As I write there are just 10 days to go before the river season opens and I’ve so much to pack in before then. As always I’m running rather late in sending off my ticket renewals and one or two may not come back in time, but hey-ho. It won’t be a real problem. I only ever had one club refuse to renew a ticket because I marginally missed a deadline and that’s saved me a fair few quid since on the basis I happily paid my dues each season yet rarely fished their waters more than about three times a year. So who’s the loser there, I wonder?
I must apologise to anyone who tried to acces my site last week. I was away fishing in Ireland when the server crashed. When I’m at home it only takes one email and about ten minutes to get things up and running again. Due to me being away the site was down for about 5 days. Oh well, at least normal service has been resumed again.
You Don’t Know What You’re Missing
Ireland was fantastic. I’ll write about it in greater depth when I get a chance to compose my thoughts rather than wrap it all up inside a blog. That way the article will be more easy to retrieve should anyone want to glean information and contacts further down the line.
I’d not been over to Ireland for around a decade and I could kick myself. Ireland was once the place every angler wanted to visit prior to the UK becoming infested with carp. It’s not too long ago that Ireland was one of the few places you could realistically target a 100lb bag of fish. Commercial carp waters robbed it of its unique selling point and now you can haul out ‘tons’ from every muddy puddle. Alas a Katie Price look-alike is nothing like the real deal, is it?
Unfortunately the number of anglers visiting the emerald isle has dropped significantly and it’s not helped when folk who’ve never been there broadcast opinions that the fishing isn’t what it once was. So let me tell you this for nothing, there is still plenty of great fishing to be had in Ireland. There are more fish than you can wave a stick at and it’s all free, but two things have happened:
1. The fish don’t see as much anglers bait these days so they either don’t readily recognise it or they don’t pack together in the tight shoals they used to. They have to spread out to find natural food.
2. Zebra mussels have caused many waterways, the Shannon system in particular, to become much clearer, and that means the fish tend to feed early and late rather than through the whole day. But when you’re there at the right time and the fish are feeding it is sensational.
I stayed at Lorraine Tully’s place near Whitegates on the West Shore of Lough Derg. I fished with several local guides and will furnish you with all the details you need to plan a successful trip in a comprehensive stand-alone article.
I also tied in with the Inland Fisheries Ireland who bent over backwards to help put me in touch with the right people. Like I say, I’ll reveal all in the article that I’m in the process of writing but until then just sit back and think about why I’m raving about the fishing in Ireland and why I can’t wait to return.
Oh, and did I mention the people? They’re amazingly friendly and helpful. Roisin Ingle, writing in the Irish Times’, says, ‘You never have to pack a gobshite when you travel, there is always one wherever you go’. I have to take issue with her on that. Perhaps she means anywhere but Ireland because we didn’t meet a single one in a whole week.
But closer to home, what’s been happening?
I had a call from Ron Clay raving about a fishery I’ve mentioned on here several times in the past few months, Alderfen. He’d been there with Lee Swords, and just as I’d suggested, they’d had some cracking roach from the match lake. Lee’s biggest was easily over a pound and a half according to Ron who reckons it’s great value fishing.
‘How much did they charge you?’ I asked.
‘I paid £4. It’s £5 for normal people.’ He replied, without a hint of irony.
Is This Barbel A Record?
A little way down the road old Macca’s been barbel bashing again. Not many folk would turn their nose up at a 13-10 fish, would they?
I appreciate it’s the closed season but fair do’s, he had it from a canal which makes it a Kosher capture. At least in some eyes. He is keen to know if it’s a Britsh Record, for a canal that is. I don’t think I’ve heard of a bigger one. Have you? Perhaps Dave Mason can let us know.
Unfortunately this fish has caused Macca to move on to pastures new. he actually fishes the canal for carp and this, as far as he knows, is the only barbel in there. He had it last year and blow me if he didn’t email me this week to say he’d just caught it again making that 3 times in the space of about a year. ‘It doesn’t half like Mistral i40 boilies!’ He says. Macca’s now on the lookout for a new water to target, ‘I don’t believe in catching the same fish over and over.’ He added.
Meanwhile he’s catching a few carp here and there on maggots. Can’t fault the man
Stuck In A Time Warp?
Speaking of barbel, Ron Clay mentioned that he’d enjoyed himself at the Barbel Society Conference. Sounds as though things went well enough although I’ve seen little mention of it in any form of media. No doubt we’ll pick up snippets in the blogs of Steve and Fred but if the Society wants to grow then it needs to get its publicity machine overhauled.
