Greetings dear reader and a happy new year. Welcome back to the UK’s best read angling blog. I have great things planned for 2015 so I’m really hoping you will want to share in them. Although I’ve not been out fishing much over Christmas there’s little doubt I’ll be making up for lost time in the coming weeks.
It really has been good to recharge my batteries although I’ve not exactly been idle. I’ve set myself a punishing schedule for the coming year which includes the uploading of at least two articles each week here on the web site. Firstly there will be my Sunday Sport column from exactly 12 months previous (you’ll have to buy the paper if you want to read the current article, I’m afraid!). These will be published on Fridays. New for 2015 will be my Improve Your Coarse Fishing diary pieces. Over the coming month I intend to serialise the diaries that were originally published in January 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 at weekly intervals, probably on a Monday morning. If it goes well then I’ll publish a diary article each week throughout the whole of 2015. Of course, time permitting I will still write the occasional blog, fesature book extracts and so on. Digital-wise it looks like I’m in for a very busy year. Bring it on!
It’s Not All About Me
By way of a change this blog isn’t all about my recent fishing exploits. My intention is to share with you a few of the things I’ve enjoyed or have amused me recently. To be honest, if you want to do the blog justice you need to create a bit of time. There are numerous film clips to watch and several magazines to read. It’s not so much a blog, more a thesis, a take on life. Parts you may like, parts you may not. But you’ve come here to read it by choice. No one forced you and it’s free, plus you can always click that little red cross at the top right of your screen if you get bored…
Oh, and don’t forget that most of the images are linked to articles and interesting sites that will open up in new windows.
Let me begin with some brilliant fish art and then share a trailer created by my favourite angling film maker. It is the standard I feel UK TV programme makers should be aspiring to deliver. Make sure you follow the links and watch some of the related stuff as well. You will not be disappointed, I promise you.
I’m rather pleased to tell you I recently discovered a ‘new’ artist, Tommy Kinnerup, and I have to say I’m completely taken with his predator-based creations in particular. Regular blog followers will be well aware of my affinity for fish themed art and this is without question right up there with the very, very best. The eyes on his pike alone get me. They’re remarkable. Everything is, as they say, in the detail.
Tommy’s granted me permission to use his images for which I thank him immensely. You’ll obviously find him on Facebook but click any of the images here and they’ll take you direct to his web site where there’s so much more to discover about the man and his work. TK is clearly a master of fantasy and there’s no doubt he has a fantastic imagination, something most of us possess to a degree, but to take a complex idea like any one of these through from concept to fulfilment takes a very special gift and he certainly has it.
Regular readers of the blog will probably appreciate I’m a fan of Catch Magazine. Originally a free digital online publication, I’m afraid you now have to subscribe if you want the whole package but let’s be fair, it’s not exactly expensive and the quality is absolutely astounding. Puts anything else I’ve seen to shame.
What sets Catch apart, and clearly where the future lies, is that articles come with embedded film clips and we’re not talking rubbish promos and adverts here, we’re talking fishing footage that is truly aspirational and dazzlingly beautiful. Although I’m not a fly angler I find the shots of fish hitting the flies and lures breathtaking. There’s no point in trying to describe what gives me such a buzz when you can see for yourself in the following clip: Catch Magazine has its own Youtube Channel and when you have an hour to spare I suggest you check it out. If you have a smart TV then so much the better. Don’t mess about with your computer, watch it on a big screen and get the full impact.
Todd Moen is the video editor and producer of Catch. He’s renowned for his signature video style crafted with an original twist married with his passion for art and music. He creates ‘eye and ear candy’. So, tune in, turn up the volume, turn down the lights and treat yourself to a phenomenal visual and aural experience.
Oh, and check out Snookzilla. I really want to catch one of those!
