How did your season finish up? Mine was a bit up and down. As far as the UK river fishing is concerned I was always going to be AWOL for the final week as I had plans to be fishing on the other side of the world so my domestic season simply fizzled out. It was a complete damp squib and if truth be told, I was glad to see it over.
My final trip saw me struggling for so much as a bite on the Trent and it was only through sheer bloody mindedness that I decided to head off and put a couple of hours in on a nearby tributary. That and I had 4 pints of maggots which I had to get rid of, which was a criminal waste.
The tributary has been kind to me on several desperate occasions yet I really struggled. Eventually the rod tip jagged round and I caught a chub. Not a big chub, nor even a pretty one. It was simply a scrawny chub that saved a blank. I wasn’t so much pleased to catch it as relieved, and that’s when you realise you’ve had too much of a good thing and it’s time for a break. So I packed up and retired the river rods for a few months.
I did hint recently that I had a very special trip on the horizon. Well, it was three very excited anglers who checked in their luggage at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 en-route first for Delhi, then Calcutta and onwards to Port Blair on the far edge of the Bay of Bengal. Destination, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
A couple of years ago I was inspired by Stephen Palmer and his mates, who came along to one of my Caer Beris coaching weekends. They told me of a fish called a GT, the giant trevally. GT’s, they promised me, were the biggest thrill in angling, bar none. ‘Forget mahseer,’ they said, ‘Forget Nile perch, these fish smash rods and smoke reels. You will not believe how hard they pull.’
Well, it had to be looked into, didn’t it? And the more I read and the more people I spoke to, it seemed they were not exaggerating. GT’s were the real deal. So we found somewhere that we could just about afford, acquired all the gear, and booked a trip. We were heading for paradise. Port Bair. Or as Richard Foster (Fosters of Birmingham) described it, ‘A right s**thole!’ And I must agree, Port Blair is not the most exotic place I’ve ever stayed, nor were our digs exactly 5 star, but they were adequate. We were there for the fishing, not living the dolce vita.
Rather than bury the details here in the blog, please go here and you’ll find a stand alone article about the whole trip.
They Shoot Horses, Don’t They
I did a bit of digging around on the web the other day to see if I could ascertain exactly how many cormorant licences have been issued in recent years and how many have officially been recorded as shot. The figure we all need to be wary of is not the headline grabbing ‘Fishermen Shoot 2,000 Cormorants’ as that only relates to the number of licenses that are up for grabs.
A club might be successful in gaining permission to shoot a bird or two but whether they are ultimately successful is another thing altogether. For example, licenses were granted in 2006-7 to shoot 2178 cormorants but only 1458 were actually reported shot. In 2007-8 the upper limit was set at 1,800 birds. Presumably less than this were actually culled.
Recent news items have overstated the numbers shot, for instance saying that 2,133 birds were killed in 2009 when only 1,636 were reported shot, with another possible 97.
A similar number of licences are likely to be granted this winter but it’s impossible to be accurate with any degree of confidence.
The RSPB and its members are staunchly opposed to cormorant culling and Natural England are no better, yet common sense tells us that cormorants are wreaking untold damage to fisheries far and wide although some anglers insist on burying their heads in the sand insisting nature will take care of itself and the population will even out if given time. How much time? They’ve been hammering our rivers since 1970.
Left to increase at their current rate cormorants will destroy the natural ecology of our river systems. These are not sea birds driven inland by a lack of fish in coastal waters. That is a total myth. A deliberate smokescreen. These are Eastern European cormorants, carbo sinensis, a freshwater bird. Rumours persist that it did not fly here unaided from Denmark. Some suggest it was illegally introduced by, well guess who…?
Unfortunately the numbers we are shooting compared with the number of breeding pairs in residence is resulting in no reduction whatsoever. The impact on fish populations is blatantly obvious. They have been decimated. What will happen to our native fish-eating bird species should be a serious cause for concern. They will reduce in numbers significantly over time, mark my words.
The resistance to managing cormorant (carbo sinensis) numbers, an alien species, is ludicrous when compared with what has happened with race horses in Ireland over the past year. The downturn in the economy has seen many race horse owners unable to sustain the cost of stabling and training. Many horses are owned by small syndicates who share the costs rather than outright by wealthy owners and cannot cover the £15,000 per year it costs to have a horse in training. Consequently 4,500 race horses were put down in Ireland last year and their flesh sold into the food chain.
I’ll repeat that: 4,500 thoroughbred race horses were slaughtered in Ireland alone, in one year, yet no-one bats an eyelid.
A fishery bailiff was savagely beaten by a bird watcher for legally shooting one cormorant.
These so-called conservationists and bird watchers have got their sensibilities rather mixed up if you ask me. It’s a blinkered, myopic standpoint that should be challenged voraciously. They are simply an unbalanced and unhinged bunch of obsessive pack animals who care nothing for the impact of their chosen idols against the wider animal world. They are completely selfish in their outlook.
