Hurrah! It’s the closed season. Whoopee-doo! The miserable gits who’ve been talking sh*te on angling forums all winter have a very good reason to be happy. They no longer have to make excuses about why they’re on their computers all day (instead of going fishing once in a while).
These are the folk who’ll now be preaching what a good idea the current closed season is as it gives the fish a rest. How do they know? They ain’t wet a line in nearly 6 months. Isn’t that enough of a rest? Indeed, for what they catch over 12 months you might say they practically give the fish a permanent rest.
Seriously, who should have a say on the structure of a closed season? How about those who actually go fishing? The do-ers rather than the talkers.
I’ve been out there several times a week, every week, come rain, snow, gales, hell or high water and for most of that time I’ve barely seen a soul. The fish have just had the equivalent of one closed season – an extended one at that. So why would they need another?
Ah but…, the Luddites say, fish need to be left alone to breed in peace.
Okay, then why the f*ck do you make such a big deal about going fishing on opening day, on the ‘glorious‘ June 16th? The river species you claim to be so concerned about are either still spawning, are about to spawn or they’re recovering from the process. Doesn’t seem to bother you one iota on the 16th, does it?
Maybe we should rename June 16th ‘Hypocrites Hooray Day’. The day when do-gooders show their true colours. F*ck the fish, I’m going to fish a river even if the fish are spawning (because it’s allowed). Not my fault they can’t get their act together. I’ve done the decorating and mowed the lawn, now I want to go fishing.
Starting the season on June 16th is a joke! It’s an abomination, selfish and downright bloody stupid if you truly believe the purpose of a closed season is to protect spawning fish (which it never was).
This concept of it protecting spawning fish is a bastardisation. The law was never intended to protect spawning fish. It was introduced by a non-angling politician more than 130 years ago to prevent riff-raff coarse anglers killing and eating everything they caught all-year-long. At least that’s the premiss used to blindside a lie. In truth the closed season was more likely introduced to keep the hoi polloi away from rivers while the honorable gentleman’s rich mates did their salmon fishing.
Oh, and if I hear one more idiot spouting that he rather likes to have a closed season because he enjoys the break I swear I’ll scream. What is it with these guys. Are they so insecure they can’t take 3 months off unless everyone else does? Look, just have a closed season, have it whenever you like, tell the wife you’re not going fishing for 3 months and stick your tackle in the shed to let it gather dust while you decorate, dig the garden, take up Macramé or whatever else turns you on. Enjoy it. Just don’t go demanding everyone else to joins your little club!
Oh well, they think it’s all over. Let the closed season debate begin. Again.
Was That The Fat Lady I Heard?
It has been an unusual winter to say the least. Wetter than a wet thing in a wet swamp, as Blackadder might have suggested. Yes, it’s been damp. Very damp. So damp I have barely wet a line for chub. The chub fishing has been sh*te! In fact it’s been worse than that. Hopeless. Baring the odd decent fish, of course.
But the absence of good chub conditions has resulted in some pretty decent barbel opportunities. The 10-10 caught by a mate on March 10th sealed his ambition to catch a double figure barbel from the Trent in every month of the season, a season in which he raised his PB no less than 3 times. That’s some achievement.
Nor is he the only Trent angler to achieve this feat in 2015/6. Despite this there will be no shortage of window lickers trying to tell us that the Wye is the UK’s number one barbel river. Yeah, right! Of course it is guys, of course it is…
Keep up the good work!
I’d be the last to deny the Wye valley isn’t a very pretty location to be loafing around in though I suspect its popularity with anglers is due to the fishing being relatively easy, so please, don’t let me put you off shelling out £25 a day for your ‘exclusive’ day tickets.
Just think on, though, a Scunthorpe Pisces yearbook works out at just 15 pence a day and for that you get 10 different stretches of the Trent, plus other rivers, drains, canals and stillwaters.
Notts Fed is only £30 a year. Notts AA is £44 but that includes a first year joining fee of £10. Newark and District books cost £35, Midland AS costs £32, and these are just 5 of many freely available club tickets on the River Trent.
