Show we were treated to a piece showing volunteers building otter holts alongside waterways, making walkways under bridges so the poor little blighters don’t get run over and a whole bunch of glaring lies!!!

We were treated to a daft Geordie who showed us his garden pond where recently he awoke to find ten fish missing and a pile of scales on the lawn. Night filming proved it was an otter. Before I rail on a bit, have you noticed two things happen whenever a member of the working classes is interviewed on TV? First of all he’ll affect a weird posh accent and then he’ll say whatever he’s told to say…

Anyway, his fish were gone…, a small price to pay…, that’s nature…, etc.

So, if that’s the case, why had he subsequently erected a great big wooden frame with Colditz style mesh over the pond. ‘Not in my back yard’ is the answer to that one. Lovely creatures, cute and cuddly they may be, but let them eat someone else’s fish in future.

Then we had surveillance footage showing an otter scavenging in Durham city centre.

But what had me screaming at the box was these otter supporters telling the nation that the recovery is aligned to cleaning up the rivers and now they’re cleaner there are more fish for otters to eat!

Cue me screaming at the TV…

Aaaaarrrgghhhhhh!!!!!

There aren’t more fish in our rivers, there are less! Fact! There are 98% less eels for a start. There are next to no bloody salmon and the cormorants have decimated the silver fish shoals on the vast majority of rivers. But let’s get back to that bare faced lie and expose the underlying audacity of the situation.

Otters don’t just eat fish. They eat birds and mammals, too. The very fact that they’re scavenging in suburban gardens and city centres ought to be ringing alarm bells but folk are so bloody blinded by the cuddly Tarka dream.

Any cats gone missing lately? Hmmm… Which animal would you back in a fight?

And let’s put another myth to rights. How often do we hear the mantra (yes, that’s right, on every single TV programme and in every newspaper article): Otter numbers died out due to hunting and the use of pesticides in the 1950’s.

Can someone tell me how many otter hunts there were in the 1950’s? Was it some kind of widespread pastime that took place every week right across the country. Were there hundreds of thousands of otter hounds roaming the country seeking out every last Tarka? Were there bloody hell! If we’re to believe these folks I’m surprised there weren’t massive traffic jams snarling up the countryside as hordes of otter hunters on horseback tried to cross the paths of the vast army of fox hunters who were a right pain in the bum for the hare coursers…

Crikey, there was barely room left to park a ferreter’s van, was there? And you had to keep low to avoid the aerial bombardment of lead shot as anything that flew was brought crashing to the ground in a hail of gunfire. And did they have to give way to the deer hunters and badger baiters?

Who were all these people that are blamed for hunting anything with fur or feather to extinction?

And then there’s the second glaring lie. Pesticides. Pesticides were used to control insects. They entered the food chain without a doubt, but I don’t think for one minute that fish were left swimming around happily with massive levels of pesticides in their bodies. If otters were affected by pesticides it is because they were eating something other than fish.

And if they were so dangerous to carnivore mammals, why didn’t the fox die out, or the badger?

So let’s have the abrupt truth out in the open. Otters kill birds and other mammals – for fun and for food. There are far fewer fish in our rivers today than ever before and the number of migratory fish is falling off the scale. More otters means less birds. They are vicious, highly efficient, murdering rats on a giant scale that operate under cover of darkness and your chances of watching them go playfully about their business is somewhere between slim and non-existent. They are not cute and you would cuddle one at your peril.

Rant over!

For now.

Except for a little nagging doubt. How many more lies are they telling us?

Of Moles and Frogs

Thursday 24th February – just back from local practitioners where I underwent a minor procedure to remove a mole that had begun to itch, and bleed, and grow – all the symptoms we associate with skin cancer. Scary stuff until the nurse dismissed it is inconsequential. The Doc had it off in no time with what looked like a soldering iron. No blood, just a great hole where it had been. Took my missus longer to park the car than he took to remove it.

Anyway, got home and spotted the first two frogs of 2011 sitting in the pond. Won’t be long before it’s a writhing mass of them. And then they’ll vanish for another year. Weird creatures.

Preparation Matters

Planning for the three musketeers’ next adventure is already at an advanced stage. I’ll tell you all about the trip at a later date but right now it’s all about putting the finishing touches together and that means sourcing the right gear and leaving nothing to chance. We’ve just spent a whole afternoon loading Daiwa Dogfight reels with 80lb braid and it has to go on under a lot of of tension. Here’s James looking a perfect wuss as the pressure is piled on… 

What’s he going to be like when there’s a fish on the end?

Did I hint that we will be using lures? Quite hefty ones…

Don’t even ask how much each one costs!

We caused quite a stir down at the local park lake, I can tell you. They’re used to seeing an odd piker but never anything quite like this. Our biggest fear was that some stupid dog might go chasing after the lures, as we tried them out, thinking it was a stick we wanted it to fetch.

And yes, that’s a cute little pussy pad that Stu’s wearing. Maybe he was half hoping his lure would be snatched by a barracuda or something.

Did They Have News For Us!

