2012 – Mid May Blog

I was really looking forward to my first tench trip of the season but guess what? The lake is flooded, and when I say flooded I mean every single peg is under water. Grrrr…

Oh well, I’ll try again next week. But please, don’t keep giving me all this hosepipe bans and drought business! Someone’s having a laugh or the execs of the privatised water companies are simply failing miserably in their highly paid duties.

But let’s start on a bright note. Simon Machin left a message on my Facebook page and it pretty much sums up what many of us feel about fishing and what non-anglers just don’t get:

Do you know Bob, don’t know what it is, maybe the challenge or just being in the heart of nature but all I can think about is fishing. I think it’s an addiction. I can get moody if I don’t get my fix, don’t even need to catch…

And then there are the others who just seem to miss the point:

When The Rivers Are Shut…

 …some folk can’t seem to find owt better to do than create havoc on the Internet. I really don’t know what makes some folk tick, you know. Then again, I’m not sure these folk actually do a deal of fishing during the rest of the year either. Perhaps it’s in their DNA, a bit like birds know when it’s time to nest or salmon know when to leave the sea and ascend rivers. What is certain, they’re not exactly nice folk all year round but between March 15th and June 15th they become right arseholes! Or maybe they’ve got some kind of Dracula bug that manifests itself in springtime rather than in daylight.

Me, I’d rather go fishing and when the rivers are shut I tend to look elsewhere. It’s a cracking time to target canals, at least it is in my neck of the woods where active cormorant management has ensured the roach population is both healthy and prolific. The canals here are a far cry from your regular narrow boat jobbies. Ours tend to be at least 20 metres wide and 8 feet deep (isn’t it odd how the metric and imperial systems sit happilytogether like that !) and although they’re all linked and fed by water from the same river (the Don) they each have their own character.

Take the Stainy (Stainforth and Keadby Canal), it’s full of bream, whereas the New Junction is full of roach. On my last trip to the Stainy I was unable to use maggots because of the ridiculous number of perch that nailed the hookbait within seconds of dropping in. On the Stainy my first line of attack is pellets because that’s the only way I can get through to the bream and even then you have to put up with catching lots of ‘nuisance’ roach.

This bream fell to a 6mm Bag ‘Em ‘Soffit’ presented over 3mm halibut pellets and on a good day you can easily catch a dozen like this.

Over on the New Junction Canal you will catch a few perch on maggots but the main target is roach however the smart angler is never without hemp and a few tares, or casters. The roach to be had are crackers, too. It’s not that unusual to catch fish in the 12oz to 1lb bracket if you can read what they’re doing.

I had upwards of 20lb of quality redfins the other day but I’ll tell you what, it wasn’t until I shallowed off to 3 feet and fished on the drop that I really sorted out the better quality fish and that was in 9 feet of water.


Meanwhile a trip to the Mexborough Canal broke new ground for me. It’s 5 minutes from home and I’ve never once drowned a maggot there. Funny how we do that, isn’t it, overlook the fishing that’s right beneath our noses? By all accounts it fished its nuts off during the recent heatwave (anyone still remember it?) and produced some very big roach. Has perch potential, too, I suspect.

Anyway, I had 50 roach or so in a few hours but one fish brought memories flooding back of the Trent in its heyday. It was not uncommon back then to catch roach that had golden cheeks and out of the blue I had one today. Happy days. 

A Gem Under My Nose?

I’ve dabbled on the Mexborough Canal, too. This one’s practically on my doorstep, nearer even than the Don itself and it, too, seems stuffed with fish although catching 50 roach in a few hours might sound like good sport I can’t help feeling I barely scratched the surface. Tales of specimen roach and big perch from folk who happened to be knocking around left me wondering whether I might be overlooking a little gem. I also learned of a sturgeon, caught on the pole in the past fortnight. And like the other two canals I’ve mentioned here, there’s a lot of water to go at. Around 25 metres wide and it’s 6 feet deep straight off the edge.

Commercial Break

I don’t understand the commercial snobbery that some anglers are very keen to display whenever there’s an opportunity. They regard commercial fisheries as less than worthy of their attentions and decry them constantly. I do wonder if any of these ‘experts’ – they always regard themselves as knowledgeable, special and very experienced, have actually fished a decent commercial in the past decade? There are some cracking commercials around. They’re not all muddy puddles and they hold far more variety than carp, carp and carp. Indeed they hold stocks of big roach, specimen perch (no doubt several have perch that would threaten if not break the current British Record, fabulous ide and in some cases, whacking great bream. And if they keep anglers away from your secretive little spots, where’s the harm in that?

