Can you believe it’s autumn already? It seemed as though the summer would just go on forever but a glance along the hedgerows tells me otherwise. Take a look at these images I snapped on October 1st. Who needs to visit New England in the Fall?
I guess ‘old’ England will do us fine this year…
But I’m racing ahead. It was a refreshing change to have a trip out with Matt Brown towards the end of September. Since I started making the Barbel Days And Ways DVDs with Stu Walker our opportunities to fish together have been limited somewhat but I’m sure we’ll put that right in the near future.
We didn’t have a lot of time available so we dropped down to the Trent and I pointed him towards what I believed to be a good peg. It’s one I’ve fished before with success but it just didn’t turn out to be.
Now whether someone upriver had decided to flailmow the banks and fire all the crap straight into the river I don’t know but debris was floating down constanlty throughout our session and it wasn’t what you would call fun. Within two or three minutes of casting out our lines would be trimmed up and I hate that. Fish can hear the noise created, of that I’m certain, and it messes with your presentation but the constant reeling in and recasting upwards of 20 times an hour between the two rods cannot be good.
Matt rang me the following day to say, “I’ve done your trick!”
Apparently he’d driven 50 miles to do a recce-come wandering session on a small river we sometimes fish in winter. He’d left his reels at home which coincidently is exactly what I did two winters back (2 years! – where does the time go?). Ambitions dashed he decided to use his time fish spotting as the low clear conditions should at least allow him see a few roach. He’d also come up with a plan that involved threading a length of line through his rod rings with the end secured at the butt with some pole elastic not unlike the puller method used on short carp poles. It didn’t sound ideal but at least he might catch a fish or two, providing he didn’t run into a troublesome chub.
I think Matt finished up with two early baths in two days.
I then lost a week due to a Whitby trip, helping out on a primary school residential. Managing twenty-odd ten-year-olds is a right challenge I can tell you, especially when a number of them are autistic, but it’s nice to give something back voluntarily.
The key was to tire the buggers out and boy did we do that! The programme was constant and relentless with miles and miles of walking up and down the steep streets and steps. Unfortnately I had to limp round behind them having managed to break my little toe!
Having total strangers come up and compliment the kids on their behaviour and politeness is just about the greatest reward you can get. We hear far too much about the wrong kids these days and you’d be forgiven for thinking they’re all brats, but they’re not, far from it.
I came back completely shattered but desperately keen to go fishing but I couldn’t go until my weekly column was written and the next Coarse Fisherman article done, too. Goodbye Sunday and Monday!
We’ve certainly reached the point where a bit of rain wouldn’t go amiss. I can’t believe how low the Trent is or how clear. I stood there yesterday and could quite clearly see rocks that were six feet below the surface and that was without polarising specs.
I have this little idiosyncracy when I’m fishing and that’s to try and fish a new swim each time I go, but only on certain venues (that’s the weird bit). You see, there must be little hot spots out there, even within a swim there are hotspots, places where you will get a bite sooner and casting ten feet away can mean a long wait . It’s all about searching for the sweet spots.
So, I turned up at my usual early bird 10am and surveyed the river. Not a soul in site on either bank. Ditching the van I went walkabout and within 200 yards I had made three startling discoveries – three sunken trees that should make excellent chub holding features were exposed. I knew about one of these trees but not the other two. But where to fish today?
I watched three fish roll in a splashy manner that suggested they were barbel and decided that as I’d fished the area before I would ignore their kind invitation. It was a decision I was to later regret as I didn’t get so much as a single bite. By the time I had fed the swim and tackled up it was 11am. I was packing up and heading home by 3pm.
Maybe I should have just moved around but I was developing my first cold of the winter and had a streaming nose. I simply couldn’t be bothered to fish so I called it a day. No point in banging your head against a brick wall.
It’s worth noting that it’s a great time for the old twitchers to be out and about. Unfortunately I’m not a lot of use when it comes to identifying anything but the most common birds but on the last few trips I’ve observed flocks of plover-type birds, kind of waders if you like. They’re grey, have a darkened underside to their stubby tails, a straight pointed beak and they fly at great speed constantly changing direction. Can anyone suggest what they are? They’re bigger than a snipe but smaller than a lapwing.
I’ve also been kept amused by a kingfisher. On the narrower, tree-lined rivers you see kingfishers sitting on branches from which they fish. Suddenty there’s an irridescent blue flash followed by a ‘plop’ as they dive into the water. On the open reaches of the tidal Trent there are no trees so they hover like humming birds about six feet over the water. It’s remarkable to see if you get a chance.
