2011 – Early February Blog

Well, That’s January done and dusted. I’d better re-name this blog Early February! Weather’s picking up though and the fish are biting again. How good is that?

And how are your new year resolutions going? Are they in tatters yet? I’m proud to say mine is going strong. This year I decided that life would be a lot better and more serene if I gave certain individuals a wide berth in future. As tempting as it is to read their delusional Internet posts I decided not to bother reading them again. Let them trade their cheap insults with each other because in all fairness no one really cares and appart from trading insults with me, what exactly are they well known for. Seriously, what do they do? So I’ve moved on. I’ve got far better things to do and can use that time constructively.

It’s taken a fortnight but the installation of a new kitchen has run its course and I can finally trade jobs from being a ‘tea boy stroke supervisor’ to being an angler again. Talk about cage fever. It’s now time to get serious about making the next bunch of DVDs. Saturday saw Stu and me heading up to the River Swale. The intention was to get there while it was still pitch black and film in the dark so we were on the road at an ungodly hour with the temperature gauge registering minus four. It would have been so easy to be pesimistic…

When we arrived at the river there was ice in the margins. We decided against checking the water temperature. After all, it could only confirm our worst suspicions.

Filming during daylight is far from easy but filming in the dark, when you need to get the horizon level, is a whole lot trickier, made doubly difficult on a two camera shoot. But we managed it. What’s more we had some cracking fish to boot.

I’ll not spoil the whole story but two specific methods were on the agenda, one involved legering with an unusual bait, the other a crude float method. You know us, we always film the actual bites, in sequence – none of that Tom Fool trickery you’ll see on some DVDs with the false bites and randomly clipped together sequences to try and deceive the viewer.

Well, filming a quiver tip isn’t exactly the kind of challenge to stump a rocket scientist but filming a float bite from a chub on a swiftly flowing winter river like the Swale requires a degree of faith (that you’re actually going to get a bite in the first place). You try tracking a float on its path down a swim and try to keep the bright red tip slap bang in the centre of the screen with a smooth panning motion. For a start, as the float travels away from the camera the pan rate has to be slowed down. If the angler mends his line you find the float apparently moving upstream. It’s the same if he slows it down in any way. And despite setting the tripod perfectly level the nature of the swim’s vegetaion and flow means the float starts off in the centre of the screen but as you pan round it heads up towards the top corner of the screen so you have to compensate with a horixontal pan and a simultaneous pan up, and all without a single jerk. It doesn’t help when you’re also shivvering.

Tough? You better believe it. I was tearing my hair out at times but we got the bites we wanted on film and more importantly the strike – you know what I mean – the k-e-r-lunk(!) moment when the rod’s sweep meets the solid resistance of a fish, the red tip jerking proud in a flurry of spray only to be suddenly suddenly jagged back beneath the surface.

The day was a triple whammy because we’d intended to fish alone but a desperate call from james Gould just after dawn revealed he’d gone to fish for pike on the Stainny Canal only to get there and find it frozen over. How was the Swale looking? Ninety minutes later he had a couple of deadbaits out in a swim just upstream from us and he plucked out this plummy pike in next to no time Of course it would have been rude not to film it.

Despite the sun shining brightly it was midday before the frost showed any sign of lifting and it never actually shifted from the hollows. We actually needed to be rid of the frost as Stu had filmed certain scenics a week earlier when the river was in flood. We needed to re-shoot the exact scenes at normal level to illustrate the nature of a spate river like the Swale.

Whilst hanging around I spotted a rather pointless sign. Indeed I’ve collection of photographs shot at places around the world depicting ridiculous signs and obligatory stuff like ‘slippery when wet’, and, ‘don’t spit get fit’, but I would challenge anyone to come up with a better one than this..

 Charidee Update…

It’s a bit early, I know, but if anyone fancies coming along to one of my live shows then I will be appearing at a charity bash in Bedfordshire on March 28th. It’s at the Holiday Inn, Sandy, close to the A1 and should you fancy staying over the hotel is offering special rates on accommodation. It’s an annual event and previous year’s turn-outs have been pretty impressive at upwards of a couple of hundred souls.

