Welcome folks to another load of drivel and boy, have I got plenty of it for you. Let’s start with the good news. The volume of abusive mail I receive at Online Towers from certain quarters appears to have reached an all-time low. Thank the Lord for that and long may it continue! Perhaps they’ve finally got the message.
I doubt they’ve gone away for good as I gather they still indulge in a bit of character assassination in the occasional obscure blog and forum but it’s not like I’ll lose much sleep over that. Still, I find it rather amusing that they keep returning here for inspiration, filling their blogs with drivel about their interpretations of what I may or may not have written. It’s all rather flattering guys, even though I’m coming around to thinking that you just crave my attention. Oh well, anything to keep you ‘warriors’ happy.
Here, take this little GIF as a ‘gif-t’ from me…
But developing that subject, next week is National Bullying Week. The term ‘cyberbullying’ was first coined and defined by Bill Belsey as: ‘the use of information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior by an individual or group, that is intended to harm others’. A repeated pattern of such actions against a target by an adult constitutes ‘cyber-stalking’.
Sounds pretty familiar to me. Fortunately I’m made of sterner stuff than most. Unfortunately the bullying element have all but killed a number of internet angling forums thanks to their obnoxious behaviour but it doesn’t prevent them posting rubbish like, ‘Why is it so quiet on this forum?’ Hmmm. I suspect they’ll find the answer is in the mirror.
On the other hand if you feel you’re being bullied or stalked online then take heart from a recent court ruling that determined it is possible for an Internet Service Provider to be liable for the content of sites which it hosts. It set a precedent that any ISP should treat a notice of complaint seriously and investigate it immediately. If folk are harassing you on a forum or a web site then you can simply contact the ISP and report it. Trust me, it works a treat.
The Tide Will Turn
Ah well, that’s the boring stuff out of the way. What about the fishing?
The bad news is I’m struggling to catch with any real degree of consistency although I’m continuing to get out on a regular basis so sooner or later the tide will turn in my favour. That’s the way of things at this time of year. It’s all too easy to give up after a couple of tough sessions and spend the next six months wrapped up all cosy and sitting in front of a computer monitor. It’s what many appear to do.
I had a session with Stu on a little-fished drain chasing pike last week. I’d had a few casts in the drain a few days earlier and caught a couple of pike within 20 minutes so I decided to wrap up and save it for the video cameras. After all, if you can find some near-virgin pike fishing then the first trip has every chance of being special.
The day we returned was wet and miserable which always makes filming a nightmare. Still, a constant stream of action would make up for the conditions. We float fished with two rods each enabling us to cover a lot of ground. Unfortunately the bonanza failed to materialise and we only raised a couple of jacks all day. Perhaps the highlight, for me, was not the fishing but the wildlife. I startled three deer during the day, one was barely 20 yards in front of me when it bolted out from the tall rushes.
I’m not certain as to what species they were and searching the internet hasn’t helped a deal. They were far too tall for muntjack or Chinese water deer, their chocolate coloured coats ruled out fallow deer, so that only really leaves red, roe or the much rarer sika deer. Each of the deer stood over 3 feet tall at the shoulder and they had a distinctive white saddle on their backsides about the size of a dinner plate.
Floundering Around On The Trent
With little point in returning to the drain for a while I decided to have another go at the Trent’s zander. Arriving after lunch I quickly set up a couple of deadbait rods. Blow me, I had hardly got settled when the left hand indicator rose purposely towards the rod. Picking up, feeling for the line to tighten and then striking met with no resistance, and then I realised that the fish was on and heading upstream at a rapid rate of knots.
On winding down I was disappointed to realise whatever I’d hooked wasn’t exactly a monster but when it hit the surface I got quite a surprise. To be honest I expected it to be a schoolie zander of about a pound but it wasn’t. Flapping on the surface was a good sized flounder with just a roach’s head peeping out of its mouth!
I’ll tell you what though, there ain’t much room for manouvre in the mouth but thanks to barbless trebles and it went back unharmed.
