Happy New Year Everyone!
Belated New Year greetings to everyone who enjoys this blog, and I even include Whiskerton, who finished the old year with another threat to sue me. Mike, talk’s cheap. Put up, or shut up. Otherwise go away and play on the dark side!
Hasn’t the weather been crap of late? Floods, snow, ice and now snow melt. Thankfully Christmas gave most of us an excuse to do nothing except stuff our faces and drink copious amounts of alcohol. It was nice to see friends old and new, to cook family feasts and to go a-visiting.
I came back from London on the train in time for New Year’s Eve, a journey that takes you by or over countless rivers and lakes including the Great Ouse, the Nene, the Upper Witham, Newark Dyke, the Trent, Idle, Torne and finally, the Don. That’s not including drains and several commercial fisheries. You know, there wasn’t a single angler to be seen with the exception of a couple at Lakeside Fisheries, Ranskill. The rest were deserted.
Matt (Brown) managed to sneak out and catch a few roach from a tiny river we dabble on in the winter and he also managed a few chublets and trout from another stream despite a good foot of snow melt. Just goes to show that anything’s possible providing you’re determined enough.
Matt was keen to fish on New Year’s day but I left that to him. Seeing how high and coloured the Dearne was on New year’s Eve told me another 24 hours wouldn’t hurt. Heading North would be a good idea, too, as the rain hadn’t been quite so bad there and the other consideration to make in these conditions is to either fish the upper reaches or fish the shortest river you know as these will be least affected by high water.
Saturday morning saw a fresh fall of snow and a complete absence of gritters. To say the side roads were treacherous would be an understatement. I couldn’t even slither up the gently sloping Church Lane and had to make a detour to avoid it.
The river itself is tiny, very shallow and to be fair it could better be described as a land drain. The level and colour looked good although it was pushing hard.
We roved around, rarely spending more than ten or 15 minutes in a swim. You either catch early or not at all and it’s certainly not a case of feeding until they have it. One tiny pinch of liquidised bread is enough to provoke a response. Any more will overdo it. We float fished bread beneath small stick floats – a soft visible bait is far more likely to tempt a bite than maggots and casters.
Dog walkers were out in force and most were shocked to see two eskimos fishing their river! I do wish they wouldn’t stop an talk though. Bad enough they stand and skyline your swim but their dogs can be a right pain as they try to steal your sandwiches and bait. There’s no point in trying to explain, I just slap each dog hard on the nose. The yelping says everything and the owner then has to run after his or her dog. Job done!
I was dismayed to spot a goosander working the river. They’re as bad as cormorants and spell big trouble on a tiny river like this. What really concerned me is that each time we moved to a new stretch we’d spot another goosander. Whether it was the same one that we kept frightening away I don’t know but we saw three in the space of a mile or so. Let’s hope it was the same one three times or my small river roach fishing might be in peril.
The day was as tough as we expected. I had a small chub, Matt had two small roach from his favourite ‘banker’ swim. Other than that we couldn’t raise a bite but it’s a testament to today’s modern clothing that neither of us felt the cold.
The artic weather is forecast to last for at least another 10 days and it’s already been the coldest month for 25 years. The upside is that hundreds, possibly thousands of cormorants will probably perish. The downside, as we saw back in 1963 is that if the ice cover stays on shallow lakes for too long, the rotting weeds will de-oxygenate the water and fish kills could result.
One thing’s for sure, no matter how cold it gets the fish will eventually acclimatise and start feeding again. I’m looking forward to that. Meantime I’ve not used the excuse of road salt for failing to catch yet…!
Footnote: According to my Birds Of The British Isles book, the Goosander is a fish eating member of the sawbill family. The first recorded breeding of Goosander in the UK (Scotland) took place as recently as 1871. Originally a winter visitor and confined to Scotland it is gradually spreading south. The place where I saw this (female) Goosander is about 100 miles outside the zone where they occured on the distribution map just ten or so years ago, so it looks like we have an influx of yet another ‘new’ fish eating predators in our midst. Why are they moving south and where does it end?
Details of their feeding habits can be found here: Greedy B*stards
I try and offer up a musical diversion each month and here are a few old favourites here to celebrate the season of good will. It’s shorter than usual but feel the quality rather than the width. I do hope you enjoy them.
