2011 – Late May Blog

I’ve been out a couple of times this week and been battered on both occasions. The first trip was with Marc Johnson to the members lake at Tyram Hall. It was a freaky day in that we hardly saw a carp move and usually they are quite active in the clear water, cruising around with their backs out of the water. I kicked off in a nice peg on the east bank but after a flurry of early activity, I couldn’t buy another bite.

Meanwhile I could hear Marc was catching next door on the feeder so I leapfrogged to the other side of him. A fish first cast gave me hope and from then on it was almost a bite a chuck from roach and skimmers on the waggler but I had two problems. Firstly, I was pestered by pike, including a fish that lay next to my keepnet waiting for each fish I swung by his nose, and secondly, I couldn’t seem to sort out a better stamp of fish. Plenty of hand-sized netters but nothing really over half a pound.

I tried coming up in the water, going over-depth, searching the peg, but it didn’t seem to matter. I was keeping nicely busy and when the pike problem got out of hand I reached for my lure rod and had a go, just to move them on. I hooked four, landing just two.

Next door Marc was having a whale of a time. He struggled on the pole but bagged on the feeder and his fish were generally of a much better stamp than mine. I did point out that I’d battered him on numbers but he’d easily done me on weight.

But there’ll be a return match, that’s for sure.

On Friday I nipped down to Aston Fisheries, just off the M1 and fished on the Snake Lake with Geoff Hurt who’s invaluable help ensures my Club Match Angler Championship competition goes off without a hitch. I like the snake, mainly because the fish are on the small side. I don’t get much pleasure from catching great lumps of carp on the pole.

The fish in the Snake are mainly running to a couple of pound tops with plenty of half pounders and oodles of ide and skimmers to keep the bites flowing. Fishing is about bites, not calculators. It should be taxing on the brain rather than taxing on the muscles. But maybe I’m old fashioned.

So Geoff and I set off fishing side-by-side, me on maggot and pellet, him on chopped worm. It was slow. I mean really slow. Perhaps we should have fished on the other end of the wind where the fish were clearly fizzing but I’d chosen my peg on the basis the area usually holds a few bream. Guess we’ll never know but after a while Geoff started catching. It wasn’t like I was idle but he seemed to be netting two fish to my every one.

Very little seemed to be showing ‘down the track’ and the margin line seemed equally devoid of life but there were bites to be had tight to the far margin. After about 15 tangles I finally switched to a tiny dibber and that made things so much less hassle. What I did like was not knowing what would pull the float under next. I had carp of all colours, ide, perch, skimmers, roach and barbel but there was neither rhyme nor reason to the fishing.

But it was fun and the company was good, as always. When we packed up it was very much as I’d expected. Geoff had pretty much doubled my catch. Still, I’d enjoyed myself and that’s all that matters. Strikes me though that this is one venue you shouldn’t visit without chopped worm.

A ‘Polly Gone’ With Two Sides

I see Defra has given the go ahead to cull wild parakeets in the UK because they are alleged to pose a danger to crops, the electricity grid and to native species. Despite protestations from the RSPB and every hair-brained animal rights group you care to think of, it’s a done deal.

Just goes to show it can be done. First ruddy ducks, now parakeets. It’s okay to shoot crows, pidgeons and anything else that’s deemed to be vermin. Same goes for ‘sporting’ birds.

So why not cormorants and goosanders? Why is Defra sitting on the fence on this one when the evidence is overwhelmingly damning?

No-one wishes to harm cormorants on the coastlines of Britain, do they? We only want to do it when they pose a threat to indigenous freshwater species. Surely no-one in their right mind can contest evidence that they are decimating fish populations way beyond any sustainable level of predation and that they are seriously damaging angling businesses?

Something has to be done. But by who, how and when?

Unfortunately anglers are hopeless when it comes to taking political action. The farcical idea of fishing a protest match during the closed season on the Severn does us no favours whatsoever. What better justification can we offer (ahem) ‘Eastern Europeans’ fishing for the pot in the closed season than for supposedly intelligent anglers to do it themselves?

And what a cop-out by the Willow Creek AC lads to fish this match using perfectly legal eel tackle, therefore nullifying any value or credibility of the so-called protest. It’s not a protest if you fish within the law – that’s just going fishing. Unfortunately you’ve opened up a new can of worms that shows those who we most wish to deter how to fish without fear of retribution. Own goal there lads, I’m afraid.

