2009 – January Blog

Jan 09 Blog

All Hands To The Pumps

I’m not a big fan of January when it comes to fishing. Perhaps it’s my failing memory but January always used to be freezing cold, but settled. This year has been a right old mare of a month. One day it’s cold enough for rivers to ice over, the next they’re flooded. I’m sure the fish don’t know whether they’re coming or going. I certainly don’t and it’s hard to work up a deal of enthusiasm either.

I went back to the Idle for a session imagining that it would be sock on. We’d had a bit of rain a few days previous, which in my warped way of thinking would have put a bit of extra warmth in the water. Of course I still spent ten minutes scraping ice off the car when I loaded up…

The river was carrying a bit too much colour for caster to work but hey, when you’ve only got casters with you that’s what you use. I kicked off in the same swim I did so well in last time but you know what? I didn’t have a bite in the first hour – time to move. So I upped sticks and move off upstream.

A bite first cast suggested that it had been a wise move and steady if not spectacular action from then on saw me begin to put a few fish together, but what on earth was going off down at the West Stockwith pumping station I’ll never understand. For much of the day the river was like a mill pond – clearly the gates were shut. Suddenly the river started running – BACKWARDS! It was racing through in the upstream direction at a hell of a lick and it came up a foot in the space of 15 minutes. Next thing you know it is raging off in the opposite direction and all the crap and floating debris that caused problems on its way upstream was coming back again.


Needless to say, bites were hard to come by for a while.

Oh well.

Losing Fish Is A Real Pain

I also ventured up to the other small river I mentioned in my previous blog. Where I’d found the snow melt tricky before, this trip brought home to me how much cold water it was carrying back then as the river had dropped a good 18 inches. That meant much of the river was barely a couple of feet deep, fairly clear and not moving a great deal.

It was white over when Matt and I got there with a proper haw frost and a weak, wintery sun. Good conditions for walking to distant swims and getting the circulation going. It didn’t look promising to be honest but I picked a swim that was calling out to me. Do you get that feeling sometimes?

Anyway, first run through the float buried and I found myself into a substantial fish and I’m absolutely certain it was a roach – a BIG roach. They can push two pounds in here and my heart was thumping, I can tell you. And then the line went slack…


I was gutted. Days like this can easily be one bite days. It was a half hearted cast that sent another lump of bread out into the same swim and I could barely believe my eyes when the float buried for a second time. This one didn’t come off but alas it was no roach. The fight is very different from a 2lb chub. Oh well, beggars can’t be choosers.

No more action materialised as we worked our way back up the stretch, dropping into each likely looking spot for a few casts. Time to ditch the gear and have another long walk, this time in the opposite direction to scope out a few new areas. The only fish we saw was a 3lb-plus chub that had been killed and dragged up onto the far bank. Mink? Otter? Perish the thought. An otter could do serious damage to a tiny river like this one.

I wonder, how come these do-gooders who think it’s a great idea to reintroduce otters don’t give us a few beavers. A log dam or two would significantly increase water levels and make fishing a lot more fun! Blow the flooding risks because the logic flew out of the window with otters. Who in their right mind stands by and allows cormorants to decimate the UK’s fish populations, do nothing about the eel crisis and then introduce more predators? It’s madness if you ask me?


What next? Dinosaurs? Woolly mammoths? Sabre tooth tigers? A few wolves and bears will keep your cat on its toes!

Otters aren’t cuddly pets, they’re fearsome killers and they disappeared for a reason. They’ll disappear again, too, if the reason for their demise isn’t addressed.

Anyway, having got warmed up again we headed off to a different stretch. The flow was still negligible and the float showed just 18 inches of water. Hmmm, not promising, but once again, first run through I had a bite and this time it was from a quality roach. A proper nice fish and more than welcome.

Second run through and the float buried again, and just when I was thinking this was another cracking roach, what should come to the surface but a fine perch – on bread! Mustn’t grumble if it puts a bend in the rod. Another smaller roach followed and then the swim was dead. Not surprising in these shallow swims.

We dodged around here and there for a while but that was it for another day.

Leeds Secure More Water On The Swale

My Leeds and District Yearbook arrived in the post this week. Great value for money and some terrific waters to fish. This year Leeds have taken on their old stretch at Helperby, on the Swale, again. It was a sad loss when Leeds gave it up a few years ago as it has a decent head of barbel and chub to target. Should take a bit of pressure off Topcliffe and Asenby, too.

Adult books are a steal at £43 with Senior Citizens and Intermediates costing £19 and Juniors just £12. Great value.

Full details can be found on the Leeds web site including detailed maps of all fisheries and a pretty useful forum. Log on to: www.leedsdasa.co.uk

Barbel Days And Ways Update

A trip down to Wales was required to shoot the links for our Barbel Days And Ways, Volume Two, DVD. With the weather as it has been there was no way we could do them outdoors so I had a word with hotel owner, Peter Smith, and enquired whether we might use his bar in the Caer Beris Manor.

It was a rare treat to film in the bar with its oak panelled walls and all manner of stuffed fish and fishy pictures, many of which are signed by quite famous anglers. It also gave us a chance to do a bit of research on the River Wye. Come summer I’m pretty sure we’ll be back to film a few sessions for a future BD&W film.

Volume Two is now at the advanced stages of editing and will definitely be available from the end of April. Those customers who bought Volume One will be given a chance to pre-order Volume Two before it goes on general sale. Keep an eye on this site for updates.     


