Angling Now & Then – Part 2

Is anyone sick of reading about global warming yet? Apparently motor cars are the spawn of the devil and we’re all doomed. The Government and the tree huggers have united on a simple solution – punish the motorist or the planet will die!

It’s a little known fact that dinosaurs drove Toyotas which in turn caused the Arctic Circle to head south and engulf the entire Northern Hemisphere. Who’d have guessed that, eh? Perhaps rumours of meteors and volcanic explosions were simply thrown in just to spice up boring nights round the camp fire.
Of course Leicester was positively sub-tropical at the time but things quickly settled down and a few million years of pretty bland weather followed. Or so we’re led to believe.

Okay, the Thames was prone to freeze up in Dickens’ times but that was deemed to be great fun. Bonfires and ice skating in the shadow of St Pauls and not a motor car in sight. Certainly no-one seemed in the slightest bit perturbed by a bit of ice because in those days there were far more exciting things to get worked up about. Great plagues, famines, pestilence, agues and fantastic town fires. One wayward spark could easily burn down a few hundred buildings. And God forbid you should be accused of being a witch or heretic.

Global warming? Bring it on, they would have said, before feeding the messenger to a passing sabre toothed tiger.

These days we simply don’t have enough things to worry about, do we? So the scientists have decided to spice up our lives by telling us we’re all going to hell in a handcart. If the sun shines our planet is overheating and we’ll all die of skin cancer. Two frosty mornings and it’s get ready for an ice age. Summer floods? How long will it be before the red tops lead with a story of a baby being born with webbed feet. Warmer winters – better watch out for tornados.

Is it really all down to carbon emissions?

Barely a week goes by without some newspaper or magazine announcing the latest proof of impending doom and gloom, but do you know what? I’m further from being convinced than ever. I mean, what exactly will we do with the planet once it’s been saved? Bore each other to death?

So, if you are a concerned tree hugger, do you actually believe our weather has suddenly changed? Is it more extreme today than it was 25 years ago? Or do the media folk just like to exaggerate things on the off chance you might leave your car at home so they’ll have a better chance of finding a parking spot?

But is climate change actually happening or is the reporting of it being seriously exaggerated? Experts tells us the icecap is melting and that rising seas levels will soon swamp Norfolk. Well hang on, grab yourself a globe and compare the little white bit at the top with the vast expanses of blue. If the whole of the arctic was to disappear, by how much would the sea actually rise? Not a lot is the answer. It’s all scare mongering if you ask me.

A fishing diary is a wonderful way of comparing weather patterns because we tend to notice what’s happening. After all, fishing is affected greatly by the prevailing weather conditions. My diaries contain lots of little gems that would appear to contradict those who try and tell me that the weather is changing all of a sudden. Have a look at some of my entries from over two decades ago and make up your own mind…

Thursday 12th January
Whilst working at Loversall we spotted the first catkins of the year. The bushes are well and truly in bud. Only the fierce gales prevent this from being springtime.

Sunday 22nd January
After a week of gales and falling temperatures 4 inches of snow fell in an hour. So much for Springtime!

Saturday 4th February
Floods. The Trent is within a foot of coming over the wharf at Carlton – I give up!

Saturday 11th February
The weather today was marvellous, sun trying to break through, temperature around 50 degrees.

Saturday 3rd March
Winter returns, a Northerly gale puts white horses on the river, snow is blocking roads in the North.

Saturday 5th May
The drought continues…

Saturday 12th May
Six inches of fresh water from Thursday’s rain and a very hard frost…

Wednesday 11th July
Thunderstorms and torrential rain

Saturday 20th April
After a week of spring sunshine with temperatures approaching 70 degrees the temperature dropped a startling 30 degrees. Oxford v Cambridge cricket match cancelled due to snow.

Sunday 16th June
Dawn saw a ground frost.

Saturday 22nd June
Terrible day. Gale force winds and rain.

Sunday 5th September
Tonight’s forecast is for a ground frost in sheltered areas.

Sunday 3rd November
Overnight temperature down to minus 8 degrees Centigrade.

1st March
The coldest winter since 1947 – official. A fair bit of snow and terribly cold. The highest temperature recorded through the last two weeks of January and the whole of February was 3 degrees C.

Wednesday 27th August
More rain has fallen in the past 24 hours than on any August day since records began. More than 4 inches in some parts of Yorkshire. This is also now the coolest August on record.