Not really sure why I’m bothering to include this little snippet but I was clearing out my study the other day and came across an old letter, addressed to John Hunter. John was my deputy for a while when I was editing Advanced Carp Fishing magazine. He was a great bloke to work with and we still bump into each other occasionally. In fact John actually got married at the Caer Beris Manor hotel where we run the fishing courses from each summer.

The letter is from Hat Trick Productions, which is the TV company that produces the ever popular Have I Got News For You show.

Perhaps this invitation was the magazine’s pinicle of fame in my time there – who knows?

Or perhaps it was the letter from Robbie Williams’ management, but I can’t find that letter, more’s the pity.

One thing’s for sure, we certainly had some fun during our time working on the mag. Methinks they’d get a whole lot more mileage from Fish’n’Tips when it goes on sale.

Sandy Charity Night

Just a quick reminder. As previously mentioned I’ll be delivering a special show for the charity fund raising evening at the Holiday Inn, Sandy, Bedfordshire on Monday 28th March in aid of Sue Ryder Care. It’ll be a cracking night in aid of a good cause and there will be some exceptionally good anglers in attendance who’s brains you will be quite free to pick.

I’ll be delivering two hours of film footage with classic outtakes, sensational locations, spectacular fish and some very thought provoking underwater footage. It’s a slide show with a huge difference. For a start it will be entertaining!

Do come along if you possibly can.

This Organisation Deserves Your Support

If I wake early on a weekend I’ll stick the earphones in and listen to Fisherman’s Blues on Talksport. Keith Arthur’s normally in the chair but when he’s away Nigel Botherway sits in and does a fine job. I’ve known the pair of ’em for years and you have to admire what they do to promote angling. You get to know some of the regular callers but one in particular stands out, a guy who goes by the name of Mushroom.

Mushroom is behind the TAC, that’s the the Thames Anglers’ Conservancy to you and me, an organisation that is doing a fantastic job in representing Thames anglers and making great strides towards cleaning up the river. He’s a compelling and interesting speaker who talks with great passion and persuasion. Angling needs more folk like Mushroom.

Check out the web site and then maybe ask yourself, could I do something like this for my river?

The world is full of folk who moan a lot, spouting to anyone who’ll listen, ‘SOMEONE should do something!’

Well, Mushroom and his mates have done something. They’ve made a massive difference.

Could you?

River Don Update

You may recall a frank exchange of views in the comments left beneath a recent blog which refered to Lee Swords’ appearance on the BBC Countryfile programme. Well, those folk from SPRITE have kindly sent me a link to the following video clip which shows them hard at work tidying up an urban stretch of the Don near Sheffield:

Rockin’ All Over The World

The reaction to our Barbel Days and Ways DVD series in other countries has pleasantly surprised Stu and I. We’ve had offers from parties in several countries who are prepared to dub them in a foreign language and distribute them throughout that market. Indeed talks are ongoing with one major European company right now.

Only this week we received copies of a two-part article in a Romanian magazine that, should you be in the slightest bit interested, you can see by clicking on the articles or this link. My user name is Donnybob.

Dee-Dar, Dee-Dar…, Click, Click…

Doncaster Rovers might well be in the middle of a dreadful run of injuries and results but it’s fair to say there’s always someone worse off than you are. Take Sheffield United for instance. Four managers in 7 months and not a single win since former player Mickey Adams took over eleven games ago. Indeed, the other night they managed to throw away a two-goal lead at Scunthorpe who leapfrogged them into third bottom place. The fans are already calling for him to be sacked.

The dee-dars are looking certs for the drop right now and next season could easily see Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday, Chesterfield and Rotherham all playing in League One. Unthinkable, really. Throw in Scunny and Huddersfield and there’llbe some rare old derbies. If only they were all in the Championship with us and Barnsley.

It’s not natural for ‘teams like us’ to be looking down on ‘big’ teams like them. It’s unnerving when you’ve grown up on a diet of having your noses rubbed in it (look at our ground, our fans, our players – we’re massive! We don’t belong here, we’re a top club, should be in the Prem, who are ya? Etc).

But that doesn’t mean we can’t have a laugh at their expense. Hat’s off then to the Dingle fan who came up with this classic…

Wednesday fans are already rubbing their hands withglee. And there’s the real problem. Two teams living in the past, obsessed with each other, while the rest of the footballing world has moved on and left them behind. Blackpool and Wigan, Fulham and Stoke are two divisions above Wednesday. Meanwhile all talk in Sheffield is of a Boxing Day massacre re-run – a match that took place over 30 years ago.

Fifth biggest UK city, two sets of fans, both stuck in the same timewarp.

Sad really, isn’t it?

And Finally…

This will be of absolutely no interest whatsoever to most readers but there may be one or two of you with a passing interest in the late 70’s punk revolution. Local author Tony Beesley has charted the period in a trillogy of books. The concluding part, This is Our Generation Calling, is available for a limited time only on Amazon for the very special price of £9.99 (normally £17.99). The seller is Face65.

Methinks I might just treat myself to a copy.

One thought on “2011 – Early March Blog

  1. Hey Bob, love your site, love your attitude, and love the fact that your team got destroyed today by the superwhites lol. Keep up the good work. Jon

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