When it’s cold and the rivers are out-of-sorts, catching anything is often a bonus. Winter isn’t easy and it’s easy to become depressed. I usually try and mix things up a bit, fishing different rivers, targeting different species, using different baits and methods. Change keeps your mind active and if all else fails there’s always the commercial alternative or a trip down the canal for variety.
Doesn’t mean I always take the easy option, indeed I didn’t exactly fancy my chances when I kicked off the month with a short barbel session. Yes, the river had a drop on and was carrying a tinge of colour but the temperature was way down. Strong winds hardly raised my enthusiasm but sometimes you take a chance.
It will come as no surprise to learn that I was fishing pretty close to the car park. An hour or so in and the right hand rod tip bounced like a good-un before springing back. Hmmm, if Mr Chub’s at home then who knows, my chances of a barbel might be better than I anticipated.
Indeed Mr Chub was at home and he eventually hung himself on my half-boilie rig. Not a big fish but an encouraging start.
A short while later the same rod exploded into life and this was no chub. I was attached to my first barbel of the year. Not for too long though, as my hook link was shredded on a submerged snag. I will admit here that I might have sworn quitely, sort of muttered a few choice profanities under my breath. Not that there was anyone to be offended within miles of me.
Damn! That was unlucky. Probably my one big chance. B_&%*$!!!^!!
Not so, apparently. The tip soon hooped over again and I was into another barbel. And guess what? This one snagged up! Fortunately a change of angle and a determined heave lifted up its nose and it was game on again. Not a monster but who really cares? Some folk get lucky and only seem to hook big barbel. I happen to excel at pest control.
Oh well. A good sign of things to come, I hope.
On The Level – Give Credit Where It’s Due
The Environment Agency has made significant changes to its river levels site and quite frankly I cannot believe the twitterati set are moaning a bucketload on angling forums. Why am I not surprised? Have they bothered to investigate what’s now available?
‘Back in the day’ – if I dare use that overworked and meaningless cliché – we used to ring up the local water authortity and pay premium phone rates to listen to a recorded message telling us what the recent levels were. Unfortunately you had to hang on the line for ages before they got around to the river you were interested in to learn:
‘At 6-o-clock yesterday morning the River Trent at Colwick Sluice was 1.26 metres and rising…’
Then came the computer age and we got the old EA site which went national and gave details for the past 48 hours, updated approximately every 3 hours. Much better.
Smart anglers then moved over to the Angling Trust version when it launched because it provided a 5-day rolling trend graph. Much better! Even if the ‘Current Level’ icon was in the worst possible place, frequently obscuring the very detail you were looking for – stick it top left guys – doesn’t take a genius to work that out, surely?
Now we have the revamped EA data and frankly I haven’t a clue what the twatterati are moaning about. Wake up and smell the coffee guys! The new site is absolutely brilliant – if you bother to interrogate the data.
Now we have hourly updates on current levels, details of the past 7 days, past month, the high, low and median for each day, if the river is rising or falling, flood warnings, nearby locations and all available in one place.
Guys, it’s not just good, it’s brilliant! Just make sure you follow the correct link. Click on the map above if you like and save it to your bookmarks.
Oh, hang on, I forgot. Many of these moaners still prefer cane and pins, goose quills and gentles. Hang on, I’m starting to get it now. Doh! Silly me. I overlooked the fact they’re probably still living ‘back in the day’. 😉
Now if the Environment Agency would like a little free consultancy advice, here goes. Please, please, please can we have water temperature details? That, more than the levels, would take fishing planning to another level – for every single thinking river angler out there.
What A Blanker
I’m a blanker! There, you have it. I’ve been called worse. Often. But right now I can’t catch fish for toffee.
Last week when the river was in perfect nick I had the car all loaded up ready for a zander session. Ten more minutes and I’d have been on my merry way. Then my good lady cried out in pain.
Make that agony.
She’d twisted and pulled something in her back. Couldn’t move. Oh dear. In the words of Joe Strummer, ‘Should I stay or should I go now…’ Of course, I couldn’t go.