Wednesday 15th October
A little rain fell yesterday ending the driest spell since 1947…

Thursday 30th October,
Gale force winds and periods of heavy rain. This was the kind of day that lunatics go out on…

11th January
Winter has hit us with a bang and it’s breaking all records. The highest temperature recorded at Ruskington (Lincs) today was minus 7.7 degrees C. it’s like Siberia!

12th January
A foot of snow – no kidding!

13th January
Even more snow!!!

Saturday 31st January
Ice flows made legering impossible. Surprise of the day was seeing another angler turn up.

29th June
Highest night time temperatures since records began.

11th September
Weatherman reports there have only been two dry Saturdays since the beginning of June…

Saturday 4th Aug
The end of a scorching week which has broken all records…

Saturday 8th December
Drifting snow, gales and blizzards. Didn’t make it to the Trent because snow brought down power cables and blocked the A1. Stuck in traffic jam for 4 hours.

Saturday 9th February
Match cancelled – 12 inches of snow. The big freeze is on.

So what’s changed? I sometimes wonder if all weathermen are sent on the same training course to learn magic phrases like ‘broken all records’, ‘since records began’ and ‘since 1947’. Recent courses have taught everyone to use the term ‘global warming’ at every opportunity and forthcoming courses will undoubtedly introduce ‘since the great floods of 2007’. All existing and potential weathermen and newscasters will be sent for refresher training.

My big regret is that I’ve failed to keep the diary going in recent years because I’m sure there would have been hundreds of entries just like this selection.

Call me a cynic if you like but I’m going to need an awful lot more convincing that we’re doomed. If anything the weather over the past few years has been more settled than it was twenty years ago but I’ve no doubt that some expert will claim that in itself is actually proof that global warming is accelerating.

Sorry guys, you eat your lentils and ride your bikes if you like but I’m off fishing and what’s more, I’m going in the car, global warming or no global warming!

However, this is a fishing magazine so let me give you some fishing advice.
If it’s raining, take a brolly.

If the river’s flooded, fish for barbel. Failing that, find some steady water and fish for bream.
Remember them shiny things – roach, I think it was we used to call them before the cormorants ate ‘em all.

Well, the big ‘uns love a lobworm when the water is high and coloured.
Of course, rain at this time of year is normally associated with rising temperatures and you may well catch a few unseasonal tench, not to mention early season carp.

If it’s freezing cold wrap up warm and target chub and grayling or maybe pike.
And finally, if there’s a foot of snow on the ground, stay in bed and give the missus a cuddle. She probably hasn’t seen much of you since the last ice age!

Declaration of Independence

There are plenty who mourn the passing of angling magazines from a bygone era. Anglers in my peer group recall the Seventies and Eighties with great fondness; Snide Rumours, Shining Times, Love Stories, Tales of Tydd and so on.

Those who are a decade older fawn over Walker, Stone and the Taylor brothers. And then there’s the really old buggers who believe the Caxton press should have been destroyed when Angling went bust!

From this we can deduce that anglers are influenced greatly by the publications they read in their twenties and thirties, which is not surprising really. It’s the age at which we are most eager to learn, to develop and improve; the age when we set out on a voyage of discovery, to new venues, often tackling exciting new species, adapting methods, tackle and making friends.

So what will anglers in their twenties gain from today’s angling press? Well, production values have never been better, that’s for sure. The photography in many cases is outstanding and the instructional content far outweighs what it ever did but this has been at the expense of the fun. Where has the fun and the humour gone?

Replaced by the culture of me, me, me. Pounds and ounces count for everything, so everyone fishes exactly the same venues for the same old fish. How boring is that?
Honestly, the accountants have taken over the asylum!

But something else has changed. There has been a significant shift from writing for entertainment towards writing advertorials. Some anglers can barely write a complete paragraph without including the name of at least one sponsor. Articles contain plug after plug and quite frankly it’s an insult to the readers’ intelligence.
There are those, and I can name names if you like because they know exactly who they are, who deliberately set out to mention certain products in their articles to please their sponsors. Plugging for pike has taken on a whole new meaning in some quarters.

There are a few who will say practically anything for a shilling, singing whatever tune the piper calls for at the expense of their own credibility.