Nothing materialised until well after dark. The rain was coming straight into my face, the wind was bitter and I was all for calling it quits when the same bobbin shot up again. I was on the rod in a flash, hit it, and for a moment I thought I’d snagged up. I stood there, keeping a steady tension on the rod while deciding what to do next, a decision that was taken for me when the rod whacked round dramatically only for it to spring straight back. Whatever had picked up my deadbait had been of a damn good size but had shed the hooks. Damn!
Whether it was a zed or a pike I’ll never know, but it’s moments like this that keep you going back. You never know what’s out there, do you?
Just before leaving I was sat watching the water. Even on the darkest night your eyes adjust and it’s surprising what you can see. What I saw was not what I was hoping for. The dark shape of a large rodent-like creature swam into the bank 20 yards below me. I only caught sight of it in the water and it was swimming at 90 degrees to my line of vision so I got a good look at the size of it. I’m as certain as I can be that it wasn’t a mink (I’ve never seen one here) and in the absence of beavers or coypu I can only surmise it was a dreaded Tarka.
A phone call from Stu announced he was on his way home after a job was cancelled. Did I fancy doing a bit of filming somewhere, and if so, where? In fairness it was a crap day, being dismal, overcast, drizzling and quite grey. ‘We could try for a zander.’ I suggested, ‘But it’ll be a tall order.’ So a couple of hours later we rolled up on the Trent.
We set up the cameras beneath an umbrella and took what shelter we could from the wind. Once again it was the left hand rod that signalled the first bite and just like last time my strike felt as though it had met with nothing until frantic reeling revealed the culprit had shot upstream in exactly the same fashion that Saturday’s fish had done. Blow me if I hadn’t got myself another flattie! Looks like they’re suckers for a dead roach. Interestingly this one had swallowed the bait tail first just like the previous one.
With no further activity we braved the weather and shifted swims, a move that paid dividends when the upstream bait was picked up. Zander have an annoying habit of dropping baits so it’s a case of hitting all the runs early, which I did in this case. The rod took on a satisfying curve as the fish dashed downstream and kited in, fortunately missing the other line. I quickly bullied it to the surface and there was my prize. A big zed that looked at least 8lb and could possibly have been a good bit bigger.
Stu had already gone mobile with the camera and we were quite likely making history. Has anyone else caught a double figure Trent zander, on film, from the cast, through waiting, the bite, the fight and then in the net? Probably not. And then the unthinkable happened. The zed surface and thrashed away with it’s jaws open and threw the bl**dy hooks! Damn!
Oh well. Looks like I’ll have to return and do it all again.
Still Waters Run Deep , Or, What’s In A Name?
I spent most of Wednesday by the Trent, supposedly fishing, but for much of the time I was totally engrossed in a new book by Dave Tipping and Tim Ridge. It’s another Little Egret Press offering and has plenty to interest the specialist angler. In the same way that Stu and I felt that most angling DVDs suffer from only having one person presenting, often resulting in a rather dry monologue, Dave and Stu have applied a complimentary style to writing a book in that one will write a chapter and then the other will offer an alternative or personalised view and I have to say it works rather well. I’ll review the book in depth later, indeed there’s already an extract elsewhere on the site if you fancy reading it.
One thing that struck me on opening the parcel is that the book itself has undergone a name change since I saw the first cover image. When it was announced by L-E-P as an upcoming title it was going to be called Stillwater Angling and, as a few old farts (sorry Ron!) will be quick to tell us, that title was used by none other than Richard Walker around 60 years ago on the cover of his most famous work.
Clearly someone had a change of heart along the way and renamed it The Still Water Angler.
It’s A Wrap
As a birthday treat the Walshes treared me to a night out in Barnsley. We Northern types know how to live!
The last time I went to the Civic Theatre must have been about 30 years ago and what a transformation it’s undergone. What used to be the balcony area is now the Assembly Room and we were there to watch The Boy With Tape On His Face. If you’re thinking, ‘who…?’, Then watch the clip below:
In an age when most ‘hip’ comedians think that swearing is hilarious and cool, which it patently isn’t if you’re older than about 15, here’s a guy who is genuinely creative and funny yet never utters a single word throughout his entire act. Normally I hate it when so-called funny men trade ‘banter’ with audience members to raise cheap laughs but The Boy’s show manages to be totally audience interactive without ever needing to humiliate anyone.
