2012 – End Of Movember Blog

Greetings everyone and welcome to the Bob Roberts Online late Movember blog. How’s the whiskers?

Thank God that’s over, said Angela, relieved she was now in a position to trim her bushy growth. It’s not too late to donate though…

Afraid I got a little carried away with this latest effort. When I was finally ready to press the publish button it appeared to be far too long and far too comprehensive for one offering. Seriously, it would have required a truly determined effort to get through it all. To be honest it was easily as long as a book chapter (if you’re reading War and Peace, that is) and there was still some stuff that I wanted to add! So I’ve split it up and even then it does go on a bit… Sorry! 

Anyway, enjoy this first half and keep your eye open for a quick follow-up next week.

Old Skule Charm!

You can’t beat a spot of old school charm and by that I’m not on about an old smooth talker like my good self. I’m referring to proper fishing. Fishing where you actually hold a rod and run a stick float through the swim expecting to get plenty of bites. That’s pretty rare these days, isn’t it? Well not necessarily if you live in South Yorkshire because fishing the River Don is rather like taking a journey in a time machine.

I fished the Denaby length only the other day and filled my boots despite enduring some pretty miserable weather. There’s definitely something magic about running a red topped Dave Harrell stick float down the current and seeing it dip under. That resounding thud as you strike and connect is priceless. One of the best feelings in angling.

Whether it was my swim choice or the water clarity, I couldn’t say, but the dace don’t appear to have arrived in numbers yet. Instead I caught mainly roach. At a guess I’d say I had 60 or so in a few hours plus perch, gudgeon, a few dace admittedly and one good skimmer of about a pound. This is what the fishing in the whole of the UK might be like if we had had proper cormorant management. The Don is full of silvers and they’re spread all the way down from Rotherham to the tidal reaches. You do see an occasional cormorant working the river although they don’t appear to hang around for long. Perhaps there’s something in the air that disagrees with them…

A cartridge full of lead shot, I imagine.

Let’s just be happy that the Don Valley is pretty much the best managed and co-ordinated no-fly zone in the country.

Join Us – If You Dare…

It’s already been mentioned elsewhere on the site but Stu and I have been invited to lead a party of guests out to Zambia to fish for tiger fish in 2013. It’s to the same lodge I mentioned in my previous blog but we’re going earlier in the season (June) when the fishing is more prolific. Now I get countless emails from folk saying they’d love to come on an adventure with me. Well, here’s your chance. Stu and I will not be making a penny profit out of you, we’re paying our own way, so the cost to you is what it costs. Half the places have already been filled, we just need to fill the rest.

Unfortunately if we can’t fill them the trip might fall through because to reach Lukulu involves chartering a private jet from Lanseria airport in Johannesburg to fly over Victoria Falls, drop into Livingstone for customs procedures and then onward to our destination. We land on a dirt strip which is at least 200 kilometres from the nearest tarmac road. Split ten ways it’s financially viable.

Matoya Lodge is certainly one of the more remote camps you are ever likely to visit – there is no vehicular access – yet it’s equiped with electric lights, power showers, a swimming pool and serves up some of the best food I’ve eaten on a fishing trip. And it’s a damn site safer than waking up in the Himalayas and finding tiger prints in the sand outside your tent which I’ve done on more than one occasion!

Use the Contact Me button above if you want more details but I suggest you don’t hang around if you are serious about coming.

Matt’s Back – Wild Fisherman Norway

Sticking with aspirational fishing, did you watch Matt Hayes’ new TV series on Friday? What did you think? If you missed Episode One you can catch it in full by following this link. Alternatively if you prefer a snapshot view you can watch the trailer below: 

I would value your opinions.

From a personal perspective it was good to see Matt teaming up with Mick Brown again. The scenery was spectacular, the camera work okay, but all in all it was another ‘much ado about nothing’ in my eyes employing a style of fishing for a rare species (ferox trout) that very few are ever likely to get inspired by. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticising the anglers, merely sharing an opinion on it as entertainment, but ten minutes of nice footage was stretched out into an hour long programme and were it not for the accidental captures of pike and perch I fear it would have been a chore to watch. You know they’re struggling for material when Matt adopts the role of tourist guide and shows you round a paddle steamer while Mick does a passable Masterchef audition.