A Date For Your Diary
Anglers in the Nottingham area might wish to make a note in their diaries for 26th Feb 2010.
Stu and I have been invited by John Paley to appear at a Trent Anglers’ Night Out at The Old Chandlery Cafe, Sawley Marina, Long Eaton (NG10 3AE for Sat Nav owners) – kicking off at 7.30pm.
The show will include two unique 45 minute film-based presentations that cover barbel feeding behaviour, their reaction to tackle, rigs, baits, PVA, outtakes, cartoons, rock ‘n roll, gladiators, the Internet, Hitler, keepnets and will include lots of preciously unseen footage from both home and abroad. Hopefully we’ll have some brand new footage from our expedition to Uganda later this month (see below).
We’ll wrap the evening up with a Q&A session and just for good measure you will get an opportunity to see the actual record breaking barbel caught by FWK Wallis.
Tickets cost £10 and this includes an excellent buffet.
A charity raffle will be held in aid of Help for Heroes.
Advance tickets are available from Fishing Synergy, 469 Tamworth Rd, Sawley, Long Eaton, NG10 3GR. Tel: 0115 9722 525
John says carp anglers are welcome providing they’re accompanied by a responsible adult!
If you need more details just drop me an email and I’ll pass them on to John.
Barbel Wars (part 2009-10)
At the foot of my Christmas blog you’ll see that a visitor invited my comments on the latest ‘Barbel Wars’ skirmish. As it happens I wasn’t even aware war had been declared but it prompted me to take a peek.
Well, I read it until my eyes bled, and then I read another 20 pages. On and on and on it went with folk making accusations about what was or was not said behind closed doors in committee meetings, who resigned over what, who held the moral high ground and so much more that is of no significance other than to those who are personally or professionally involved.
Eventually there were cries that the thread should be locked because it had run it’s course, counteracted by claims that, no, they were finally getting near the truth.
Well, I’m sorry but it doesn’t matter who is right or wrong, who has the moral high ground or whether any of this serves anything other than a few folks’ desire to stir up a pile of smelly shite with a big stick. The title of the thread reads: Angling Trust – I joined, did you? (Poll Topic). Now can someone please explain why the latest battle in the Great Barbel War has got anything to do with the Angling Trust?
The Angling Trust stands for all anglers. The combined might of every barbel group and every barbel syndicate in the entire country amounts to about one tenth of one per cent of those who go angling in the UK. This poll, started by someone with good intentions, to rally support for our governing body was hijacked by folk who are either thick, stupid or completely unprincipled.
That the moderators of BFW could stand by and allow the original thread to be diverted in this way shows how little they care, too.
I’m sorry guys, unless you start your own specific thread to cover a topic then you really should avoid polluting other threads with your own effluent at all costs.
However, the issue of what was and was not said behind closed doors in meetings of the Barbel Society committee is for BS members alone to discuss on the Barbel Society forum. True, the BS is not a democracy and probably never will be. True, the membership numbers are falling like an anvil dropped from a Tiger Moth and yes, it will probably all end in tears. But you have a choice. Join, or don’t join. If you join and don’t like what you find, join another barbel group or even start your own.
Better still, go fishing.
But if truth be told, the argument only perpetuates because leading figures from the various barbel groups can’t keep their heads down or their mouths shut. The snipes and innuendos from the likes of Fred Bonney only serve to stir the embers of a long dead fire. But at least he uses his own name. Unlike many.
Meanwhile, any useful purpose with regards to promoting the wider issues of the Angling Trust rather than the secular issues of a tiny minority is lost in the morass. Well done guys. You must feel proud of your actions.
Oh, and after 24 pages (actually it’s 47 pages if I log-in rather than looking on as a guest) a moderator finally steps in to lock the thread ‘before anyone says anything they’ll regret’.
What, like, ‘Yes, I joined the Angling Trust, too’…
Twitchy Bum Time
Well, my next big adventure is barely days away now. Stu, James and I are heading out to Uganda shortly in pursuit of catfish and Nile perch and we’re tackling the trip unaided by any holiday company or guiding service. That’s right, we’re off to a river that’s infested with crocodiles, hippos, elephants and snakes with no back-up team. How scary is that?
