April’s a funny old month. It’s barely begun as I write this introduction and the river season still feels hauntingly familiar, barely over, practically clinging to my vest yet we’re hearing the word frost mentioned frequently in weather reports. Thankfully by the time I reach the blog’s conclusion I will have been half-way round the world for one last blue water indulgence and then turned my domestic attentions to tench and carp. Perhaps even a big bream.
I will have a suntan. The grass will grow as fast as I can cut it. Weeds will be a problem in the vegetable plot and my tomato plants will be reaching for the skies. It all happens so fast I wonder whether I’ll find time to do this blog justice, but I will. Somehow.
When The Chips Are Down
I’ll be plastered across two pages of the Angling Times this week, fishing for perch. Seems a lot longer than 2 weeks ago that I endured the depressing wait for a covering of ice to melt before I could even begin fishing.
Of course, by the time this blog is published I’ll be reminding you of what you are already aware or you will have missed the article completely. Or you simply ignored it. Such is life. Headlines today, fish and chip wrapper tomorrow. Except fish and chips come in trays these days. Anyone feeling nostalgic?
Tell me, especially you old ‘uns, does vinegar taste the same to you as it used to?
I bet you tried a swig from the bottle in your younger days. Wasn’t it the sharpest taste ever? Today’s vinegar doesn’t cut it, does it? It’s just not the same. Eh? I’m regressing, getting nostalgic. A ten-penny mix (chips and mushy peas) with bits and a bottle of ginger beer – smothered in salt and vinegar, open of course. And a wooden fork. Nothing comes even close these days.
Gordon Ramsey eat your heart out. Those really were the days of our lives.
I suppose I should share something of my Times feature. It may be the UK’s biggest weekly fishing paper but the EA sells a million licenses so chances are most of you didn’t read the paper. That’s sad in a way. It’s our voice. But hardly anyone listens. Not even 5% of those who fish. What’s wrong with the world?
In the early days of the internet folk boasted of how it would take over, sweep away the old guard and all these new faces would take over. New writers. Guys with something new to say. Guys with fresh ideas who wrote about fishing instead of publishing advertorials.
Well, where are they? Where did they go? Where’s the focus on the internet? Where can I find these brilliant anglers, top entertainers who were about to change the world? Indeed what happened to those busy, busy forums where we read all these claims. Should anyone find a purpose for tumbleweed that’s where you can find copious amounts of it today.
And don’t even begin to claim that Facebook is the future!
But I digress. The papers aren’t perfect and I’d love to share my views on why and how they might be improved but there’s no point in doing that in a blog. That would be a waste of time and energy. And it wouldn’t pay the bills.
So back to the perch fishing. Thanks to the papers I had read regular match reports from Messingham Sands in which big perch featured. That’s a fine example of old school research for you.
Many, many years ago I read Ian Flemming’s (James Bond) book Goldfinger in which he used that memorable quote, ‘Once is happenstance, twice is co-incidence, three times is enemy action’. Well the reports had long since surpassed coincidence and only a fool could ignore it.
Sticking with the literary theme, how about Julius Ceasar’s ‘Veni, vidi, vici’.
I came, I saw, I conquered.
All in lousy weather but no complaints about the results. I fished in strong winds, in sideways rain and in sub-zero conditions. It didn’t prove quite as easy as I might have hoped, it never does, does it? But I caught fish of a very satisfactory average size – a good 2lb-plus – all during the afternoons. Not a single fish was caught much before 2pm.
Next winter I’ll get on the perch trail a little earlier as I’m confident I can do much better.
We may well be living in the 21st Century but Google ‘split cane rods’ and you’ll quickly appreciate there’s a healthy demand for these antiquated relics.
Indeed I recently obtained some exclusive footage from the 2015 Floppy Hatters Fish-in staged at Bredwardine on the Wye…
The Cut Nut Is Back
I’m not a bad canal angler as it happens. Indeed I’ve won a few opens in my time against very good opposition but that was a lifetime ago. In another life altogether you could say. These days I fish canals for fun and there’s great fun to be had whether you are targeting silver fish, big perch or pike. Certainly in my neck of the woods we have some superb canal fishing on offer and I usually spend a little time on them in early spring when nothing much else is happening.