I’m going to talk about digital magazines shortly but for now I’ll mention one called Trout Porn. Kinda does what it says on the tin, I guess! No, put away the tissue box, there are no naked women but some of it is definitely hardcore. There’s an embedded movie clip that really got my juices flowing. Stylishly filmed, at night, in sub-zero temperatures. Kind of a fishing meets Portishead project created in a cinematic style. You could almost be watching a movie or a documentary. Try it, see what you think…
The film was made by the Fly Collective and here’s another example of their work as they fly fish for carp. Pretty atmospheric, eh?
Free Online Lure Magazines
I imagine one or two folk who do the donkey work at the Lure Anglers Society will have their collective heads in their hands having learned that the online magazine they lovingly produce has just been blown out of the water in every category they care to consider – pagination, advertising, content, design, you name it – and just to rub salt in their wounds the new kid on the block is giving it all away for free. Ouch!
The LAS magazine is a nice job. Click on the image below and see for yourself, but if you want to read any other issues then there’s a price to pay, and rightly so if you think about it. Unfortunately you simply cannot compete with ‘free’, especially when someone from an established angling publishing outfit like DHP is behind a new venture that is in direct competition for content and advertising. And, of course, if you complain about injustice then you’ll alienate a lot more folk than you win over.
Experienced journalist Steve Phillips is the driving force behind Lure: ‘Having seen the lure fishing market growing fast I implemented a vision for a digital magazine dedicated to the subject, photographing, designing, writing and marketing the publication myself – while also editing monthly magazine Coarse Fishing Answers. Launch date for the magazine is end of November 2014.’ He said last year.
I wish him well. My only reservation is that Lure magazine is apparently dedicated to ‘lure fishing and lure fishing culture’. If this means wearing Formula One racing jackets plastered with advertising badges, holding up fish by their bottom lips, grinning like an idiot, wearing a baseball cap, snow shades and taking catch pictures against graffiti plastered backdrops, then maybe you can count me out.
Alarmingly I felt equally as uncomfortable when camou gear broke into UK fishing. Indeed I recall laughing at Keith Napier and mocking him for wearing pyjamas to go fishing. Shortly afterwards I was decked out in the stuff just like everyone else. Please, please, someone save us from looking and behaving like Texans! Yee-ha, Bubba!!!
One thing these ventures highlight is that the writing must surely be on the wall for hard copy magazines. Perhaps not immediately but as surely as night follows day everyone will soon own a tablet in the same way we all now own a computer, a mobile phone, digital camera, send emails and can’t eat breakfast without sharing an image of it on 14 different social media channels.
I don’t think it spells the complete end of paper magazines, far from it. There will be a niche market of some kind but what the on-liners surely must aim for is top quality interactive multi-media at cheaper prices. After all, if you cut out the print and paper costs, distribution, wholesalers, Mr Patel and Mr Sainsbury, then production costs should tumble.
Whether these cost reductions will be passed on to the consumer (or even better rewards for the contributors) will dictate the pace of change. Let’s be realistic, Lure magazine is a high quality production currently being given away for free. That tells us something about what is achievable.
But how about this as a way to generate a readership and get the idea off the ground:
Instead of paying £2 for each weekly newspaper, £4 for monthly magazines, £5 if it says carp in the title and so on, what if someone came up with a package deal at, say, £10 a month (based on signing up to a long-term subscription) whereby you received the full package – Times, Mail, Improve, Carpworld, Carp Talk, Crafty, Advanced, Total, Answers, etc., etc., delivered straight to your tablet or mobile device? Publishing costs are vastly reduced, circulations rise therefore revenue increases, advertisers realise massive cross-title benefits, the customer gets an absolute bargain and everyone is happy.
Of course it won’t happen because the titles will all want to fight each other for market share and then squeeze the customer for as much as possible on the individual unit price. But what’s wrong with a model where everyone benefits? Unfortunately like poverty, famine and world peace, the man who can deliver on these promises has yet to be born!
No, rest assured that greed, cock measuring and bragging rights will continue to hold sway. Indeed I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a law to make it illegal.