I’m currently up-to-date with my jabs for Hepatitis A and B, Meningitis A, C, W and Y, Polio, Rabies, Typhoid, Dip Tetanus and just need to sort out Yellow Fever. Malaria tablets have been bought. We’re taking supplies of Piriton tablets to try and reduce the irritation associated with the inevitable Tetse fly bites and the practise nurse has cheerfully told me there’s no available injection that protects agains bullets!
Sorting out the right tackle has been fun but I think we’re almost there now. Bearing in mind that it’s quite possible we might latch into a hundred pound plus perch in one of the world’s most turbulent weir pools you can leave little to chance. Every hook and split ring on our magnum and shad lures has been upgraded but we’ve taken loads of advice on board and the way forward on livebaiting (apparently) is to use Mustad circle hooks.
When they arrived I had to double check I’d ordered the right size (I had) but take a look. It’s only when you start to tie up a trace with one of these on the end that you start to realise what you’re facing up to. I know folk who’ve used these hooks with 40lb reel lines on uptide rods and still been spooled by unseen monsters as they head out of the weirpool and you’re left stranded on a precarious, slippy rock outcrop.
At least it’ll be warm. I’ll let you know how we get on…
Hootenanny! (Or Rage Against The Vorsprung Durch Technik)
Sue and I spent New Year’s Eve with friends; fine dining and getting comfortably anaesthetised. From the window we watched revellers tumble out of the pub opposite, dressed as a collection of superheros, Cruella De Ville, Pirates of the Caribbean and so on. It looked like they were having fun although I cannot imagine what the scene would be like down the road at the Sports Bar if a fight broke out. Would you care to trade punches with Superman when he has Batman and Spiderman as back up?
At least you would know they weren’t the real deal.
As midnight approached our hosts insisted we tune in to the celebrations on BBC2 and I was left wondering who in their wisdom at the Beeb actually believes Jools Holland has got any talent beyond plonking away on a jazz piano. Honestly, this guy is a buffoon in a penguin suit, a few days short of his bus pass, determined to be cool when he quite clearly is not. Really, you could replace him with Neville Fickling, pour sufficient whisky down Nev’s throat and then set him loose crying, “Hootenanny!” in a tourettes-like fashion and you’d barely tell the difference.
And, of course, he likes to jam along with each guest while the same idiotic clown runs around the invited ‘celebrity’ audience wearing a clock face on his head. Just like he did last year, and the one before…
Does Holland actually have any influence over the guests that appear? Who on earth decides this ecclectic mix will sound good together? Someone who wears brown shoes with a black suit, that’s who.
And it’s all so false. We know it isn’t filmed live; these revellings took place months ago. Everyone is just pretending it’s New Years Eve in much the same way they’re pretending to be entertaining.
But back to our fancy dress revellers. Fancy dress is great fun providing you don’t take yourself too seriously. You’re not actually meant to be the character you portray which is where Boy George went awfully wrong.
Was that really Boy George making an appearance? Or was this Fat-Boy-(Not)-Slim-George character just a bad look-alike in fancy dress doing a terrible karaoke version of Karma Chameleon? Tonight Matthew, I’m going to be…
Dear me, it was dreadful, and who could possibly think it was a good idea to sing a song containing the lyric, ‘I’m a man without conviction’? The man’s got a list of convictions to match his numerous chins and there’s a fair few of those. Prison food has done nothing to reduce his waistline, has it?
Each year an octogenarian is wheeled out – probably to make Jools look younger. Normally they’re black but for a change this year’s golden oldie was orange. Look, Jools, granddad’s are supposed to sit in a comfy chair with a smile on their face and smell of wee. No amount of plastic surgery, hair implants and vitamins will make The Green Green Grass Of Home sound trendy unless you’re Welsh!
But worse was to follow. What isa Dizzee Rascal when it’s at home? And should it be allowed to murder a Kurt Cobain classic in such a manner I wanted to put my boot through the telly? Honestly, if that’s music then I’m a brain surgeon.
Somebody, please, put this buffoon out to grass. I’ve no idea how much of our license payers money was wasted on his show but ten bob would have been too much. This is why the X Factor is so popular. Yet both shows have so much in common. Delusional fools who actually believe they have talent in abundance.