Described on his web site as ‘mime with noise, stand-up with no talking – drama with no acting’, that pretty much covers it, but in fairness it’s perhaps best if you don’t trawl Youtube for every single clip if you intend going to see him. Just take everything as a pleasant surprise on the night.
Go and see him if you get a chance.
What a difference a few days makes. I’d struggled on my recent Trent trips but a change in wind direction brought a complete change of fortune. Indicators that had previously refused to budge were now happy to dance and even Mr Pike put in an appearance or two. These were all pretty much the same size and although they might be regarded as a nuisance interruption it’s one I can happily cope with.
Not being blessed with millions of baits I always try and recover my hookbait if it’s been taken by a pike but glancing down the throat of one of today’s pike I discovered what looked like a bundle of black rubbish. Intrigued I coaxed it out to find it was a ball of soggy feathers, complete with what looked like a moorhen’s foot!
Oh well, when the cormorants and otters are eating you out of house and home you simply have to adapt.
By roving around and covering a likely looking area I managed to attract five positive ‘zander’ takes but connected with only three. That’s a poor hit rate but they do have a habit of being quite finicky. What I have noticed is that most of my bites are coming from an area well away from the one I was attracted to in the first place. Maybe I’ve been looking at the wrong features all along. Zander eat fish and in my Trent match angling experience you tend to find the better shoals of silver fish in areas with a steady flow, over gravel and averaging 5 to 8 feet deep. In other words, a typical stick float swim.
Zander also seem to feed well if there’s extra water and some colour. In other words, they’re not bothered that the river is flowing quite hard. So why have I been looking for slacks? These are the pegs you dreaded drawing in a match. Why am I looking for trees? Okay, these are possibly daytime holding spots but I’m begining to think they’re not feeding areas.
So far I’ve taken as many fish in daylight as darkness which has surprised me and I’m catching them well out in the flow. But I’m tending to lean towards a belief that the fish roam widely when feeding. You go ages without a bite and then bang! Out of the blue you get a hit. But then again I’m only fishing deadbaits. Maybe a trotted livebait would cover more ground and attract more bites. Unfortunately so little has been written about Trent zander and very few anglers are actually targeting them. Much pioneering needs to be done – the fish appear to be very widespread and far more numerous than I ever imagined – but it would help move things forward massively if folk would try for them on different stretches rather than following in the bank stick holes of others.
Footnote: There’s a nice (non-Trent) zander article here covering many of the basics.
When Celebrity Goes To Your Head
Poor old (or should I say young) Frankie Cocozza represents everything that’s wrong with the instant celebrity culture. No talent, no track record, no dues paid, just plucked from obscurity and thrust into the limelight of a show that exists to make the judging panel richer.
Okay, little schoolgirls fell for his Jack-the-lad image and most teenage boys envied the female attention that comes with such adulation, but when he dropped into the bottom two recently the panel had an obligation to tell him the truth. ‘Frankie, you can’t sing, you can’t dance and you should go back to singing karaoke.’ But no, they saved him, didn’t they? Who’d have guessed that?
Surely the show’s producers have a duty of care? All the live show acts are under contract to them. But it suited the show to portray Frankie as a bad boy (yeah, right!) and the tabloids do love a cartoon figure, don’t they? So headlines were manufactured and no doubt he was encouraged to go to all these night clubs, but the sad thing is he began to believe his own hype. He allowed his instant ‘celebrity’ to go straight to his head.
Before long he’s openly admitting to snorting cocaine at the X Factor house and once that was out in the open there was no chance he’d ever appear again on the show. It simply couldn’t be allowed to happen. Dumped, sacked, call it what you will. He was gone in a shot. Personna non-grata. Back home to the pebble-dashed council house where he lives in with his mum.