With a few hours to spare I decided to give the Stainforth and Keadby a go in Thorne where superb winter sport can be had. I had intended to have a go for pike and I lugged both the match and specimen gear to my chosen peg but once I started catching quality silvers on caster the pike rod never made it out of the holdall.
If a pike had a go at one of the fish I was playing or I’d seen anything swirl nearby then sure, I would have put a bait out, but I was enjoying myself far too much to be distracted. The float just kept going under and that’s all I needed.
I’ve no idea how many fish I caught. It was plenty and the usual succession of ‘one last casts’ lasted a good hour. Quality skimmers, roach and perch kept me entranced thanks to a bite on almost every cast. And all on half a pint of casters.
Last month I removed the restrictions on my old Facebook profile and went public. You may wonder why.
So do I.
No matter how many times I announce that I don’t update the profile and that all my angling updates are published on the Bob Roberts Angling Facebook Page folk still want to be my friend on the ‘dead’ profile. It’s bonkers!
Certainly it’s a phenomenon I struggle to comprehend and as soon as I accept a new friend then others in his or her circle of friends chip in with requests, too. Even girls in Thailand, Russia and obscure parts of Africa want me as their friend. What’s all that about?
So what the hell. You wanna be my friend then send a request. But if it’s updates you want then please, please go to Bob Roberts Angling. If you click the ‘like’ button you can message me on there but only if you message me can I message you back. You will not be spammed.
That’s the whole point.
Oh, and as I feared, it took just one week before the first game request appeared…
On the flip side, I received a message from someone I went to primary school with and boy has that opened up a can of worms. Facebook groups featuring my school, my old village, friends I’d forgotten, lost touch with, learned to live without and more.
Can you spot me in this photo? Please don’t say, yes!!!!
Won’t Get Fooled Again
There was the usual plethora of April Fool pranks on Facebook. Some verging on the ridiculous, many lacking subtlety but I did like this one referring to a rather large pike reputedly caught from a Doncaster park lake.
It’s remarkable size was blamed on the amount of GM white bread being fed to the ducks!
I think it’s been Photoshopped (rather clumsily!), don’t you?
Westerly. A fishery on the outskirts of the medieval city of York. Sounds like a Game of Thrones location, doesn’t it? Which reminds me, GOT is back! Expect the internet to break shortly, swamped by the theories and predictions of fantasists. You might say no change there then, but this will allow lots of bad news in the real world to be buried ‘neath a carpet of subterfuge. You just watch.
Yes, the Prime Minister’s Eton Education and privileged upbringing was funded on the back of his dad’s tax avoidance schemes that so obviously contributed to robbing the NHS of sufficient funding to reasonably reward doctors and nurses but who cares? Winter’s coming!
Trouble is, there’s no point in swinging the sword at Cameron. What then? You merely remove one tax fiddling millionaire to replace him with another. Or to put Cameron’s dilemma into perspective with an appropriate GOT quote: ‘When dead men and worse come hunting for us in the night, you think it matters who sits on the Iron Throne?’
Anyway I met up with Brian Skoyles at the delightful spring-fed Westerly Lake intending to set out my stall for roach on the pole and perhaps chance my arm for a big perch on prawns. But first I wanted to explore the lake’s roach potential. I had been told it contained loads of them and my source was not wrong. Westerly is a roach anglers’ paradise.
I kicked off at around 8 metres out fishing maggot and caught quality roach straight from the off but after a promising start my bites dried up and all I could catch was bits. Something was wrong.
We were fortunate that a row of conifers gave us a degree of protection from the wind but heavy rains in the previous 48 hours had flooded the nearby River Ouse and left many surrounding fields under water. I wasn’t exactly looking for excuses but I did wonder if this was having an impact – and then the roach gave me a clue. Immediately after I’d fed I spotted a flat in the ripple. I fed again and watched intently. Fish were intercepting my feed just beneath the surface.
I came shallow and bingo. It was a bite a chuck! Of course my rig was all wrong so quickly set up a really light rig that takes just 3 x 11 Stots at maybe 2.5 feet. That was more like it and so began a superb few hours of bagging. Proper bagging it was, too! Roach after roach from 3 to 8 ounces with the odd bonus one pushing 12oz.