Breaking News: Scunthorpe Pisces is in the process of amalgamating with Scunthorpe and District AA to form a new club, Scunthorpe Amalgamated Anglers. Together they will provide access to FIFTEEN stretches of the River Trent, plus the rivers Ancholme, Idle, Upper Witham and Severn along with the Keadby Canal and surrounding drains, the Warping Drain and numerous lakes. It is expected the cost of a ‘gold’ membership covering a whole family will be £40 a year, which equates to 77p a week, an absolute bargain.
Rest assured I will share details of the brand new web site when it launches.
But I digress…
Normally we see an upturn in the weather around the start of March. The days get a little longer, the temperatures rise and suddenly catching a few barbel isn’t all that difficult. This year we began the month with bleak, frosty conditions followed by an almighty deluge that was decidedly on the chilly side and turned flood warning arrows all over the EA chart to red.
Even so there were still fish to be caught if you were prepared to put in the required effort. It was a swim choice/ rod hours situation with vampires and night owls holding most of the aces. Your chances of blanking were greater than that of catching but if you did catch then there was every chance it would be a big fish. The pups and pests were noticeably absent. It was the perfect time to score a greedy fat girl. Unfortunately the vast majority of fish were caught in the dark. Daylight fishing was decidedly tough.
I gambled on a swim I’d never fished before and it paid off in spades. Two fish, two doubles and the bigger fish was easily my best of the season. It has to be said, Kev did a superb job on the pictures and I’m so glad he had chosen fish a short way upstream of me.
Alas they turned out to be my final Trent fish of the year but you’ll hear no complaints from me. Another fish (or two) would have been nice in the last week but they would merely have been more icing on an already sweet cake. I wrapped up the season a happy and satisfied angler.
Next year I will work harder and do better. Of that I’m certain. The Trent is surely now the finest barbel river in the UK bar none, a situation that probably won’t last. The Trent has always run in cycles, I’ve known it as a prime roach river, I’ve known it paved with gudgeon, awash with bleak, then it went big on silver bream, then chub, then proper bream, now barbel and I’m sure it’ll change again. None of the species were exclusive, they simply enjoyed a period of dominance presumably geared to weather-driven/ optimum breeding conditions and changing water quality.
I suspect the total number of barbel in the river is falling already (although there appear to be healthy numbers through most year classes) but we are clearly seeing bigger specimens in greater numbers. Good news in the short term but something we should be cautious of in the long term.
The river has long been the place to catch a double. Currently it’s a great place to target barbel in the low teens. Don’t be surprised if we see an increasing number of fish that go 15 pounds and upwards in the next few years. There could yet be the potential for a genuine record breaker if the trend continues, something I once thought was unlikely. For it to continue something will have to give and I fear it will be at the expense of the previous vast stocks of three to 8-pounders.
I’m not sure whether that’s something to look forward to or not. Only time will tell.
One To Make You Chuckle
I only follow a handful of fishing blogs. So many set out with good intentions but a badly written blog truly makes my toes curl. Too many bloggers seem to think, “I went fishing, used Fred Bloggs’ bait, tackle, line, gizmos and doo-dahs, etc”, interspersed with a bunch of badly composed images, constitutes blogging and is sufficient to entrance a loyal following. It’s not.
It’s indulgent and boring.
If you want me to read your blog, and trust me I’d love to, then you must at least make an effort to entertain. Provide me with something worthy of my time. Impress me. Make me smile. Make me think. Earn my respect.
Don’t write badly disguised advertorial. Don’t try and make out you’re the dog’s whatsits unless you actually are. Forget about repeating boring old cliches (don’t they ‘ang on, it’s a clonker, etc), just give me an insight to your personality and try above all else to be interesting. Have an opinion. Do something different.
It doesn’t matter if I completely disagree with it, I’ll still respect your intentions providing you put across your views with passion and style.
And remember, sometimes less is more. That’s a bit rich coming from me, I know! 😉
An example of an inane blog that I absolutely love is this one (above). I have no idea who writes it but he obviously watches a lot of TV because he does love to write critiques of the popular shows. The man is possibly the biggest cynic to walk the planet. Indeed it’s his unique selling point. Yet mostly I find myself chuckling and nodding approval.
