2011 – Late February Blog

Roaching At Ranskill

Nigel and Lynda Hawke have been friends for the past 20 years or so. They own Lakeside Fisheries at Ranskill, just south of Bawtry although I first set eyes on their fishery when I was a schoolkid from the window of an express train hurtling down to London. Back then it was a derelict series of sand pits, created by mineral extraction. The Hawke’s took it on and developed a series of excellent lakes available to anyone for the price of a reasonably priced day ticket. There’s a trout lake, match lake (with the emphasis heavily on silver fish), a specimen carp lake and a couple of strip ponds.

As we’ve come to expect from this kind of fishery you can park behind each peg, there’s a cafe serving hot foot (peg delivery service available)and proper toilets. I often receive match reports from Lakeside and the winner might have anything from sixty to 100lb of silver fish, mostly skimmers, roach and orfe. But the carp lake really fascinates me. I’ve fished it for carp, many times, catching some cracking carp, but these days I tend to fish there in winter for roach and perch.

It’s a busy lake in summer as there are only 6 (double) pegs. More often than not you have to book in advance but in winter it’s quiet which means I can fish for roach and perch to my heart’s content, and what fishing it is! I dropped in last week for a few hours and it took me just 15 minutes to get the fish feeding after which it was a bite every single drop in.

The roach are in pristine nick as they never get fished for, have never seen a keepnet or been badly handled. They are an absolute pleasure to catch and it’s a priviledge to be there. Oh, and Neil from the cafe brought me cups of coffee at regular intervals so fishing doesn’t get much better than that.

It might have been a short session but I soon ran out of bait. Methinks I’ll return in the next week or so but with half a gallon of maggots.


With the Swale high and coloured Stu and I needed a Plan B for the day’s filming we had organised. The local canal has some cracking pike and that’s where we headed. I can take or leave piking. Much of the time you’re sat there doing not a lot and then out of the blue you get a run. It’s not like you can build a swim like you can when roach fishing, it’s a case of catch what’s there, if you’re lucky. If they ain’t feeding you might as well resort to dynamite.

But when they do have a go it’s fantastic!

We slogged our way down the canal, 20 minutes in each spot, leap-frogging rods until we were all but ready to pack up. And then, out of the blue, I had a fish. Not a bad one, either. That gave us renewed heart and we headed for another nearby length. First chuck in Stu hooked a clonker, and that was that. Game over.

No complaints though, we’re piking again tomorrow!

Roachers Return

I returned to Ranskill with great expectations. No way was I going to run out of bait this time and I’d also brought a bag of groundbait, just in case I needed to push them back down to the bottom. They do like to come up in the water here. Plus I set up a waggler rod. It would be nice to catch on the drop if I had to. I even invited a mate along to indulge in the fish fest.

And guess what?

Not a single bite between us. The lake was as dead as the proverbial do do. Anglers were struggling on the Match Lake, too, yet conditions looked perfect. But that’s fishing, eh? Unpredictable. Uncertain. Uncanny. But that’s what keeps us coming back for more. You never quite know when that red letter day will arrive.

Cormorant On The Menu

A friend of mine who fishes the Dorset Stour sent me a very disturbing message this week. It recounted the tale of a match angler fishing the river a mile or two above Throop back in November. One minute he was struggling to get a bite, the next he blinked in amazement as a whole family of otters turned up in his swim.

Right before his eyes the big dog otter caught a barbel that he estimated to weigh between eight and 10lb and killed it. Then the cubs caught one or two chub of around 12oz mark. To cap it all a cormorant then arrived in his swim.

Just when he thought that was the final straw, the dog otter took the cormorant! The cormorant eventually got away but appeared to be mortally wounded.

My source went on to tell me about an incident that occurred some ten miles further upriver where it’s very quiet and practically fishless. Here a pair of otters took on a full grown swan. The battle ended in a stand-off although it would appear the otters’ prime target was the near-fully grown cygnets that the cob, this time, defended successfully.

The thing is if naturalists are stupid enough to re-introduce otters when the numbers of fish in our rivers is at a lifetime low then they are going to seek out alternative sources of food. The plague of cormorants and otters we’re stuck with is not just bad news for fish, it’s the kiss of death for everything else we hold dear.

Sooner or later someone has to ask, what else are we prepared to sacrifice in defence of the indefensible?

