Lately I’ve been thinking seriously about relaunching my web site. It’s been a while since I changed the home page other than the odd tweak here and there. Indeed you might notice I’ve already had a little meddle with the right sidebar. It’s a pretty minor re-order with the addition of a Tweet Blender featuring the likes of Martin Bowler, Matt Hayes, Jan Porter and a few other notables. Nothing dramatic but it means a constant stream of updates on the site even when I’ve not posted anything.
If you like it, do let me know. More importantly if you follow anyone from the angling world on Twitter who actually publishes anything worth reading then do let me know. If I like it I can always add it to the mix. Of course, if there’s anything you don’t particularly like I can block it.
Just Rolling Along
I’m coming towards that time of the year when I’ve pretty much caught all the barbel I ever want to catch, at least for a good while. As much fun as it is there comes a point where I’d sooner catch smaller species on scaled-down tackle. The thought of spending my days with 2 rods pointing at the heavens while I sit back and read a book until something sets the bite alarm wailing doesn’t exactly appeal. Especially when the temperatures are turning autumnal.
But, for now, we’re in a period of transition. I’ve still got my barbel head half on, if that makes sense, but I only want to catch them on my terms, so I’m playing around, more interested in the methodology than the results, hence I spent a few days rolling lumps of luncheon meat around. It was really interesting to see how they reacted to it on my small river where I can actually see fish a lot of the time. How easy it is to catch them on legered pellets. At least that’s how it appears when you see them approach a lump of meat and then turn away in disdain.
No, it’s clear the fish are much harder to tempt on a free-lined lump of the old pink stuff. But I had a few, so mustn’t grumble.
So I then turned my attentions to the tidal Trent where the head of fish is much greater and the potential for a proper biggie improve. But did that make any difference? No, it didn’t. I struggled. Whether that was the wind, the rain, the clarity, the water level, the state of tide, I really don’t know. What I do know is that I could barely tempt so much as a pluck. So I turned my attentions to a swim I know well. One that I know holds barbel in numbers at this time of year. Rolling still produced a great big zilch.
But a switch to a static bait was an eye-opener. A bite first cast. And the second…
Oh well, at least it keeps the old grey matter ticking over.
Doing My Bit For Research
Earlier this year I volunteered my services as a lot in the Barbel Society Research and Conservation Auction. The successful bidder, Graham Fletcher-Adams was duly invited to spend a day with me on the Trent but rather than fish the Society’s stretch at Sutton he asked if I wouldn’t mind joining him on his favourite local stretch. ‘I’d rather we went there so you can help me get to grips with watercraft. I’d like to see how you ‘read’ the stretch and choose a swim’.
I was up for that. He fishes a stretch that I’ve never actually fished so it would be a challenge all round. We met at his house and the day began with an inspection of his gear. ‘You can leave that at home!’ I said, pointing to his barrow. ‘And that…’ Indicating to his chair. ‘You won’t need any bank sticks, in fact almost everything you’ll need will fit in a bucket and a small bag. In fact apart from your bait it’ll fit in your pockets.’
Talk about putting a bloke out of his comfort zone. But he played along. ‘You do have a good pair of polarising specs, don’t you?’ I ventured, ‘And what about a dropper rod? Will you need mine?’
This was all new to Graham, as I suspect it is to many Trent anglers who fish in such a repetitive, unthoughful manner. I love the fact they bivvy up because that means they have the equivalent of a ball and chain round their legs. Once they’ve plotted up they ain’t moving anywhere, even if they fail to catch.
It was fun to show Graham a shoal of feeding barbel in a swim that is virtually overlooked – literally from the high bank. He’d not seen a shoal of Trent barbel feeding within a few feet of the bank before and it was amazing how tolerant they were of a bait dropper being lowered in their midst. I’m not sure he was quite so keen about the baiting of multiple swims and rotating between them, but he went along with the flow of things and it wasn’t until the last hour we settled down in a nice double swim where we could both cast out a rod. Of course, we caught several fish from there but then again, it was approaching that time of day when your granny ought to be able to catch.
Graham had a cracking day but no more enjoyable than mine. He’s invited me to join him again at a later date because I discovered a cracking swim that screamed big perch and possibly zander. I’d be a fool not to take advantage, wouldn’t I?