But the next 3 parts are on series link and like most folk I’ll watch them all as I have great hopes that it will get stronger in the coming weeks and indeed it’s awkward passing objective judgement when I regard Matt and Mick as friends and they are both excellent and experienced anglers. Matt and I in particular go back a very long way. We fished together regularly before he became Angling Times’ star writer. And let’s recognise that without Matt’s current efforts I doubt we’d be seing any new angling programmes on TV at all other than blatant advertorials for carp based products.

I’ll tell you what was a bit odd though. Hearing ‘our’ tune. 

Almost a year ago I appeared as the studio guest on Sky TV and in the show I premiered a 6-minute preview from our Caught In The Act project. Immediately after the broadcast I received an email from Richard Lee, who, at the time was Angling Times’ editor. ‘Hey Bob, amazing footage, looks fantastic but I think you should change your music because we’re using the same tune on Matt’s next TV series!’

I suggested he get stuffed. We’d already paid for a license to use it and no-one was offering to reimburse our costs. What’s more, we had gone ‘to air’ on TV first. It wasn’t up to us to change. Our right to use it was now established. You may not appreciate this but most film makers license music and pay appropriate royalties dependant upon how they intend to use it. They don’t own the music. Doesn’t matter if you’re making a drama series for the BBC or two mates knocking out a few DVDs. Only the rates change and you do not expect or get exclusivity.

When it wasn’t used in ‘wild Mozambique’ I presumed they had changed their plans. I was wrong. Last night ‘our’ tune cropped up in Matt’s show. To be fair in the past year alone it’s been used in adverts for a Hollywood Film (Iron Lady) and in at least two BBC documentaries but I’m guessing we’ll not be compared with these so I would like to stress we ain’t copying or plaguerising anyone. It’s a coincidence that both (angling) parties are aware of and will just have to live with.

Fortunately neither of us has used it as our main theme although would it really matter if we had? Our DVD project is aimed at coarse anglers in the UK and lowland Europe. Matt’s TV show appears to tailored towards the game fisherman and good luck to him, I say.

Will The Trent Do A Twenty?

There has been much talk of the Trent producing an authentic 20lb barbel, but will it really ever happen? Some still seem to think so but just stop and think about it. This expectation has been around for the better part of a decade and it’s yet to happen. No other river in the UK gets as much sustained round-the-clock multiple-rod pressure yet how many genuine 16lb fish does it actually produce? And don’t forget that many of these reports are repeat captures of the same fish. If the Trent was realistically going to throw up a twenty then you’d expect it to be producing a few more 18 and 19-pounders.

Truth is the average Trent barbel still weighs between 3 and 8lbs. Doubles are no-where near as prolific as some would have you believe although there are decent numbers around in the 10-12lb bracket. Fourteens are relatively rare. Beyond that you’re pretty much looking at needles in haystacks or targeting known fish.

So here’s a thought. I have a sneaky feeling that the Trent will produce a 20lb zander before it produces a 20lb barbel. How about that then you barbel nuts? Agree or disagree?

The Trent is home to a lot more zander than most realise. They have adapted to it in much the same way they’ve adapted to the Severn and that river is all the proof you need that a big UK river can grow zander in excess of 20lbs. Zander have been in the Trent for a lot longer than you might think and they’re doing very nicely, thank you. I had a chuck for zeds in 3 completely different locations over the past week spanning some 45 miles of river. It came as no great surprise that I hooked a fish in each of these swims within an hour or so of setting up.

Looking at the beauty above you have to think that it has the frame to grow into quite a hefty old fish, wouldn’t you? As for ‘old’, perhaps a better description would have been a chunky young one with great potential?

Landmark Ruling Will Benefit All Trent Anglers

To say I’m dead chuffed that the Angling Trust’s Fish Legal arm has won a landmark injunction after a four day trial in Nottingham County Court that will prevent the building of a multi-million pound hydropower development on the River Trent at Sawley Weir is the understatement of the year. I’ve been a member of the club that controls the fishing rights for well over a decade and although I don’t fish there often I do hope I can continue to do so while ever I’m fit enough to cart my gear there when the fancy takes me.