Mac’s Latest Pencil Sketch

Dave (Macca) McIntyre has come up with another of his rare pencil sketches. He’s clearly a man of talent yet he only does about one a year. I have one of me proudly hanging on my staircase and I plan to include it in that book I never seem to get any further towards finishing – probably because I spend far too much time messing with this web site!

Imagine what he could do with a little bit of training and dedication? Unfortunately his gift will always be wasted while there are fish to be caught. Mind you, he’s pretty good at that, too.

Ayway, for the record, the guy on the left is Kevin Vak and the Guy on the right is Joe Taylor. They’re cradling a 153lb lau lau catfish caught by Joe from the Corentyne River during their September trip to Suriname.

Congrats to Joe and Zenia

I was so pleased to hear that Joe and Zenia had become proud parents this week. Mother and baby Zaine are doing fine by all accounts. Zenia is Zyg’s youngest daughter down at Anglers Paradise. I’ve been priviledged to watch her grow from being a tiny tot to participating in her wedding ceremonials. And now this.

Just beware if your dad asks if he can wet the baby’s head, though…!

Anyway, that presents me with a fine oportunity to share an old picture I came across the other day. No, this isn’t Zenia when she was pregnant, this is her many years before doing a rather convincing fancy dress version of good old Zyg in his own younger days. The caption on the shirt reads, if you haven’t already guessed,  IT NEVER RAINS IN DEVON….

Now where have we heard that one before!

Calendar Boy

The postman knocked.

“This won’t fit through your letter box.”

He wasn’t kidding. The envelope was huge. Inside the capacious A3 manila wrapping I discovered a copy of the 2011 Reels On Wheels Calendar, created to raise funds for disabled anglers.

I flicked through it to have a quick shuffti at the images and there I am on the November page, arm in arm with Zyg Gregorek at one of the annual (November) netting parties.

Anyone can buy a copy for £9.99 using Paypal, direct bank transfer or personal cheque. It’s not a lot of money and you will be helping a very good cause that gets disabled anglers out on the bank.

Indeed, if you get a chance have a butchers at Nick Rowe’s blog, Disabled Angler. He deserves every bit of support you can give him.

Ying Yang, Ting Tong Tang

In life there’s a Ying and a Yang. Supposedly it keeps the Universe in balance. Some say every cloud has a silver lining. Or, in every life a little rain must fall.

Even David Beckham must get up some mornings and wonder where it all went wrong. On the one hand he’s had the most amazing footballing career, adorned billboards far and wide and is worth mega-millions. His face is recognisable in every distant corner of the planet; he married a rich and successful pop star wife, has four gorgeous kids, splendid mansions on both sides of the Atlantic, eats in the finest restaurants, stays in the best hotel suites, is invited to all the premiers and has friends and admirers with influence far and wide.

On the other hand a few idiots on the Internet knock him. Seriously, it must break his heart.

The rest of us live our lives on a different level. Obviously. But we aspire to have successful relationships, we try to do a decent job of whatever we turn our hand to, we mostly help others where we can and we unconsciously strive to gain respect from our peers. I’m fortunate to receive regular helpings of praise for what I do and it’s especially pleasing when a total stranger contacts you to say ‘thanks, in a small way you made a difference.’ Take this email that arrived today:

I would like to thank you for replying to my emails, you have helped hugely in my approach and success with my barbel and chub fishing. You are a credit to the fishing industry, and more expert fishermen should take a leaf out of your book. I was quite shocked that you, an expert fisherman would take the time to answer and advise newcomers with a vast amount of knowledge and help. Thank You for your help.

It doesn’t get better than that if I’m being honest. Let’s call it my Ying moment.

On the other hand every coin has its flip side. My Yang, if you like. On the same day a response was left on my web site from someone called Jerry French (IP:, client: midd.adsl.virginmedia.com).

Sadly he was somewhat confused. A previous poster had questioned where the Don clean-up organisation (SPRITE) had been for the past 25 years. Unfortunately Mr French confused this with some kind of attack on me and jumped in with both feet, all guns blazing:

“Same place as he is when helps needed on the Dearne, nowhere to be seen. Its a shame someone who claims and believes he has influence doesnt put his money where his mouth is.”

Two sentences that say all I’ll ever need to know about this Jerry French.

But let’s  pause a moment and consider his gripe in detail. He’s posted it on my web site hoping to provoke a response, so let’s allow him his five minutes of fame:

He demands to know where I am when ‘help is needed on the River Dearne’.