At least I’d not set off.
And that pretty much tied me down for the best part of a week. And just when I felt it was fair to bogey off and do my thing, the river levels shot up like a North Korean rocket. Bingo. Barbel time!
At least I thought it would be. Alas I strutted my stuff to no avail. Blanking in good company but we were all blanking just the same.
‘First time I’ve blanked all season!’ Said the guy a little way down the bank from me as he packed his gear away.
No-one seemed to be catching anything. It’s that temperature thing. Rising – brilliant. Single digits and falling – grit your teeth. But I’ll give it 48 hours. By then the fish might have acclimatised, the levels stabilised, the colour slightly better, the volume of trees and dead sheep floating by diminished and the number of swims where it is actually possible to cast out without losing terminal gear galore increases. I hope.
Roll on Friday.
On’t ‘Eritidge Trail…
Thursday morning provided a reminder that winter is still with us but it didn’t take long for the bright sunshine to burn away any lingering frost. Blue skies and light winds promised a perfect February day, so I took a walk round an old stomping ground, Worsborough Reservoir, near Barnsley.
Wusbrugh (as old Ray Tinkler used to say) is legendary in the same way that Highbury was. A backdrop to history. So many past glories. Reputations forged and enhanced. Fantastic memories. Well there’s no football played at Highbury any more and there ain’t much fishing done at t’Rez these days either, or so it would seem. With the sole exception of a lone carp angler, who was just setting up in the early afternoon (‘appen after the bailiff ‘ad dun ‘is rounds), the place was completely deserted.
And still the sun shone. It was positively balmy on’t Kips bank. Blackthorn, cherry and snowdrops were all out. So were one or two dog walkers. The Tarn’s anglers weren’t.
Such a shame. Although Barnsley and District are running open matches on Sundays and Wednesdays, mind.
Missing The Craic
In a short while I shall be jetting off on another high seas adventure and quite frankly I’m not really looking forward to it. This may be my last ‘adventure’ for a while. I’ve done most of the trips I need to do. Going back and doing them again is rather boring to tell the truth. The excitement and anticipation diminishes second time around. I’m jaded.
Unfortunately I’ve come to the conclusion that paying someone several thousand pounds just so I can hold up a trophy fish doesn’t make me a star. It makes me a knob! I’m not the expert. My guide or skipper is. And he’s probably struggled to keep a straight face as he watched me perform my heroics. I’m just massaging my ego!
Meanwhile I run the risk of alienating a lot of people who normally enjoy reading or watching my stuff because they can’t possibly afford it, aren’t interested in a fish they are never going to catch unless they win the lottery and indeed they really would rather catch a chub, a barbel, or a carp.
Yes, but you get your string pulled! Indeed I do, but it’s a bit like masturbation. It’s not necessarily good form to brag about what you’ve been up to.
To a degree it’s like telling Wayne Rooney he could have loads more fun playing rugby instead of football because he’d be able to kick the ball higher rather than trying to keep it under the crossbar. Remember Spinal Tap’s turn it up to eleven?
Right now, blue water fishing feels like I’m fooling myself into believing that I’m ‘going up to eleven’ and everyone out there will be impressed. They won’t. It’s Mickey Mouse.
Think about it. When you watch an episode of Total Fishing for the umpteenth time do you switch channels at the 20-minute mark because you’re not actually interested in the Cuba bit?
If you’re of a certain age, did you not love the early John Wilson programmes when he fished the Wensum and the Norfolk Broads? Did you start to yawn when he started globetrotting? When he lost touch with the REAL common man’s game.
What was the biggest criticism of the recent Earth’s Wildest Waters angling programme on the Beeb? That it had absolutely nothing to do with REAL fishing.
Why did The Big Fish-Off provoke such hostility? Because it was all Joey Essex, orange skin, reality show characters, look at me folks I’m famous, crap. It had nothing in common with REAL angling.