But the dream isn’t over yet for Frankie. He’s now apparently charging three grand a night to make nightclub appearances. Doing exactly what is hard to imagine, though we can safely speculate that it will involve sex and drugs. Unfortunately it’s the ‘Rock and Roll’ bit that makes you rich and what you’ll ultimately be remembered for in the music business. Sadly, for Frankie, that’s the bit he can’t deliver.
I suggest that Frankie’ senior and junior enjoy the ride while it lasts because I pity them both when the backlash comes, as it surely will. They’re the property of the red tops now and they do like a spectacular ending…
Perhaps Simon Cowell should have taken heed of Lord Sugar’s earlier Tweets:
Followed days later by: This would be good if it was true. Frankie booted off X Factor.
Well, ‘Sir Alan’ got his wish. But in the mad world of TV you couldn’t rule out Frankie being invited to appear on the next series of The Apprentice. Then again, nah, he’s got Celebrity Big Brother written all over him.
One guy who hasn’t let instant stardom go to his head is James Gould. Fresh from the front cover of Angling Times with a cracking perch ‘from a Midlands stillwater’ (nudge, nudge, wink, wink!) James is already back down to earth and fishing a local canal in the hope of catching a big pike. Indeed he was out there last weekend with his old man. What a coincidence the that they both had one pike apiece and both weighing exactly the same.
Guess that means neither won the quid side bet then!
I had an email from Mark Thackeray this week. His family own a place down on the Norfolk Broads where guests are allowed to fish from a lawn in front of the property. In the past couple of months they have caught something approaching 40 catfish ranging in size from 2lb to 57lb. Rumour is that someone released 25 in an adjoining broad some while back and now they’re out. Not only out but breeding rapidly by the sound of things because posts on local forums have reported anglers’ tackle being snapped by monsters on a regular basis.
Oh dear. That’s not good news.
Once upon a time we had a rich diversity in angling across the UK with proper indigenous species and dare I mention, something like 4 million anglers. Then we decided to meddle and the whole country seems to be infested with aliens – carp, zander, barbel and now cats. Meanwhile roach, especially good sized ones, are becoming increasingly rare while the number of angling participants is a fraction of what it was 50 years ago.
Due to my recent trip to the Canaries I missed the annual netting and bonfire party at Anglers Paradise which means I’ll be doubly keen to get back there next year. A grown man gets so few opportunities to roll around in the mud, get drunk, laugh a lot and still raise money for charity these days.
The generosity of those who attend is commendable. Over £1,500 was ‘extorted’ from guests resulting in the grand total of £2,900 (raised between June and November) being donated to the local Winsford Centre’s minibus appeal. The picture shows Zyg and Rose presenting the cash to Ian Saunders of the Winsford Trust. I’ll bet the poor bloke had a headache the next morning!
Well the Netting is over for another year and what a week it was, once again I was staggered by the generosity of the people attending the netting and wish to thank each and every one. We raised over £1500 and are set to donate a total of £2900 to the Winsford Centre this week for their mini bus, which will mean the less able can access the centre.
The netting of the main lake was no doubt a dignified black tie affair and I’m sure that no one will have stooped to mudslinging or wrestling in my absence although one party pooper hung on until the end of the netting before going into labour and duly crowned the occasion with a beautiful baby girl.
By all accounts the netters scooped out ten catfish weighing between 40 and 60lbs, well over a hundred upper-double figure carp topping out around the 30lb mark, another 120 low doubles (to 15lb), not to mention some stunning orfe, tench and 15 big grass carp.
I’m not sure if this effigy actually resembles Guy Fawkes as it looks remarkably similar to the bloke who’s holding it.
Things will be pretty quiet down there until Christmas which means it will be the perfect time for anyone to go down and sample some of the fantastic fishing on offer in total seclusion. Even the day ticket lakes have been producing thirties and some big old cats.
The next big event in Paradise will be Christmas and New Year. If you fancy letting the New Year in with Zyg this year I can reveal that there will be a number of A-list angling celebrities in attendance. No names or pack drill at this stage but you could always call 01409 221559 and ask.