Glad When We’d Had Enough!
I finally got around to a long-promised day out with Rob Hilton, who recently took up the challenge of compiling the Barbel Society Magazine, Barbel Fisher. Rob and I have had a fair bit of banter down the years about football but we had never fished together. A mutually convenient diary opportunity allowed us to put that straight and we met up for a day on the mighty Trent.
How ironic that he had suggested we fish on a stretch that until a few days earlier I had never fished. I’d identified a few areas on my day out with Graham that warranted further investigation and made perfect sense because Rob had said that he really fancied a day float fishing rather than ‘splodging’. I was up for that and having studied the stretch on Google Earth prior to walking it with Graham I really fancied a particular swim. One that, as it turns out, has hardly been fished, judging by the banks.
Unfortunately it had rained through the night and was still coming down when we arrived but the weather girl had promised me faithfully that the skies would clear and we would be bathed in dappled sunshine, warm enough to discard our coats. She’s such a tease, isn’t she? Far from clearing up the rain came down heavier and as anyone who wears glasses will tell you, that’s no fun at all, especially when the wind is hitting you in an ‘up-and-in’ direction. Why someone hasn’t invented specs with mini-windscreen wipers yet I’ll never know because I was in desperate need of a pair.
Still, mustn’t grumble. I’d soon gave eight or 9 barbel an unexpected surprise on trotted maggots. Unfortunately the peg abruptly died on me and I simple couldn’t tempt a bite for a good hour or more. It called for drastic action and it got one. A balls-out attack with the bait dropper followed by a rest for 45 minutes. Meanwhile Rob and I went for a walk and did a bit of socialising.
On our return I suggested Rob fish the swim with my gear. I thought he was going to knock me over in his haste to grab the rod! First run down the float buried and it continued doing that for quite a while. Sometimes you simply can’t give ’em enough bait. I suppose between us we hooked fifteen or 16 barbel over the course of a reasonably short day, plus a few chub and the odd perch and dace in that one swim, before retiring to the local pub for a swift pint before heading home for tea.
Funny how such a miserable day will be remembered as a great one. One thing is for certain. The fishing isn’t going to get any easier in the coming months.
Surfing around for a bit of inspiration the other day I noticed Dave Harrell has uploaded his recent Angling Times articles to his web site in PDF format. They make a great reference and I’ve been thinking along similar lines for a while. Indeed I did just that with one of my Improve Your Coarse Fishing diary articles that didn’t make the magazine. I’d already done a feature for that month’s issue and the nature of diaries is they’re out of date before they’re published so holding it back a month was a no-no. Kev (Green) kindly sent me the laid out article and I uploaded it to my Scribd site. You can read it here if you like.
Anyway, Dave’s efforts prompted me to have a word with Kev and he has no problems with me uploading the past 3 years diaries which I shall do in due course but I’ve a fancy for doing something slightly different by creating an online magazine format read in chronological order with a facility, should anyone be so inclined, to download it to iPad and such, or even print it. As winter approaches it’ll be nice to have a little project that I can get my teeth into.
Things Ain’t What They Used To Be
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in a world where you just got on and did things without scraping through the ridiculous barriers of red tape and the good old ‘elf n safety’ precautions? When folk called a spade a spade and PC meant a bobby on every street corner. When crime detection was a little more involved than watching TV to see if some overpaid footballer happens to mouth something inappropriate. When folk were more interested in the game rather than the handshake before it.
But every now and then something manages to sneak undetected beneath the radar of the Thought Police. I dropped by the local hospital the other day and had to do a double take when I spotted this brass plaque on a corridor wall. For a moment I thought my eyes were deceiving me…
On how many levels would that be deemed inapropriate today…?
Who’s Up For A Bit Of Sugarcation?
I felt inspired recently to invent a new verb the other day – to SUGARCATE (sugarcating, sugarcation and sugarcated). You may check and I guarantee you’ll not find it in the dictionary. It’s mine, all mine! But don’t worry I’m not possessive and won’t charge anyone for using it.