It’s Fishing Jim, But Not As We Know It
When it comes to fishing basics there’s no more basic method than catching fish with your bare hands.In the southern states of America, particularly Oklahoma’ where it’s called ‘Noodling’, there’s a popular pastime where you find a catfish lair, or ‘hole‘ as it’s known, ideally when the parents are guarding eggs and you reach down to the hole using your own hand as bait. If there’s a catfish home it will usually attack the hand and attempt to mince it in its crushing pads. The ‘noodler‘ hangs on and drags the catfish struggling to the surface. The only equipment you need is a pair of shorts and a first aid kit.
At least that’s the plan.
It’s all fine and dandy until you stick your hand in the hole only to find it’s occupied by a poisonous snake or a snapping turtle. Nor does it help if you dive down to find yourself attached to a 50lb cat that won’t let go. Google ‘noodling + drowning’ and you’ll begin to realise this type of ‘fishing’ is not without serious consequences.
Then again, there’s a glamorous angle if you go looking for it…
And then there’s the Dorito way. These guys have created their own Doritos advert which features a rather different take on noodling…
In My Time Of Dying
Have you noticed how many ‘stars’ are dying all of a sudden? Musicians, actors, playwrights, authors, fashion-istas, you name it. But should we really be so surprised? Worldwide 150,000 people die every single day. In the USA alone over 2.5 million folk died in 2010 plus upwards of another 10 million since then. It stands to reason some of them will be famous. If you’re not convinced, check out a newspaper like the Times or Telegraph. They have an obituary column. Pretty much every day…
But there’s a reason behind the ‘shock’ headlines.
Today being famous means you’ve spent five minutes on BGT or X Factor, dossed around in the Big Brother house, leaked a sex tape, or ate a wombat’s sphincter in the name of popular entertainment. For how long exactly can you keep getting ‘papped’ and with no other discernible talent, call that a career? Is there any wonder modern celebs are quickly forgotten and consigned to the trash can of, well, trash culture.
Never has celebrity been so fleeting, so instantly here today and gone tomorrow.
Nostalgia’s Not What It Used To Be
I grew up in a different era. The actors who were important in my youth are still important now, still remembered. Many are still working regularly. Same goes for entertainers.
And rock stars did what was expected of them. They lived fast, died young and left a good looking corpse***. Or so the theory went. But we can’t ignore how so many bright, young, talented musicians partied themselves into extinction whilst barely out of their teens, others were lost to a variety of random transportation accidents, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Brian Jones, Keith Moon, Marc Bolan, Buddy Holly, James Dean, Janis Joplin and Mama Cass, for example. The list goes on and on (…and on). The real shock is probably how many survived!
*** Accuracy Corner: The line (live fast…) is frequently attributed (wrongly) to James Dean whereas in fact it was delivered by John Derek in the Humphrey Bogart film, Knock On Any Door.
However, fair play to Curt Cobain and Amy Winehouse have held their end up in the modern era but these modern manufactured boy bands really do let the side down (only joking!!!)
Better batten down the hatches. Get ready for outpourings of utterly false and hypocritical outrage… The phrase ‘get a life’ springs to mind but perhaps that’s totally inappropriate in this case!
Still, if you want to understand the whole picture, try this link for size: Dead Rock Stars Club
Or if you’re feeling particularly morbid how about a Hit Parade of musical mortality, ranked in order of the most untimely deaths.
Despite the odds against, many musicians have survived long enough to make a mockery of the My Generation rallying cry of, ‘Hope I die before I get old’, including Pete Townsend and Roger Daltry (both of whom were born before World War II ended).
And here’s the rub. The post-war baby boom produced so many of the bands that were huge from (say) 1964 to 1974 and are still huge in 2014, forty years or more later. They’re practically all old age pensioners, many will shortly be entering their 70’s, yet still filling stadiums and selling albums. It’s a bit creepy if you ask me.
Too many, or dare I even say the vast majority, are trading on past glories. Take the Rolling Stones as an example, just two studio albums in 20 years is hardly what you might call a prolific output but still the show goes on.