The most entertaining personality we have on the box, fishing-wise, is without doubt Robson Greene. So why do so many normally rational angling folk have such a festering dislike for him? Is it because he’s poncing around the world, presumably at the viewers expense, purporting to be an angler and it’s not REAL?
It’s not like any of the fishing I’ve done abroad is actually new, revolutionary or groundbreaking. I’m not a pioneer. I’m the guy paying for a ticket on a roller coaster ride. It’s Disneyland fishing and is only better than paying someone to let you shoot a trophy lion to massage your ego because we practise catch and release. We put ’em all back alive, don’t we?
Except that isn’t quite true. I’ve seen a 400lb marlin dragged on board, over the gunwhale, practically breaking the fish in half. Four anglers then spent the next 10 minutes tugging away at the fish to photograph it and themselves from every angle imaginable. And film it with multiple video cameras.
Amazingly it died. What a shocker, eh? Ah, but they were just a bit giddy and excited so that’s alright. It sickened me to my stomach. Perhaps it was just a one-off?
Who are we kidding here?
The Hull Truth web site has a forum thread dedicated to the blood and gore associated with ‘sport’ fishing. Have a good look and tell me if this is how you imagined it to be?
Comments on the image above include: ‘Serious blood on the deck! I love it!’, ‘NICE.’ ‘Time to get a bigger kill bag!’ and ‘Oh hell yeah!!’
There’s a hugely popular blue water web site called bdoutdoors. The clue’s in the ‘bd’ bit. It stands for Bloody Decks. Yep, that’s right, the more blood you spill the more likes you get.
You know what? I really miss fishing in France. I miss fishing in Ireland even more. I’m a freshwater angler who occasionally dabbles in the sea. I’m pretty good at catching carp, and barbel, and perch, and zander. I also think I’m a pretty good chub angler and there’s something special about catching bream. And I don’t need to kill ’em to boost my ego.
I might change my mind when the time comes around, but right now I’d be a whole lot more excited if I was heading over the Irish Sea to tackle one of the massive loughs than heading for the Indian Ocean. I never thought I’d ever say that but my roots are calling. It’s time to stop deluding myself.
If I want a serious challenge, if I want to battle against true odds, then I’ll just walk down the lane to my local river.
Catching from here takes a whole lot more skill and determination and if truth be told it’ll gain you a load more Brownie points with those ‘friends’ (strangers) on social media that we’re all so desperate to impress these days.
PS: Please, please like me… 🙁
Rattus Norvegicus – The Comeback
No, they’re not re-releasing the Stranglers’ 4th album, I’m talking about the ingenious furry brown bastards that have yet again found their way into my tackle store. Mice is one thing but these Rattus barstewards are not funny. They can do serious damage.
I thought I heard rustling on one of the high shelves. And I spotted a few turds that could not possibly have been deposited by a mouse and then I bloody saw one. Brazen as you like. Time to send for Uncle John (Greenacres Vermin Control).
John soon discovered the point of entry. It was where the mains power cable comes up through the floor. I had filled that same hole last year with a bucket load of aggregate but rats are clever. And patient.
Every last stone had been removed from the hole, piece by piece. Unbelievable. Time for a serious feast with knockout consequences. John filled the hole with a block of poison so big the only way in was to eat their way through it. A week later they’d eaten every last morsel!
I’m hoping they’re done for. The hole is now concreted over. Traps and poison trays are in place should there be any survivors.
In the meantime, if you are one of the majority who have stashed their gear until the weather picks up, maybe you should be giving your gear the once over. Just in case you too have visitors.
We’ve just witnessed the fastest Trent rise and fall of the season. The level shot up dramatically and then it dropped like a stone. This had me scrambling to find a window to get down there. Forget the fact it had been frosty two mornings on the trot and the wind had swung round to the East, surely old Boris would be having a munch?
The river was still up mind, and the colour of builders’ tea, but I genuinely felt I was in with a great chance. I was wrong. The only bite of the session, two hours into darkness, produced a bream. No sign of barbel at all; no bites, no liners, no splashy rolls, nothing.