I suspect these ‘experts’ are actually so useless they’re afraid of commercials and the anglers who fish there because there’s no surer way to demonstrate their inadequacies than to sit down next to someone who knows what he’s doing at one of these venues. Remove pellets and swimfeeders from the armoury of most barbel ‘experts’ and they’d take up golf. Tell them they have then have to catch in daylight and they’ll think you’re having a laugh! Compare that with a crack match angler in action…

I enjoyed a pleasant day with top roach angler Mike Townsend at a commercial recently and his versatility was in no doubt. We visited Sykehouse Fisheries, north of Doncaster, and our target species was roach. It’s odd, but once you know what you’re doing you get very little interference from carp. What’s more, I enjoyed it a lot more than having a barney with a bunch of strangers on a web forum. Perhaps others ought to try the alternative (to taking about fishing) and actually get out there and catch some fish!

Need To Get Hold Of One Of These…

I dropped in on Tim Ridge the other day while he was fishing a large pit for tench. He was baiting up with a small Spomb and it was impressive to see how accurately he was able to place his feed. The Spomb opened on impact every single cast and there was no spillage. Brian Skoyles first showed me one of these last year when we spent a day in an Essex tackle shop and they took my fancy even back then.

It’s time I got my finger out and obtained one.

Putting A Name To That Face

As I type, the number of followers who have ‘friended’ me on Facebook is currently just shy of 1,500 which is a flattering number in such a short time. Wonder who will be the one who turns the counter to 1,500? We’ll give him (or her) a namecheck on here when it happens.

You can find my page here or click the link at the top of the page.

Final Countdown

Spent 3 days tied up with the Green Un Club Match Angler Championship semi finals at the weekend. It’s a competition I’ve stewarded through 15 years of steady growth. In that time it’s attracted over £50,000 worth of sponsorship, this year we are honoured to have Daiwa Sports onboard. Not one penny is taken out in expenses, venues are nailed to the floor on ticket prices, indeed many have supplied lakes free of charge and we’ve gained thousands and thousands of column inches of news coverage.

This week alone, in a week when Sheffield Wednesday achieved promotion, a 37,000 crowd (in League One!), held a civic reception and the Blades begin their play-off campaign, we are still getting two full pages in colour in the Sheffield sports paper. That’s a massive result.

Yet however hard folk work to make it a success there’s always one, isn’t there. The man who has ‘a face like a bulldog licking piss off a nettle’ to quote Mark Wragg. Yep, there’s no pleasing some folk and it’s so frustrating. Instead of being grateful they moan at every little thing. Indeed, read it all, chapter and verse, here.

Oh well, at least there will be 24 happy punters who’ll be competing for £3,000 worth of prizes PLUS pools in next month’s final.

Doppelganger Time

Do you have a double? Allan Parberry (Mistral Baits) emailed me this week and suggested Ted Danson must have fallen on hard times if he’s reduced to performing as a Bob Roberts look-alike.

Do you have a look-alike? Or maybe a doppelganger.

According to the Merriem-Webster dictionary a doppelganger is a ghostly counterpart of a living person, a double, alter ego or a person who has the same name as another. For those who might be that bothered there’s even a Find My Doppelganger website where you can seek out your nearest celebrity look-alike. Alternative sites are Celebrity Morph, Picitup’s Celebrity Match Up or you might like Facebook’s phone app Celebrity Twin2me.

I can see some folk having lots of fun with those links although the devil in me suggests the likes of Steve Pope, Fred Bonney and a few others will get the treatment long before they get around to uploading their own images. But the results will be fun. Let me know how you get on but do play nicely, please!

Honestly, I haven’t tried it myself yet, although I may when I find a bit of spare time, but I did Google my own name. Come on, we’ve all done it, if only to discover what folk are saying about us behind our backs.

It was fun to learn I’m a ragtime musician and that I have a dedicated Youtube Channel in America. I’m even there on Twitter

Well, not really. But it’s more fun than the ‘Annual Barbel In Keepnets Debate’, surely?