My third and final bird observation involves kestrels. Normally you see them hunting alone but twice in the last week in two completely different locations I watched them hunting in pairs, each hovering not 20-thirty yards apart.
What made this observation unusual was that the kestrel to my left, whilst hovering quite low along the line where vegetation gives way to shingle, was mobbed and harried by two seagulls. The acrobatics attracted the attentions of two very black crows. Now the seagulls didn’t fancy this much and flew off but the crows persisted with their harassment. What followed was an amazing aerial display as the hawk ‘toyed’ with the nearest crow flying inches above its head, twisting and turning in unison with the crow’s now frantic movements.
Simple observations like this make you realise how fortunate we are as anglers to spend our leisure time in the countryside.
There was an email from Swordsey awaiting me when I got home. He’s been doing remarkably well despite the low water. Why? because the fish have shoaled up tight and he’s found a lair and it’s fair to say he’s been caning them. A few biggies amongst them, too. But that tells me I did the right thing by fishing a new area because how on earth do you drop on those mega swims if you don’t make the effort and move around.
I also had a message from Mark Barratt who tells me that the Fens are a struggle due to low water and crystal clear conditions. I fancy a trip after the old zeds soon but they’ll have to wait a while. Maybe I should change tack but I’ve had me barbel head on for so long now it’s hard to switch to anything else.
The local canals are an option and not just for shoal fish. Saying that I received a match report from a local club who had fished the Aire and Calder Canal. The top four weights were all over 11lb with a best of more than 15lb. Skimmers and roach to 8oz on maggot over groundbait seems to be the killing method. I quite fancy some of that.
I did hint that it’s not all shoal fish on the canals and my good friend Trev Empson tells me he’s just had a whacking great roach from, well, perhaps I won’t say where except it is a local canal. He had one over 2lb last year but this one was in a league apart. He had neither scales nor a camera with him as he’d only gone down to do a bit of roach bashing on the pole but he did manage to take a snap with his camera phone.
Now Trev’s not what you call a technophobe and until he caught this roach he didn’t even know he’d got a camera on his phone! I can’t wait to see it though because he’s not one for exaggeration and he reckons it was pushing 3lb. That’s right, I said THREE POUNDS! That’s an astonishing fish from a northern canal.
Still waiting to hear from Matt how he got on with a bream trip he’s just been on. I spoke to him when he’d finished baiting up but heard nothing since. I fear the worst…
A very short trip to a favourite little river of mine produced an explosive start. Three barbel in my first three casts looked promising. They might not be monsters but they’re spirited souls and in pristine condition which easily makes up for their lack of size.
It was a strange session really. The swim I really fancied was occupied by an angler who had been there since early doors (I arrived around 11.30am) and he’d not had anything although he’d seen the fish which was hardly surprising as the water was crystal clear and it would seem there’s nowhere on the stretch deeper than about two and a half feet right now.
Boy do we need some rain.
Anyway, I sneaked into swim number two and droppered in some hemp and pellets – yep, I’m as predictable as a Tone. Just 4 droppers mind, into 18 inches of water. I then put a bit in by hand so it would spread downstream and hopefully stimulate a reaction.
I then nipped off and baited a second swim but barbelly shapes were already showing interest before I departed.
Second swim baited, I returned and they’d been on the bait for maybe half an hour. Time for a bit more bait. It’s a gamble to go in when they’re feeding well but it can be the difference between catching one fish and making a multiple catch so hey-ho, may as well gamble.
With the fish now backed off I took this oportunity to swing out the rig. I was using my fabulous Adcock Stanton centrepin that is such a joy to fish with on intimate venues. I placed the butt on a rear rod rest while the rod tip rested on the river bed. I had a back lead above the main lead so everything was pinned down out of the way of the floating weed rafts as best as I could manage. The volume of weed breaking away and trundling downstream is another clue to the fact that Autumn has arrived. I then crept a few yards downstream opposite where the hook bait was so I could actually watch the take knowing that I’d see the fish twist and bolt as the hook set. The reel’s ratchet would give me an back-up audible indication.
Thirty seconds later I was dashing back to the rod as barbel number one made the ratchet scream. Two more fish followed on the next two casts and the third one had in interesting twist in its spine. A barbel with scoliosis (medical term based on the Greek for crooked)! It’s not the first I’ve caught and I believe it can result from electro fishing.