Thank God the taxi turned up on time because our hostess, already beyond temperance, was swooning, “Oooohh, I just love Jools Holland!”
I don’t think the taxi driver was too worried about missing out on Hootenanny. He just wanted information about the best local pike waters before dashing off to collect Superman.
PS:If Boy George is considering making a singing comeback then I discovered a perfect match for his dated and over-rated talent in Spandau Ballet who appeared as guests on Alan ‘Pratty Man’ Carr’s over-effeminate chat show. How bad were they? Put it this way:
A Few, and in reality it is only the very few, musicians and pop stars stand the test of time. The rest should revel in their five minutes of fame and then go back to stacking supermarket shelves. We’ll remember them fondly as one-hit wonders and occasionally muse, ‘I wonder what happened to old so-and-so’ when the track is played on the radio. But do yourself a big favour and forget about the comeback. It’s pure vanity and destined to end in tears, like a 50-year-old boxer wanting one more shot at the title. Younger fighters have the edge in just the same way younger musicians have.
Old dames should stick to pantomime.
Your DVD Will Go Far, My Son
When Stu and I decided to make our own DVDs no-one could have forecast what impact they might have. We didn’t even know if we could deliver a finished product at the outset but we gave it our best shot and the results are now there to be judged but neither of us could have predicted how far the tentacles would spread. What began as a punt in the dark has gone worldwide with orders from as far away as New Zealand and the United States, two countries which, to my knowledge, haven’t got a barbel population.
It’s kind of weird when you decide to make your own DVD. The thought of learning how to operate the camera equipment and mastering the editing software is daunting enough but if I’m being perfectly honest, the biggest headache at the outset was whether enough folk would show interest in your project to prevent the loss of a small fortune.
All the costs in making a DVD are up front. You have to find enough money to pay for the cameras and the editing facilities. After that you factor in the fuel, fishing tickets, licking backsides and hoping (not always successfully) that the controlling clubs will give permission to film, and then there’s the countless hours filming and editing to consider, the sleeve design, the printing and pressing costs, daily trips to the post office, the cost of packaging and postage, finding time to answer emails, promoting the finished product, begging for reviews and so on. If you’re not careful the costs can spiral out of control long before you’ve shifted a single copy.
And there’s still no guarantee you’ll sell any in the first place. It’s then that you quickly realise why very few anglers are making DVDs these days. Vanity comes at a price.
Ask anyone who has made a fishing DVD how many copies it sold and you’ll probably get a rather vague answer or a stratospheric lie. They’d sooner tell you where to find the secret stash of weapons of mass destruction rather than reveal actual figures.
One guy, in fairness, did give me a straight answer to my question, ‘How many have yours sold?’
‘Low hundreds.’ He confided.
I did the sums, told Stu, and suggested if we could sell ‘low hundreds’, which I took to mean three or 4 hundred, then surely we could, too. And with a bit of pushing on the promotion side we’d surely break even.
‘I don’t read it like that.’ Said Stu. ‘I reckon low hundreds could mean 120 to 130…’
At which point I felt rather queasy. This venture could prove rather expensive!
Oh well, we pressed on (no pun intended!) and the resulting outcome was the first two volumes of Barbel Days And Ways. Artistically we knew it was a decent effort because we filmed it from an anglers perspective and we gave it our absolute best shot with the (limited?) technical skills we had. Even so the universal critical acclaim took us by surprise but we never at any time considered foreign sales. Ours was a limited niche market and a very ‘English’ one at that but the response from Europe and beyond took us completely by surprise.
Clearly it can all be explained by the reach of the Internet and for that we’ll be eternally grateful. Fingers crossed this wave of interest will continue when we release Volumes 3 and 4 in May but for now, I’ve included a few links for no other reason than plain old vanity…!
See Full Article as a PDF File
Who Are You Calling A Fat Lady?
Council officials in Sudbury have instructed bingo caller, John Syers, 75, to stop using phrases like, “Two fat ladies, 88” and “Legs 11”.
Sue Brotherwood, the council clerk, said that she had taken the decision after reading about a bingo caller being sued: “With John being a councillor, we have to be politically correct. In the litigation society we live in people sometimes take these things personally.”
Right. Err, get a life missus?