And just to top it all, Martin Lewis (Money Saving Expert and Breakfast TV) is on my case. He wants everyone to be Bob, too…

Escape To Fennel’s Priory

I met Nigel Hudson maybe three years ago in the White Horse at Blakeney. Back then he was working on a book which has morphed into a series of Journals. Nigel, or Fennel, as he’s known to his friends, has had the courage to do what many of us dream of. He’s turned his back on modern ways and gone back to a simpler way involving traditional things, village life, retro clothes, enjoying the outdoors, sketching and writing with a fountain pen. He even spent more than half a year living the life of a hermit, in a tent, by a lake, surrounded by woodland and pretty much living off the land. Of course freedom like that comes with a price tag and he needed to endure a kind of breakdown to get to that place, but he got there and is very happy in it.

When a couple of copies of his Fennel’s Priory Journal dropped onto my doormat I was impressed by the sheer quality of his product. They’re exquisite. High quality art paper, beautiful photographs, evocative writing, yet precise, simple, effective. I bought into it. I love it, although I would like him to live that life rather than me (it’s a change in pace that I couldn’t possibly cope with). Oh, and each journal represents one year in his life. The man will never be criticised for being too prolific!

But I can see where it might lead. What he has would make amazing TV. It’s the reality version of a Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall show, without the cooking, imaging and marketing. It’s the Good Life, but in a realistic way. It’s Jack Hargreaves. It’s Countryfile. It’s Waterlog. It’s quality Sunday newspaper stuff. It’s 1948, all over again. Or maybe 1928. But in trying to escape the present he’s inevitably created a brand. A potentially very powerful brand.

Have a look at the web site. Take your time, there’s no rush, indeed why not ‘Stop – Unplug – Escape – Enjoy’, as Fennel suggests.

It’s different. Unique, perhaps. Fennel fishes, but don’t expect too much fishing. He loves widlife, but it’s not David Attenborough. He enjoys breakfast, and we may share it with him. Its…, different.

But I’m hooked.

Buy a copy of the journal. Indulge him. And enjoy. Chances are you’ll want to read them all. I do.

Well Done Stu

I have to congratulate Stu on catching a new PB tench weighing 7lb 5oz. That might not sound like a monster to many but he’s caught it from a northern stillwater and that makes it a very special fish. Top job mate!

And mentioning Stu, he rang to say Sky have accepted outr latest film shot in the Andamans. It should be broadscast sometime in June. I’ll let you know when on my Facebook page.

Reels on Wheels At The World Carp Classic

I’ve been a patron of Nick Rowe’s Reels On Wheels Charity for a while now along with the likes of Bob Nudd, Mick Brown, Frank Warwick and laterly Julian Cundiff and Andy Little, so it’s great to receive updates about what they’re up to. You know I hear some folk moaning about their ills and general lot in life but they really haven’t got a clue. It’s the kind of moaning you seldom hear from the genuinely disabled.

Last year Nick and Jim Williams became the first disabled anglers to take part in the World Carp Classic at Lac de Madine, France. They’re hoping to go to Italy in September for another bash but sadly it will be Nick’s last year of competition fishing as his illness is getting worse. Nick will be making a video diary of the trip with talk of it being shown on prime time TV.

Unfortunately an adventure like this doesn’t come cheap and the pair are looking to raise £3,000 in sponsorship which sounds a lot but the publicity disabled angling will get will be worth ten times that amount. Any help, no matter how small will go some way towards realising their dream.

Indeed, click on this link and have a look at what such an expedition involves and a blog about their progress.

On The Goonch Trail
My old mate Macca (David McIntyre) has just returned from a trip to the Ramganga River (northern India) in search of goonch catfish. They might be ugly as sin but it’s a species I’ve always quite fancied catching although the nearest I’ve come to success is in finding a baby one of about 3 inches long. The guides always say, yes sir, big goonch here, but we never managed to hook one despite making half-hearted attempts in the Kali, Giri and Ganges rivers. Seems they’re pretty thin on the ground – just the kind of challenge that appeals to Macca.
It takes a determined approach to ignore the mahseer and focus on a catfish especially when the fishing is so frustrating. Apparently he lost a big one after fishing for a week or so, then he eventually produced the goods, landing 5 goonch – a 30lb tiddler, a 44, a 46,a lump weighing 77lb and finally a 108-ounder.
Top angling Macca. Well done sir! Shame about the speedos. Can I interest you in a pair of comfortable shorts perchance? 😉
Salmon Fishing In The Yemen
Grabbed a chance to watch this excellent film the other day. Seriously, go see it. A glorious way to brighten up the closed season for anglers but just as funny if you don’t fish. My wife loved it.
Better still it’s British made and funded by a tax on the stupid, or lottery money to you and me…
Mike’s On Line

My fellow DVSG member Mike Townsend has set up his own web site and it looks rather nice. Mike considered the cheaper option of going down the blogspot route but decided instead to go for the full Monty, purchase  his domain name and teach himself how to use WordPress. He can now upload articles he’s written, write a blog, have photo albums and include everything you’d expect from a first class site.