I did however take the opportunity to do a bit of exploring during the afternoon and discovered a number of new horny looking swims that I just have to drop back in on and have a go for chub, maybe a barbel, potentially a zander and most definitely a pike or three.
Trouble is, there’s only 4 weeks of the season left and I don’t need Einstein to tell me that time ain’t linear. It’s gonna speed up like an express train soon. Always does at this time of year, just before the closed season debates begin…
I do miss the camaraderie of the old NEC angling exhibitions. One suspects greed killed them off. The huge cost of exhibiting, entrance fees, parking and silly food and drink costs combined to drive away tackle companies and visitors alike.
Do you for one second think that when Coldplay strut their stuff at Glasto this summer they’ll be paying the organisers for the privilege of being there? No, and nor will Adele, or AC/DC. So why should Daiwa and Korda shell out £20,000 and more for the privilege of drawing in a crowd for someone else to profit from? Where’s the incentive?
I could wax lyrical about how shows might be run, where the company could afford to give away stuff to punters, offer mega competition prizes and so on, but under the old model it was financial nonsense.
One show that appears to be filling the void is The Big One down in Farnborough where over 180 exhibitors will be showing their wares on 19th and 20th March. Tickets and parking are reasonably priced – half day tickets only cost a fiver – and maybe that goes some way to explaining why it drew in some 17,000 punters last year.
I’m heading there for the first time in March along with the rest of the Daiwa team so if you happen to be going please drop by and say hello. You’ll find I don’t bite – not unless you’re a troll, of course!
The show is the brainchild of Vince Davies and can trace its origins back 30 years to what was practically a car boot sale at Thorpe Park which, like Topsy, simply ‘growed and growed’!
Vince is a very clever salesman. I recall bumping into him many moons ago at a Chatsworth House Country Fair where he’d spent the whole of Saturday trying to sell a batch of baitrunner reels for the knock-down price of £50. They were brand new, with spare spools, all in glossy boxes and an absolute steal at the price.
No-one wanted to know. He couldn’t give ’em away.
The following day he came up with a stroke of inspired genius that has stuck in my mind ever since. He stripped the reels from their boxes, chucked them in a dustbin and scrawled ‘Clearance Reels – £50′ on a bit of day-glo card.
Punters fell over themselves to snap up every last one proving beyond doubt that to be successful in business you must understand your customer’s mentality and it doesn’t matter what you sell but how you sell it.
Which explains why it doesn’t exactly surprise that he’s turned a parochial boot sale into the UK’s biggest angling show. You can find more details on the Fishface Promotions web site.
Oh, Bless Him!
There’s little doubt that I’m an unsung hero when it comes to Care in the Community. For my sins it appears my secret role is to keep as many idiot anglers as possible off the streets and make sure their minds are fully occupied. Not that it’s an onerous task. The illiterate ones are each given a pint of maggots with a simple instruction, sort out the big ones from the little ones. It keeps them happy for hours.
The semi-literate ones are directed to this blog. It’s a tall ask expecting them to read some of the bigger words not to mention grasp the grander concepts but sadly most fail at the basic hurdle of simple comprehension. Take this fellow, for instance, who is clearly pretending to be Fred Bonney. Obviously it’s not Fred, who happened to be half way around the world on board a cruise ship, but we can safely say from the nom-de-plume that it narrows the demographic of the originator to a select handful of individuals.
As I say, comprehension isn’t the bloke’s strong point. He’s convinced himself I spent 3 days fishing the Wye when in fact, as anyone who read January’s Blog would understand, I didn’t even wet a line on the Wye – although I did spend a whole hour messing around on a flooded and heavily coloured River Irfon where I not surprisingly failed to catch a grayling.
Which apparently qualifies me as a ‘Toss’.
Unless of course I’ve completely misread the message. Perhaps it is indeed from some fellow (who’s obvious sobriquet ‘fred’ is lacking a capital F) who has himself just spent 3 days on the Wye without a bite, although he thinks he fished well and his real name is Toss (with a capital T).