Meanwhile Brian was playing around with prawns hoping for a big perch. These produced some very nice roach, would you believe? The odd bream, a decent linear carp and eventually a perch of around 2lb.
I switched from roach to prawn fishing around lunchtime but failed to catch a perch. Shame because it has recently produced specimens nearer to 4lb than three. But they’ll keep for another day.
Westerly is an immaculate fishery. One that will keep any roach nut happy and I can only begin to imagine what you might catch on hemp and tares. If you decide to give it a try please treat it, the owners and the rules with respect. They deserve that from us if nothing else.
If Only England Survives…
On my recent pike fishing trip to Loch Ken I traveled to Glasgow by train. As it pulls into Alnwick there’s a gorgeous view out to the right across the Aln estuary towards Alnmouth. That caused me to check it out on Google Earth and then to book into a B&B for a couple of nights. I fancied exploring the area.
Northumberland is magnificent. Great walks, superb scenery and castles everywhere. It was in Bamburgh castle that I came across a quote by the Hon ‘Will’ Watson-Armstrong, a Second Lieutenant in the 7th Northumberland Fusilliers. After he was injured and repatriated from Ypres during the First World War, he wrote:
‘What does it matter who dies, if only England survives?’
The Prime Minister should read this and take note. So should anyone who believes staying in Europe and ceding Britain’s sovereignty to the EU is a remotely good idea.
Thousands gave their lives so this country would remain free from the shackles of Europe. They believed it was worth the sacrifice. They believed it was something worth dying for.
Please don’t throw that away. Don’t insult our heroes by ceding everything they fought for.
Remind You Of Anyone?
I’m not prepared to name names but the minute I watched this I thought of an angler I’ve shared a few hotel rooms with.
How about you? Is it familiar?
A Minimum Wage For Angling?
The Chancellor has just introduced a new minimum wage of £7.20 (approximately 9.5 Euros per hour). In simple terms that’s around 1,520 Euros per month. Pretty generous when compared with the rest of Europe. Bulgaria pays just 214 Euros a month, the Czech Republic 360, Portugal 530, Spain 655, even Germany pays less than us.
Countries such as Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Italy and Sweden have no statutory minimum wage.
There’s much talk of jobs in the UK that the British aren’t prepared to do, like working on farms in East Angular as Jade Goody once called it. Personally I don’t think that’s true. The reality is that so much of this work is offered on a casual basis, off the books, paid in cash and at rates well below the minimum. After all you can pay half the minimum wage and still triple the earnings of a Bulgarian.
Isn’t that the whole point of allowing mass migration? Depressing the earnings of the working class while the rich get richer. Ask yourself why so many politicians are millionaires. Is it so they can look after the poor or after themselves?
The minimum wage may sound like a pittance if you’re a banker, a hospital administrator or an executive of a local council but I wish I could earn £7.20 an hour doing features for the UK angling press. The rewards are pitiful. Trust me. With almost 30 years experience in the field I can assure you I qualify as an expert and know what I’m talking about.
Unfortunately it’s not going to get better any time soon.
Attention Span Of A Child?
Don’t blame me. John Austerfield sent this…
There’s clearly an element of truth in there.
I Got Them Thar Blues Again
Blue water fishing. Let’s be honest, it’s for the rich, isn’t it. The few, the privileged, the flash, . . . THEM.
It’s not for ‘us’, is it?
I must confess I have dabbled, but I swear I didn’t inhale, honest. It was a social thing. I can handle it. In fact I’ve now given it up completely (anyone wanna buy my gear?). But I agreed to one last toke on the old pipe before quitting.
So enamored am I by speed jigging, I decided not to even take the tackle. On reflection I had a colonoscopy camera shoved up my rectum last year and given the choice of having that done again or speed jigging for a single day, …well, …call me gay if you like.
I did enjoy the light jigging on shallow reefs on the rare occasions when given a chance, where every drop seemed to attract a bite or two, and I’d like to have put in a little more time using fishy fly patterns on up-rated dropshot gear. That was simply sensational and not just for small fish. It was one a bung before the predictable mid-day wind sprung up. I’m thinking there’s a whole new world awaiting to be exploited by the LRF crowd.