I will warn you that there are in excess of 1400-plus previous blogs to catch up on and they can be addictive. The author occasionally uses very strong language and his blog is therefore recommended for adults or perhaps attendees of secondary modern schools only. If you are okay with the swearing, delve in and enjoy it. I do.
As a quick taster, how about this:
“On Thursday, ITV chose to confirm its ability to annoy the f*ck yet again with a totally unnecessary repeat of River Monsters, the vehicle for the most awful Jeremy Wade to grin into the camera while annoying fish as well as me.”
And that’s him being mild and considerate! Dig deeper and you will mine some real gems.
A Simple Tale Of Country Folk
I’m proud to live in the English countryside where the pace of life is a little more sedate than in towns and cities. Crime in these parts rarely makes the news and it’s hardly surprising.
Currently wall stealing appears to be a big worry. Compared with dropping litter and dog fouling this proves we also have some real ‘hardcore’ criminals.
Top Gear? Sounds More Like Bottom Gear
The BBC has got what it always really wanted. Shut of Clarkson and Co.
Hearing that a new version of Top Gear was currently in production I obtained an exclusive interview with the Chairman:
Okay guv, so what next?
Well, erm, we own the show. And we’ve retained the real talent behind Top Gear’s incredible popularity, dear old Tasmin. He was always the unsung hero, the real reason TG attracted worldwide audiences of 350 million and earned us £50M a year. Surely you can see that?
And instead of that bunch of self-serving, publicity-seeking morons, we now have some real talent presenting the show. Plus we’ve done away with all the stupid stunts and PR disasters so TG2 is bound to be taken to the hearts of the nation. In fact all nations.
That’s exactly why we replaced three anarchists with a ginger-haired lunatic who’s, err, ‘down with all the kids’ on Radio 2, a Yankee sitcom ‘actor’ and a blonde German frauline. Multi-national, see? And they won’t offend anyone, just you see.
Isn’t that rather predictable; playing safe, maybe?
You might say that, and they weren’t our first choices, but no-one was quite sure who the Stig was so we couldn’t contact him, Donald Trump told us he was rather busy and we couldn’t find a Syrian with a driving license, so we compromised. But let’s not forget it’s who’s behind the camera that matters, not the lackeys in front of it.
Look, we shouldn’t fall into the trap of believing the success of the show was anything to do with individual presenters and personalities, it’s more to do with concepts, the brand and the whole production team. The reality is we’ve just had a small turn-over of staff. About one per cent of the folk who are gainfully employed by the show, actually. That’s nothing. Staff leave all the time and get replaced. I really don’t understand the fuss. The show will go on to bigger and better things. It has a bright, lucrative future.
Does this mean you won’t be filming idiotic stunts anymore and setting out to encourage petrol heads and boy racers?
Absolutely not, dear chap. We’re playing it straight down the middle from here on in. It’s all about the cars. We won’t be courting cheap publicity and offending anyone. In fact, you can quote me on this, we’re not dumbing down, we’re going upmarket and Tasmin tells me he fully expects TG2 to be a resounding worldwide success.
So the prospect of the original Top Gear team making a rival show for Amazon TV doesn’t concern you?
Amazon? Isn’t that a river somewhere in one of our old Colonies? Dear me, old chap, you can’t honestly think that driving old bangers around rubber trees is going to appeal to anyone except a few jungle bunnies! Such rubbish couldn’t possibly compete with our magnificent industry-leading sales. Are you mad? We’re the BBC! We’re taking the show back to it’s roots. Like I said, we own the real talent behind the show. And the name, don’t forget that. We are Top Gear. We’re not some posse of disrespectful hooray Henries, you know!
Anyway, sorry and all that, but I’m a busy man. My PA says I have to deal with something about making doughnuts in Whitehall. Probably a new bake-off show. Best I slope off now. Top Gear won’t make itself, will it…?
* * * * * * *
On reflection the BBC may well have missed a trick. Instead of the employing Chris Evans they could so easily have swapped Clarkson and co with the characters from Rainbow…
The Big One
Somehow it felt like I was a show virgin all over again. I attended the Northern Show once, it was pretty much carp dominated and I’ve not had an urge to return. Before that we had the halcyon days of the NEC, memories of which seem to be sepia toned. Attending the Big One at Farnburgh for the first time recently was something else and I doubt it’ll be my last visit.