To sugarcate means to apologise in a completely insincere way for something, indeed anything, simply to placate an audience. The Hillsborough tragedy, education, welfare, crime, broken election promises, you name it, but it’s particularly descriptive of instances when you that apology is prefixed with the word ‘profoundly’ which tends to compound the smugness.
Google ‘profoundly sorry’ and you’ll immediately find some typical examples the PM, Banks, the Sun, Bettison (police), Commons speaker, Spy inquest, Tiger Woods, the list goes on and on.
Sugarcation is easily recognisable for its false sincerity. Grovelling, not because you want to make amends but because it’s expected of you in the circumstances. For example, a modern day politician making an apology for slavery when it ended before he was even born. All noise and no substance just to look good.
Sugarcation now has its very first anthem. Check out this incredible bit of computer wizardry. If someone can do this with a political speech how come they can’t make Jedward sound like pop stars?
Indeed I’m profoundly sorry for that.
Caught In The Act Update
With filming now finished (baring a few tweaks here and there), Stu’s been burning the midnight oil trawling through thousands of hours of footage and get everything edited. This week he dropped off the rushes for part one so I could start work on scripting the narration. Oh, My, God! I mean seriously Oh, My God!!! What he’s creating is incredible.
Once you get beyond the planning stages of a project and become embroiled with the day-to-day minutia you simply get too close. It’s a huge roller-coaster ride and you quickly lose track of the bigger picture. Your efforts are concentrated on one tiny facet at a time. Every single shot counts. It might be the dawn sun reflecting off the water’s surface through a dew laden cobweb. It will appear on screen for all of about 2 seconds in a series that runs for something like 6 hours, but those 2 seconds are absolutely vital, so you’ll spend ages getting it just right. And that goes for every single clip including hundreds that never make the final cut. ‘You can’t have too many cut-aways’ is our mantra.
It’s only when you see it all put together that you begin to see what you’ve created, and trust me, I was astonished.
Okay, I’m biased, I admit that, but I kept pinching myself as I watched the rushes. Had we really created this? Boy-oh-boy are we going to put a few noses out of joint! Sadly it’ll never make us rich but that was never the goal anyway. I’m reminded of that great actor, Lee Marvin, who famously summed up his movie career with the words: ‘I only make movies to finance my fishing’.
Well, if we can finance a few trips from our endeavours then certainly I’ll be happy. We’ll be launching a Facebook page in the near future and there will be trailers to watch after Christmas but for now we’ve still a mountain of work to do before we can finally put the project to bed.
My last blog attracted a rash of sneering comments, although to be fair, not unexpectedly, from a somewhat toxic character.
Perhaps it’s the cynic in me but I’m rather mindful of Thoreau’s pertinent remark:
‘Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.’
When The Magic Has Gone
Ron Clay, aka Rontraversial and Ron ‘The Hat’ Clay, rang the other night to tell me he’d been banned from the Fishing Magic forums. Can you believe that? Ron has been one of the mainstays of the site since it was launched but it appears to be another victory for the trolls. He’s certainly been getting more than his share of bullying on there recently.
I cannot even begin to conceive how this would have been allowed to happen when Graham Marsden ran the site, but there you are. It’s a sad day that reflects very badly on Fishing Magic and everyone connected with it.
For his sins Ron is verbose, old school, educated and well travelled. Yes he loves to go on about the past, Walker, South Afrika, the Trent and anything else that gets into his head. It’s called enthusiasm.
This message was posted on an occasionally humourous web site the other day:
The diary of Ron (the twat) Klay (aged 72 and 3/4s.)
Got up. Belittled the milkman for his shitty little job and life. Turned the computer on and put down all who didn’t agree with me. Listened to some zulu music on CD, it reminded me of my time in South Efrica fishing for buffalo catfish in a little impoundment in the high veldt with Piet and Hendrik, my two Boer buddies. Argued with the CD player. Had lunch, (wildebeeste jerky) which was delicious as is all South Efrican food. Fell asleep. PM–de-constructed Einsteins theory of relativity, load of old tosh. Evening–DVSG meeting, annual fancy dress, I went as Zola Budd.
But what will tomorrow bring ?