I’ll be delivering the show a few of you will have seen – it’s the one that Stu and I gave in aid of Help For Heroes in Nottingham although there might be a bit of a tweak, depends if we have time after returning from a little adventure we have planned…

Anyway, rather than type out the detail, here’s the poster which advertises the evening:

It’s A Crazy Upside Down Kinda World

Or Maybe It’s An Allan Thing…

I’m sure I’ve related the tale before about an hilarious trip that Allan Parbery and I shared a few years back when we fished Milstone Pool, not a million miles from Limouge, France. I impishly convinced a young lad, who also happened to be called Alan, that if he was going to have his picture taken with a carp caught by his fishing partner that the done thing was to hold it upside down.

Allan (P) backed me up on this with a straight face and so convincing were we that the kid fell for it, hook line and sinker. Of course we maintained our serious faces for as long as we possibly could but raucous laughter would errupt each time we indulged in a glass of wine thereafter.

It’s the kind of daft thing lads do when they’re on holiday and not taking the fishing too seriously.

Imagine Allan (P)’s surprised when 15 years later I introduced him to the same young kid in the bar at Anglers Paradise, Devon. Old Al was gobsmacked, and not just because the younger Al didn’t look a day older. Of course we all had a giggle over the incident and no feelings were hurt.

However, what none of us appreciated was that Allan (P) has previous. In fact he probably thought the evidence was dead and buried, long ago, and that his secret would go to the grave with him.

Not so.

A mutual friend has given me this item of incriminating evidence. It shows a young Mr P with flowing golden locks (I’ve never known him less then folically challenged since we met many years ago on the banks of Haversham Lake) but here’s proof that he did once have hair – even if it is a bit like a girl’s!

And guess what – look how he’s holding that carp. Could these two Al(l)ans be long lost brothers…?

Big Time Swordsey

It was nice to see Lee Swords finally achieve one of his dreams and appear on National TV. Especially as it was on BBC’s Countryfile rather than on Jeremy Kyle. Maybe it’s to do with the backlash over the programme losing an industrial tribunal and it now has to be seen as employing a few old tarts on the show!

The programme focussed on the now much cleaner Sheffield environment. Fifty years ago Sheffield was one of the dirties cities in Europe – even dirtier than the Arsenals and Leeds United of that era…

Today the city is rejuvenated and to prove the point Lee caught a trout to order on his very first cast. He also hammed it uop well and I guess Teme Severn Baits will have been pleased to see their logo broadcast to the nation on Lee’s cap. That’s quite a result you know. When I appear on Sky I am not allowed to wear any branded clothing whatsoever.

I’m seriously pleased they chose a down to earth character like Lee rather than some plummy ‘fluff chucker’. It gave the piece authenticity. But how on earth did he manage to pull it off?

Well, as daft as it seems, the BBC chose Lee. Having read a piece he wrote about the Don for the Angling Star they presumably tracked him down via the DVSG web site and, as they say, the rest is history.

Maybe the Tidal Trenters will now relent and invite him to join….

Nah! I don’t think so.

Which reminds me. Whatever did happen to the Tidal Trenters?

Is That A Spelling Mistake I see?

Probably not. The ABoF has launched its new online barbel magazine – Riffle – and a jolly good first attempt it is, too. Edited by former Barbel Society Secretary Dave Burr, I have to say he’s made a decent fist of the launch issue as you can see from these screen shots… 

You can even read this magazine online for free, but if you want to see any more then you’ll have to subscribe. Decent value for a quid, mind.

Oh well, that’s all I’ve got time for. Fishing and filming again tomorrow and I need to sort out some gear. It’s a hard life!

15 thoughts on “2011 – Early February Blog

  1. Thanks Mark,

    It does look fresher and I particularly like the slideshow which lets you click straight through to the article in question.

    Still having problems with getting the thumbnail images to appear on the front page. Really frustrated by that at the moment but I’m sure it’s something that will eventually be sorted out.

    Bob Roberts

  2. Bob,

    Its the hard working plummy ‘ fluff chuckers’ who have primarily turned the River Don through Sheffield into the fishable river that it is.

    Sprite spanglefish.com/sprite-southyorks/ organise regular clean ups/balsam bashing days on the River Don plus the unseen political work/grant applications and laising with riparian landowners for access etc.

    Perhaps Lee would like to join them?


    James Ferguson

    PS: Do you know if Archie Braddock is still fishing and writing? Im a Burton Joyce lad and grew up fishing the Trent following Archies advice for big Roach and Perch

    • Ah, but we don’t see them flinging their fluff through Attercliffe very often, do we? 😉

      If you’d like to invite Lee to join you then by all means send me a private message (click on Contact Bob) and it comes direct to me.

