I’m getting fed up with the weather now. I like mild weather. Don’t mind rain. I don’t mind cold and I don’t even mind a bit of snow but what I don’t like is all four in the space of a week. For good winter fishing I like settled weather and what we’ve had to put up with lately is anything but settled. As I type the weather is lovely and mild. Trouble is the rivers are bank high with snow melt while there’s still ice covering most lakes.
At least it’s not blowing a gale – I really hate that – and with rain forecast in the next two days the rivers might suddenly start to warm up. With a bit of luck that will result in a few barbel showing an interest. At least that’s what I’m hoping for. We’ll see.
Last week I was up ont‘ Swale, knee deep in snow. Well, not knee deep but I’m sure you understand my sentiment. I was with Stu who suggested we might re-shoot one of the winter ‘acts’ for our Caught In The Act DVD project. ‘What we’ve got already is good enough but if you can catch then I reckon we could get a far better sequence in the snow…’ He suggested.
It was the perfect opportunity to try out my new Sundridge Igloo6 suit. Sub-zero temperatures with a forecast of easterly winds and light falling snow. Brrr… But d’you know what? I never felt it. In fact by late morning I had a bit of a ‘cob’ on because the sky cleared and the sun came out.
The fishing was fabulous. Okay, I didn’t pull up any trees but a brace of fives in mint condition was as better than I might reasonably expect. Plus I had a bit more action to boot. The biggest fish was a turn up really. As I played it Stu urged me to go easy because it was a big fish. I disagreed, a four maybe, but not massive. So we bickered until eventually it graced my net. Ooooh, I thought. Perhaps it is a bit bigger.
‘I reckon it’s a good four. Probably 4-12.’ Says I.
‘Give over!’ Said Stu. ‘That’s easily a five, if not bigger.’ Wouldn’t be surprised if it went six!’
And funnily enough it appeared to grow before my very eyes. The more I looked at the length, the depth, its chest and the width across the shoulders, the more I was coming around to his way of thinking. ‘You know, Stu, I reckon it could be a five, maybe big five.’
‘Gerrit on’t scales then. Let’s find out for sure.’ And then he paused. ‘Bet you ain’t brought any, have you?’
Of course I hadn’t. Who needs to be lugging around additional weight on a day like this?
Scales Of Injustice
On the subject of scales I couldn’t help but notice the discrepancy between a zander I had recently and one caught by a well-respected angler. There was a picture of this guy with one weighing 10lb 4oz on page 7 of the paper whilst I was on page 9 with a 9-pounder. Now please don’t get me wrong. I’m sure his fish did weigh 10lbs 4oz and I’m definitely not for one minute trying to suggest otherwise but it was a damn site smaller than my so-called ‘9-pounder‘.
When the paper rang up and asked if they could use the picture I said go ahead. The next question was, as always in an industry who’s currency is pounds and ounces, what did it weigh? I replied that I hadn’t got a clue. So what did I think it weighed? (Like I really care about these insignificant details!) ‘I don’t think it was a double. Just call it a nine…’ Says I. So, the paper calls it a nine. Why wouldn’t they?
Maybe I should be weighing more of these fish I’m catching because one thing’s for certain, I’m the last bloke you’d want to ‘guestimate’ the weight of anything you catch.
But does the exact weight of a fish really amount to a hill of beans? If we’re talking records or perhaps a PB, then yes. But for fish of a size you catch frequently then wouldn’t we all be better off if we slipped them straight back? By all means take a photo but why keep, for example, a barbel out of the water for an unnecessarily long time simply to establish that it weighs exactly 6lb 2oz? Chances are your scales are not that exact anyway, so what’s the point?
Keen anglers are never far from danger. We tuck ourselves away in secret corners, frequently alone, hoping to escape the madding crowd. One slip on an icy bank. A fall. An Accident. A bang on the head. Heaven forbid, a violent attack. What contact details do you carry? Who would your potential rescuer phone in an emergency?
Someone gave me a brilliant idea the other day. Type ICE into your mobile phone contact list and then add the number of whoever you would like to be notified. ICE – In Case of Emergency. The emergency services are aware of this and now check phones when, for instance, a victim is unconscious. You can have ICE1 and ICE2 if you like. It’s now in my phone, how about yours?
Just before the last fall of snow brought the country to a near standstill Stu took advantage of the mild conditions to nab himself a 13-2 barbel. That’s a cracking winter catch from anywhere but rather than show you his fish I’m rather taken with this image he captured. Pretty amazing for a self-take. Nice use of moonlight to create the silhouette and subtle use of his head torch on the reel, too.
Those with eagle eyes will have noticed the tabs on this web site have been simplified and there’s a new one called ‘THE VAULT’. I created this with a specific reason in mind. It has always been an ambition of mine to create a digital archive of all my published articles available to anyone who wants to read them. Most of all I wanted to make them free of charge.
Why? Vanity is one perfectly reasonable suggestion. Or perhaps I simply want to establish an historical of record of my life’s work.