There are those who are trying to build a reputation and are obviously being provided with a few bits of equipment, or are getting tackle at a reduced price. Their motivation is to plug, plug and plug away, hoping one day to earn a deal with their benefactor.

And then there are those who own the company and are just trying to claim a bigger share of the market.
I have no real problem with these motives providing it doesn’t detract from the content of the article and it is written with a degree of independence and sincerity.
If only that were true!

So, is there a better way? I think so. Wouldn’t it be better if writers had to declare their associations with sponsors in the same way that politicians are expected to declare their interests. I make no bones of the fact that I am a Daiwa consultant. I am involved in tackle development with Daiwa. I am not in the pocket of any other manufacturer although I have many excellent (non-exclusive) relationships with companies like Drennan, ESP, Fox, Kryston, Korda, Korum, Enterprise, Dynamite, Mistral, Dinsmores, Preston Innovations, Pallatrax, Gold Label, Carp’R’Us, Delkim and several others.

By not tying up with them and only using those products I specifically choose I am able to maintain total independence and honesty. If I name a product in an article it is because I using it by choice.
How do you feel? Would you like to see more openness and honesty in the press and see writers declare their sponsorship links at the foot of each article?

Weapons Of Mass Instruction

Is it just me or does anyone else find the way that the majority of Internet forum posters will jump at any opportunity to knock angling magazines and newspapers in tedious, repetitive threads.
Poster A: “I gave up reading the papers years ago. Sometimes I’ll steal a look at one when I’m in the supermarket but I’d never buy one, they’re full of rubbish!”
Poster B: “I agree with Poster A. Absolute garbage. There’s never anything in them worth reading.”
Poster C: “I agree with Poster A and Poster B. There’s nothing original in the press.”
Of course the irony of their unoriginal affirmations is completely lost on them.
Poster D: “The dayz of the printed media is numbered. The internet is the fuetcher. We now has 200,000 members. Get used 2 it allr8?”

By members he – it’s invariably a ‘he’, isn’t it(?) – means ‘part of a society’ rather than a limb or a penis. Mind you, on second thoughts…

But if there are 200,000 members why is it the same two dozen who post all the time and could these prophets of doom be missing the point entirely?

The purpose of the printed angling media is to educate. They are our weapons of mass instruction. They can be picked up and read by anyone, angler and non-angler alike. Like it or not, web sites are insular, read only by those who are already converted.

Leave an angling magazine on your desk at work and the chances are a non-angler will flick through it sooner or later. Colleagues tend to show an interest in what you get up to. Some are intrigued enough to give angling a go.
That is something that Internet sites can never replicate.

Playing To Type
As I’m having a rant at SOME Internet posters, let’s consider that oft-repeated moan, “Why are the papers full of the same old faces. Why don’t they give me a regular column instead? I’ve published loads of stuff on the net…”
To one such poster I responded rather acidly, stating that there’s a world of difference between typing and writing! Perhaps not the best way to make friends and influence people but isn’t it strange that these posters, who are so keen to decry the print medium, are just gagging to be part of it?
The Internet gives every budding writer a fabulous opportunity to hone his (or her) skills. It allows them to make their mistakes in a less than demanding arena because it’s free.
My advice to anyone wishing to break into writing today is they contribute to the web. Prove you can write, be happy to reveal your depth of character and knowledge, then catch your fish at a leisurely pace, establish a following, develop your photographic skills and then approach the publication that best suits your style.
Publishing on the Internet is easy. It’s playing at it. Your peers will all slap you on the back and say, “Well done!”
Until you actually take step over to the dark side, that is. Matt Brown’s debut article in the Angling Times, a good piece of copy by the way, was leapt on by one caustic Internet poster who complained it contained nothing revolutionary. So much for one geek’s claim that he doesn’t read the weekly papers then…
And if that’s not bad enough, be warned, delivering the goods week-in and week-out is much harder than you think and greater anglers than you or I have learned to their cost just why the Bowlers, Hayes and Little’s can hold down weekly columns at the highest level.
Dedication, determination and class, yet they still get treated like everyone’s Aunt Sally.
It’s a funny old game.

Brought To Book

Hat’s off to Tom O’Reilly. Who, you say?