If you want to read a proper tub-thumping view on cormorants check out the cormorantbusters web site. It’ll open your eyes.
Macca Springs Into Action
Old Macca’s a dab hand at catching big pike. What makes it more amazing is this was his first trip out for nearly as month. He took a day off work and caught yet another ‘twenty’. If my memory serves me right, the last time he was out he had to break the ice to fish, and guess what he caught then? T
Hi Bob. Attached is a photo of another 20lb’s Pike which I caught today.It was My 1st day out for nearly a month,I just had to have a day off work now that a touch of Spring is in the air. Tight lines ….Macca
Closed Season Blues
A week into the closed season and the natives are already getting restless. Barbel Wars is likely to break out at any moment, indeed the first shots have been fired over on BFW and the predictable phoney tantrums have followed.
The same disgruntled names are sharpening their knives, eager to stick them in the backs of anyone they perceive as the enemy. No doubt the Barbel Society will get a kicking from the disaffected minority, trying to make out things are far worse now than when they were members.
It’s not like the old days, is it?
Err, actually it is. If anything Society is probably better off without those who would gleefully celebrate its demise.
And I’m still waiting to see a credible, thriving alternative.
Oh well, only another 86 days to go.
Postscript: BFW has just issued a warning:
It’s become increasingly evident that there are a very small number of posters here who do not see eye-to-eye.
Seeing threads diverted into these continued squabbles between the minority is both tedious and damaging to BFW.
We, as a team, will be taking much more direct action against any poster who continues to provocate others.
Membership of the site will be removed permanently, without notice or explanation.
Alas it’s clear that the same weak moderation that ruined the original site continues. All talk, no action.
These are not new posters stirring up trouble. It’s the same old, same old. And how many times have we heard these empty threats from the boss. Too little, too late old son. Tis such a pity.
And can anyone tell me what ‘provocate’ means. Can’t find it in my dictionary but perhaps these links might help…
Adcock Stanton Celebrates 25 Years
The Stanton reel has been an object of desire since the early days of the second world war. It became the Adcock Stanton 25 years ago and to commemorate the anniversary the company is producing a limited edition of just 25 5-inch reels in the original livery of brushed aluminium and brass. With reels fetching the kind of prices that make you sit up these look to be a worthy investment at just £259 including a neoprene pouch.
Each reel is individually numbered and engraved with a 25th Anniversary badge. Take a look and make up your own mind. Frankly I can see them being snapped up by collectors as they’re almost certain to appreciate in value.
You can contact the company through its web site.
Adcock Stanton can now offer bespoke glass engraving. Trophies, like this example can be done to order:
Or if you want to create a lasting memory of a special fish, how about an engraved picture frame like this one:
Just A Home Town Boy
Old Zyg rang just after I got home. Turns out he’d been on his travels, too. I won’t apologise for turning this blog into a blue water special, but it is the closed season and folk around these parts always used to dabble with a bit of sea fishing when the rivers closed. That’s kinda drifted by the wayside these days but I reckon there are plenty of fish to be caught from the Humber on nothing more substantial than carp tackle – or as it’s now called, barbel gear.
Anyway, Zyg’s been after his second Royal Tuna Slam hoping to catch a dogtooth tuna in Mauritius and a longtail tuna whilst in Karachi: “Despite a few nights of fishing in Mauritius all I got for my efforts was a Barracuda and shards of carbon when the rod I was using exploded, I also had a 60lb plus Wahoo.”
He struggled in Karachi, too, but he did receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from Pakistan Game Fish Association, presented by Mr. Kamal Asfar, the Ex-Governor of Sind, in front of 100 top Karachi industrialists and businessmen.
According to Zyg, “This is particularly good because I was born as a lowly refugee in Karachi and now I am honoured by the top people there.”
Yeah, and I always remind him he’s a peasant when I visit Angler Paradise. 😉
Zyg went on to say that Karachi is practically a fortress city today with aremed soldiers everywhere. The day he left a couple of visiting anglers were actually kidnapped and dropped into cave until a ransom was paid!
I think I’ll stick to tenching in the next few weeks if that’s okay?
Let’s Support Mark
I received a request from Mark Erdwin to highlight the EA’s removal of carp and pike from canals. It’s a pleasure Mark:
I was just contacting you regarding the following and was wondering if you could put something up on your website and put it about to other sources, so that people become aware and can sign the following petition, regarding the removal of Carp and Pike by british waterways from our canals.
Petition 1: Carp
Petition 2: Pike
Look forward to hearing from you and hoping you can help add some weight to this.
August And Everything After…
Did you spot the abusive post someone left on this site last week? What a sad individual, eh? No doubt using one of his many pseudonyms…
Oh well, live and let live. If it fills a void in his empty life.
Meanwhile I’ve been revisiting a few old albums. We threw a dinner party last weekend. Good friends, fabulous food, nice wines and lively conversation. It was a chance to dig out a few oldies, the kind of stuff I really ought to transfer to my iPod, if I ever find the time.
