Sometimes I wonder where the time goes. Is it me getting older and slowing down? Or is it true what older folks say, that time speeds up with every birthday? Or maybe it could be that I’m filling my life with amazing things and living it to the full…
300 Not Out!
Then again, this blog is the 300th article to be published on here which perhaps gives a clue as to where a great big chunk of my time has gone! Especially as some of the articles run to 5,000 words. Indeed I’m guessing there must be around a million words on here and lord knows how many images. But I suppose I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t enjoy it so much. It really is a labour of love which is why I’ve never bothered with advertising on the site, although I am guilty of looking a gift horse in the mouth on that score.
Since the last blog I’ve been out and about quite a bit and have caught a few cracking fish but in the main it’s been filming, filming and more filming. I’d be telling lies if I said that I’ve enjoyed those trips where I’ve just gone fishing, because I haven’t. When the cameras are rolling you’re motivated and there’s something to prove in spite of the conditions. When you’re just scratching out fish in dire conditions for the sake of a day’s sport things get a whole lot harder but all that will change in a few weeks time when the weather turns.
Right now it’s bitter outside. The daytime temperature won’t rise above freezing today, tonight it could hit minus 10 and tomorrow there’s snow on the way. Who in their right mind wants to fish in conditions like that?
I’ll tell you. Stu does. And he’ll be waiting patiently outside my front door nearly two hours before it gets light tomorrow, eager as a little beaver.
On the fishing front I’ve enjoyed some cracking sport despite grim conditions. It also has to be borne in mind that we each take it in turns to fish or film, so each of us is only actually fishing half the time we’re on the river bank. Stu has tended to target pike at dawn while I’ve concentrated on chub in the latter part of each day although not exclusively.
I also returned to the River Lea (or is it Lee? – can someone tell me once and for all, please?) for a quick session. Stu wanted me to catch a 6lb chub on camera and guess what? My first fish was a six. Don’t let folk tell you that catching specimen fish is difficult – they only say that to boost their own egos. It’s all about being in the right place. If you can be there at right time as well you only have to be a half decent angler to succeed.
Alternatively you can sit there with a bolt rig and providing you cast somewhere near the right place and hope to have sufficient time on your hands until something hangs itself on the end. But maybe that’s just me being a bit cynical. Thing is, fish chasers catch big fish and those who hear the news first get first dibs which is when it’s really easy to catch a specimen. By the time Joe Soap gets to hear about the big ‘uns they’ve often been hammered and got rather cautious.
If you’re wondering what the picture (above) is about, would you believe this is us filming underwater? Look closely and you’ll see there’s a green rope running along the trunk of the willow. Well, it goes up to Stu and then it hangs down into the water and on the end of that rope is a video camera, suspended in mid-water capturing images of chub taking maggots on the drop. Sometimes you have to use a bit of ingenuity to get the more unusual angles but you also need an awful lot of patience.
Oh, I did catch something rather unusual on my ‘wag and mag’ tactics, and I’m talking on 2lb line to a size 20 hook, something bigger than the chub that fought a lot harder, but I guess I’ll save that picture for my Improve Diary. Can’t give everything away, can I? What I will say is it makes a fascinating piece on camera.
The Swale has been challenging in recent weeks but the fish have still fed, fortunately. Stu’s had some cracking pike in dire conditions while I’ve had my share of chub in conditions that have ranged from ice in the margins to floods and snow melt. The weather has certainly delivered some sensational scenics and when it comes to watching a fishing film who really cares whether a fish weighs X pounds and 10 ounces or X pounds and 9? Atmosphere is what makes a film; tension, bites and great angles. ‘Here’s me with a fish I caught earlier’ really doesn’t cut it for me and I guess most folk feel the same. Did the weights of the carp caught during Passion For Angling really matter? Or the barbel? tench? I rest my case. Big isn’t always best.
But don’t go thinking we haven’t captured BIG on film… We have. But everything is relative, I suppose.
An invitation to appear as the studio guest on Sky TV’s Tight Lines was gratefully accepted and after discussing it with Stu we agreed to preview a few clips from the work we’ve done this past year. Remember, Caught In The Act is a two-year project and we’re only half way through it so far. Showing this footage wouldn’t sell us a single DVD but we both thought it would boost the spirits and inspire us to soldier on with the long slog ahead. Those who buy the DVD will witness the splendour, the highlights, the successes. What they won’t see is the many failures we endure in the build-up. We suffer those like everyone else so a little confidence booster comes in handy now and then.
The show went really well and we received lots of good feedback. You can download it to your computer as a podcast from the Sky web site free of charge. Our six-minute Caught In The Act film starts around the 23 minute mark and run for 6 minutes. I hope you’ll feel that it’s well worth a watch.
The upshot is that we’ve now been commissioned to shoot a ‘live’ segment for a future show and there could be more opportunities in the pipeline. We’re really looking forward to that.
We do seem to be capturing our fair share of oddities on film. Stu’s whacking great signal crayfish was a first for us from the Swale but I also had a really weird chub the other day on a lobworm. In the dim and distant days of my youth we’d have called it a ‘spaz’ but I guess we’re a bit more PC these days! It certainly has a deformed spine but one things sure, crippled or not it manages to eke out a good living on the river in competition with all others and what’s more it must be coping well enough with the dramatic floods the Swale suffers to have reached this size.