Well, Tom is a bit of an unsung angling hero. He launched the Little Egret Press a few years back and has been turning out a steady stream of limited edition angling books ever since.
The books have ranged from the whimsical to the deadly serious via classic reprints of authors like Dick Walker, Jack Hilton and BB. Throw in major players like Peter Wheat, Bill Quinlan, Bob Buteux, Jim Gibbinson and Tony Miles, plus lesser known names, though no less worthy, like Leighton McDonald and Dave Tipping.
Oh, and I should mention that Tom has published four of his own works and contributed line drawings to all of them. What’s more most of them sit proudly on my bookshelves.

And just when you think you know what to expect, he comes up with two more books that are simply quite special, a new book from Dick Walker, Spin Me A Line, and Tony Miles’ 50 Years On The Ouse.
Walker’s book, which has contributions from Fred J Taylor, Peter Maskell and Pat Walker is subtitled, Fishing For Fun. It’s a collection of tales about the exploits of Walker and his pals, that he and Fred J began writing in the 1980’s but it was never finished due to Walker’s illness.

Now it is, and it will fly off the shelves. The first edition is limited to 750 copies and costs £24.95 so you had better look sharp if you want one.
Miles’ book is an altogether different kettle of fish. It’s a serious work, a weighty tome, charting a remarkable career on one of the UK’s finest rivers.
It charts how this river has changed from the days when Walker fished there. Indeed, the last time Tony and I fished together it was on Walker’s stretch and I was privileged to weigh and photograph his biggest chub in 25 years. It’s hard to believe that in some strange way, our cosmic fates are not all interwoven, predetermined even.

Living in Yorkshire one can only envy those who have lived within striking distance of the Great Ouse especially during the past decade when it produced massive perch, huge chub and record barbel. Even Walker would have been astonished, and that’s to ignore the roach, carp, tench, bream and pike potential.
I doubt any angler alive could honestly resent Tony’s Ouse successes. He’s fished with such dedication that even a Yorkshireman like me is prepared to doff his cap. Much of it was on his own, in the dark, come hell or high water. And he’ll still be fishing there while ever he has the strength to drag his tackle to the furthest flung swims.

Again this edition is limited to 750 copies and costs £29.95

There will be 30 leather bound copies of each book available at £165.

For more information you can contact the Little Egret Press, Port Eliot Estate, St Germans, Cornwall, PL12 5ND. Tel: 01503 232800 email: or you might like to check out the publisher’s web site for the whole of Little Egret’s catalogue.

Power To The People

For the past 30 years I’ve lived in a property that looks out over the Dearne Valley. When I moved there the river, a tributary of the Don, was recovering from a Century of pollution. The demise of the coal mining industry kick-started a startling recovery and by the early Eighties I was catching fish. What’s more a mere handful of us had it all to ourselves.

The early years were fantastic, not so much for what we caught, which in truth wasn’t an awful lot, but just because we could. At first it was minnows and the odd small chub, perhaps an occasional trout, a roach or two and even a few little carp.

But the fishing came on at a rate of knots and as I explored different areas, so my results improved. Soon I was catching bream to 4lb and some cracking roach, the biggest going 1lb 12oz. Of course you can’t keep catches like that quiet for long and pretty soon it was standing room only.
Being a free fishery litter was, and still is, a perennial problem and then, just to top it all, barbel were introduced. Now I gather some syndicates get rather upset by a bit of litter and they will kindly take over a barbel fishery and rid it of the evil regulars, but the fishing here isn’t that much to write home about, so I guess their public spirited efforts will be directed towards other projects.

Anyway, for now, the locals have it all. At least they did until signs appeared thirty metres above and below the power cables that cross the river high above the hottest barbel swims stating, ‘No Fishing – High Voltage Cables’.

Laugh? I could have cried. But hey-ho, it’s not as though I actually fish there any more. But it’s the principle.

Definitely a paradise lost.

But are you aware that these warning signs can be challenged? I certainly didn’t until I watched John Haddon, Public Safety Health Advisor for eDF Energy, at the Peterborough Tacklefest show last summer, demonstrating what happens when you wave a carbon pole near overhead cables.
If you’ve not seen it I can tell you it’s quite dramatic and certainly makes you think about the risks involved but like all rules, one size doesn’t fit all. A cable strung ten metres above ground is clearly a greater risk than one that’s 25 metres high.

John explained that individual sites can be risk assessed and where appropriate the distance denied to anglers reduced. If you have a fishery that is unfairly affected you can call in the professionals. Why not give him a call on 07875 114050. He’ll be more than happy to offer some sound, practical advice.