Deep jigging with slow jigs was practically a fish a chuck on the right spots and produced loads of these comedy jobbies that look just like a golden orfe x bass hybrid. Ruby jobfish apparently.
Unfortunately most of them die when you haul them up from a hundred metres and that’s just not for me. Catching one was enough. I’ll stick with my genuine catch and release principles and beliefs if you don’t mind. But hey, if that’s what turns you on, don’t let me try and discourage you. Takes all sorts to make up a sport like ours.
The trip wasn’t without its mildly humorous moments and we definitely had our very own ‘Oooh Paul’ moment (reference: Boote/ Bailey, Casting For Gold) when Stu’s shorts slid down whilst he played a fish!
‘Oooh Paul, will you pull my shorts up? And just reach round the front and fasten the ties, will you?’
It soon became evident that Stu has been inducted to the Tourettes Speed Jigging Hall Of Fame. Whilst everyone quietly went about the business of hooking and playing fish, for example:
‘You in, Hedge?’
In Stu’s case proceedings were rather less subtle and somewhat louder. Indeed no-one ever had to look up and check if he was in action. It went something like this:
‘FEELS LIKE A GUD’UN…!’
‘F%%%%%£££&&&&…!!!!’ …F%£&…!, ….F%£!..!,
‘NICO! What do you think it is?’
When challenged his response was: ‘Look, you’ve got to put some excitement into it! We’re not making a silent movie..’
‘But Stu, we’re not making any kind of movie at all. We’re not filming!’
Project Fear Derailed
Nicky Morgan, the Secretary of State for Education has waded into the Brexit debate by demonstrating just how far out of touch this Government is with its people. She is concerned that a Brexit will make Interrailing around Europe more difficult and more expensive.
Really? Well do tell us Nicky, who actually gives a toss? The sons and daughters of Bankers, MPs and Cabinet Ministers no doubt. Folk who hardly have to worry about the cost of a train ticket because it’ll be fiddled on expenses anyway.
An MP’s offspring wishes to go Interrailing? Oh, let’s just employ them as researchers and ask them to go investigate something pointless in a nice warm country. That’ll do it. Make sure you keep your receipts dear.
I’m sorry Nicky, it’s forgivable to look like a frog but it’s not forgivable to think like one when appointed to such an elevated position. Working class offspring don’t go Interrailing unless they are endowed with massive pretentions. Working class kids do 18-30 holidays. They go clubbing in Ibiza hoping to get laid or at least to get sh*t faced on cheap booze. They don’t do the Grand Tour.
Nicky Morgan isn’t just out of touch with the very people who she effectively works for, she needs to do her homework. The Grand Tour died out in 1840’s largely due to the advent of large-scale rail transport and Interrailing is no longer a rite of passage for rich youngsters taking a gap year at mummy and daddy’s expense.
It certainly isn’t an option open to the children of working class families.
As the scare campaign plumbs depths beyond even those which Nautilus could descend you begin to suspect Project Fear might have taken things a little too far…
On Yer Bike!
The UK Government has pledged to spend £300 MILLION on cycling in the next 5 years. Meanwhile the steel industry collapses.
War heroes sleep on the streets. We apparently can’t afford to pay doctors and nurses a fair wage yet the Government mistakenly managed to overspend by £172M on foreign aid in 2015.
This is the same Government that says primary school children need to improve their mathematics.
Words fail me.
Blood On The Decks Alert!
This is definitely the place to go if you want to hone your whip fishing/ line to hand pole technique:
Fishing tuna fish
Posted by Hunter & fishing on Friday, 4 March 2016
Old School Fun
Back in the day…
Sorry, long before that overworked cliche was ever used and it didn’t mean, ‘Oh my God, I’m in the presence of a total bore!’, angling writing was far less serious than it appears to be today. Richard Walker was apparently a master of the wind-up in some of the things he wrote. He also wrote under pseudonyms long before they became the preserve of internet anarchists.
These days, in the mainstream angling media, you’ll be hard pressed to find examples of anyone having fun, or even making a subtle point. It all seems to have become a bit too full-on business-like. All about product placement and promotion.