You’ll find his site here. Do check it out. Good luck with all the hard work a venture like this entails Mike, you’ll need it!

Look, Shimano Is Shit, So Take My Advice, Don’t Buy Daiwa…?

The folk who post on the various angling forums rarely cease to amaze me. Sometimes I think I was born on a diferent planet to them. Take the guy who’s experiencing problems with a worn-out Shimano reel and on that basis he questions whether we shouldn’t all think twice before investing in a high quality Daiwa reel… 
Err, hang on, did I miss something? Where does Daiwa come into this equation?
This is what he posted:
“I’ve always said you get what you pay for, but recently (last week) I sent a Shimano Stradic 4000 gtm (Japanese model) back to Felindre for a service and a minor problem with the fighting drag…”
You’ll note his problem clearly lies with a Shimano reel and that it is ‘minor’. It’s a Japanese version and although I could be way off the mark I’m guessing that he purchased this from the Internet rather than in his local tackle shop. Basis? 1. Forum posters are forever braging they can get cheaper deals online and, 2. It’s a Japanese model. Shimano replaced a drag washer and returned the reel unserviced after phoning him to say that certain parts were now unavailable.
His Response?
My thought at present is that Daiwa and Shimano only hold spares for models around 5 years.”
Oh, so because you have a problem with Shimano you have deduced that Daiwa only hold spares for 5 years. I wonder how he came to that deduction and why he singled out Daiwa rather than a myriad of other lesser reel manufacturers? And if a top reel manufacturer like Shimano can only guarantee spares for 5 years then exactly how good do you think these cheap and cheerful manufacturers operate? I see you can buy TFG baitrunners, and similar models from Okuma and Shakespeare, no doubt Dragon Carp and Fox and Hardware, all ranging from £29.99 to about £60.
Does he think he’ll be able to purchase spares for these in 5 years time? Get real kiddo!!!
“In my experience problems dont normally arise for around 8-10 years, barring accidental damage, so my question to you is, is it worth spending around £200 on say a Daiwa tdx when in 5 years it’s defunct?” He went on.
Out of interest I checked the Tackle Box web site and it appears you can still purchase brand new Shimano 4000 GTMs for £99.99.
But if, as the guy states, you can expect 8-10 years of good service from a decent reel, would you not say this represents exceptionally good durability and value for money? What other mechanical product do you buy these days that operates for a decade without maintenance? A car? A bicycle? A chainsaw? Lanmower? If your TV fails after 8-10 years, or your fridge, washer, tumble drier, microwave or toaster, do you feel a pressing urge to bad mouth the manufacturer? Or worse still bad mouth rival manufacturers of whose products you overlooked in the first place?
And none of the products I’ve compared reels with gets left out in the rain, splattered with mud, abused, used for purposes they were never designed for and thrown in the bottom of a rucksack for months on end. I ask you, some people! 
PETA In The Dog House With Anglers

Those folk from PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) have got angling in their sights again and it seems they are more than happy to plumb new depths of hypocrisy with their ridiculous claims.

According to PETA, fish are intelligent animals with personalities. Indeed they claim fish form complex social relationships and ‘talk’ to one another underwater (Perhaps they’ve been reading the Pike Blog).

According to PETA fish can count and tell time, they are fast learners, they think ahead, they have unique personalities, and they may even have a sense of humour…

…unlike PETA followers and closed season forum posters. Boom, boom! 😉

PETA’s latest statement Reads: If you wouldn’t put a hook through your dog’s mouth and drag him or her around, you shouldn’t do it to a fish. Which might be a fair point, except anglers are unlikely to forget that as recently as 2010 PETA ran an advertising campaign in which they actually stuck a hook through a dog’s lip to illustrate their point. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot!

To use a dog for publicity purposes in this way is pretty disgraceful by any stretch of the imagination but PETA’s own mistreatment of animals doesn’t end there. Although it preaches ‘total animal liberation’, government documents obtained through public records requests from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services reveal PETA has killed more than 25,000 animals (mostly dogs and cats) at its headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia alone, which suggests they really ought to get their own house in order before launching into an attack on angling.