Answer: Well, I live close to the Dearne and the only real threat to the Dearne in the past 25 years, predation aside, was the open-cast mining plan that threatened to re-route the river completely. When that happened I took the campaign to the media and went on TV to demonstrate my personal objections to the threat. The outcome (although not solely down to my efforts) was the company shelved their plans to destroy what I used to think of as ‘my’ river.

He then says that ‘I claim (and believe) I have influence’.

Answer: On what grounds does you make that assumption? Please Jerry, show me where I have claimed to have influence and for that matter, what exactly is it that you reckon I have some kind of influence over?

He goes on to say ‘I should put my money where my mouth is’.

Answer: Am I missing something? Is there something I should be paying for? Did I miss a round somewhere along the way?

I may be wrong, but do you know what I really suspect is at the root of his beligerance? The EA is currently canvasing opinions on the recreational use of the River Dearne. That includes walkers, bird watchers, anglers and canoeists. It’s the canoeists that some anglers are up in arms against yet do you know how much these anglers currently pay to fish the river?

Nothing. Not a single penny, and what’s more they don’t agree with banding together and paying a reasonable rent for the place either. They want it for nowt. Unfortunately freeloaders have no clout in the real world. And let me tell you something else, the banks of this river are an embarassment to any right-thinking angler. There’s litter everywhere. You’ll find the remains of camp fires and spent lager cans galore. But the real Achilles heel is the amount angling based rubbish – tackle packaging, groundbait wrappers, meat and corn tins, etc. It’s a disgrace.

Never the less I’ve supported these so-called anglers against the canoeists consistently in the South Yorkshire papers. Only last week (Pub date: 5th Feb, 2011) I devoted a full half page and made it my lead story. It’s not the first time I’ve raised issues about the Dearne in the same newspaper but it may be my last.

Unfortunately it seems like a waste of time and effort on my part and I can see no point in offering any further support because quite frankly I’d rather share my time on the bank with canoeists than lager swilling litter louts who masquerade as anglers and claim they have the river’s best interests at heart.

Well done Jerry!

I’ll resist the urge to challenge him to prove to us all what exactly he’s done to improve the Dearne habitat, to defend it from corporate vandalism, to take the problems to a wider audience, to erradicate the litter and vandalism problem and to tell us exactly how much money he’s chipped in from his own pocket…

I used to fish this little river regularly through the mid-to-late 1980’s along with a small bunch of regulars. It was a gift from the Gods after years of polution. Here’s a picture of a neighbor of mine, Roy Wooding with a chub caught from the river around 25 years ago. A big fish for that time.

Notice there’s no trees or bushes? How times change, eh? Who do you think planted the trees Mr French? Who used to pick the litter? Not that there ever was much. This was ages before the slaloms were introduced. But I don’t fish there any more despite the fact that I can sit here typing and actually see the banks just by looking out of the window. It’s been ruined, not by canoeists but by those who purport to be anglers. Anglers who do not want to share the water.

And where were these folk before the barbel were introduced?

So, Jerry French, you and your mates now know why I will no longer lift a finger to support those who desecrate the Dearne in the name of angling and believe me, that’s your loss, not mine. I don’t know you from Adam, nor do I want to. Now if you don’t mind I’d rather prefer you went away and stopped coming to this web site for your free entertainment. You clearly don’t like it or me, so what’s the point?

Go and find yourself a more appropriate site.

Spring’s Around The Corner

The sky’s a watery shade of slate gray and betwen the rain there’s sleet aplenty. Lambing showers. But next time you’re out take a close look at the hedgerows. Buds are appearing, blackthorn is wakening up and the willow buds are ready to pop. Spring is round the corner and before we know it this long dreary winter will be but a distant memory. I can’t wait.

Sigh Of The Times

Don’t you just hate it when you can’t get to your favourite lake or stretch of river? Does it leave you feeling down in the dumps? Spare a thought then for the Scunthorpe Police Angling Club bailiff. There’s a notice on the club’s web site. It reads,

Please note: Thornton Abbey is closed until further notice due to water logged field. Do not try driving in there or you will chew it all up and ruin it. I will post further updates as soon as things improve. The bailiff has put a sigh on the gate.

A sigh. Doubt he could have expressed his feelings better if he actually meant it!

Never mind. Spring’s around the corner.