Then the swim died completely and the remaining fish simply would not come out to play. I stuck at it for another hour and I did manage to draw four chub onto the feed, one of which picked up the hookbait and cleverly ejected it, but of our friend the barbel the only sign was an occasional gold flash deep beneath the far margin cover. They were properly spooked.
A couple more anglers passed by on the track behind the hedge making plenty of noise so I decided that as it was getting busy I would up sticks and try another stretch for which I have a ticket. It’s the first time I’ve even set foot on it this season and I just wanted to see if the barbel were in the old familiar places but alas no-one was at home.
I say, no-one but there were a few chub about and it’s interesting to see they’ve packed on a bit of weight since my last visit. Very encouraging. I also watched a respectable sized pike finning on the flow. Whether it spotted me or not I’m not sure. It didn’t panic, just drifted very slowly across the current and vanished. David Blane would have been proud of that trick. I simply couldn’t see where or how it disappeared in the shallow, clear water but it was gone.
But time was pressing on and I wanted to be home before the kids came out of school. No fun dodging Chelsea tractors, is there?
Not surprisingly it will be barbel based and will adopt the title of Barbel Days And Ways. There’s only so much information you can fit on a DVD and a book will allow me to cover numerous topics in far greater depth. My aim is to widen the content beyong our filming exploits and share tales from my barbel exploits over the past 30 years. I may even include a few guest chapters and it will be a fantastic opprtunity to share some of the wonderful pictures we’ve taken that never make it into the magazines.
Trouble is that means lots and lots of work and considerable upfront costs.
I wouldn’t mind but I haven’t a clue where to start. I can write – that’s the easy bit – it’s the technical bits that follow, layout, formats, paper quality, images, diagrams, soft cover, hardback, perfect bound and so on. The whole production process is a black art where I’m concerned but I guess I’ll just have to learn.
So much for enjoying a quiet retirement…
And on that subject, let’s make a little noise. If you click the link below it’ll take you straight to a rather nice, laid back accoustic mix of tunes that may or may not appeal. Seems to take a little while to start but once it does it plays perfectly well:
The track listing is as follows:
1 Ry Cooder- Theme From Southern Comfort
2 Low – That’s How You Sing Amazing Grace
3 Galaxy 500 – Sorry
4 Rush – Hope
5 Dead Can Dance – American Dreaming
6 The Go-betweens – Streets Of Your Town
7 Bombay Monkey – Camouflage
8 Day One – Trying Too Hard
9 Glambeats Corp – She’s So cold
10 Clearlake – Its Getting Light Outside
11 AC/DC – Ride On
12 Bim Jama – You Are My Sunshine
13 Johnny Cash – We’ll Meet Again
Feel free to let me know if you would like me to include music links in future blogs and I’ll see what I can do.
And now a serious issue. The Angling Trust is angling’s own representative body. It encompasses all disciplines, offers legal protection againt poluters and the vast majority of anglers seemingly don’t give a toss if membership figures are any indication yet it is our only officially recognised voice in Parliament. The Trust has a serious funding issue right now. I’m a life member. Are you a member?
Here, my good friend Matt Hayes explains why he is backing the Trust:
Anyway, back to matters ‘fishy’. If this latest, rather long blog was a barrel then we’d be getting down to the dregs by now and that happens to be quite an apt description for what follows. Let’s scrape the bottom of it!
You know, it’s a real pleasure trying to help folks who contact me through the site but being a Good Samaritan is not without its pitfalls. Take for instance my reply to an angler who was asking me to publicly name some hot barbel pegs on the Trent (http://www.bobrobertsonline.co.uk/august-2009-blog/#comment-4833). Of course, I couldn’t reveal specific pegs because it would upset so many anglers who think those swims are their little secret and we do have to consider the fish in all this. Barbel are not exactly Einsteins of the fish world, far from it. Consequently, If I was to name a specific peg, chances are that peg would receive a lot of pressure, the fish would get hammered and it wouldn’t be a hot peg for very long.
Within what was quite a long and detailed reply I stated:
“Alas that’s an impossible request for me to answer without upsetting so many other anglers, Alan.
Let’s say, just for instance, I was to say ‘Get yourself down to Barnsley and District’s water at Hazelford, or in the Horsefield, (loads of barbel between pegs 24 and 36)’, purely as an example…
Can you imagine the reaction?”