Grinders Island has an interesting take on Joe Cocker’s passing. In the same way I have no idea whatsoever what (say) a Two Pac is, or any of his/ her peers, there really are folk out there who genuinely have never heard of Joe (John Robert) Cocker, born 20th May, 1944, died 22nd December, 2014, a former gas fitter from Sheffield who once regularly trod the boards at the Mucky Duck*.
(*Mucky Duck: Historical pub/ famed local music venue. The Black Swan, Snig Hill, Sheffield. Formerly The Complete Angler, later rebuilt and re-launched as The Boardwalk).
This was Joe Cocker, arguably the inventor of air guitar, at his veritable peak playing Woodstock way back in 1969:
Anyway, we shouldn’t be under any illusions about lifestyle choices in the rock business. If you have lived life to the limit over several decades consuming copious vast quantities of alcohol, nicotine and narcotics there’s invariably a price to pay. Remember the adage, ‘If you remember the Sixties, you weren’t there’. Not unexpectedly, things begin to wear out. Things like vital organs.
Let’s not beat about the bush here, how so many have survived this long is quite remarkable and a testament to modern medicine but we’d better get used to the idea we’ll be saying goodbye to an awful lot of old favourites in the near future. At the risk of sounding biblical, we’re supposedly allocated three score years and ten, and all that…
And that’s always assuming you don’t abuse your body too badly.
You Can Bank On Alan
Seeing as I’ve just gone all rock and roll on you, how about I wrap up in character with an encore. In fact let’s be predictable. The show’s over, you enjoyed it and feel obliged to shout for more. I’ll return to the stage, do a favourite number, slope off, you make some noise again and I’ll come back for one more flourish, a second encore, then it’s home time for everyone. Agreed?
Time to confess, I have a soft spot for Alan Blair and his Urban Banx stuff. If you’ve not seen it yet, and I’m sure many haven’t, this is carp fishing with a twist. Forget the expensive syndicates, the secret lakes, the nudge-nudge inner circle and the endless recaptures of the same old fish, Alan Blair is happy to catch inner city carp from canals and park lakes, and from anywhere else that’s accessible or unusual. He films his sessions in an edgy ‘current’ (no pun intended) style and I for one like it.
He also seems to be a pretty decent bloke to boot. Witness how well (and politely) he handles the whacky woman in the park. What the clip does reveal is the mentality of the folk who are against angling and how ridiculously extreme some of them are.
The Final Curtain
Oh go on then, you’ve been a great audience. This will be the last number for tonight…
Stu Walker and I have decided we will return to the Himalayas. It might be my last crack at the elusive Himalayan mahseer. Ten years have flown by since our first adventure on the Indo-Nepalese border. I’m not getting any younger and these trips are physically taxing. Stu, I’m sure, will return again. And probably again…
I fully understand why.
It’s a trip I am really looking forward to but I was quite ill on the last one, miles, in fact days, from anywhere. Hopefully that won’t be a problem this time but I do have to take care with my kidneys. Life’s a bitch, eh?
Anyway, we will be well looked after by Misty Dhillon’s Himalayan Outback team again. They really are the best. Check out the article in this fabulous online magazine, turn to page 44 and do what I did. Just drool over the pictures, get lost in the words and start to dream. These guys truly experienced the trip of a lifetime.
Anyway, they fished exactly where we are heading. Who knows, we might get lucky, too. Just let your imagination run wild, who knows, this could be you… Seriously, why not? We’re all going to die. We just don’t know when. Don’t leave this life with regrets. it isn’t a rehearsal. What is the point of a life lived without adventure?
By the way, you’ll find a couple of nice video clips on Page 200. If nothing else that should give you an idea of the scale of this magazine.
Okay, that’s it, thank you ladies and gentlemen, now it really is time to say goodnight. But not before I tag on a footie bit.
The Football Bit
I’ve neglected this section for too long. Is football out of touch with the real world? You tell me…
Till the next time, then. See ya!