      Archie is still as maniacal and mad (keen) as ever. He even does the odd guiding day on his local rivers if you’re interested at a bargain price. Again, if you are keen I can put you in touch.

      He gave up writing his web site diary a few years ago because he felt it was giving away too many clues about his favourite swims.

      That and the fact it’s bloomin hard work to keep on top of a site.

      Archie has also let Shaun Harrison (Quest Baits) distribute his flavours.


      Bob Roberts

      • Thanks for the reply Bob,

        Sprite members will be able to answer better than I about Attercliffe but they do fish around Club Mill Road, not the salubrious loaction in Sheffield ( and the fly tip capital of the City!) plusthe stretch below Hillsbrough into Sheffield City Centre. Its not all the Upper Don in the leafy suburbs and Moorlands. It would be great to fish with Archie, I re-read his article in John Baileys book, Roach- the gentle giants, about winter trotting on the Trent frequently.

        I had sucess with the chub and Roach Magic flavouring on the Upper Welland in and around Stamford a few years ago. I’ll check out Quest



    • You’re a bit out of touch there Bob, we don’t do ‘plummy’ – we do gritty and urban.We don’t just chuck fluff either, trotting for our fabulous winter grayling, a spot of chubbing, or even flinging the odd lure – each to there own. Our members do fish Attercliffe, but as a club, we only have limited resources so have chosen Hillfoot to Beely Wood as our target area.

      Have you fished (or seen) the Hillsborough, Hillfoot or Winn gardens section? Syringes, condoms, fly tipping – this is what we deal with on a regular basis, organising clean ups, raising community awareness, improving access, habitat improvement, fund raising, and offering tuition for youngsters. Not to mention liaising with EA, and ensuring they make good the shocking vandalism they sanctioned at Malin Bridge and other locations. The Countryfile article didn’t go into the wholescale habitat distruction they carried out, did it. Without our lobbying, this section would be pretty much devoid of any life. Even with our best efforts it is only less bad – and certainly not the fantastic environment portrayed in the film. I am suprised that you are not more informed on what we have achieved on the river, and I’ve got to say, disappointed that you chose to have a cheap shot at fly anglers. Regardless of our chosen angling code, we should be supporting each others initiatives. It is just a shame more course anglers are not as passionate about the river environment as fly anglers are – I know this will be contentious, but as a course angler of many years, only recently taken up the fly, it is a regretable truth.

      • Tug me forelock and doff me cap to you my Lord…

        You know Paul, I went to the inaugural meeting of the Don Rivers Trust, as did representatives of numerous fishing clubs and other interested coarse anglers. I went to the next few as well. Soon I was about the only coarse angler left. None of us could recognise where the coarse angler fitted into the plans. It was wholly game oriented as far as I could see and no doubt those who gave up before I did.

        An offer to publicise their work was proffered but I have to say it’s all quiet on the Western Front.

        On the subject of being ill-informed, I write a respected weekly angling column in the Sheffield sports paper, and by that I mean more than a few column inches of match results. The paper, which circulates throughout the whole of South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire, devotes a whole page to angling, occasionally I sneak onto a second page. And just remember the column competes with football clubs, cricket, rugby and many other sports for space yet we now getting similar coverage to football’s Championship sides.

        So let me ask you something as you accuse me of being ill-informed. Has your group or club ever once sent me so much as a single press release or even a tiny snippet of news in the past 12 years? Let’s face it, you clearly understand the way to my web site and how to contact me.

        Or is it the fact that a rough a***d coarse angler was selected by the Beeb rather than the stereotyped tweedy type that upsets you?

        Lee Swords was not chosen at random, you know. He was chosen because of his glowing write-ups about the Don in the Angling Star had attracted the attention of someone at the BBC. He did not court them with a story, they sought him out and tracked him down.

        Or is your beef that Lee used his 30 seconds of ‘fame’ to sell the positives rather than moan about the negatives? Sounds to me that you are keen to highlight the fly tipping, hypodermics, vandalism, EA wrongdoing and such like, and are rather jealous that he stole your limelight.

        To be fair, on those grounds it seems plain to me why Lee was chosen and not somone like yourself.

        And let’s be completely frank here, had Lee blathered on all day about the negatives it would have ended on the cutting room floor. Countrywatch was selling a positive story and the angler was never going to do anything but play second stooge to the TV ‘star’ presenter. Either way they would still have found two sentences of positive spin at some point.

        And you tell me this, why did the Beeb show us just one fish, a trout? Do you think that was the only species Lee caught?