You know, I’ve fished and drunk with these guys. I’m guessing the beer was flowing in the Great Western one night and someone came up with a great idea round about closing time. What’s the next plan Jason – drive up to the traffic lights in town, stop at red and then proceed when they turn green as a protest against fuel prices?

It’s all a mere slideshow and only reported in the press because it was a slow news week. We need strong representation by our governing body, the Angling Trust, rather than half-cocked futile protests. Unfortunately they appear to be scared of rocking the boat on all things fluffy or cuddly. Sorry guys, it’s time to make a proper stand or pack up. Keep the Fish Legal arm but as for the rest…

Is there any wonder the support among rank and file anglers for the Trust is pitiful? Less than one per cent of anglers are members. Is that because anglers are tight fisted? Or do they see the Trust as ineffective and useless?

Let me say this once. The Trust could multiply its membership many times over within the next month simply by saying, ‘We’re going to war on cormorants and we need your financial support to do it. We’re going to take on Defra and the bird lobby and we’re going to turn the clock back. Fish matter – cormorants don’t. Are you with us?’

I’d stick my hand in my pocket immediately. In fact here’s the deal. I’ll donate a grand to the fighting fund if they get off the fence and set out to challenge the law in a concerted campaign and bugger the RSPB! I’m already a life member of the Trust but predation is the single most important issue that affects me right now. Forget hydropower, access for canoes, marine conservation zones, invasive plants, running fishing matches or anything else. No-one cares. No-one is actually losing sleep over these issues because if otters and cormorants are not checked then there simply won’t be any fish left in our rivers to worry about.

I want nothing more than to see ‘normal’ fish like roach, perch, dace, bleak and gudgeon flourishing in our rivers like they used to and that isn’t going to happen in my lifetime the way things are shaping up.

Right now we have some seriously big fish in our rivers. They are old and get caught so often it can give a false impression of stock levels. When this generation dies off we’ll have precious little coming through to take their place. Terminal decline awaits and that’s not good for anglers. It’s not even good for otters, is it!

Sadly, no one will act and very soon it will be too little, too late.

One Swallow…

It’s a few weeks since I saw the first swallows arrive but there appears to be a distinct lack of swifts and house martins around. Time was when half the houses on my walk to school had little upside down clay igloos sticking to the eaves and we’d be constantly dive bombed by these incredibly fast birds as they swooped on any unfortunate insect in their path. Maybe its a little early yet, who knows. So many of the common birds of the Fifties and Sixties are now relatively rare – skylarks, plovers, linnets, yellow hammers, hedge sparrows, black caps, and so on.

James Strikes Gold

James Gould is the third musketeer on the annual adventure I make to distant parts with Stu Walker. Back home he’s a bit of a tench nut and working away from home on a project for umpteen months on end hasn’t stopped him fishing for them. He’s currently based in Manchester and it didn’t take him long to find a new tench pit.

A bunch of pictures arrived this week with a smiling James proudly showing off jolly green giants. If you’re from the home counties, Kent or Oxfordshire you’ll be wondering what the fuss is all about but believe me, northern tench of this size are quite special creatures. Well done mate.

Da Do’s On Ron, Da Do’s On Ron…

(Apologies – but only those who understand the Sheffield dialect will have a clue what that headline means!*)

I had Ron Clay on the phone this week. “Who are these people, Bob? Why are they always stirring up trouble? What have they got against the Barbel Society and Steve Pope?”

“What on earth are you on about Ron?”

“I was searching round and came across YYY and ZZZ posting on 666’s blog. Who are they? What’s wrong with these people? Why do they have to be so bitter? Have you read it?”

“Err, no Ron. I don’t see the point. It’s just a small group of disaffected losers who are crying out for attention. Ignore it like everyone else does.”


“No, seriously Ron. Just give it a wide steer. I do. No-one reads it. They just post bile to each other. Best leave them alone as while they’re doing that they’re bothering no-one. Except you in this case.”

“I think you’re right. I’m going to the Barbel Society Conference next month, with Lee (Swords). Are you going?”

“No, Ron, unfortunately it clashes with a trip to Ireland, but you’ll really enjoy it.”

“Yes, I was speaking with Tony Miles this week, he’s going. Hoping to have a chat with Peter Wheat, too. And I’ve known Dave Steuart since the 60’s – it’ll give me a chance to get his book signed. Martin James is compering, you know. I’m quite looking forward to it.”