Fish Legal, acting for its member the Pride of Derby Angling Association (PDAA), has won the biggest case in its 64 year history by securing an injunction to stop impending construction of a flagship hydropower scheme at Sawley Weir on the River Trent. The case was heard at against developers  (CRT – previously known as British Waterways).

The Judge found that the developers (the Small Hydro Company and the Canal and River Trust) did not consult with the fishing club until very late in the planning process and that they should have made much more careful enquiries about the fishing rights at the outset. Indeed it appears that the company and the waterways charity (CRT) turned a blind eye to those rights in an attempt to sideline those with most to lose from the scheme – that’s us anglers. The Judge recognised that they either ignored or were aware of the risks, both to the scheme and the fishing rights, but they pushed forward with their plans anyway.

Had the scheme gone ahead we anglers would have been expected to access our fishing via a locked security gate into a fenced compound and to perch ourselves on a series of metal platforms suspended up to eight feet above the river. The developer’s own health and safety witness conceded in court that this would put them ‘at risk of death’. The Judge ruled that the club should not be forced against its will to accept the proposal at the expense of its valuable fishing rights and that the scheme should not go ahead. The company had tried to pressurise the club to accept its plan and, in spite of the anglers’ objections, pressed ahead with seeking an Impoundment Licence for the development from the Environment Agency (EA), which the EA granted.

This decision has been roundly criticised by Fish Legal and the Angling Trust as a failure of the regulator to fulfil its statutory duty. Indeed the EA’s minimal level of attention was deemed utterly inadequate from a public body which has a statutory duty to maintain, improve and develop fisheries (i.e. angling) and the Judge’s decision that the fishing rights would be significantly harmed demonstrates the EA’s failure in this regard.

The scheme at Sawley is only one of many being planned on the Trent by the Small Hydro Company and there are hundreds of others planned across the country by other private companies, often backed by private equity and major financial institutions, who are engaged in a gold rush to make profits from generating hydropower principally because of generous feed in tariffs from the taxpayer. Twenty six thousand sites have been identified by the EA which might be suitable for hydropower so this is merely the first skirmish in a long war.

The club would never have been able to fight the case without the support of Fish Legal and this one victory alone makes me proud to be a life member and I implore every single person who reads this blog to consider joining. It costs so little in real terms to give those who are determined to protect our future and our heritage the necessary funding to stand and fight on our behalf.

Rage Page Hit’s Facebook.de

Oh dear! It appears Germany’s number one lure angler has caused quite a stir by making a video to promote his sponsor’s new range of lures. Apparently they must be bl**dy amazing lures because in the film he uploaded to Youtube, Dietmar Isaiach allegedly manages to catch a 1 metre long zander that’s doing a brilliant imitation of a Norwegian blue parrot. Indeed it’s an Oscar winning performance by the zander which is quite obviously as dead as the proverbial door nail.

Not that I particularly wish to judge any angler’s stupidity but if someone’s making lures that even a dead zander will eat then can I have a box full, please?!!!

The video was quickly removed from Youtube but not before a whole bunch of predator anglers had seen it and a load of accusatory comments posted. Unfortunately the cat was now out of the bag and as we all know, bad news travels fast, especially if you mix up words like high profile and blatant deception. Zed heads in Germany have now created their own Facebook Group and are boycotting products endorsed by this angler. Them there ‘Germins’ don’t muck about when they’re upset, do they?

By comparison one or two of our own high profile miscreants have enjoyed a much easier ride after being caught out. Oh well, at least he wasn’t fishing in the closed season! 😉

Steve Who?

Near the bottom of this blog you’ll find a link to one of my favourite football sites, created by a Huddersfield Town supporter. I invariably find something in each report that makes me laugh out loud. Somehow fishing seems devoid of this kind of humour and indeed proportion. There are sites that purport to be funny but in truth they’re now’t but a bunch of smart-arsed bullies poking fun at folk they treat with contempt. Where are the real funny men in angling? Where are the Frank Barlows? Where are the true characters that were around 20 years ago? Go on, show me a funny angling web site.

Feel free to offer up links to any that give you a giggle but do excuse me if I don’t hold my breath while I wait for suggestions.