        I think you know the answer. It fitted with the profile of the programme and the perceived target audience of the programme. And that is why I highlighted the fact the Beeb chose to use a floppy hatter rather than a fluff-flinger because when all’s said and done, Their core audience is probaly more affiliated with the fluff flinger but equally they will be aware that there are more rod licenses sold per capita in Sheffield than in any other post code in the country and what proportion of those do you think are game anglers?

        I’m sorry Paul, but in this instance it is you who is twisting words to make out you’re being hard done to and firing the ‘cheap shots’.

        Now if you want to attempt to spin a positive into a negative then why don’t you send me press releases that contain interesting stories that I can share with the readership of the paper and the wider following I attract on the Internet? And why don’t you provide me with details of the areas they can safely park and fish for trout and grayling on the river you and your mates have created?

        It will be a pleasure to shine a light on your activities now you’ve stressed you’re not different to us…

        • Ok enough petty insults. I was directed to your website by a fellow SPRITE member, and the comments made are on behalf of the club. We do not court publicity for its own sake, but recognition for what we have achieved (which is a considerable amount) would seem appropriate. The article on countryfile (which is after all what we are discussing here) was about the improved aquatic and riparian habitats. SPRITE and others, for example The Wild Trout Trust, have brought about considerable improvements for both wildlife and the local community, and some mention of this should have been made. Whether we are course or game anglers is irrelevant.

          My reference to the negative aspects were to illustrate to you that SPRITE are not custodians of the private and select parts of the river. It is the fact that we deal with these negatives when nobody else will that proves that we are not only positive, but deeply passionate about improving the river.

          As for Lee’s contribution – good luck to him. He spoke well and as you say, was positive about the river. If this is all Countryfile wished to convey, then they seem to only be getting some of the story. Lee can’t be held responsible for that.

          The ONLY issue here is that SPRITE and others put a considerable amount of time and effort into ensuring the river remains a pleasant and productive environment and fishery, but others take the plaudits. You will appreciate that for the hard working and committed volunteers that put in the graft, this is a real kick in the teeth.

          On a personal note, I would point out that you don’t know me, but seem happy to speculate about me and make personal and derogatory comments. This is the unpleasant down side of internet communication, and an aspect I have no interest in. You carry on – I won’t be replying. Please re-read my first post, and I hope you will see it is not a personal attack on you, but I stand by my comment that you are ‘a bit out of touch’ on this issue. None of us know everything afterall.

  3. Well at least you’ve now had two opportunities to publicise SPRITE on here, Paul. James F was given a couple, too.

    As regards ‘you do the work, others take the plaudits’, that is very harsh on Lee, to some extent the EA and the BBC, but I’m guessing the BBC had no idea you exist.

    If I am ‘a bit out of touch’ and by the same token, the BBC is, then surely that’s down to SPRITE’s failure to share their activities with the media.

    Sadly, you cannot deliberately run a low key organisation and then complain no-one gives you any credit. The plain fact is, if you choose to stay under the radar then no-one will ever be aware you exist. Unfortunately you cannot have that both ways.

    I suggest you read the piece again and take it for what it is. It’s a light hearted banter piece (references to Dirty Leeds, Jeremy Kyle, etc) in which I said: ‘I’m seriously pleased they chose a down to earth character like Lee rather than some plummy ‘fluff chucker’. It gave the piece authenticity.’

    No offense meant Paul, but perhaps you just don’t get it?

  4. Hello chaps…

    I feel a bit like the meat in a sarnie!

    I have asked to join SPRITE and I hope that I can at least make some difference in a positive fashion.

    Both Bob and myself were at the first River Don Trust meeting Bob lasted about four meetings and I made maybe a dozen.

    I became very dissillusioned with the whole thing…steering group meetings, talking, chatting, planning, talking , chatting …ad nauseum.

    I am not a patient person, I have no longterm attention span… like to see instant results, I want to see change…even if the changes are small.

    I wanted to see needlebins installed in the druggie hot spots. I want to see clean-ups.

    But most of all I want to see the riverside opened up for public access, without access the Don will always be “distant”. It will always be something that is just “there” a familiar open running wound and we will continue to treat it with absolute contempt.

    What Countryfile did not show was the meeting I had with the producers Emily and Jules and the chap in charge of massacre that is called flood prevention from the EA the day previous to shooting.