Irons  Dealt A Hammer Blow

The news that all West Ham fans dreaded was delivered last week when they were announced as the prefered bidder for the Olympic Stadium. Of course there will be unique merchandising oportunites when they move to the new ground, after all they will probably be the only club in the UK selling binoculars in club colours.

Suggestions that the seats furthest from the touchline will be nearly 200 metres away are an irrelevance. If the Hammers go down this year and don’t bounce back at the first attempt they’ll only fill the first ten rows anyway.

I loved this article about the move (sorry Monty).

And this one.

If anyone wants to know what watching football is like in an athletics stadium then ask any Rotherham United fan. They currently play at the Don Valley Athletics Stadium and can’t wait for their new ground to be built. There is no atmosphere whatsoever. It lacks soul and the fans have no sense of belonging

But doesn’t it beg a few tough questions? Like why on earth did we build this colossal stadium in Stratford in the first place? 

We spent millions on a bid to win the Olympics and then a further £496m on building an iconic stadium that will only be filled twice – once for the opening ceremony and once more for the closing ceremony. Neither event will be an athletics meet. For the rest of the time it’ll barely be half-full unless they paper the place with free tickets, you watch.

And then they want to knock it down straight afterwards…

It’s the economics of the mad house. Were it to remain purely as an athletics venue it would never be filled again unless it was for a rock concert. The most prestigious athletics event if the UK currently attracts an attendance of 17,000 (to Crystal Palace). The second highest, in Birmingham, draws about 8,000 which is more or less what Chesterfield attract to their League Two fixtures in the recently opened B2net Stadium, which incidentaly cost a mere £1.3m to build.

The Olympic Stadium is an enormous white elephant built with public money that could and should have gone to better and more needy causes. Especially if the stadium is to be demolished (at further expense) after just one meeting. If a football team wants to make the Stadium its home then it should be funding all the costs of re-development, the upkeep costs AND pay a rental comensurate with what the stadium cost in the first place.

Alternatively they can take it, lock, stock and barrel, for a knock-down £450m, only used once, do what the hell you like with it. Anything less is a National disgrace.

As for maintaining a ‘legacy’ by demolishing the surroundings but keeping the running track is laughable. What planet are these folk on. It’s athletics. No one other than those who participate or are related to the atheletes in some way really care a jot. Yes it’s a fine pursuit that should be encouraged but however you look at it, athletics is and always will be a minority sport.

Going Down?

The plight of my football team isn’t improving. We’re getting beat far too easilyand the defence is as leaky as sieve. But things are not going to improve in the short term, that’s for certain. We’re going to need nerves of steel to turn things round.

The other night we found ourselves with 8 key players out through injury. We didn’t have one fit striker on the field and the defence is in tatters. It doesn’t help that we don’t have a reserve team. The only striker named in the squad was already injured and even at 3-0 down we didn’t bring him on as it wasn’t worth the risk of hampering his recovery.

I said at the start of this season that I was not certain we had the strength in depth to stay up and that was before this ridiculous run of injuries we’ve suffered. It’s going to be tight. Three seemingly impossible away fixtures in the next four games and I won’t be surprised if we end up with nil points out of 12. If so, we’ll be sucked even closer to the strugglers below us.

A dozen games ago the talk was of possibly making the play-offs. Now it’s squeaky bum time. A test of character.

It’s a funny old game, Saint…

Footnote: Just gone down 3-0 at Swansea. Good result considering we only had 4 subs sat on the bench of which one was the reserve keeper and another was already injured. We then had to withdraw Copps when he got injured in the pre-match warm-up! I ask you, how much worse can this get. Of the 11 best players you would put on the team sheet if everyone was fit, eight are now out injured. In fact Sean has just rung to ask if I’m free next Saturday and I don’t think he’s offering me a seat in the directors’ box. Said summat about have you still got your old boots, Bob?

I don’t think he meant the DVSG.

In 90 minutes today we didn’t force a single corner or even have a shot on target. Swansea had about 75% of the possession and I reckon 3-0 is probably a good result in the circumstances especially considering the first was offside.

That’s 8 defeats in 9 now. Three goals for, 25 against. It’s called freefall…

Amazingly we’re still not bottom of the form table. There were still 8 teams below us over the past 10 games last night and two below us over the past six.  Keep the faith, eh?

Hate to think we might not be playing the ‘Ammers after all next season.