One angler who has always amused me is Billy Makin. Those who still remember the stuff he wrote for the Angling Star will know exactly what I mean. It shouldn’t be forgotten that Billy was a top class angler and by that I mean right out of the top drawer. He and Ray Mills made up a formidable partnership, particularly on canals and they’d both be up there in the Kamasan points table when matches had to have at least 80 anglers fishing to count.

When he created Makins’ Fishery at Wolvercote he showed angling exactly how to manage airborne predation issues in his own uncompromising manner. It was no surprise that the foxes in the vicinity of his lakes were the fattest in Leicestershire after feasting on a regular supply of ‘black ducks’. I do believe he was one of the first to put forward an argument that he had been granted a license to shoot two cormorants but as it didn’t stipulate which two he would keep going until was satisfied he had nailed the right pair.

Billy eventually sold his fisheries for a tidy packet and flew off into the sun to enjoy retirement in the year-round sunshine of the Canary Islands. I’ve received a few messages from him recently and he offered no objections when I suggested I share them with you. The first read:

Hi Bob,

Recently left marital home at wife’s request and moved to Thailand, naturally towing along golf bats and fishing gear. Decided to check out pole fishing venues’ on line’ and was disturbed to find a few cultural differences.

It appears that carbon technology hasn’t yet reached this part of the world. Can you believe they are still using shiny steel poles? Not only that, at all of these pole venues, most of the anglers seem to be semi naked young ladies,who have developed a most unusual style of line control using only their legs and groin. I didn’t actually see them catch anything, even though I stayed for hours.   

Can you help me to locate a few gudgeon venues around the Pattaya area, Bob, as some of these female pole anglers do have suspiciously deep voices and seem to know very little of where I can obtain local bloodworm supplies. Will keep you updated.

Shortly afterwards came a follow-up:

Did first e-mail arrive, Bob? Still cant get the hang of this tablet computer thing, also pretty tired this morning as spent most of night teaching femail Thai angler how to control a perfectly balanced waggler in an extremely deep swim…

A week later and there’s another message: 

Seven days on now, Bob, and still not too sure of Thai fishing techniques… Nobody seems to know of a reliable bloodworm supplier and worse still, no one has even heard of Steve Pope. Can you believe that?
 At least l am doing my bit for the tackle trade as most evenings I give the local female pole anglers a few bob to uprate their tackle and spend most of the night discussing the relevance of the Barbel Society. The results are somewhat inconclusive.
Poor old Steve, stitched up like a kipper yet there’s absolutely nothing in this Mickey take that he’ll be offended by, which is how it should be.
Enjoy Australia mate!


A Quick Book Round-Up

When I’m not wasting my life away compiling this blog I’m frequently trying to play catch-up on a spot of reading. I’ve four different angling books on the go at the moment and each is fascinating in its own way. I’ll try and do full reviews later but Christmas is approaching fast so it’s important that I highlight them to you as soon as possible. All four are worthy of a note to Santa, hence me highlighting them, but for now, here’s the first two. I’ll feature the others in the early December blog.

Underwater Angling by Paul Garner and Stuart Morgan is unique in that it’s the first book I’m aware of that approaches angling from under the water rather than from above. When Stu and I shot the underwater footage for our Barbel Days and Ways DVDs we quickly learned that so much of the mantra spouted by so-called angling ‘experts’ was a complete load of rubbish. This book takes a look at the most commonly used rigs and tactics and explores them from the river bed up and it’s genuinely fascinating. I have to applaud the pair for the efforts they’ge gone to in creating a thoroughly fascinating glimpse of what actually does happen down where it matters. The photography is excellent throughout. A great effort, beautifully designed and laid out and it’s printed on quality paper. Buy it!

Available direct from Paul’s web site.

Carp: Location, Feeding and Bait by Jon Wood is making my brain hurt. This is not the kind of book you sit down and skim through in an evening. You need to concentrate – hard. But the information it contains is absolutely vital to anyone who wishes to understand their fishing better. There are no rig diagrams and ‘hey, look at me’ pictures. It’s facts, facts and more facts. You will not find a more thoroughly researched angling book and he pulls no punches when it comes to the truth about commercially marketed angling baits. When I do finish this book I’m probably going to have to go back to the beginning and read it again but I’m sure the process will be worthwhile. I’m certainly starting to understand what makes a carp feed. What’s interesting is that this also applies to most other cyprinid species, too.