“You will have a great time, Ron. Seriously. Give my regards to everyone.”

Adult Tickets are only a tenner, accompanied kids go free. Full details can be found here here.

* Footnote Re: Sheffield Dialect: One of the clubs that submits match fishing results to me is called ASDA DUZDZA. It has nothing to do with the supermarket giant, as you might suspect, instead asda duzda simply translates to, How’s tha do that… Obviously, Da Do’s On Ron means the do (in this case the Barbel Society Conference) is on, Ron. Simples. 😉

Vera Knows Best

I’m not sure Brenda Blethyn makes a convincing DCI in the new series, Vera (ITV), but I had to suppress a wry smile when she chucked a couple of diaries at her sidekick and said, “Here, read these!”

“Err, why?” He asked, tentatively.

“Because no woman writes a diary unless she’s got something to say.”

Certain bloggers could learn a lesson there, don’t you think?

Those Were The Days

Returning to Tyram brought back lots of memories and led me to go searching through a load of archived slides (ah, the days before digital) to look at a few old images. Each time I bump into Jan Porter he’ll ask if I’ve come across an old photo I took of him at one of the charity events we fished there. These were very special occasions attended by many of the good and the great. If I say they were fished by the likes of Terry Hearn, Lee Jackson, Rob Tough, Mitch Smith and many others you’ll see why they were fun times.

Jan was fortunate to catch the lake’s then most sought after resident – Scaley, a fish that went on to top 40lb before she sadly died.

Well, it would be a shame not to share one of Jan’s career highlights. I think the fact that he was still the ‘man in red’ at that time gives an idea of when the photo was taken. I’ve misplaced Jan’s contact details but if you are in touch with him, ask him to get in contact, will you?


More Trips Down Memory Lane

I appreciate a lot of folk only visit this site to read the blog, and who can blame you for that, but have you noticed I’ve been adding chapters to the ‘Tales Of The Riverbank’ section? Tales Of is pretty much a blog from a previous time and the chances are, if you like this you’ll like that, too. Give it a go.

I shall be adding a chapter each week until the river season opens with a bit of luck.

In fact to make it easier for you to trawl the previous installments I shall add a drop-down tag to the Books section today.

Kendal’s Mint Performance

The annual Big Bash charity fund raising event took place at Lindholme Fisheries this week. In keeping with several other big events this year the attendance  was down but that didn’t prevent the organisers raising a whacking  £4,700 for breast cancer care.

Chris Kendal won the match with a weight of 107lb 6oz from peg 52 on Bonsai Lake. That looks like a rather nice stillwater barbel on top of in his winning catch. Wonder if he’s considered joining the AoBF’s…?

Welcome West Ham

Can I be one of the first to welcome West Ham to the Championship. May your stay here be brief and fruitful.

However, be warned. Very few teams drop down and ‘do a Newcastle’.

If you retain a Premiership squad, funded by the obscene level of parachute payments, you may well bounce right back, but if a gamble like that fails to pay off then you could be in serious trouble. Take a long hard look at what happened to Leeds, Forest, Derby, Charlton, Southampton, Middlesborough, the Sheffield clubs and several others who still feel their rightful place is making up the elite numbers, even if it’s only so that they can roll over at the hands of Manure, the Arse, Chelski, the Yids and Scousers on a regular basis.

It isn’t that long since Luton, Wimbledon and Oxford graced the game’s top division but they’ve all ended up plying their trade in non-league circles relatively soon after their fall from grace.

Perhaps its me, but filling that huge bowl of an athletics stadium after the olympic games is beginning to look a tad ambitious. Some might even say fanciful.

But Who Will Join Them?

Next Sunday sees a fascinating climax to the sack race with two relegation slots still up for grabs and five teams jostling to avoid the drop, split by just one point. Chances are goal difference will play a part somewhere along the way.

It is entirely conceivable that third bottom Blackpool could lose at Old Trafford and survive providing Wigan lose and Birmingham concede defeat by one more goal than Blackpool. It really is too tight to call at this stage. Two of the five teams play each other, three have tricky away ties at Man U, Spurs and Stoke.

Whilst we’re talking relegations from the Premier division, I see Manchester United’s point at Blackburn (courtesy of yet another dodgy penalty) secured them the title which means their remaining game against Blackpool will be no more than an inconvenient distraction while they prepare for the Champions League final.