New Perch Forum
I spotted a recent forum thread asking why there were no forums dedicated to species like roach and gudgeon suggesting that angling is size-ist (Look, calm down you two, stop being so touchy, it’s not about folk who are only 5 foot four – okay, and don’t forget the half inch!).
Well, I do believe there are forums dedicated to midgets and there’s even one now for perch. It’s early days yet and there are very few threads running but it will be interesting to drop by now and then to see how things progress. Just click the image if you would like to be transported to Lilliput.
Big To Be Nice?
Back in the Barbel Wars days I was admonished by a guy who posted, ‘It’s nice to be big Bob, but it’s big to be nice.’ It was typical comment that you’d get from folk who didn’t know you but like to score cheap points. It’s fair to say practically everyone who’s ever contacted me through this site has had a personal reply. Unless they’re idiots. I do genuinely try and help folk and it’s always pleasing to get a bit of feedback.
Take Dale Skayman as an example. He wrote asking for advice about zander fishing in the Newark area. A few days later he came back saying he’d had his first zander run in just 8 minutes. Unfortunately he lost that one at the net. Putting a roach back in the same spot he had another take, this time banking an 8lb zander. According to his latest email he’s still buzzing from the experience and it’s refreshing to hear someone say thank you these days.
The picture’s pretty poor, taken with an iPhone in the headlamps of a car but hey ho. That won’t bother Dale because he’s now done something that few could have imagined would be possible twenty years ago.
Speaking personally I’ve now had zander from upstream of Nottingham right through to below Dunham on the tidal. I’ve no doubt they’re everywhere in between and there will be some astonishing specimens tucked away should anyone take the trouble to find them.
And it certainly makes a refreshing change from barbel fishing.
So Who Really Killed Bambi?
Don’t you just love the hypocrisy of the bird lobby. Indeed the same goes for most animal lovers. They’re quite happy for fish to be slaughtered by cormorants and otters but somehow they lose all perspective and make selfish uber-protective demands whenever their own little darling buds are threatened. On the news this morning I see they are calling for the culling of deer because a growing deer population is now seen to be having a detrimental effect on certain birds, the willow tit and nightingale in particular.
That’s right, the bird lobby want to murder lots of Bambis because they eat grass and shrubs. Well there’s a surprise.
And am I supposed to feel sympathetic? If these folk are so concerned why don’t they follow the same advice that is given when anglers raise concerns about otter predation. Erect fences and keep them out. That’s right, stop moaning and dig into those burgeoning bank accounts you’ve amassed from public contributions and your charitable status and fence off the areas you’re so concerned about. And please, don’t come crying that it’s too expensive or really difficult, or that it’s too big a problem, because frankly I really don’t care. Welcome to the world of the angler.
On the other hand you could try scaring them away, like we are supposed to do with cormorants. Doesn’t sound such a brilliant idea now, does it? I mean, you’ll be telling us next that this simply makes it a problem for a neighbor.
But will shooting a few thousand deer actually make a difference? You keep telling us that culling cormorants is not the answer and that it will not reduce numbers. We told you that was bollocks but you wouldn’t listen. Well, like I said, welcome to our world.
If I could be bothered to search my files I’d no doubt find a dozen instances where I’ve written that if cormorants were eating robins and blue tits there would be an outcry and the blanket protection they were awarded, completely mistakenly because the original bill was tabled only to protect the pigmy cormorant, would be lifted at a stroke. Funny, isn’t it, that as soon as something as sweet and cuddly as a wild deer threatens a rare bird species then the gloves are off. Kill them! KILL THEM ALL…!!!
Oh well, it gives us hope that one day we will be able to manage our fisheries in accordance with the fishery needs and that we might adopt the farmer’s defence to protect what are in effect our livestock. Let them slaughter a million Bambis if they like. It can only strengthen our case against Tarka and the Black Plague.