Magazines seldom publish humorous material yet everyone loved Snide Rumours and Dirty Lies, Black Lizard and so on. Have we gone a little too far with our professional, ultra-serious image?
It may be I’m not on the right wavelength, or the piss takes are just a little too subtle for me to grasp. Perhaps they slip under my radar but more likely it never happens these days.
Once upon a rebellious time, when I was a bit miffed with a spell of editorial interference and an attempt to dumb down my content I complied by publishing a series of absolutely basic articles with coded messages in their titles.
I particularly enjoyed the one about swivels, called ‘Swivel on it’. Almost as much as the one about hooks called, ‘What’s The Point?’ How I got away with the one about butt grips called, ‘Up Your Butt’. I’ll never know. But seriously, they were published in Advanced Carp Fishing with no-one being the wiser!
Furthermore will we ever see an end to the terrible use of English language? I quote from an article I read only this morning. It suggested using, “A heavy 2-3oz lead.”
One presumes that’s as opposed to using a light 2-3oz lead?
Or what about, “Ever since I became an angler I have always…”
Grates on the teeth, doesn’t it?
And what exactly does ‘awesome’ mean?
Whereas I would suggest it was perhaps the occurence of something exceptional, remarkably rare or astonishing, there’s a new generation of ‘reality’ anglers who have bastardised it to the point where, especially in Essex, they experience something ‘awesome’ on at least four occasions in the space of a half-hour TV show.
Call me ‘old school’ if you like but I’m sure you can quote your own examples.
Half Time Orange, Anyone?
It’s Sunday the first of May, Bank Holiday Monday tomorrow and we’ve been enjoying a typical British spring.
A bit of sun, lots of showers and the occasional frost. We’re almost exactly half way through the Luddite season already. That milestone begs answers to four simple questions:
- Have they spawned yet?
- If the answer is NO, then please explain why on earth we stopped river fishing 6 weeks ago, back in March when it was practically winter and the rivers were high?
- If the answer is YES then that’s excellent news. Can we start fishing again, please?
- Or has this whole charade and bluster got absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with protecting spawning fish?
Folk are very, very afraid of change even though Blind Pugh wearing a blindfold in a dark room at midnight can see the closed season is not fit for purpose.
Change is good for us. Change makes things better. I don’t want a revolution, I simply want sensible, well-thought out evolution.
Answer me this. What would you do if you weren’t so afraid of change?
Oh well, I’m done with the spawny perch and pike now. That means it’s getting towards the perfect time to set your sights on some spawny tench. Enjoy those sensational headlines featuring fat bellied tincas over the next month or so and don’t forget to be suitably impressed.
I do hope I’ve made my feelings perfectly clear. I do not support the status quo on rivers or on stillwaters. Nor does logic, custom or indeed practise. We’ve got this whole damn mess hopelessly wrong and defending any part of it does no-one, especially the fish, any favours. It’s completely bonkers!
Time for our leaders to stand up and be counted.
Tour de Wot?!!!
Sticking with the bicycle theme, my house will probably have featured on TV before you read this. I’m expecting helicopter TV cameras to hover overhead and pry into my neatly manicured garden, the nosey bast**ds!
Why will they do this? Because the Tour de Yorkshire will sweep by my front gates sometime on Sunday 30th April, just where a village preservation area gives way to open fields ‘neath a local landmark, The Craggs.
No doubt this will involve road closures lasting 12 hours or more so I’ll either have to go out for the day or suffer being a hostage to the lycra louts.
We even have a yellow bicycle attached to an electricity pole in the paddock, bunting strung from lamp posts and trees wrapped in blue and yellow scarves. I kid you not. Takes littering to a whole new level.
Whilst on the subject of lunatics, the Fred Bonney imposter I mentioned in a previous blog still attempts to post ‘witty’ messages beneath each blog I publish. Just goes to show how addictive they must be as he never misses one!
No matter how thick this individual clearly is you would think that at some point he’d realise none of his messages can be published unless I personally sanction them. I am the gatekeeper. The administrator. The webmaster.
Then again, I suppose it would be asking far too much that he might actually ‘get a life’ of his own. That would involve using his brain.