Fergie has already played a nasty role in deciding Preston would get relegated from the Championship by withdrawing his loan players when his son was sacked for being a completely incompetent twerp. I wonder, will he now influence who goes down from the Prem by fielding a team of kids against Blackpool? He’ll hardly be keen to risk his star players prior to the Barcelona game, will he?

United have previous. In 2006/7, having already secured the title, his team faced West Ham at Old Trafford on the final day of the season. United had lost just one game at home all season (to Arsenal). West Ham were staring at the relegation trapdoor having taken until March 17th to record their first victory on the road that season, yet West Ham pulled off a miraculous 1-0 win. The scorer was a certain Carlos Tevez.

This result saw the Hammers escape and Sheffield United went down – sparking off the whole Tevez affair.

No-one will be surprised if Sir Alex will fields a weakened side, will they? But even if he turns out a full first team, will any of them be in the slightest bit interested? It’s certainly in his power to gift Blackpool a win and in doing so relegate either Birmingham, Wolves, Wigan or Blackburn instead.

We’ll know for sure on Sunday

On Yer Bleeding Tractors!

The behaviour of football agents and indeed some football clubs leaves lots to be desired but I simply cannot believe the audacity of Ipswich Town’s derisory bid for one of the finest attacking midfielders in the Championship. The Tractor Boys have huge ambition. They see themselves as a Premiership club and they seem set to throw lots of money at getting there, so why would they want to pick up players for peanuts?

The clip below shows James Coppinger in action in the Division One Play-off semi final against Southend United three years ago. A couple of weeks ago he won the players’ player of the season award and goal of the season (against Norwich). Arguably he’s one of the finest players in the entire Championship and he’s still under contract for another two years.

I can understand any ambitious club showing an interest in him – no issues there – but to table an offer of £300,000 for his services is an absolute insult to both the player, to Doncaster Rovers and to the fans of this club. Do they seriously place such a low value on Copps? Or is it the opening round of a determined bid to completely unsettle him?

Copps scored another hat trick earlier this season against Ipswich’s rather more successful rivals, Norwich City, who won automatic promotion so it’s not like he can’t score against good teams, is it?

Ipswich have also placed a bid for our star striker, Billy Sharp, for £2.3m. They’re obviously serious and I can see that bid being increased to somewhere nearer three million. After all, he’s scored 30 goals in 61 appearances in the Championship with a struggling tin-pot outfit. But is Sharp really worth 8 times more than Coppinger? The Rovers’ board has dismissed both bids out of hand informing Ipswich that neither player is up for sale. That should be an end to the matter, but you know it won’t be, don’t you?

Football has precious little dignity these days and what respect I once had for Ipswich is fading fast.

Mind you, if they want to throw their money around, that’s fine by me, but their fans might just like to remember that 54 clubs have gone into administration since 2002. Don’t ask me to weep if they make it 55. The Championship is going to be a tough old playground next year and it’ll take more than big spending on players to gaurantee success. Maybe Ipswich are just trying to avoid a relegation fight.

Mind you, they’ve got the right manager for that.

Their ‘crown Jewel’ beat relegation by the skin of his teeth at Bradford City, did the same at Wigan, crashed and burned at Sheffield Wednesday and then took Derby down with a record low number of points. Let’s just say his list of honours is less than impressive and that his only successes came in the lower divisions when he was bankrolled by a philanthropic Dave Whelan.

Now f*** off Jewel and stick your paltry offers up yer a***! (appologies to any reader who is remotely offended by the use of asterisks instead of the real deal)

Unfortunately it’s going to be a long old summer for Donny.

7 thoughts on “2011 – Late May Blog

  1. We did not deserve to stay up and that is the truth.I did know about the Milwall “fly bye” earlier in the week.Ten out of ten for the stunt though.See you on The Old Kent road boys:-)

  2. I wondered if you were going to mention the Ipswich bid in this blog Bob.

    Jewell may not be the ‘marquee’ signing that Roy Keane was, but he’s done a good job since taking over from the disaster that was Roy Keane.

    I’m confident we can make more of a sustained push for the playoffs next season under Jewell.

    But having lost our two best players in McAuley and Norris and with Bullardinho unlikely to take a significant cut on the 45k a week Hull pay him, we desperately need some flair in our side.