    I took him to book and challennged his view.
    I asked questions he did not like.
    I did not take his opinion on hydro-dynamics and channel velocity as gospel…I challenged them.

    ( I met Ian Rotherham a few years ago…he gave me a book on flooding…I read it…i read it a lot)

    I certainly do not like the removal of so many mature trees, and I challenged the removal of all of the dead or dying trees. The Don Catchment is an environment and not simply a way to move waste produce from A-B and eventually out to Sea.

    Lets use this Countryfile point as a start and not a finish…lets meet up have a beer and get the ball really moving.

    Best regards

    Lee Swords

    ( please contact my agent for filming fees and or public apearances)

  5. Hi Lee – beers sound like an ace plan. Hillsborough Hotel in the next couple of weeks? Would Bob come along too? We could certainly do with any profile raising coverage to go along with the bits and bobs in the Sheffield Star and the couple of local awards that SPRITE has got so far (e.g. below):

    However, we can always do with more exposure as there is tons of good stuff done for Sheffield’s rivers by a selection of local groups. If this sort of stuff is aligned with your interests Bob, then feel free to drop me a line on pgaskell@wildtrout.org. We have trained up two ADB certified coaches with a view to introducing local, disadvantaged youngsters to fishing the river (coarse and game) – could make a nice story?

    PS I do note with interest that our main “mixed methods man” and “portable depth gauge/spash test dummy” Danny with his combination of bought, borrowed and home-made/patched gear is enjoying the grayling fishing on the fly in Attercliffe at the moment. I also had a few “G’s” from forgemasters just before Xmas on the nymph.

  6. The Tidal Trenters is alive and well Bob.

    It is obviously an anathema to you but we don’t seek publicity, in fact many consider this to be a weakness.

    • Paul I fish Hillsborough to Meadowhall at least once a week and i,ve never seen you or your group bank cleaning. Hillfoot is still a dump. Access I like because it keeps the game anglers off.

      It took me a lot of time to get to know the river, twice by the way, the river is a complete differant ball game since the floods and as Lee quite rightly says the massacre of the flood prevention, what good as it done, the rivers 2 foot shallower, i haven’t seen a roach or dace above the Wicker since.

      I dont know much about bird life but what is plainly obvious the kingfisher population has gone down.

      Yes, I appreaciate the river is for all but i would like to say this, where have you been for the past 25 years?

      • I don’t know whether this will get through or not, seeing as it is now middle /late Feb. I see that you have been fishing the river for a few years. I started fishing Hill Foot Bridge about 1982/3. So I have just got the edge on you by a couple of years, I understand your concern about keeping it filthy so you can fish that area. Nothing better than fishing alongside used condoms, burning tyres and a few dozen broken up bits of plumbing equipment. The reason you don’t see SPRITE down at Meadowhall is because area is usually cleaned by the River Stewardship Company, but they do have regular volunteer cleaning days. Basically it’s for the general public to clean up the area they have helped to dirty, ah sorry you want to keep it dirty or have I got the wrong end of the stick?
        With all the water that came down the other year, probably a lot of the dace, roach and other fish got carried over the weirs and they cant get back up. The trout and grayling are more prevalent than coarse fish further upstream, so it stands to reason the next time a spate comes along, the fish that come over the weir are the ones that are most prevalent. But saying that I was at a fish survey that was conducted by the E.A during the summer months and the amount of Dace that came out was amazing, and that was further upstream than the Wicker.
        Did you go to any of the consultations that the E.A held with different stakeholders about the flood defence work? If you did you will realise that they had there own agenda and they were going to clear the river at the spots where the public could see. I think it was a political motivated plan. The E.A just didn’t listen to any of the objections at all, with the exception of Malin Bridge; we managed to get them to put some boulders in and also to rearrange the bank. That was done by the Angling Trust, SPRITE, Salmon and Trout organisation and the Wild Trout Trust. We got that work done by constantly badgering them as I would have hoped the organisations would have done further downstream. If you want anything doing, organise and your group and get in at the beginning, don’t complain on forums or blogs, get up and fight them.
        As for your last question of where has SPRITE been for the last 25 years, I formed the group about 2 to 3 years ago along with an American (she didn’t fish), she resigned at the very beginning, but I carried on with the company, I recently resigned due to ill health. I was certainly around 25 years ago and fishing the Don at Hill foot and further downstream, with stick float or a fly. I can also remember it, when nothing grew round it because of the pollution, so if you still have nostalgic memories of that era when muck ruled supreme. You are the one in a million.