Now, did I actually say go and fish there? Did I say poach the place, or that you can night fish? No I didn’t. Did I actually say it was an area stuffed with barbel that anyone can fish on a day ticket (which it is)? No I didn’t.
But it certainly sparked a predictable and somewhat tiresome reaction. A mini barbel war broke out on Barbel Fishing World in the Middle Trent thread and I’ll give you three guesses as to who was behind it. No, I’ll give you two, because old Fred’s a reformed character these days.
Back in the days when confrontational barbel battles were a constant feature on Fishing Magic, with post after abusive post comprising little more than insult after petty insult, you could bet your bottom dollar that if I even said something like, ‘Nice day, looks like a good one to be out fishing!’, the same three amigos would be on there within minutes, snarling and spouting bile. Of course, this ‘gang’ response was atually no coincidence as it was patently orchestrated through the PM system.
And why would that be? Could it be a certain clique fear that one day the true members of Barnsley and District might rise and oust them, meaning they’d lose their special priviledges which actually come at the expense of the membership.
Anyway, the three main instigators of old were the said Fred along with a guy called SeePee or CP (can’t honestly remember – he might even have used both) and that absolutely splendid chap Mr Tony Rocca who posts variously as Tony2canes, the Laird of Hazelford and various other pseudonyms – you may recall he was banned from Fishing Magic for his unacceptable behaviour yet still tried desperately to re-register using over 30 different aliases. Well, CP (or Seepee) turned out to be one Chris Pearson who currently fronts the Horsefield (K?)Nights syndicate on Barnsley and District’s Trent fishery (do you detect a recuring theme?). This is a chap who actually wrote to Daiwa Sports asking them to drop me as a consultant because he didn’t like me. What a nice fellow!
Anyway, he pounced on my innocent and painstaking reply to the genuinely posed question and guess what? Another squalid row breaks out on a third party’s web site and by some miraculous coincidence the very next person to post a comment on the thread is his mate Mr Rocca who then goes on to disgracefully patronise and attack anyone who dares to comment. It’s as if he has to demonstrate just how supercillious he can be and there’s a distinct need to humiliate others to whom he is clearly far superior.
Or to put it another way, they’re just a pack of snarling dogs.
It’s apalling, honestly.
But don’t take my word for it, judge for yourself (it starts at post number 47): http://barbelfishingworld.yuku.com/topic/17818/t/Middle-Trent.html?page=16
One thing I do like about Pearson’s response is that he makes it absolutely clear that you CAN fish at Fiskerton on a £3 day ticket. Perhaps if you PM him he’ll tell you where the best barbel pegs are, or maybe he won’t. Wouldn’t do to publicise the place and generate additional revenue for Barnsley and District, would it?
If any Barnsley members or indeed committee members (please do bring it to their attention) are reading this it might be worth pointing out that when the Barbel Society took over the Sutton on Trent fishery, what is it, seven years ago(?), the rental price quoted was £6,000 per year. Now Sutton ain’t half as prolific as Hazelford/ Fiskerton and I wonder, are you getting shafted…?
In the good old days Barnsley and District made an absolute fortune out of local anglers who, like me, were members of Barnsley Affiliated clubs, fished in Barnsley Winter Leagues, in Barnsley opens, in countless club matches at Fiskerton and Worsborough and also paid very handsomely to fish those very short Trent pegs. The income generated by Fiskerton was so great it enabled them to pay a truly astonishing sum to purchase the fishing rights.
I just hope they receive appropriate remuneration today and not just a peppercorn rent from the litter pickers.
But we move on.
Last month I mentioned that Rocca had insulted and upset dear old Ron Clay, a man he has never even met, in his bile-driven blog. Ron’s a veteran of the angling game, a true gent and there’s not much he hasn’t done in his time. He certainly didn’t deserve to be used in that way simply because he happens to know me. It’s typical of Rocca that he can be so condescending and spiteful toward innocent bystanders and it comes as no surprise that he has neither removed the insult from his blog nor apologised to Ron for being so crass.
Is there any wonder I take satisfaction from playing him like a puppet?
My only disappointment is that it really is far too easy to draw a predictable reaction from Tone and his crones. Nor is it my fault that I enjoy this ‘sport’ for I fear my ancestors must have taken pleasure from taunting inmates at the local lunatic assylum which, I believe, was a popular form of entertainment in times past.
Anyway, enough of that. Is it possible that these two creatures are actually twins, separated at birth…?
Sometimes it doesn’t pay to get too precious, does it?
Tight lines one and all!