Not A Good Year For The Rovers While Barnsley Dodge A Bullet

Thank God the football season’s over. To be fair Doncaster Rovers’ entire season was jeopardised during the opening game last August when Gus Poyet’s Brighton site got away with absolute murder. It was thuggery on a scale I’d not seen since the days of Charlton, Hunter and Bremner. Chopper Harris would have marvelled at Lewis Dunk’s brutality while Tommy Smith would have said something like, ‘That was a man’s game’.

The bottom line is we went from a winning position to having two players stretchered off, two more limped off injured and we had to play out the game with 10 men. With a crippled midfield and no forward outlets remaining Brighton were able to mount wave after wave of attacks but it still took them till the 98th minute to score a winner. How they finished with 11 men on the pitch still puzzles me. Seriously that second half was brutal stuff and it meant we would play the next two months without an effective forward line.

My only crumb of consolation is knowing that the same Lewis Dunk has been arrested and charged with sexually assaulting a woman and voyeurism by Sussex Police. The charges relate to an incident alleged to have taken place in Brighton on 17 July last year. With luck he’ll be found guilty and banged up for a long time and whilst he’s inside he can maybe reflect about the big smile and pat on the back and he got from his team mate after clogging Billy Sharp in that fateful opening game. Believe me, that one act of unpunished violence more than any other incident laid the seeds for Doncaster Rovers’ catastrophic demise.

Six games later Sean O’Driscoll was sacked in rather strange circumstances and a successor appointed who had no Football League management experience at all. Unbelievable. Dean Saunders, for Christ’s sake!!!! What were we playing at? And then it became clear, we were embarking on an experiment that involved recruiting stellar signings who were currently out of contract or out of favour with their current clubs on short-term contracts. Saunders had the original squad plus Beye, Chimbonda, Ikeme, Diouff, Ilumga, Plessis, Robert, Bagayoko, Plessis and Piquione – for Christ’s sake! My granny could have managed that team. Especially when existing squad members like Sharp, Stock, Spurr, Oster and O’Connor returned from injury…

So how come we finished the season with a run like this:


We also lost our final 6 home games on the trot.

So what on earth possessed him to trot out this statement to the press: “I’m disappointed and I’ve got to hold my hands up because I thought I could keep us in the division, we nearly did it.”

No we bloody didn’t!!!!!!

We were the first club in all four divisions to be relegated. We amassed a grand total of 36 points, a full 12 short of safety with a GD of minus 37, the worst in the Championship by 12 clear goals. How does that equate to, ‘we nearly did it’ ? The man talks bollocks.

Unfortunately this is the clown who will oversee the greatest challenge in the history of the club. Relegation means we have no choice but to dismantle the entire squad. From next season a FFPR salary cap will apply to League One which means clubs can spend no more than 60% of turnover on players wages. In practical terms this means we cannot offer a competitive contract to any player who’s deal runs out in the summer. Unfortunately the wages of the 12 remaining contracted players will still exceed the budget cap by a million quid, so some of those will have to go as well and if we want to recruit new players then that will only be possible if even more of these contracted players can be offloaded.

There are no parachute payments from the Championship to League One and the loss of around £4m in TV revenues means budgets have to be slashed dramatically to meet the new rules or the club will face a transfer embargo. Hanging on to your quality players is simply not an option which therefore puts you at a huge disadvantage when selling these players.

In other words we’re pretty much starting from scratch in a league you underestimate at your peril with a clown of a manager who holds the ridiculous opinion that we ‘nearly did it’ this year. My gravest fear, should he remain in charge, is that we’ll be relegated again.

Meanwhile Barnsley dodged a bullet, surviving by the skins of their teeth courtesy of Portsmouth who were docked 10 points after entering administration. Had Portsmouth been better managed financially then Barnsley would be keeping us company next season in League One.

But good luck to the Dingles next season. Our six-fingered friends will be joined by at least one Sheffield club, hopefully two, which means if you throw in Leeds, Hull and Middlesborough, plus Forest and Derby, there will be some cracking local derbies to drool over, and yes, I envy them, because rest assured, there will be no Rovers return in the forseeable future.

The local paper published a very good article last week. It is well worth a read and hints at where everything really went down the pan.

But enough of the doom and gloom, if you want to see the funnier side of football check out our fanzine, Popular Stand Magazine which you’ll find several examples of on the excellent Issuu web site.