10 thoughts on “2011 – Late February Blog

  1. Hi Bob,

    Great blog again and can only confirm, from personal experience, how much you put into helping people improve their fishing thus helping them to obtain greater pleasure from the sport.


    Ron Jackson

  2. Mr French’s irrational outburst has provoked another previous customer to email with a personal message:

    Hi Bob,

    Good blog.

    Still can’t understand why you get so much stick, as having met you and spent 4 days fishing with you last year where you spent time with all of us giving us tips and help when we needed it, myself I must thank you for the river craft.

    Best Regards,


    There’s the Ying effect again. Wonder when we’ll get the Yang response?!!!

  3. Hi Bob

    Great blog thanks but can’t stand reading the tickle tackle-

    I believe class is not something your born into, you either have it or you don’t.

    Please show yours by not giving any of these unconsiderd opinions the time of day, surely by publishing them and furnishing them with a reply you can only do your reputation harm?

    If you left them off the site noone would be any wiser and you’d save yourself the trouble.

    You mentioned Beckham, he doesn’t give his knockers the pleasure of biting, hence why we respect him so much.

    With respect

    Thanks again

  4. Bob,

    Those two links have been knocking about a while now and are funny.You have to have a degree of sang froid being “West Ham”.I enjoyed the game last night and a decent atmosphere,mostly is under the flood lights.Our back four though were as ever dreadful.

    What next ?

    Stoke in the next leg of the cup and we carry on until the semi-final. Then get knocked out at that stage as in the Carling Cup would not be a huge shock.Big game for your lot away to Norwich tonight,they are playing well,so a draw would be a good result for “Donnie”


  5. Good result last night for your lot, Monty. Burnley are the only side we’ve beaten in the last nine so don’t get too carried away just yet though.

    Re: Rovers: The only thing certain about tonight is that we’ll score nil.

    We’re in a worst injury crisis I can recall and we don’t have a single fit forward at the club. Indeed we have only 13 fit players on the books for tonights game including 4 loan players (League rules only allow 5).

    Last Saturday we didn’t force a corner, or have a shot on goal. We only had 4 players on the bench – a reserve keeper and 3 centrebacks. We even had our best surviving midfielder taken off in the pre-match warm-up with an injury!!!

    Of the 13 fit players for tonight only 3 would make the first 11 of choice. The Chairman has asked for the game to be postponed but that won’t happen. Ironically, if we’d named this side against a promotion contender so we could rest players we’d probably get fined.

    We’re resigned to the outcome of this game, and the next two at least [Watford (h), Leeds(a)], but we’ve a decent cushion over the three bottom clubs and players will return eventually, so right now there’s no point worrying. We’ll just take it on the chin, bide our time and back the manager.

    If the worst happened and we went down then folk would say we were back where we belong which is still two divisions above where we were 6 years ago so it would be rather churlish to complain.

    After all, Southampton, Plymouth, Sheffield Wednesday and Charlton, to name but three are plying their trade in the lower leagues. Looks like they’ll be joined by Preston and Seffield United this year. Nothings for ever and nothing can be taken for granted.

    We have created team that would challenge for a play-off place when the team’s fit on a League One budget. When other teams have £90m parachute payments and massive income streams from higher crowds and TV hosting revenues there’s only so far you can go to remain competitive.

    I’m glad we’ve not chased the dream and spent millions we don’t have on mercenaries or have a corrupt chairman, bankrupt in the realism department. Unfortunately, that’s what’s needed sometimes if you want to be seen as an important club.

  6. Considering how well Norwich had been playing of late (and we literally had a reserve side out) it was a superb and much needed result.

    We shall keep the faith and back the board, the manager and the team, as ever.

    Two goals now in 7 games. Both o.g’s, so I stand by my statement. We’ll score nil!

    Can’t help it if the opposition feels so sorry for us they stick one in their own net, but every little helps, as they say.

    The thing is, we know we will have some decent players coming back in the next few weeks to strengthen the side. Those teams around us who are struggling don’t really have that luxury. Each season we see someone go into free-fall after Christmas and someone else go on an amazing run. The beauty of our team is we could do either.

    Watford next. Then Derby, then L**ds. Oh for four points from one of those games…

    Gonna need ’em because on the back of that we’ve Forest, QPR and Cardiff.

    You don’t want to drop into this league if you’ve any sense Monty. Oh no!

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