Available from Fishing Booksender

The Footie Bit

Anyway, enough of misery guts, lets lighten the mood and raise a few smiles.  I’d like to share with you one of the best football web sites around. Woah! Hold on there, don’t go clicking on Facebook till you hear me out! Bear with me for a second. This is not a site for incisive deliberation on tactics or for balanced views on the beautiful game. Far from it. This site exists to royally extract the Michael. Something it achieve with class and elan. Do me a favour and spare five minutes to take a look, you won’t regret it.

It’s the Huddersfield Town FC World web site and I’ve long been a massive fan of it. In fact it’s probably my number one favourite footie web site so I implore you to check it out. Just go to the reports page and click on any of the highlighted matches. This guy is a cartoon genius and he rips it out of his own team as well as everyone elses. It’s class with a capital ‘C’… Absolutely priceless.

Watch out for Part Two next week. 

7 thoughts on “2012 – End Of Movember Blog

  1. Hi Bob,
    Nice blog there, a good read!
    ‘Get stuffed’ is what I would have said!
    Very nice Zander, I’m hoping to target them next Autumn.
    Paul’s book is a good one, I’ve been reading it the last few evenings.
    Tight lines Bob.

  2. Evening Bob,

    Two things………..Matt and Mick,I think they are the best double act in angling.I have been catching up on the old rod race programs again they do seem to generally like each other.

    Frank Barlow,I have asked for his book for Christmas from Santa,his old articles used to make me laugh.

    Oh and Donnie are doing well my preseason bet may yet come to fruition?;-0

    • Like I say Monty, it’s not having a go at the two anglers or their abilities, just feel an hour long angling programme should have more fishing content. Plenty of better cooks on TV and no shortage of holiday presenters. I hoped for more because this is the best we fishing folk can hope for on TV these days.

      The phrase, ‘threw away the mould’ certainly applies to Frank. Should be a fun read. He once gave me some serious stick in a column – completely unjustified, too. Even the apology a week later left a few open wounds. But when you walk on a knife edge there are bound to be a few cuts.

      As for Donnie, dear, oh dear. This is the worst League One in living memory. In the past week we’ve beaten three education establishments – the deaf, the dumb and the blind school. Carlisle’s defeat was their 4th on the bounce, Portsmouth was their 6th, I think, and Scunny – well enough said. They are shockingly bad right now. Still think it’s a bad bet and I’m not convinced by Saunders as anything other than a mouthpiece and the brand of football he’s set them up to play is effective but dire. A total of 3 shots on goal in 2 home games prior to Saturday (lost both).

      Having the third biggest budget in the League certainly helps paper over a few cracks… Heaven help us if we do go up.

      • Just an afterthought, Monty. This is a comment on the Donny forum by one of the more positive posters:

        ” I think tonight probably sums up this league. We didn’t string two passes together, played hoofball and head tennis all night and looked completely ineffectual for about 70% of the game, yet Oldham were somehow worse! If we can grind out results playing like that, it won’t be pretty, but we won’t be in this league next season.”

        And that’s a scary prospect. On the strength of 4 straight wins and 8 wins in 10 games, the attendance dropped from 7,000 to 6,000 for last nights game.


        If we’re in the same league position (2nd – equal points with top) at the end of January then I’ll start to get rather worried. Somehow I don’t see it. happening, mark my words.

        • Evening Bob,

          Football fans will always be fickle,we are all at times despondent,filled with joy or just downright pissed off with our club.Keep the faith mon brave;-0.

          I fancy us to beat Chelsea on Saturday and I have a little tale about Rafa and Torres,from Torres’es agent.Not to be put on here,when I have more time maybe………;-0

  3. good blog as allways bob,i enjoy watching matt and mick together and i also like it when they dont catch everytime they go out it makes me feel less inadequate lol.and any angling on tv is better than none.when will your dvd be ready as im hoping the wife will buy me it.
    cheers nige k

  4. Hi Nige,

    Obviously the Barbel Days And Ways DVDs are all still currently available and in stock.

    The first two parts of Caught In The Act will launch next Spring with Parts 3 and 4 following on in time for Christmas. Exact dates are fluid at the moment and dependant on third parties but that will all become clear early in the new year.