Oh Bless him! Maybe he’d benefit from a few days coaching with Steve Pope.
But seriously, how cowardly must you be to bad mouth a person anonymously and then try to shift the blame onto an innocent party? Oh well, at least I’m no longer in any doubt as to whether there’s a layer of sludge at the bottom of the gene pool.
Rich? So Pay Some Bl**dy Tax!
Mark Zuckerberg reckons Facebook will grow to 5 Billion users by the year 2030, equal to more than half the world’s predicted population.
It has been estimated that each user of Facebook generates an income for the company of $12. Assuming that ratio can be maintained it means Facebook stands to be generating $60,000,000,000.00 per annum in 2030.
Between now and then, providing you are in full-time employment in the UK, there’s every chance you will have paid more in taxes than Facebook does. Surely that can’t be right, can it?
The same goes for Google, Amazon, Starbucks and a whole host of other top companies and their avoidance is perfectly legal. When is the UK government going to re-write the tax laws, close the loopholes and make this country a whole lot better off?
Carp – you love ’em or you hate ’em. To many, carp are the Antichrist, ruining every natural waterway in the country and spawning Frankenstein offspring for the unnatural ones. To others the carp is a creature of beauty, a deity to be worshiped. It takes all sorts, I guess.
Several facts cannot be argued against. Carp have breathed life into a dying match circuit, they’ve kept the trade buoyant, turned some folk into millionaires, boosted the economy, created countless jobs and given thousands without a job something to occupy their time. You might say by putting folks in tents for months on end they’ve even eased the housing crisis. Vote carp, I say. But shut the borders and keep all them foreign carps out!
Carp fishing has certainly invigorated the angling print industry. Ignoring the completely obscure, the game and sea sectors and the snooty up-yer-own-bum club, every popular angling magazine and newspaper carries endless articles about carp and how to catch them. We should be under no illusions, the carp revolution has saved several publishing houses from extinction.
Carp books and carp magazines don’t come cheap so the launch of a free online carp magazine has got to be welcome. I didn’t have room to fit in the launch of Talking Carp last time but my tardiness means you now have two issues to catch up on.
Will free magazines take off? The owners of the Independent must be hoping so. The Independent’s printing presses will grind to a halt next month as it becomes the UK’s first major online-only newspaper.
If carp don’t pull your string then don’t feel left out, maybe this brand new online magazine will. Aimed fairly and squarely at the commercial match and pleasure angler there’s a host of big names providing sound practical advice including Will Raison, Tom Pickering, Bob Nudd and Darren Cox.
Hard to believe that a 120-page mag can be yours for nothing but click on the image or click here to read it.
Allure Of The Lure
The UK has long lagged behind the USA and Europe when it comes to lure fishing but it’s catching on fast and this online magazine could not have been launched at a better time.
Again, you get top quality for a zero outlay. What could be better?
Age Is All Smoke And Mirrors
Like you, I suspect, my mental age doesn’t always reflect my real age. On the outside I’m visibly getting older while on the inside I’m barely half that age. How does that work, eh?
Last night I watched a fascinating TV programme where a bunch of pension-aged celebrites were packed off to India to see if the concept behind the Grand Marigold Hotel was actually viable. Once I’d got over how absolutely gorgeous Jan Leeming still looked at 74 – she’s single (and lonely) by the way – it became apparent that they too struggled to accept the number attached to their names.
Darts legend and fishing lake owner Bobby George offered the perfect solution when he said, ‘If you don’t want to grow old then don’t have any mirrors in your house. That way you can’t see yourself so you will only be as old as you feel on the inside.’
One has to wonder how the social media obsessed youth of today are going to cope with aging as they are constantly reminded of when they didn’t used to be fat, wrinkly and sagging through the endless selfie images they post. It’s likely to result in a lot of depression and someone in the US is bound to sue Facebook for emotional trauma, you watch!
In’t Good Old Days…
We all like a spot of nostalgia, don’t we? What a shame we haven’t got Youtube clips of Dick Walker or the Taylor Brothers fishing on the Ouse. Or Billy Lane float fishing. Well, at least we’ll always have a few modern heroes to fall back on.