Yes, it’s a massive flea market with dealers competing to sell the most for the least but there are plenty of showcase stands, too. Not to mention 20,000 punters.
I was there with Daiwa (as you would expect) but what a commitment it is. It costs a lot of money to have 20 people manning the two stands. Forget the £15K it cost to build the stand, there’s a massive budget for food, drink, travel and hotel costs to find before you even consider the cost of a pitch.
The days are long when you’re working. The pain starts in your ankles, works its way up your calves into the thighs and by mid-afternoon your lower back aches like hell, but physical demands apart it’s great to meet so many people. Thanks to all of you who dropped by to say how much you enjoyed the DVDs and particularly this blog.
Nevertheless it seems pretty weird that I can sit here typing away in a tiny Yorkshire village and speak to the whole world through my computer. But probably not if you’re half my age.
As always, I met up with folk I haven’t touched base with in years and you begin to realise the angling world is quite a small family. I’ll not name names because it would simply read like a telephone directory.
One thing that did surprise me was the number of Eastern European anglers in attendance. It is all too easy to create stereotypes. The EE’s eat all our fish, etc, etc. That’s unfair. There’s good and bad in all walks of life and those I talked with at the show came across as ‘proper’ anglers. The majority only wanted to see the very high-end gear, too.
One told me, “£400 may sound a lot for a reel but it will last a lifetime. If I use it for 10 years it will only have cost me £40 each year. I will make sure I look after it.”
Another wanted to feel and look over the new Exist 15EX2003F reel. It is as exquisite a reel as you will find anywhere in the world and comes with a jaw-dropping price tag of £530. “I must have this reel!” He told me. His friend added, “He WILL have this reel.”
The guy who’s stealing fish for the pot doesn’t spend that kind of money. Only those who are absolutely dedicated to the sport do so.
Another showed me pictures of how he has customised his seat box which was black with red spray painted relief on various parts. It looked sensational and matched his black Daiwa jacket with the red flashes.
Perhaps we need to rethink our attitude towards foreign anglers. Not all are out to rape our rivers and lakes as we are frequently led to believe. Yes, there are problems, but we can’t just paint everyone with the same brush.
I’m A Perch Wanker
As the river season fades to a distant memory I have little alternative but to turn my attention to stillwaters. Alas late March is an awkward time. Chances are the fish that appeal most right now – pike, perch and zander – are close to spawning. Not exactly the ideal time to be targeting them, is it?
If the rivers were open, that’s where I’d be, aiming to catch species that won’t spawn for some months yet.
Unfortunately I don’t make the rules. I simply adhere to them even if that means wrestling with my conscience. Crazy, really. No doubt some knob jockey will twist my words on social media over this. Yeah right. So tell me, is this face bothered?
I suppose it is really, but we have no other choice but to play with the cards we are dealt and as we get a little older only a fool would ignore the inevitability that we won’t be fit and healthy enough to fish like we do now for ever. It’s a case of gather ye roses while ye may.
So I went perch fishing at Messingham Sands. Glad I did really. A chill northerly breeze knocked the venue’s carp sideways and very few were caught in the open match. A nice net of skimmers won it but for many it was grim day with bites at a premium. That’s spring for you. Unreliable and unpredictable. Tomorrow it might just as easily fish its head off.
The first lake I fished looked spot on. One of the locals showed me his favourite perch swim and exactly where in the swim he caught them. I never had a bite. It was dead. So I gambled on moving to a different lake and nothing happened there either. Growing bored with holding a pole I had a little chuck around with some dropshot gear.
It wasn’t feeling very confident but it only takes one bite and sure enough that bite came just as I was close to calling it quits. Bingo!
Fifteen minutes later I had another, this time on pole fished prawn. And that was it. The lake was as dead as a dodo again. That’s spring fishing, I suppose. Still, no complaints here. Job done.
I Don’t Give A S***!