I have to be admit it really made me chuckle. It’s our Ron to a tee. Parody at its best. But what actual harm is there in the old cantankerous bugger? None at all. I hope I’m half as passionate when I get to his age. Indeed I hope I live to be his age!
When we treat old anglers like this is there any wonder there’s tumbleweed rolling through the corridors of Magic Towers? Is there any wonder every top angler who once contributed to it has deserted? Where’s Gary Knowles? Jim Gibbinson, Tony Miles and all the rest? They’ve walked away. Of course, those who get paid a few quid to submit articles and diaries will duck their heads, cover their eyes and pretend everything is fine and dandy, won’t they?
Shame on you all.
Footnote: Apparently the ban is ‘temporary’. Frankly, were I in Ron’s shoes I’d tell them where to stick their web site when his suspension is lifted. Little bleeding Hitlers.
According to a survey one in 4 of us no longer use a wristwatch. I find that hard to believe if I’m honest, I would have expected the figure to be much higher. Since everyone in the UK baring a few pensioners and toddlers has a mobile phone that tells the time watches have been reduced to items of jewelry. The kind of things worn by TOWIE folk, and footballers.
I’ve certainly not worn one in nearly 10 years and cannot see the need. Pointless adornments. A bit like men wearing earrings…
I’ll not even go there with tattoos!
Free Coarse Angling Magazines
Yes, you did read that headline correctly. Those rather nice folk at Predator Publications have published a couple of free excellent on-line magazines. And let’s be honest, what else can I do put heap praise on an editorial team that has the acumen to select out Barbel Days and Ways trailer as their Video Clip of the month?!!! 😉
But seriously, two great reads. Click on the images and each magazine will open up in a new window:
Rip Off Britain
Have you been ripped off by ticket prices for an event you wanted to see? I don’t mean the hefty face value prices of many theatre and concert tickets, I’m talking about the hiked up prices on web sites like Viagogo. Sharon Hodgson MP tried to get a Private Members Bill through Parliament last year but her attempts were Filibustered (spuriously debated by Cameron’s allies until her allocated time ran out).
Hodgson wanted to prevent tickets being sold at more than 10% over the face value. It is against the law to re-sell football tickets and we know how tight the restrictions on Olympic tickets were. But for the rest it’s the wild west out there.
I make no secret that I find Mrs Brown’s Boys hugely entertaining and as a treat my good lady purchased tickets, as a surprise, for us to go and watch the show in Manchester. She obtained the tickets from Viagogo, unbeknown to me at the time for £130 a pop. Only when they arrived did she realise the face value was less than £30. That’s more than 4 times face value. A £200 mark-up. Yet even after being investigated by Channel 4’s Dispatches Viagogo defends its position and practises.
Anyway, rip-off or not, Brendan O’Carroll still makes me chuckle.
Blast From The Past
It’s not like me to weave tenuous links between fishing and football, is it? Okay fair cop, it is. But there was a time when this game was the only major footballing tournament that little old Donny had ever won. In fact it’s TV gold.
And the fishing connection? The tall guy with a Seventies haircut called Bowkett. I used to fish against his identical looking brother Frank on the club match circuit. Hell of a feeder angler, he was. Taught Mark Price all he knew(!) ;-p
Wonder what he’s up to nowadays…
Well Worth A Look
Here’s Frank Warwick with a half-hour film created to mark the launch of his new range of baits.
I suspect Richard Lee, former editor of Angling Times is behind this and it’s filmed in a similar format to Matt Hayes’ 24 hour rod race. Nicely filmed, on a water where anyone can buy a day ticket, and Frank is as entertaining and straight to the point as ever. Loved his comment about hangers: “I think that’s crap, you might as well just put your wife’s earrings on there…”
Also nice is that the products being promoted are not thrust in your face as they so frequently are in the many other free ‘off-the-tackle-shop-counter’ DVDs.
For The Drivers Out There
It’s been a while since I published a playlist. Nothing obscure on here, just a few tunes that are pretty good for getting you from A to B in a hurry. Mind how you go folks and watch out for those speed cameras!
Hillsborough – Telling It Straight
The Truth is out. Liverpool fans were not to blame for the Hillsborough tragedy. Really?!!!