Did anyone like the Barbel Police cartoon I created for the last blog? Well here’s another I’ve made but if the humour is a bit too cultish then maybe it’s an idea to put on the back burner because the cartoons do take a little while to create.
Anyway, here’s my take of Des Taylor appearing On Tight Lines:
What A Cock!
Alas not everyone has a proper grasp on what counts as satire. Is Tony Rocca really as gormless as a wide mouthed frog? I ask, because the Laird of Hazelford/ Tony Two Canes/ Rob Duran or whatever else he’s calling himself at the moment has published this amusing (in his world) item of artwork on the web:
The caption reads,‘Everyone knows a Great Tit when they see one’.
Laugh? I bet Whiskerton’s sides ached. Must have taken him hours to craft such a masterpiece not to mention the days spent ‘finkin’ it up.
But at least we know what he got for Christmas – Photoshop Elements? Or maybe Corel Draw? It’s pathetic, really. But while he’s mocking me it means he’s taking a breather from the Barbel Wars.
But did he really spend his festive break obsessing about me? Dear oh dear. Perhaps he’s at a loose end having had a big bust up with his mate, Tweedle Dee.
Of course he failed miserably in a clumsy attempt to draw me into the Barbel War debate but what many won’t realise is quite how contrary he is. When he’s not dishing out insults and taunts on the web can you believe he sends me private emails saying how much he enjoys reading my stuff?
A complete cock or what?
Go away man.
Those of a certain age will remember when computer games were rather less graphic than today’s X-Box masterpieces but to us they were just as addictive as Grand Theft Auto. If you’ve forgetten just how addictive a ‘retro’ computer game can be give this clone of the original Space Invaders a go. Use the arrow left and right keys to move your gun and press the space bar to fire.
Now That’s What I Call Clever…
While old Tone fritters his life away sticking stolen images of my head onto pictures of various objects, others are doing really clever things which are equally time consuming.
Nay, rephrase that. The clip below must have been a lot more time consuming, requiring skill, dedication and determination in abundance. It’s a countdown sequence using the actual dialogue from a hundred movies. Say what you like but the end result is pretty clever, although I’ll bet a pound of platinum against a hill of sheep droppings that the creator doesn’t have a girlfriend:
Stu and I might have created our share of underwater barbel footage but one guy who’s been lucky enough to travel the world to film fish underwater is John McIntyre. John is Macca’s brother (the guy who did that nice pencil drawing of Clive Goode’s 46lb carp in the Christmas blog) so that’s how I first discovered his work.
You’ve probably never heard of John McIntyre but you’ve probably seen some of his finest work. He contacted me recently and asked if I’d give his web site a shout which I’m only too happy to do:
Marching On Together
I never thought I’d see the day when I’d be urging Man United on to score at Old Trafford or being disappointed by the fourth official ‘only’ adding 5 minutes of Fergie Time but hat’s off to Leeds for their fine win at Old Trafford in the cup.
Twenty years ago that result would have pleased me no end but I’ve rather lost respect for Leeds and in particular Ken Bates. But it’s one hell of an achievement for a third division outfit to win at any Premiership ground, never mind Old Trafford. No doubt their fans will be gloating on everyone’s forums bar their own all over the Internet, blind to the fact that it’s this supercilious attitude that turns most folk against them.
Donny’s FA Cup match at Brentford was called off due to the weather and that’s two postponements in a row now. I see troubles ahead with fixture congestion at this rate but at least it means we go into the fourth round draw.
This is all too much; I’m starting to get vertigo…
Footnote: I’ll bet Derby and Millwall feel suitably underwhelmed with their fourth round draw! Next best thing to winning a Countdown dictionary, eh?
If someone was to create a chart depicting the world’s most famous magazines Time would be somewhere very close to the top so when it comes to Time magazine’s gallery of the best photographs of 2009 you hardly expect to find one showing Doncaster Rovers running out onto the pitch with Tottenham Hotspur in the Carking Cup, do you, so wipe that smirk from your face and click on the image below:
This was the evening when Harry Redknap turned to his assistant after ten minutes and asked, “Who are we playing tonight, Real Madrid?” Donny really were playing that well but alas it all ended in tears and this was our end of the rainbow, at least as far as the cup was concerned. Cracking image though.