I read a very clever piece in the Times last week about job interview questions. Apparently a favourite trick to catch out the candidates is to ask what they think is their biggest weakness.
One interviewee answered, “Honesty”, to which the interviewer replied, “We don’t think honesty is a weakness.”
“I don’t give a shit what you think!” Came the ‘honest’ reply.
Unfortunately I’m Just A Minion
A question I was asked many times over the Big One weekend was when are Stu and I going to make some more films. The Barbel Days and Ways and Caught In The Act DVDs have been hugely successful and superbly well received by critics and those who have watched them alike.
Alas it looks like we won’t be making any more. I’d love make to some but Stu is adamant. He’s done with the coarse fishing stuff and only wants to make pay per view films of his foreign adventures, so we’ve dissolved the company. It was good while it lasted and its such a shame they haven’t been shown on TV (so far).
I don’t care who might disagree, nor do I feel guilty for a spot of trumpet blowing but no-one has made better, more consistent and watchable films in the past decade. Unfortunately it’s over. Out of my hands.
Funnily enough. I watched a Minions film on a plane recently and nearly wet myself when I discovered that two of the main characters were called Stuart and Bob, the former having myopic vision through his single eye/ lens.
So there you have it, even if we may make no more films our legend will live on in cartoon format!
But who the hell is Kevin? That’s what I want to know.
Bill and Virginia Rushmer dropped by for a catch-up. ‘Are you in or out?’ She asked. ‘Do you want democracy or bureaucracy?’
What a perfect way to put it.
That day the very last paper copy of the Independent On Sunday carried an interview with David Cameron and for the first time in a very long time I found myself agreeing with him about Europe. He urged us to:
‘Think about your children, think about your grandchildren, think about the country and the world you want them to grow up in. For heaven’s sake turn out and vote.’ (David Cameron)
He’s dead right, you know. The more I think about my children, my grandchildren, the country and the world I want them to grow up in, it must not be one ruled by the jackboot or by Merkell and her mates, by the EU, by sharia law, nor by those who deny us our national pride and deem it wrong to be nationalistic or to fly the cross of St George, or a Union Jack.
I don’t want them to miss out on Christmas, Easter, or bacon sandwiches. Why should we condone medieval butchery methods? Under no circumstances should we ever accept misogyny, genital mutilation, or treating women as no better than cattle.
I don’t want them lumbered with the spiraling debts of Europe, the Near East and the unsustainable social issues that are starting to cause chaos in previously civilised countries. I want them to grow up in an England where we speak English and to continue the very English traditions that made us great and for England to remain the one place where every scrounger in the world is so desperate to come and live.
I want them to grow up in a country where there are jobs for English people, where former soldiers aren’t abandoned and living on the streets, where the weak are cared for, where we still play cricket on the village green and everything stops for tea.
F*ck multiculturalism and benefits tourism. Start looking closer to home Mr Cameron and ask what working class people want. Do we really care about foreign aid any more? Seriously? We care about homes, schools and hospitals for our own children. We care about jobs and dentists for our own.
We don’t send our children to public school, live in mansions, have a chauffer and private healthcare. Above all else we want your greedy, blood-sucking MPs to stop lining their pockets with ill-gotten gains, stolen from the pockets of the needy. It’s morally wrong to have a salary of £84,000 and then claim nearly £200,000 on top in the form of ‘expenses’ while maintaining two homes at the taxpayers’ expense and then telling folk in wheelchairs they are scroungers! Telling us what we can and can not afford.
And stop LYING to us! We are not (all) stupid.
As for the ‘Safer in Europe’ brigade, try telling that to the good folk of Paris and Brussels.
And on that point, I was disappointed (though hardly surprised) by the pro-EU jackals who ran around attempting to humiliate anyone who had the temerity to ask whether the bombings of Paris and Brussels are examples of how we’re safer in Europe.
Mike Heylin accused me on Facebook of ‘exploiting people’s death, pain and suffering’ for daring to suggest this was a poor advert for the safer in Europe brigade yet he himself later used the bombings of 7/7 and 21/7 as some weird kind of justification for us staying in Europe. Obviously he is perfectly happy to exploit people’s death, pain and suffering when it suits his argument.