Otters And Nutters
What is it about otters that affects the sensible rationale of some folk? I recently wrote a piece about ten threats to angling. Nine threats were all-but ignored but the mere mention of those cuddly, cute fish butchers brought a predictable response from the idiot brigade. It wasn’t long before their posts became abusive, vindictive and downright rude so I banned a few IP addresses and prevented any further responses to the article. Sadly, many of these responses came from folk who claimed they were anglers.
Yeah, right. I can answer all these ridiculous, ‘la-la-la, empirical evidence, prove it, no they don’t pose a threat, those barbel and carp deserved to die, etc,’ merchants with one word. Priorities. Get your priorities right. How can you waste your breath worrying over the cardinal sin of unhooking a barbel on soft grass while spouting it’s okay for some recently introduced creature to rip its throat out for the hell of it? These folk are completely bonkers. Honestly!
I’m reminded of the Third Basic Law of Human Stupidity which reads: A stupid person is a person who causes losses to another person or to a group of persons while himself deriving no gain and even possibly incurring losses.
Exactly. But no more comments on otters please, on or off the record. My time’s far too precious to waste it on the terminally stupid.
You may have notice that I’m gradually uploading a whole load of pike fishing articles, fact sheets and guidelines, hosted on my Scribd Site but easily accessed from here. I enjoy a bit of piking and value the friendships I have with those who are far more dedicated to it than I ever will be. I’m not a dedicated piker and frankly I don’t think you need to be to catch a few. You just need access to the right waters and be there at the right times – how often have I said that about other species, too. But it’s true.
Anyway, here’s a little film clip of Richard Lee, editor of Angling Times, who takes his mate pike fishing to Wykeham Lakes, near Scarborough, chasing a near record breaker that had recently been reported in the paper…
Facebook Cashes In
I see Facebook is about to go public and raise billions of dollars for those who invested in the early days. One guy who painted a wall and accepted worhtless shares instead of payment is now worth millions. Bono bought 1 per cent of the company for more or less a bag of peanuts. That investment could now be worth a billion! One thousand of its 3,000 employees are set to become overnight millionaires.
They might do well to cash in their shares sharpishly. Remember Friends Reunited? These things have a habit of crashing but somehow I doubt it this time. Facebook has crept into the fabric of society. It’s where you drop your trousers in public for the world to see. It’s grown into a vehicle which drives family feuds and the angst of the Jeremy Kyle generation. It’s scary!
I joined a few months ago on the recommendation of Steve Pope. Matt Brown told me I really needed to be on there. Still not sure it’s a good idea because I now get inundated with requests from folk who are playing Hidden Chronicles, Farmville or some other such mindless game. But I already have 1200 followers, growing daily, and it means I can communicate a message across to these people in an instant.
One bloke who seems to use it better than most is Martin Bowler but I had to smile when I read his post announcing how he was almost killed by a falling tree in the recent gales. Seventeen people actually clicked the ‘like’ button.
I Pity Those Poor Arsenal Fans
So Arsenal fans think they’re having it tough and plan to hold a bin bag protest in the ground. It’s not good enough that the club has grown from playing dreadful football in a decrepit old stadium to having one of the World’s finest grounds and delighting us with the most spectacular football. They’ve graced Europe with aplomb but, like Oliver, they want more. ‘Get rid of Wenger’ they cry, let’s splash the cash. Let’s buy success.
Dear oh lord, for the vast majority of football fans it’s like hearing the Queen complaining about the stripes on the palace lawns running in the wrong direction. If Arsenal fans think these are the tough times because they don’t win trophies every year then wake up and smell the coffee. Ask the supporters of teams like Oxford, or Bradford City who fell from Division One to the basement, beyond in Oxford’s case, what a true fall from grace is like. Or Oldham, or Wimbledon who were both in the Premier League when it began. As were Crystal Palace, Coventry, Ipswich, Leeds, Forest, Middlesborough, Sheffield Wednesday and United.
Man City and Villa have both plied their trade in the third division, as have Norwich and Southampton (both Premier clubs in year one). Arsenal have had it easy for many, many decades. Now please, stop moaning because it makes you look plastic. Like the bags you are proposing to wear.
Closer to home my team edges ever closer to the trapdoor. Oh, how foolish we have been. How stupid were we to sack Sean O’Driscoll? But to replace him with a rookie from the Conference was an act of suicide. O’Driscoll knew the score. We didn’t have a strong enough squad. We simply didn’t have the resources to compete with Leeds, Forest, West Ham or anyone else who regularly drew crowds three times the size of ours. He knew the effect would be cumulative and when injuries struck, or Brighton’s thuggish players (how on earth do they get away with it?) kick us to kingdom come. That Dunk is an absolute disgrace by the way.
So now we face the final curtain. Grudging credit has to be given to our ‘transfer consultant’ Willie McKay as we now have a squad of mercenaries good enough to beat anyone in this league, and they’re playing for peanuts. We have the fabric and structure created by SOD to fall back on, too. But alas we have a manager called Saunders who is, in my opinion, hopelessly out of his depth. It is he who will lead us into oblivion rather than the team. I don’t rate him.
Last week four directors resigned. Two of them were worth hundreds of millions of pounds. In the aftermath we sold Sharp – good luck to him – to Southampton for a bargain fee and began terminating contracts of fringe players. The fire sale has already begun. The game’s up. We’re going down. I only hope we can restructure and hang on in League One, but even that’s in the balance. We will have a Championship wage bill and a drop in TV income of about £4m. If things go horribly wrong I can see us in administration, relegated twice, or God forbid, back in the Conference.
So come on you Arsenal fans, get a backbone. You’re behaving like spoiled kids.