No disrespect to Fred Bonney intended, but if you or I were to choose someone to impersonate out of a world population exceeding 7 billion I’m sure we could find someone far more attractive and exciting than Fred. Ergo, choosing Fred as an alter ego shows one is pretty limited in ambition or you have a rather unhealthy obsession with Fred.
Either way, one has to feel rather sad for this fellow.
The Footie Bit
On the subject of sad things I suppose it would be rude not to mention football. As I write it’s April 12th, but I’m off to Sri Lanka tomorrow so this section is more prediction than observation. Let’s start with Fergie. No, not old big nose, I’m talking Ferguson Jnr.
Following a poor start to the season under Paul Dickov, Darren Ferguson was appointed as manager of Doncaster Rovers in October 2015. By the 2nd January 2016, following a remarkable reversal of fortunes under the new Messiah, Rovers reached the heady heights of 11th place in League One, scoring for fun and talk was of getting to the play-offs by making up the 6 points required from the remaining 21 games. It sounded perfectly reasonable having won 6 and drawn 2 of the previous 10 games.
A sixty per cent win rate put ‘our’ Fergie on a par with Ranieri with Leicester and Pelligrini with Man City. Better than Venger’s record at Arsenal. Significantly better than Pochetino with Spurs, Van Gaal with Man U and Klopp at Liverpool.
It was a realistic goal.
Unbelievably Donny haven’t won a single game since then. In fact they picked up just 2 points from their next 14 league games. That’s right, only 2 points from a potential 42 with table-topping Wigan up next.
By the time you read this Donny will probably have been relegated and I simply can’t believe it! No-one could possibly have seen that coming at Christmas. Not even the most bitter Peterborough fan.
Oh well, failure appears to be flavour of the month in the Ferguson dynasty. Didn’t his dad appoint this feller?
Van Gaal finally puts the Jose rumours to bed
Posted by JOE.co.uk on Sunday, 10 April 2016
I’ve absolutely no doubt that Leicester will have wrapped up the league by now. You have to take off your hat to them. A team that arrived in the Premiership as an ugly, diving, cheating bunch of referee hoodwinking penalty merchants has transformed into a quite delightful butterfly.
Unfortunately butterflies don’t seem to hang around for too long. Next season will be a massive test even if they manage to hang on to their star assets, which is unlikely.
I perhaps should explain my highlighting of penalties because there appears to be a remarkable statistical aberration. So far this season West Ham have been awarded only one penalty. Arsenal and Liverpool, just two. Leicester have had TEN! That’s at least twice as many as anyone else in the Premiership baring Man City(6).
In the season they were promoted they were awarded no less than 14 penalties – the very last one of which resulted in the relegation of Doncaster Rovers.
They say these things even out but 29 penalties in less than 3 seasons? One of which was spent fighting relegation. Am I missing something? Can this really be coincidence?
Spurs and Swansea didn’t get a single penalty between them in 2012/3. West Ham have only been awarded 9 in the PAST 5 YEARS!
But enough of the glamour clubs, what about Rotherham United? Their survival in the Championship against truly overwhelming odds must be one of, if not THE greatest escape of all time. Credit where credit’s due, from someone who expected to be playing against them next season rather than being two divisions apart, they’ve pulled off a miracle under Warnock. Six wins and two draws in the last 8 matches has seen them rise like a phoenix from the ashes.
And Barnsley. Back on Boxing Day they were one point above bottom club Colchester, staring down the barrel of the relegation gun. Today they’re one spot off the play-offs and fresh from winning the Johnson’s Paint Trophy at Wembley.
Sheffield Wednesday are in a play-off place and could yet make it to the promised land of the Premiership. What?!!!
The only crumbs of comfort I can cling to are that Sheffield United have blown it yet again and Dean Saunders is out of a job. Yes, it could be worse. Folk in Doncaster still rate him as a manager!
And how on earth can Leeds United, with a raving lunatic crook for an owner and Fatty Arbuckle in charge of the team be in better place than we are. It defies logic.
Where did it all go wrong?
I’ll tell you. Two years ago on the final day of the 2013/4 season at Leicester City. 1-0 (penalty).
Oh well, that’s your lot till the next blog. Tight lines or, if you’re a closed season supporter, good decorating. 😉