At midnight tonight many rivers across England will echo to the splashes of heavy swimfeeders crashing onto swirling waters, hurled out in anticipation of the season’s first barbel (Boris, Bertie, beard, prince, golden this, that or whatever you wish to call them), and chub, maybe bream, too, and carp. Nowhere will there be more splashes than on the River Trent, probably the UK’s premier (relatively) open access and affordable barbel river.
To many this will be deemed a glorious day, even if the fish have yet to recover from spawning, but let’s not get into that. I too will wet a line tomorrow. After all, I’ve been denied the chance of doing so for three long months. I don’t make the rules, I simply obey them.
Should any fish I catch show signs of being in poor condition then I will most probably pack up. One fish will be enough if truth be told. Just being by the river with a rod in my hand will be sufficient to make me happy. Indeed I shall fish one rod only, for that seems fitting on the 16th.
In spite of the imbalance of predation our river populations are suffering I do hope this is a season where anglers are able to achieve their dreams but above all I’d be most happy if anglers just fished sensibly.
Last winter I snagged up on someone else’s cage swimfeeder. Fortunately I managed to drag it out and oh boy, what a sight. It weighs over 10.5 ounces EMPTY. It came complete with leadcore leader, lead clip and a nylon hook link tied to what looked like a tiny size 14 hook. Hardly what I would call fish friendly or even practical.
I’m sure the creator of this instrument of torture regards himself as a fine angler. I’ll bet he’s caught loads of barbel to prove it, but come on. Is this what our dreams are reduced to?
Or is it simply a case of fish at any cost?
Please, enjoy your fishing sensibly and safely. That should apply to both you and the fish, but try and keep things in perspective. Let’s make this a season where we discover respect for fish and maybe each other – although as I write I’m adding riders to this sentence. Certain individuals (you know who you are) are exempt from any clemency!
I have a simple message: Respect the fish, respect the countryside and respect each other. I see no need for any more rules than that, do you?
But if your fishing enjoyment is measured by numbers and you think rigs like the ones pictured are fine and dandy providing you catch then it may just be that golf might suit you better.
PS: And don’t forget. From tomorrow and each Monday afterwards I will be publishing a fresh weekly article here on my web site. Don’t miss it.