2012 – End Of Season Blog (Part Two of Three)

Hot on the heels of Part One, here’s Part Two for your delectation… 

Fisky Zeds

Had a nice message from Nick Marlow showing he’s been catching a few nice zander from the Trent on soft rubber lures. He offered to send me some but how cruel is that? I’ll have a bunch of brilliant lures but no opportunity to use them for the next 3 months. That’s mean Nick! But come the summer I’ll have lots of opportunities to put them through their paces. And maybe I might do some damage with the local canal perch.

You know, I’m starting to warm to the idea of a bit of lure fishing.

Valentine’s Massacre

I mentioned in the last blog that Ian Fowler had been bashing out a few carp during his trip to Anglers Paradise around Valentine’s Day. He was there for his wife’s 50th birthday and did rather well as these images of three twenties in one day suggest…

For The Sake Of 20 Seconds…

I’m sure folk have no idea what making a DVD involves. Yes, some companies shoot a whole film in a day but that’s not our style. Certainly not during our Caught In The Act project. So there we were, up before the larks, driving over the Pennines yet again hoping to snatch just 20 seconds of footage. Well, 20 seconds on screen but knowing full well those 20 seconds would take all day to capture, if we were lucky that is.

The Eden is a big, fast river and we were hoping to shoot grayling in their natural environment. First off we headed for what’s regarded as a really prolific swim. Hmmm… Two weeks ago it was solid with fish. But not today. The grayling had vanished. Presumably they had moved on to wherever they’d congregate for spawning. I tried several swims and bites were distinctly at a premium and I caught several wild brown trout without touching a grayling.

So we reverted to plan B which involved a far tougher stretch. Low density but where the grayling run bigger. I’m not going to say it was a roaring success but we got what we needed – eventually.

Falling In Again (2)

Have you ever fallen in while fishing? I think most of us have at some time or other. I certainly have but speaking from experience, let me give you a tip. Try and do it in summer, not winter. And in ponds preferably, rather than somewhere like the River Swale when you’re 80 miles from home. It was a risk I just had to take. Stu was playing a pike, I was trying to get a good angle with the camera and that involved jumping onto a small, greasy outcrop. The outcome, as you have gathered, was so predictable.

There’s something rather professional, don’t you think, about a cameraman who, while sliding into a dangerous river holds the camera high above his head shouting, ‘Stu, grab the camera!’

Not, ‘Help!’ or, ‘Stu, grab me arm!’ Of course not. My concern was for the camera rather than my own safety. A bit mad when you think about it. But we’d got all the footage we were going to get that day anyway so it was home for a bath time.

Facebook Fun

I’ve slowly warmed to Facebook since Steve Pope encouraged me to embrace it and I do try and keep my page updated with a few snippets here and there, especially if I’m pressed for time to write a proper blog or article for here, but every now and then you do come across the odd numpty. The kind of sad individual who re-inforces Jeremy Kyle’s views about social media in general. Mind you, old Jerry has made a tidy fortune out of these sad individuals so he’s not in any real position to complain too loudly.

Recently I spotted a post hosted on Des Taylor’s wall by someone called Daniel Paul Brambley. I’m not aware that I’ve ever met the guy but he clearly taxed his own intelligence by writing: ‘If you take the letters in Bob Roberts, take some out, add a few more, and re arrange them, you get ‘TWAT.’

Nice, eh? Seems the guy has a bit of a chip on his shoulder where I’m concerned as this is not his only insult aimed in my direction, but hey ho, I’m flattered that he cares so much.

What I will say though, is that if someone posted comments like that on my wall about Des (or anyone else) I’d see it as only common decency to delete them. Oh, and by the way Danny boy, that picture of your ‘friend’ Steve Pope was taken by me…! Clearly happy to use me as well as abuse me.

Harry’s A Star

Dave Harrell contacted me the other day and kindly asked whether I’d like to try some of his new floats. He must be psychic. My stock of sticks is dwindling rapidly and the concept of the largest tackle shop in the area no longer carrying a single stick float is depressing. How times have changed. Every tackle shop I knew used to have hundreds lined up in glass fronted cabinets – Pete Warren, John Allerton, Tommy Pickering, Dave Thomas, Britannia, Middy, Drennan – the choice was legion.

Something someone once said has always stuck, ‘They aren’t just floats, they are winners and losers…’

And it’s so true. You needed to make the right choice of float, the right choice of shotting pattern, get the feeding right, the presentation, the timing, everything. But it all boiled down to the right float nine times out of 10. The float dictated how you fished.

And this demise, more than any other, suggests to me that the current closed season is hopelessly outdated. Hardly anyone is fishing the rivers any more unless they are after barbel – and they only seem to know one method – bolt rigged pellets! Talk about dumbed down fishing for a dumbed down fish by dumbed down anglers!!!