You know what I don’t understand? Why it took over two decades for the truth to be revealed when the truth was there in black and white all along in the altered witness statements. How come no-one recognised this at the time, or during the inquest?
Of course it was a cover up! Did anyone really believe otherwise? It’s how the machine works. And sometimes it stinks.
The events of that day haunt me. I was digging a pond in my garden when the drama unfolded. I sat there and cried. Seriously. Because I knew beforehand that it was a disaster waiting to happen. I had watched Liverpool play against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough previously, with my wife. We had tickets for the Liverpool end and were forced down that very tunnel by the press of bodies. Long before kick-off it was getting uncomfortable and we decided to try and get out. Let me tell you it was near impossible to get through when pushing against the flow and this was nowhere near as packed as for the fatal FA Cup semi final. Christine was petrified.
It was the last time I ever stood up to watch a big game.
The design of the stadium was contributory. Leppings lane had 4 fenced pens fed by 3 entrances and in those days the centre tunnel was directly in line with the entrance turnstiles. Folk naturally headed straight for the tunnel, ignorant of the fact there were two alternative entrances, one at each side of the stand. The design of the tunnel, sloping downhill, allowed those approaching it to see part of the pitch.
For the record we ended up in the South corner, in front of the police ‘box’ that overlooked those very pens although that’s by-the-by, except that the police could and should have been able to clearly see what was happening in the centre pens. We both knew from that day forward Leppings Lane was a tragedy waiting to happen, a potential death trap, but it would never happen, would it?
That was until someone decided to open the gates and let a mass of people flood in. From the moment the doors were flung open some deaths were inevitable.
Of course, had the match not already kicked off when this happened then no-one would have needed to open the gate in such haste. The surge might have been more orderly. It goes without saying that failing to delay the kick-off compounded matters.
There were failings galore and it is so easy to point fingers of blame at the police, the FA, the emergency services, Sheffield Wednesday – after all the ground did not have a current safety certificate – but let us stop and look deeper into the root causes. When blame is distributed and accountability called for then the real architects of this tragedy will be nowhere to be seen. This catastrophe WAS caused by football hooligans, pure and simple. Not Liverpool hooligans per se but by every single person who has ever been involved in an act of hooliganism associated with a football match. Every member of every ‘firm’ in the entire country bears a responsibility for the catastrophic consequences.
Without the culture of hooliganism which polluted the game through the Seventies and Eighties there would have been no perimeter fences at grounds. Fences were erected to cage in the ‘animals’ who frequently ran amok, storming pitches to confront rival fans and any number of innocents, too. Violence was pandemic. It didn’t just happen at Millwall, or West Ham, or Leeds. Every club had its hooligan element to a greater or lesser degree. Fences weren’t a solution – they were a containment exercise.
Enough grounds were closed as ‘punishment’ for crowd disturbances (such a soft description) but that just created a problem elsewhere when the games were played. No-one had 10 points deducted, were relegated or forced to play ten games behind closed doors because had that happened there would have been few grounds left open and the money would have dried up. Football and fighting ran hand in hand and no-one, prior to the Taylor report was prepared to make a stand and drag the game into the 21st Century.
Had there been fences at Valley Parade when the main stand caught fire far more than 56 people would have died. Blame the fences by all means but rightly or wrongly fences were put there for a reason. Football fans, football culture, football bravado and bragging rights.
If nothing else, Hillsborough has created a positive legacy. New stadia, all seated, great sight lines, better policing of crowds, CCTV, and the one thing that matters. An assurance of personal safety. It surely cannot happen again, ever. Sure, there are morons today who are still there for the adrenaline rush of confrontation more than the football. They love to taunt, to provoke, and gesticulate. But with segregation that’s pretty much all it is today. Some do get involved in the occasional skirmish away from the grounds but proper ‘old school’ conflict is light years away.
But each time I see someone being dragged away by stewards or the police I look at them with scorn. I would love to look them straight in the eye and tell them, ‘You caused the Hillsborough tragedy! You and every single one like you so you’re off to jail. Because you weren’t there or even born doesn’t matter. What you are doing is what others did. Every action has a consequence. You are no different, only the date has changed. ‘
And they’d never attend another match while ever they drew breath.