    Our owner has money and is prepared to fork out to help Jewell. I’m surprised the offers were revealed individually for Coppinger and Sharp, rather than a single combined offer, but as you say it could simply be a way to unsettle them.

    I hope we can tempt them to Portman Road, but it doesn’t sound like you need to sell anyway.

  3. I think your board/ manager are behaving in an appalling way. The Coppinger bid is condescending at best. How would you feel if we offered you two lollipops and a bag of marbles for Connor Wickham?

    Or £300,000?

    Honestly, this fantasy that you’re going to push for the play-offs next year was cruelly exposed when you played Norwich last month. Remind me again how many they scored?

    Next season you are going to have three from Cardiff, Swansea, Reading and the Florists pushing to go up again and penniless Leeds will strengthen. Southampton and Brighton are not joining us to make up the numbers and then we’ll have West Ham and two more from the Premiership on mega parachute payments.

    If that isn’t enough to worry you then there’s Leicester City who seem to have more money than Richard Branson and Middlesborough and Hull should not be ignored. Derby have already begun splashing the cash, too. And, of course, Burnley and Millwall finished above you this year.

    And where does this leave you?

    Well, if you’re hoping for a top ten finish I suggest you start taking other teams and their players rather more seriously because offering £300K for Coppinger is an absolute joke. Even you lot down there must be embarassed by that and it isn’t going to help your bid for Billy, is it? He now knows your management team doesn’t have a clue.

    What’s your next move? A cheeky bid for Theo Walcott? £750,000 should secure him and maybe you could play him up front with Aaron Lennon… Jewel probably things he’ll get him in a swap deal for Grant Ledbitter plus three Bernard Matthews turkeys.

    Jewel turned Derby County into a joke team. Maybe he’s out to do the same for you.

    • Agree with you on the size of the Coppinger bid.

      Most of the Ipswich fans are very unhappy with the way Clegg has gone about things at Portman Road and the ridiculous number of players whose contracts were up at the same time means we are now having to look at filling a number of key positions in the first team. That said, I do have faith in Jewell to build on last season. The fact he’s trying to get players in now is a good sign – rather than Keane’s approach which was to wait until August then get a few uninterested Sunderland players in.

      The Championship will indeed be a more difficult league to climb out of next year, but I do think Jewell will have learnt from the Derby experience.

      At least I hope he has.

      Good luck for next season.

      • Since the Bosman ruling it’s very rare for players to sign a contract longer than 3 years which means every team in the league has a third of its squad in the final year of contract at any given time. Throw in those on shorter contracts and the number of players in the final year might even be as high as 50 per cent.

        It means there are lots of players available on free transfers each summer – if you can meet their wage demands – so it works in your favour, too.

        You can also ship out players who haven’t fitted in to a team – be that through lack of ability, lack of application or an inability to fit in with a particular style of play.

        The Championship will be a difficult league to just stay in next year never mind gain promotion from. Numerous teams’ fans will be kidding themselves they are in for a great season come August who will be less confident come January.

        I’m predicting a shock relegation next year for one, possibly two teams. The likes of Coventry, Palace, and Barnsley have far more experience at avoiding the drop than some who might just bottle it.

        Ipswich fans are talking like they’re going to be the next Barcelona. They may be in for a shock. Spending big has done nowt for Leicester, Middlesborough and Cardiff, has it?

        And didn’t Jewel buy upwards of ten ‘great’ players for Derby so that they could bounce straight back up to the Premiership? And look where that got him…

        And who did they lose to at home on the first day of the new season when they dropped down to the Championship? That’s right. A tin pot little team who’d just come up from the Third-Division via the play-offs. A team that was there because Coppinger scored a hat-trick against Southend in the play-off semi final.


        Michael Winner uses a phrase you Ipswich fans might care to remember. After all, that Scouser Jewel is probably be no stranger to saying, ‘Calm down, calm down!’

  4. The fish Jan is holding is called AWOL not Scaley.

    AWOL is still alive best weight around 25lb.

    Think jan got this fish around 1994/5.

    I fished the same match.

    • Thanks for the feedback, Gary.

      Time flies, eh? And all this time I’ve been living with a case of mistaken identity.

      Fabulous looking fish though, all the same.

      Isn’t it funny how some fish (like AWOL) top out while others grow on and pack on weight? Bit like some of the women I’ve known!

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