Anglers like Dave Harrell were (and still are) artists. Any fish caught on a float is worth ten on a bolt rig. Size only matters if you are obsessed with numbers, bragging and your own shallow ego. Size defeats the joy of actually fishing.

My floats duly arrived and I was gagging to get out there and have a go. I still had some old maggots left over in the bait fridge but didn’t fancy the Earth Centre so headed downstream onto the Doncaster and District water near Sprotborough. It’s amazing how much river you get to yourself if you can walk 800 yards. Other than dog walkers, two rowers in a scull, and a lone jogger I never saw another soul. Bliss.

Choosing an 8No4 shouldered wire stem job I tackled the 12 foot deep swim with my Spectrum 17/20 rod and a finger dab 1657DM reel. It was glorious. Although cold it was bright and sunny. The river was carrying a few inches and slightly coloured. My target – bream. Single maggot on a size 20 GP105 Gamma Black hook was the bait.

I expected instant action but it didn’t come. It took over an hour before I was getting bites with any regularity – mostly from dace and gudgeon. Things picked up as the afternoon wore on and I ended up getting a bite on most runs through depite an increasingly tricky wind (I was fishing at about 5 rod lengths out). Yes I had a couple of bream to 2lb but couldn’t get them to settle. I also had some cracking roach, one perch and around a dozen chub to half a pound. Not spectacular fishing but thoroughly enjoyable.

Best of all it took me less time to drive home than to walk back to the van.

Sadly I might not get another chance to do this again for the next 3 months. Every one of those fish and no doubt hundreds of others had a meal on me. Every single one was lip hooked. They were out of the water for perhaps ten seconds and returned straight back to the river (no keepnet). Can someone tell me where the harm is in that? I sat on a mown bank and can’t see how the vegetation was damaged in any way. I left no litter, had a swan for company all afternoon and disturbed nothing.

For the life of me I cannot understand how this terrible act does no harm whatsoever today but will cause great harm to angling in the eyes of the general public in ten days time?

Where Is Everyone?

With fresh baits at the ready I headed down to the Trent for a quick zander session. Okay, fishing from 1pm to 5pm on a cloudless, sunny day and a full moon visible in daylight is hardly what you’d choose when targeting zander but my biggest fear on the drive down there was how busy would the river be. When I first fished this stretch it was rare to see another angler. Now it’s bivvy city in summer. What a pleasant surprise them, to not only discover the swim I really fancied was vacant but there wasn’t another angler in sight on either bank as far as the eye could see in both directions.

It kind of makes a mockery of those who say the rivers need a rest, especially when experience tells us that the last week of the season is when rivers tend to be busier than they’ve been in the past four or 5 months. The idea that my presence on the bank today would affect nesting birds and spawning fish is about a preposterous notion as any I could imagine.

Can someone explain this to me, too. The presence of anglers on the bank in springtime will disturb birds – right? So how come, when I had a conifer hedge in my back garden, birds would nest in it right next to my garden path? If I dig the garden birds like robins and thrushes will come and scavenge within feet of me. The other week at Anglers Paradise I had chaffinches, robins, blackbirds and a pied wagtail sneaking right up to my feet to feed on any maggots I spilled. A swan kept returning to me on the Don. Mallards dive bombed my loose feed on the Lea a couple of weeks back. I’ve had kingfishers sit on my rods, and warblers. Only cormorants and goosanders appear to flee at the sight of me.

It’s time these ‘anglers’ got out from behind their keyboards more often and learned there’s a real world out there and that man and wildlife can and do live in harmony, sharing the same bits of countryside. When interaction is regular it isn’t a problem. When anglers desert the riverbanks for 3 months (nearer 8 if we’re being honest) then turning up en-masse and indescriminately start bashing down vegetation it is.

And on that subject, who does more damage, the unobtrusive angler or the work party? What part of swim clearance, swim making, tree pruning and platform construction do you consider acceptable with regard to disturbing wildlife in general and nesting birds in particular during springtime? Which uses chain saws, scythes, rakes, picks and shovels?

You see, this claim that we’ll be ostracised by a caring community is utter baloney when that same group invariably turns a blind eye to 4×4 off-roaders, scrambling motorcycles, canoeists, jet skiers, drug users, vandals and thieves.

But back to the fishing. My joy turned quickly to despair when I discovered my favourite, banker zed swim had been destroyed. A Fallen tree used to divert the current and create an eddy that has produced lots of pike and zander. On one memorable afternoon I had five carp feeding in barely a foot of water within a yard of the bank. We caught one of them, a 17lb common, and I’m sure it would have produced many more in the coming season. Unfortunately it’s been dragged out and sawn up. Aaaghhh! And horror of all horrors, a bivvy platform has been created.

As pegs go you have to say it’s a marvel of design and construction – perfectly level, top soil raked and new grass seed sown. Steps lead down to the river’s edge. Just a shame it’s such a crap barbel swim but I guess the comfortable nature and close proximity to the car park means it’ll be very popular and take a bit of pressure off the better swims. Sadly it’s at the expense of my bolt hole.