Take Des Taylor, for instance. Here he is fishing on the Teme and the Severn for barbel. And please, don’t just troll it because you’re an arse, view it for what it is. This is how fishing was before everyone disappeared up their own backsides preaching their warped idea of fish care. It’s all well and good talking the talk about unhooking mats but I see barbel kept out of the water for far too long while modern day know-alls get all anal about accurate weighing, then taking pictures and if the fish is really unlucky, digging out a video camera.
Stones and glasshouses spring to mind.
More from the Master
Todd Moen is arguably the best angling film maker on the planet. An absolute master of his craft and he gets ‘it’. He understands what it is that inspires us. We don’t want superstars, we don’t want endless branding pushed down our throats, we don’t want laddish louts, we simply want to be enthralled, we want to see the bite, empathise with the frustration of a lost fish and we want to feel as though we are actually there in magnificent surroundings. We just want more like this…
The Footie Bit
At the beginning of February Gary Neville’s Valencia lost 7-0 to Barcelona.
When appointed head coach 3 months previous he spoke bravely about qualifying for the Champions League. Fine words indeed but 3 months later and without a single victory Valencia are 20 points off the pace. Indeed they’ve just gone 12 games without a La Liga win. More importantly they’re now only 4 points above the relegation places. Three points or less separate Valencia from the 4 teams immediately below them, three of which have a game in hand. Neville hardly needs me to point out he badly needs a win.
He won’t exactly thank me for pointing out there’s a massive difference between identifying what is going wrong on the pitch from the comfort of a TV studio and actually doing something about it when you’re in the hot seat.
He’s not the first pundit to find that out the hard way and that maybe there’s a little bit more to the job of man management than stating the bleeding obvious, swiping an iPad and quoting Opta Stats.
He won’t be the last either.
Brian Clough was never deemed suitable to fulfill the role as England coach. The worrying thing is that Neville still is.
Still with us? Well done! It has been another marathon, I agree. But fun, all the same! Time to wrap up.
It’s increasingly looking like the in-out-shake-it-all-about referendum will now take place on June 23rd. Can’t come soon enough for me. Enough is enough. This is not what we bought into.
The outcome is supposedly in the balance but gut feeling tells me the vote will be overwhelmingly in favour of leaving. Our man on the Clapham Omnibus is beginning to confuse the EU gravy train with FIFA and that’s pretty bad. EU President Donald Tusk appears to be resigned to us leaving and is showing signs of concern.
Of course he is. It’ll leave a huge hole in his ‘Let’s-all-have-a-jolly-good-time-at-someone-else’s-expense fund’. And if there’s a Brexit you can bet your bottom dollar others will rapidly follow.
Europe is in a mess. A tidal wave of turmoil is upon us. Terrorists galore have walked in unchallenged, masquerading as refugees. Gangs of migrants are molesting, raping, and robbing. Bleeding nations dry. Putting impossible burdens on housing, social services, hospitals, dentists, schools and more. Politicians appear to want to sweep all this under the carpet and pretend it’s not a big deal.
It cannot go on unchallenged. It will not affect the rich and the super rich. Only the working classes will truly suffer. Twas ever thus and the Eton brigade will continue to smirk and slap each other on the back while they quaff their subsidised Chablis in the House Of Commons Bar before deciding which of their state funded residences they will retire to that evening in a taxi paid for by a road sweeper.
Meanwhile Germany’s poster girl, Angela Merkell gave an audience to George Clooney in order that he might explain how Hollywood can help ease her crisis. He presumably told her it’s probably not a good idea to throw open all the neighbours’ doors and windows and post an invitation to a party on Facebook without asking if they mind. Especially when they’re expected to foot the bill.
And if things couldn’t get more stupid, Donald Trump gets another step closer to the White House. Sometimes it seems like the entire world is ruled by idiots, oblivious to the fact that out here in the suburbs Rome is indeed burning.