The various factions within the barbel world appear to me, writing purely as an independant outsider, to be mired by paranoia that is driven by individual grudges, jealousy and let’s be frank here, pure hatred. It’s all secret handshakes and radical extremism. Idiots who couldn’t tell you what day it is being recruited into slimy little factions that feed on each other.
Change is better.
Maybe it’s about time that all the barbel groups took a good long look at their position. How can any group stand for conservation and fish care, campaign against the use of modern retention/ recovery systems and then support the use of the Queensford torture chamber? It doesn’t make sense.
How can a group support the closed season, which is outdated and mis-timed and then give star billing to a slide show featuring barbel caught during the UK closed season from waters just a couple of hundred miles east of our shores? And before Ade gets on his high horse (calm down dear, calm down! ) that’s not a go at him, it’s quite legal to do so and one day I myself will probably take up the numerous invitations I’ve had to fish the Rhine and Danube systems.
But there’s a huge clash of ideologies involved, don’t you think? It’s institutionalised doctrine versus individual choice.
Floppy hatters got all excited at the end of April when we had a mini-heatwave, ‘Oooh, the barbel are spawning, they cried. This proves the earth is flat!’
Well, did they spawn successfully? Is it all over now? Is it heck. If the weather warms up next week I suspect we’ll see some real spawning activity. What then guys? Postpone the glorious 16th? Let’s have some logic, please.
Odd isn’t it that, with a few notable exceptions, barbel numbers in UK rivers have slumped despite all the good intentions and policies while countries that don’t have a similar closed season appear unaffected.
On the other hand, countless thousands of anglers up and down the country now catch stillwater barbel on a regular basis. The species appears to thrive quite well enough which is more than can be said for their river living cousins. Remarkably all the stillwater specimens I’ve caught have appeared to be quite fit and healthy.
We cannot un-invent the atom bomb. We cannot turn back time. There is no legislation to support any form of resistance. It is a battle lost. No longer worth fighting over. A re-think on that score is long overdue. Antiquated stances and posturing won’t help widen your appeal among the masses, the very masses from which you have to attract your next generation of soldiers.
And maybe it’s time to consider the real impact that predation has already had and what things will likely be in five or ten years time. If the national problem reaches the crisis level I suspect it might over the next decade, worrying about the use of keepnets, closed seasons or which group you support will stand for nothing. It will be less effective than Nero’s fiddling while Rome burned.
They may hate each other but unless the various barbel factions unite they will soon stand for nothing. There’s an old saying that goes, If two parties agree all the time then one of them is useless. On the other hand if they argue all the time then both of them are useless.
Heading South again, Anglers Paradise seems to be producing some nice fish. Simon Birchall from Sale in Cheshire has been a regular at Anglers Paradise for the past 11 years and he’s just had a great session on the Main Lake. His best carp was this 30lb 1oz mirror.
Meanwhile Richard Ryan had, in his own words, a “Red letter day” on the Main Lake which is good for a first time visitor. He had a 27lb mirror and a 53lb catfish. Both fell to 21mm halibut pellets.
And much further afield, I’m sure I’ve mentioned the dispute on the Cauvery River in Southern India before. Government departments have been challenging each other in the High Courts over fishing and conservation. Fishing is claimed to be hunting and therefore it has been stopped, at least for now, to ‘protect’ the species.
Of course that means the fish will be killed by any means and eaten rather than protected by those who operate the fishing. My good friend Saad tells me only today that a large mahseer has been caught and killed in the upper reaches of the Cauvery. It was probably around 90 pounds but has been claimed to weigh as much as 130. According to Saad this is unlikely as fish of the same measurements are around that size. They have lied about the size, he said. They accepted it was silver and a silver of 130 would have been longer by at least another foot, if not more.
Maybe these are the fish that have migrated up stream for breeding. Who knows.
The size of the fish is immaterial. It’s the horrible fact that banning fishing will result in the deaths of many, many mahseer. Government meddling, interfering and posturing will make matters worse, not better. Indeed by the time its all sorted out there may be no mahseer fishing as we knew it left on the Cauvery.
Dawn Of The Dead
Are they really as predictable as the Internet closed season debates, nothing new to give, just the same-old, same-old advertising vehicles for their sponsor’s products?
Maybe we should call them Zombie writers. The corpse is still walking around but the heart and the brain no longer beat.
Okay, that’s all for now. I’ve got to sort out a load of gear now. A bit of tench filming to shoot this week and then of course I’ll be doing the same for chub and barbel next week – miles from the spawning grounds, of course!
Let’s hope the otters haven’t eaten them all while we’ve been away…
John Wilson/ BBC/ Otters