Anyone who writes regularly will be fully aware that their own views are prone to change. That something written 10 years ago is different to the beliefs they hold today. I know mine change constantly and if yours don’t then maybe they should. Otherwise what have you learned in that time?
I’ve spent a considerable amount of time converting 5 years worth of articles that I wrote for Coarse Angler magazine between 1987 and 1991 into PDFs. Amazingly much of what I wrote then still holds perfectly true today. Of course the rivers and their fish profiles have changed dramatically and this was before the advent of a commercial fishery on every street corner, but I see no reason to sanitise my work. I’ve kept it as it was published, every article, word for word, warts and all along with a few bonus pages from diaries and the like.
They are now ready to be launched on an unsuspecting world in flip book format. It will be possible to download, copy, print or anything else you can do with digital media. The bad news is I’m holding them back for a little while longer until I can get my web site redesigned and relaunched. Don’t know about you but I think it’s looking a little bit tired and in need of a fresh lick of paint – like so many other sites that have been around for a while.
What I really need is a couple of WordPress-savvy partners to share the load of updating and maintaining the site. There’s no money involved, and why should there be? I’ve been running it for years without earning a penny but it’s rewarding in other ways and gives pleasure to thousands of regular readers. You could be part of the fun providing you have the right skill set.
Fingers crossed I think I may have already found two people that can really add creative value.
CITA – Facebook Update
With the release of Caught In The Act on the horizon Stu and I have launched a dedicated Facebook Page where we will be adding daily updates and images. It’s also the first place where you will get to see our sensational trailer so why not check it out? It would be really nice if you would click the ‘LIKE’ button, too.
We are getting really excited about the release. So many people have helped in one way or another there’s no wonder the finished product is so good. We simply coudn’t have done it without their help. Here’s the LINK.
Of course, I’m bound to say it’s good but earlier this week I sent a secret link for a 10-minute preview to half a dozen trusted and influential people. One, a professional journalist, phoned me back a short while later. He had already watched it and was ringing to give bit of feedback. ‘You should be massively, genuinely proud. It’s first rate, a brilliant effort. Well done! I can’t wait to watch the rest of it now.’ He enthused.
Wow! I’ll take comments like that any day of the week.
Turnbull Creates A Splash
I don’t mind admitting that I’m a fan of Chris Turnbull‘s excellent artwork. Take this kingfisher for instance.
You’ll find more examples of his work on his Facebook page.
I’m loving the Go Fishing interview series and the latest one featuring Keith Arthur certainly doesn’t disappoint. Keith’s been a mate for donkey’s years and it’s fantastic to see how well he’s done for himself and whatever the knockers and Internet warriors might say he richly deserves his success. Indeed were I an up-and-coming angler he would be my number one role model. He can’t go on forever but I don’t exactly see a long list of candidates wanting or remotely capable of doing his job. No Keith, to paraphrase that cliched X Factor judging phrase, ‘You made that song your own!’
And long may he continue, to do so.
When Social Media Gets Anti Social
I see Will Raison is less than happy that someone has launched a Twitter account purporting to be him. He’s not alone, either. It seems there’s a new fad for pretending to be something or someone you’re not in social media circles. It might be a bit of a jape for some, a new game, impersonating a public figure, but come on, what do they get out of it?
Well, when I stopped posting on Internet angling forums a number of my least favourite trolls were up in arms, wailing, ‘Huh, he’s playing on his web site now, banned us from posting comments, not interested in us any more!’ Too right. Except I wasn’t interested in them in the first place. Given my way they would be denied the right to breathe never mind post – these obnoxious folk are mostly a complete waste of space.
Then they got mighty upset that Facebook was killing off what was left of their forums. So they cried foul again. And one by one they set up their own web sites on which they could spout a stream of endless bile and encourage each other towards new lows. Then they began using Facebook and you knew it was never going to be the same place again. For these folk the Internet is their playground, or should I say gutter.
Facebook does have its faults but at least it allows you to choose who you communicate with. Which is fine until folk start operating under pseudonyms or even pretending to be someone else. Alarm bells began to ring when the names of certain individuals appeared in some of the posts on my own wall. Folk who have openly admitted to inventing upwards of 30 different personas for no other reason than they wanted to create mayhem on forums.
I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that false sites are appearing on Facebook and Twitter. I’d be just as surprised if the perpetrators didn’t have a lot in common with those individuals I’ve just highlighted.
Sounds to me like the Facebook honeymoon is over. Oh well. It was fun while it lasted.
On The Comeback Trail?
Poor old Bob James is sorry. I’ve no doubt whatsoever he is. Sorry for himself and truly sorry he got caught.
I cringed at every word written by Dom Garnett in James’ first interview since being found guilty in court of fishing in the closed season and just like Garnett I too was checking to see if this was an April Fool’s joke, but for very different reasons.
‘He’s no enemy of fishing, just a fallible human being like the rest of us.’