God Luck Des
I see that SBS Baits is no more which presumably means my old mate Des is back in the job market. Must give him a ring soon and see how he is. The rumours had been circulating for a while but all was confirmed on Fatwa World by Lol Breakspeare in the following post:
As a mate of Des I feel I can put the record straight, SBS hasnt gone into receivership, it wasn’t a limited company, however the factory in Kidderminster has shut down, Des has sold the intellectual rights to an Hungarian company who will continue to develop and sell SBS’s excellent bait range, they will support and increase the bait testers. This was a hard decision for Des as he had created SBS to what it is, but now he is free to continue with other projects, finish his long awaited biography (part 1) and above all else spend more time what he loves best, catching big fish with his mates.
These are tough days to be working on ‘other projects’. Let’s hope he bounces back quickly. I’m sure he will.
There’s No Catch
I discovered an interesting web site the other day called Issuu.com. It contains loads of on-line magazines, some which are currently found in the newsagents, some which only exist on the net and some which appear to have been dummies or pilots. Take this one for example:
Could be wrong but I don’t recall ever seeing it before, do you? Click the image and you can have a read. If you search the site you’ll be surprised what you find.
If you’re looking for an irreverant Christmas present for an angler that is cheap as chips look no further than Brain Roberts’ (no relation) Jack’s Pike cartoon book. It’s the perfect stocking filler. Full details can be found in the Book Extracts section of the web site. Meanwhile here’s an example of his work that I nicked from his latest blog:
So why not treat yourself or a friend to a copy of his book?
The Footie Bit
I really should add my usual slant on what’s happening in my little niche of the football universe but we won at the weekend. Mind you, who really cares? We’re still bottom of the table, still bringing in players like there’s no tomorrow. Diouf scored a brace while Copps and Billy showed Paul Jewel why he was such a cock to offer a measly amount of dosh when he tried to unsettle them in the last transfer window.
I just can’t believe this won’t all end in tears and we’ll slide back to oblivion. The Chairman’s still talking about play-offs and some fans are completely sold on the dream. Could be worse though. There’s no sign of Peter Ridsdale on the horizon yet.
And of course there’s the England Captain In Racism Row story that drags on and on. Not one player in the game made a complaint, nor the ref, nor anyone in the crowd. It seems some bloke watching TV started an internet campaign and now look, the entire PC brigade is up in arms. Sometimes we need a bit of perspective here. I’m no fan of John Terry as an individual and have made that clear some time ago in this blog, but get a grip.
Football’s a man’s game, played at speed, with passion and it is totally multicultural. But those at the heart of it are not exactly rocket scientists. Terry insists he is innocent but let’s be realistic, things will be said in the heat of the moment, insults will be traded and a degree of sledging and winding up goes on, but it isn’t racism in the wider sense. At worst it’s two blokes having a spat and one happens to be white.
English players are the Premier League’s minority, not foreigners. Football has opened its arms to every nation on earth and its employees work and socialise with more foreigners than any other trade I can think of. Frankly I think this is being manipulated, indeed fabricated and promoted by the media. It is trial by television; political correctness taken to the extreme and that in itself is ugly. It appears Terry is being used to promote an agenda and whoever is behind it has orchestrated things remarkably well.
It has somewhat overshadowed the incident involving Liverpool and Manchester United. Surely the Suarez vs. Evra incident is completely different and should be the one making headlines? Unlike Ferdinand Evra made a complaint over Suarez’s alleged racist comments and therefore it has to be investigated as a priority and dealt with appropriately.
So why is all the media attention being directed away from this pair towards Terry?
It used to be (in this country) that you were presumed innocent until proven otherwise. Speculation in the media before a hearing was banned and deemed to be a contempt of court. Manipulating public perception makes a fair trial is impossible.
And then there’s dear old Carlos Tevez. What a plonker he is! After refusing to resume warming up during a Champions League game he now disappears off to Argentina without his club’s permission. On top of that he’s also threatening to sue Graeme Souness over comments made on Sky TV. That’s right, the very corporation that makes it possible for footballers like him to be paid ridiculous sums of money.
Time he was made an example of.
Anyway, enough! Switch off that computer and go fishing. That’s what I intend to do.