Still, it forced me to explore other swims and the first quickly produced a small pike that actually thought it was a lot bigger. Interestingly it had a number of leeches on its pectoral fin. I’ve noticed that a lot of the pike I’ve had this winter have been carrying leeches. Or am I just taking more notice?

A move to another swim delivered what I was hoping for – a nice chunky zed. I still have mixed emotions about the spread of zander through the Trent system but like it or not they’re here to stay and only a fool would ignore the opportunities they present the angler when other species are in decline.

What A Chub!

Did you see that amazing chub caught by Neill Stephen from the River Lea? Most would have been knocked out to land the 7-2 he had in the same session but to then catch one weighing 9lb 5oz just puts it into the stratosphere. The full story can be found on the Total Coarse Fishing magazine web site.

If ratified it equals the current British Rod Caught Record. Well done that man. Top angling.

Try And Read This Book

I’ve been so busy fishing this past few weeks that I’ve struggled to find time to finish off the Perchfisher’s new book, The Biggest Fish Of All. Best I can manage most nightsis to read a few pages before I switch off the light at night but I do have to say it’s a fantastic, inspirational read. Possibly the best angling book I’ve read in ages. When I’ve finished it I’ll do a proper review but in the mean time you can read a sample chapter in the books section of this site, however, trust me. Get onto the Harper web site and buy a copy. You won’t regret it.

James At The Double

My old mate James Gould returned a favour to a guy who had put him on some top tench fishing, Paul Briddon. I’ll take you perch fishing, he said. Like good friends do he put him in the best possible swim and the result was this cracking stripey weighing 4lb 5oz.

Now most folk would be happy enough with that but James only went and pulled another rabbit out of the hat, in this case a rather unexpected one in the shape of a 6lb 11oz chub!

That’s some brace, eh? One chub, one perch, 11lb 1oz, in the space of a morning on a guest ticket.

Some Days I Can’t Be Bothered

Today I ventured down to a tiny river that I have a great affection for. I didn’t get there until well after lunch but I wasn’t there to target anything special. It was just a case of turning up to say goodbye for a while. Dear oh dear, I’ve never seen it so low at this time of year. And crystal clear. Heaven knows what it’s like down south where no less than 7 hosepipe bans were announced on the news this morning.

It had been my intention to feed a few pellets here and there and maybe take one last barbel (or three). Blow me if there wasn’t an angler in my banker swim. The only one on the bank. I stayed and chatted with him for the best part of an hour. Seems we once fished the same syndicate lake but my memory being what it is I couldn’t place him. Still we were able to swap a few tales about the various venues we both appeared to know quite well. When he mentioned he’d baited a few swims upstream I guess my mind was made up. It would be rude of me to fish any of them and looking at the level and clarity it was pretty obvious which ones he would have fed.

I had a look downstream but swims that once had overhanging bushes now had bushes overhanging bare gravel. I found a few fish including a nice pike and two cracking bream but in the end I simply couldn’t be bothered to fish, so I drove home. Odd that, isn’t it? My heart said I simply had to be on the bank because time was running out fast. My head said why bother? For once the head ruled.

150,000 And Counting…

It was great to see the visitor counter for this site click past 150,000 the other day. That’s not page hits by the way – that’s unique visitors (since July 2010). Had we not lost all the previous data then the total visitors since launch would actually be nearer a quarter of a million. No wonder the printed media is having sleepless nights. Trouble is, no-one gets paid and that’s a real concern. Without profits no business is sustainable (unless it’s football, of course).

The internet is purely vanity publishing if we’re being honest. Lot’s of content but quality writing is remarkably thin on the ground. There are one or two good wordsmiths providing free material but where’s the motivation to do that? Does anyone fancy decorating my house for free while I create my next blog? And would someone do my garden? Perhaps a garage will provide me with free diesel?

It’s not going to happen, is it? And that’s the Achilles heel of the internet.

Shame really. I’ve contemplated accepting adverts but there’s only so much to go round in that pot.

Oh, and just as a last word, would you believe that some bloke just contacted Stuart through his Youtube channel, you know the one that hosts those videos you can watch in the right hand sidebar of this web site. Wanted to know where he might find a torrent so he could download a pirate copy of our Barbel Days And Ways DVDs! The nerve of some folk is astonishing, don’t you think?

Anyway, enough of this boasting, Part Three is all but finished. Just needs a little polish. Hopefully that will be published in the next couple of days. Bet you can’t wait! Not…

One thought on “2012 – End Of Season Blog (Part Two of Three)

  1. Very good blog.Look forward to 3rd part.
    It’s alright for you Bob who can walk miles to fish but disabled fishemen need decent swims to be able to fish and there are not many of them on rivers around my area.

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