A true Monty Python Line if ever there was one, ‘He’s not the Messiah, he’s just a naughty boy…’
Let’s not beat about the bush. Bob James is a cheat. He deliberately set up a magazine shoot in the closed season knowing full well he was breaking the law. That’s not a mistake, it is a pre-meditated crime and he got caught, bang to rights, by an EA bailiff. If he really was, as Garnett would have us believe, ‘One of the sharpest and most original minds in the sport’, then he damn well wouldn’t have been fishing in the closed season, would he?
To then suggest the rest of us are also cheats, law breakers and routinely ignore basic fishery rules is an absolute insult but to criticise the EA for not spending its money more wisely by pursuing foreigners instead of Bob James is frankly ridiculous. What kind of interview is this?
Well I’ll tell you what it isn’t – IMPARTIAL. Dom Garnett is clearly and obviously Bob James’ mate. For proof of that check out the introduction to Garnett‘s last book. Guess who wrote the introduction – that’s right, stand up Mr Bob James.
Any lingering sympathy I might have had for Bob James was blown out of the water by this interview. It left me furious. Seething. Spitting bloody feathers!
Bob James was prepared to risk his integrity for a few quid in his pocket. There was no accident, or mistake. He flagrantly broke the law, knowing the consequences, then tried to worm his way out by claiming to be shad fishing and by deflecting blame towards others but the bottom line is this. In court he was found GUILTY. He was fined, had his tackle confiscated, publicly shamed and now has to take the consequences. As a high profile figure he knew the consequences when he set out to break not only the law of the land but the trust and belief that others placed in him. If he’s been the butt of jokes and barbed comments ever since then who’s fault is that? What does he expect?
Come back in 5 years and we might consider you’ve served your penance. Maybe do some voluntary work with kids, with the Angling Trust (oh, hang on..), the Environment Agency or do some other charitable work. Start thinking about how you EARN our respect and trust again. The last thing I want to see is features like this or adverts for guided trips at £500 a pop. No, Bob, you’ve blown that and no amount of sickly apologetic interviews will change my mind in a hurry.
I’ve since had folk ask me if I’ve ever done features in the closed season. Obviously if Bob James is at it then the man in the street thinks everyone who writes features is at it. Well we’re not. But thanks Bob for causing them to question MY integrity!
Bob James’ web site has a banner running across the top. It pronounces: ‘To millions of anglers, Bob James is the face of British fishing’. And still Garnett has the temerity to ask, ‘Does Bob feel singled out because of who he is?’ Too bloody right he’s been singled out and so he should be! He broke the law whilst purporting to be the face of angling and once you put yourself on a pedestal like that then I’m sorry, you MUST be 100 per cent squeaky clean.
Sadly he’s not.
The Footie Bit
Where do I start? Another Championship manager gone, minnows making mincemeat of Premiership sides, peace and harmony breaks out at Donny, Saunders doing s*** in the Championship (again). Big Eck making a right muck-up at Forest, but not quite as big a muck-up as the owners. The man they ruthlessly ditched, Sean O’Driscoll joins bottom of the Championship Bristol City and secures back-to-back wins. Suddenly the great escape seems a possibility. Newcastle and West Ham buying an entire new football team between them in the transfer window. Chelsea are in disarray. Sir Alex moaning about a match official (now there’s a surprise!). Whispers of administration emanating from free-spending Swindon Town. Oldham dump Liverpool out of the FA cup yet refuse to deny they’ve given their manager just one more game to save his job.
And then there’s ballboy gate.
Can you believe Hazard is in any kind of trouble at all? This over-aged, over-priviledged ‘boy’, the son of Swansea’s biggest investor, Tweeted his intention to waste time two hours before the kick-off:
It’s not like he did it just once in the game either, Sky Sports news highlighted several instances and video evidence clearly demonstrates the footballer was attempting to retrieve the ball while this idiotic excuse for a ball boy lay on top of it like he was trying to mount a sheep. Next thing he’s behaving like Ronaldo, holding his rib cage, looking up, gesturing with open arms and appealing to the ref. What the f*** was that about!? Play acting of the highest order and downright cheating, that’s what it was.
Honestly he was an embarrassment to Swansea City FC, its fans and the whole of Wales. The least he should expect is a ban from attending any football ground for the rest of this season. You see, when he stopped doing his job, which is to return the ball quickly, then he revoked his terms of employment and had no place being in the field of play. He simply became another biased Swansea supporter. We all know it is against the law for any football fan to enter the field of play or attempt to interfere with the game, players or officials. Clearly he is guilty of that. To interpret Hazard’s attempts to retrieve the ball from his grasp as an assault is a disgrace. Hazard is the victim of this incident, forced to apologise, fined, expected to be banned for 3 games and publicly humiliated.
As for the Swansea player who went piling in afterwards, I despair. Some folk are so stupid they will defend anything.
If anything Swansea City FC should be charged for failing to control this supporter.
Who knows, when the frenzy settles down maybe Dom Garrett will do a nice sympathetic interview with the ball boy. Indeed I can imagine it now:
‘Is it because of who I am? Because of my name it gets blown up.’
Oh hang on, I do apologise, that’s actually what Bob James said….