It’s Showtime!

Work is well underway now on a project that’s dear to my heart. I don’t do many live shows because I will only do them when I’ve something pretty special to share and when I’ve done a couple that’s enough for me. They’re bloomin’ hard work if you put the right kind of effort into them and most folk expect you to work for peanuts.

I’ve promised to give talks at two barbel shows in the spring, The Barbel Catchers Club on 25th April and the Barbel Society Conference on 3rd May. The shows will be film based rather than slide based or in Powerpoint. We’re talking a couple of high-end multi-media shows here and as far as angling’s concerned this will be state of the art, cutting edge stuff.

Parts of the show will be set to music – LOUD music, by the way, so don’t come complaining later!!!!  If you want a peaceful night, go and listen to someone else – this show will rock! My toughest task has been to mix the tracks so the music samples flow effortlessly into each other which ain’t easy when you’re trying to blend classical stuff with the Beatles, Kid Rock and the Prodigy. And then it’s been a case of editing camera footage, applying graphics, images and special effects to make up something that will be rather an eye-opener. Who knows, it might even be a jaw dropper for some.

One thing’s for sure, a few folk will hate this show and by that I mean they’ll moan an absolute bucketful on the Internet forums – although they would do that anyway. Doesn’t stop ‘em turning up, does it? But ‘am ah bovered’? Too right I’m not. The majority will at least appreciate the effort that goes into a show like this. You see, unless someone breaks the mould we’re going to be stuck with boring old slideshows where some guy who’s full of his own self importance will show us the same old pictures of a sad man holding up a wet fish and then telling us how clever he was to catch it.

Trouble is, it takes ten minutes to prepare a simple slide show. I’ve just spent a whole week editing the three minutes and 26 second opus that will merely be my show opener. I’m sure it’ll be worth it in the long run but there’s a whole lot more work to do before it’s finished.

One thing’s certain, it’ll open the eyes of a few Internet warriors because they are going to feature in ways that will surely make them cringe – providing they can understand the cryptic messages!

Hutchie’s Latest  Book

I’ve been reading Rod Hutchinson’s latest offering, Carp Along The Way, Volume One, and it’s a rollicking good read. Published by Angling Publications it’s not the normal carp book in as far as it isn’t some guy aiming to catch the biggest fish in the land, nor is it a glossy step-by-step instructional tome. Rather it charts Rod’s haphazard journey through life from childhood to adulthood encompassing the characters and tales of time when life appeared somewhat simpler.

What it does is place in sharp focus how carp angling has changed and how recently a 20lb carp was regarded as a big fish and that for 20 years anglers like Hutchinson genuinely believed that Walker’s 44lb record would not be broken for a very long time and they felt much the same after Yates’ fish.

The book frequently made me laugh out loud, something of a welcome change where angling writing is concerned. Modern articles tend to lose the soul of fishing and concentrate far too much on the products that writers are sponsored to fish with; you know sort of stuff I’m on about, “Mount your Nutrabaits boilie on this Drennan hook, tie it to a Kryston braid, secure the Korda lead in the Nash clip, always remembering to make sure it slides easily over the TFG leader. Cast it out to the horizon with the Daiwa Infinty, making sure the Shimano reel is filled to the brim with GR60 line, before placing the rod on the Delkim and setting the Solar hanger…”

My God, when are editors going to wake up and realise that this is just sooo boring?

There is obviously a need for instructional articles but there is a limit, you know. The limit is reached, in my view, when you think you’re actually reading an advertorial rather than an article.

Anyway, I may do a fuller review on here when I get a chance but in the meantime you can order copies direct from Angling Publications by visiting the on-site shop at:


Copies cost £23.99

Little Egret Press Releases

On the subject of books I’m somewhat inundated at the moment with new releases. I’ve long been a fan of the Little Egret Press and Tom O’Reilly does a sterling job in banging out limited edition copies of great angling books. Some revive titles that have long been out of print, others are completely new works.

Have a look at the Little Egret Web site for more details: www.l-e-p.com

There are three ‘new’ books on offer although new isn’t exactly the right word. John Wilson’s ‘A Specimen Fishing Year’ charts his adventures throughout 1976, a time when Norfolk was brimming with specimen fish of all species. ‘Walker’s Pitch 2’, edited by Peter Maskell dips into the articles Walker wrote in the Angling Times between 1960 and 1966 and finally we have another book from Tom O’Reilly himself describing the times he has spent chasing trout and salmon in Devon and his native Cornwall.

Full details are on the LEP web site and once again, I’ll publish full reviews when I’ve had a chance to read them all – thank God it’s winter!

Mind you, they would have made splendid companions to while away the hours during a few spring carp and tench forays.

Domesday Scenario

In a recent article on the site about the River Don barbel potential I referred to a book that was available as a PDF download from the Environment Agency web site called ‘Domesday To The Dawn Of The New Millennium’ by Chris Firth. It charted everything and everything that you might ever want to know about the River Don.

Alas the web site has been updated and it is no longer available as a download.

However, the good news is that the Leeds office has a few copies left in stock and they have kindly offered to send me one free of charge. How good is that?

I initially made contact through the Agency via their web site (http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/contactus/default.aspx) and simply sent them an enquiry. I’m not saying that you’ll get one for free but there’s no harm in asking what the score is.

Good luck!