The album that stood out, to me, and has been played several times since is one that David Hall introduced me to back in 1993. Where does the time go, eh? Anyway, it’s August and Everything After by the Counting Crows. Superb, timeless music. Here are a few random examples from their back catalogue.
It’s Raining In My Heart
It just had to happen. All talk in the Andamans was that when the weather blew over someone would have an absolute birthday. That was before the unfortunate tsunami decimated Japan.
‘Last time we had a tsunami the fishing was terrible for several days and then the fish just went mad.’
We knew Richard Foster (Foster’s Of Birmingham) was heading out there 5 days after us and the inevitable text message winged its way over to James’ phone today.
You might like to know two of my mates landed 1 dog tooth and 39 GTs. Approx 10 over 25kg, max 30kilo. Biggest we had was 35kg approx.
Great first day.
First day? First bloody day! We’d have been overjoyed if we’d done that well in the whole chuffin’ week!!!
I’m starting to believe it’s my hat. Maybe it is jinxed after all.
A Little Food For Thought…
The world’s population today numbers almost 7 billion. By 2050 it will be 9 billion. On the basis we cannot feed the current population, what will happen?
The increase is the equivalent of two extra Indias.
If you include the 1 billion who go hungry today we will need to feed three extra Indias in the next 40 years.
Then throw in climate change.
‘What shall we have for dinner?’ Could easily become, ‘Is there anything for dinner?’
Ironically the world currently produces enough food to supply every man, woman and child with 2,700 calories a day, 600 more than most adults are generally understood to need. So why do people starve?
Waste. We throw away too much food.
We need to grow more maize over the next 40 years than we have in the last 500.
Populations are gravitating towards cities. Cities are growing rapidly. City dwellers eat more food that country folk. They also eat more meat. It is anticipated the contributions of cereals will have dropped to 46% while the demand for meat, dairy and fats will have risen to 29%. Production of soya beans, most of which goes to animal feed will double to 515m tonnes.
The total demand for food is expected to rise about 70% in the 44 years from 2006 to 2050. Growth in farm yields is falling.
Governments have set ambitious bio fuel targets. America aspires to generate 30% of its needs from bio fuels by 2030. Currently it generates 8% of its needs with Ethanol but that consumes 40% of America’s enormous maize crop. If they stopped production of ethanol global edible maize supplies would increase by 14%.
Water is in short supply. We can afford to use 4,200 cubic kilometres each year without depleting overall supplies. Consumption currently stands at 4,500 cu km, of which agriculture takes around 70%. As a result, water tables are plummeting. In the Punjab it was once just a few metres below the surface. Today it is, in some places, hundreds of metres down.
Rivers that water some of the world’s breadbaskets, such as the Colorado, Murray-Darling and Indus no longer reach the sea. Every single drop of water is consumed. It is estimated that by 2030 farmers will need 45% more water. Cites are by far the largest users of water. Half the world’s population currently live in cities. This is expected to rise to 70% by 2050.
Agriculture’s share of water used to be 90% but whenever there is a dispute between farmers and city dwellers over water, Government side with the voters – the city dwellers.
It takes 1,150-2,000 litres of water to produce 1kg of wheat. It takes 16,000 litres to produce 1kg of beef. As more people eat more meat the demand for water will increase.
Agriculture is a big contributor to climate change. Farming directly accounts for 13.5% of greenhouse gas emissions and land-use changes, cutting down jungle for fields contributes a further 17.4%. That’s almost a third of the total emissions. Agriculture is responsible for between a third and a half of two especially toxic greenhouse gas emissions, methane and nitrous oxide.
New infectious diseases are appearing at the rate of 3 to 4 a year. Three-quarters of them can be traced to animals, domestic and wild, avian flu for example.
Much of the methane in the atmosphere is created by cattle belching.
Like it or not, battery farming is the way forward. A free-range hen might only lay one or two eggs a week. Its battery counterpart will produce six.
Genetic selection is an imperative not an option. Yields (that’s the amount of food created in the same space) have to increase by 1.5% per year for the next 40 years. Only maize currently reaches this target. Genetic selection (or GM) will have to be applied to rice, soya and wheat if it is to catch up.
The low hanging fruit has already been plucked. We need to get smarter if we are to survive. Our biggest enemy is waste. 30-50% of all food rots away uneaten. Studies have shown that a quarter of all food bought in shops and restaurants is thrown away uneaten. Salads come top of the list. As much as a half is thrown away. Add a third of all bread, a quarter of fruit and a fifth of vegetables and you can see we have a lot of learning to do.
In Britain and America each individual throws away roughly 100kg of food each year. If all the rich countries throw away an equivalent amount it adds up to one third of the world’s entire supply of meat.
If Western waste could be curbed and the food distributed to those who need it the problem of feeding 9 billion people would vanish.
Food for thought, eh?
Are you doing your bit?