I don’t give a toss who this offends, but laying flowers and shining flags on monuments does nothing to make us all safer. Yes, I genuinely sympathise with those who have lost loved ones, it’s an outrage, an atrocity, but point scoring by Project Fear followers is a sick way to try and avoid obvious questions that simply have to be asked. More so when the authorities admitted that it was never a case of ‘if’ a terrorist attack happened but a very definite ‘when’. It was expected in Belgium and it was expected soon. The authorities there were utterly powerless to prevent it.
Like countless others I changed my Facebook profile to a French flag/ Charie Ebdo/ Je Suis Paris message for a while. Today’s fashion is the Belgian flag. What will it be tomorrow? Because you know and I know there will be many more suicide bombings, shootings and atrocities carried out against innocent people.
Those responsible will most likely be known and under surveillance. Yet Europe lets them continue with their deadly business, moving around freely, too afraid to offend their human rights. Sorry, it’s bollocks!
The sooner we pull up the drawbridge, adopt a war footage, abandon human rights and stop messing around the better. If there’s the slightest doubt lock ’em up. Deport. Repatriate. Get shut. Terrorists and their sympathisers deserve no rights. Stop throwing money at economic migrants. It’s time to take back our towns, our country and our heritage. Things have gone too far. Especially when the only thanks you’re gonna get for a display of kindness is in the form of bullets and nail bombs.
Ruthless acts require an equally ruthless reaction.
And if anyone wants to go off and join ISIL, ISIS or whoever, don’t try and stop them. Let’s make it easy for them. Provide transport and make sure every single family member and relation travels with them so they can feel at home more quickly. Just make sure the door is firmly closed behind them. No way should we allow radicalised nutters back into the UK again.
Same goes for radical preachers. It took us 8 long years to deport Abu Hamza while he was allowed to continue preaching his hate. Ten before he went to trial. What was all that about? By 2009 he had cost Britain £2.75 million in welfare payments, council housing and legal costs.
Oh dear, I’m turning into a ranting Swordsey clone!
Tennis The Menace
A bit of a hissy fit blew up recently when Indian Wells tournament CEO Raymond Moore suggested women “ride on the coat-tails of the men”. Clearly he’s from the stone age and believes that women tennis players deserve less in prize money than men.
I disagree. Forget the politics, I feel all tennis players should compete for exactly the same prizes.
But tell me this. Why do mens’ and womens’ categories exist at all? It’s a relic of Victorian attitudes, surely? Tennis is a fast paced game of skill, glorified ping pong on grass (or clay), but competitors do not physically touch each other and it’s invariably the fittest and most skillful players who win tournaments. So why shouldn’t women be treated equally?
If you are going to discriminate by gender then the whole charade is reduced to a handicap race and in that case, why allow mixed doubles?
Indeed I wonder why are there women-only football teams now that tackling is all-but outlawed.
Let’s have more equality. I’m all for equal rewards providing it’s for doing the same job to the same level of proficiency.
Foot In Mouth Disease
I’ll close by sharing a snippet from my old mate Billy Makin. Match anglers (in particular) of a certain age will remember Billy well. A brilliant angler, particularly on canals. You may remember his Stillwater Blue floats or you might just remember him as the creator of Makins’ Fisheries, near Hinkley. I remember him as a very entertaining individual, guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
Billy sold up and emigrated a few years ago but he still keeps in touch. This was his latest missive:
Still alive and still in Thailand.
Just thought that I would make your day.Up’t jungle at the moment, and yesterday we went out with a couple of Rinda’s old university friends. Rinda is my girlfriend of 3 years.
What you see is what one of them ate.
They may look like chicken feet, and the reason for this is that they are indeed chicken feet.
You can now see why Thai cuisine is so highly rated.
I was starving, and when the Thai dishes arrived, I decided to eat one of my toes, just to be on the safe side.
And so, that’s your lot, unfortunately. All good things must end. Let the fat lady sing her heart out – only not the turgid ‘Hello’ song, please!
I make no apologies for the blog being miles too long (again), but sometimes, when I’m on a roll I just have to let it go and I haven’t even included my thoughts on the world of football this month. Maybe next time.