Whatever Happened To The Northern Specimen Group?
A trip back to the Trent saw me on a completely different stretch where it’s rather big, wide and featureless. A nine metre tide added volume to this and despite only fishing for a few hours the level rose by a good two feet and dropped back nearly as far again in that short time.
I blanked. I couldn’t even buy a chub rap. As for bream, don’t pull my leg. I reckon the Trent lost 90 per cent of its bream population in the floods of 2007 despite what some would have you believe. I’ve only had one snotty all season and yes, I actually miss them.
A couple of guys were fishing on the next stretch above so I had a walk up to see how they were getting on. Turns out they were members of the original Northern Specimen Group, based in Sheffield way back in the 1960’s, a group that Ron Clay talks of with misty eyes. When I told them that Ron (who used to fish with them) had had a brain scan they asked if it involved surgery.
“Yes, we understand that, it’s just that we wondered how they managed to remove his hat!”
Seems they’d struggled, too, and were heading for an early bath so I decided to wrap up quickly and sneak off to ‘Paradise on Trent’ and snatch an hour.
Not surprisingly I had the place to myself and, dropping into a favourite swim, I chucked out the rods with no free offerings bar those in the feeder. Settling back to read my book I found my attention being drawn to the rod tip. Funny isn’t it, you know when it’s going to go and sure enough the right hand rod nodded and hooped over. It was nice to catch a fish but as I couldn’t be bothered setting up the self-take gear this girl had to forgo my cuddle and settle for having her picture taken on the landing net.
Ten minutes later the rod demanded my attention again and sure enough, it rattled a couple of times before keeling over. This was a much better fish, hanging deep before running steadily upstream before everything suddenly went slack. I expected to find I’d been cut-off but it was a straight hook pull. Doesn’t happen often and when it does it often follows a tentative bite where, I’m guessing here, the fish picks up your bait and the hook just nicks-in outside the mouth. The tap on the tip is the feeder dislodging very slightly as the fish shakes its head. Of course, I could be completely wrong, but without the advantage of filming exactly what happens we’ll never know for sure, will we?
I just had time to catch another barbel before packing up and heading off to do battle with the teatime traffic.
Nature Footnote: There was a massive flock of birds kicking around today, several hundred strong. I couldn’t work out what they were but a few enquiries have suggested they were golden plovers. Anyone care to confirm this? The photo won’t give too many clues at this resolution but it might help…
A New Adventure Beckons
Stu (Walker) rang the other day, “Err, Bob, are you sitting down? I’ve been chatting with James (Gould) and he fancies a trip to Uganda. Are you up for it?”
“Does the Pope go to church on Sundays? Yeah, of course I am. When are we talking?”
“About 11 weeks time… We’ve decided that if we go it alone, no travel company and no guides we can save a fortune.”
“What are the drawbacks?”
“Nothing really. Unless we can’t get the Government boat.
“Is it dangerous?”
“Well, there are some pretty big crocodiles, huge snakes, elephants and hippos. And Tsetse flies. But apart from that it’s pretty straight forward.”
How do we get to the river?”
“Fly into Entebbe and then we hire a Jeep. It’s about a six hour drive but the roads aren’t up to much. And we shouldn’t travel in the dark because that can be pretty hairy.”
“What, due to animals…?”
“No, the locals.”
“Okay then, count me in…”
Middle Trent Blues
I fished a stretch of the Trent ‘near Nottingham’ yesterday but the fish refused to play ball. I’ve not fished here for many a long year but it has been kind to me in the past. Alas I was alone and never saw another angler which kind of lays waste to the myth that the Trent is a pressured river. It would have been nice to find a few anglers on the bank and pick their brains.
I made the classic mistake of dropping into the first nice looking swim I came to that wasn’t too far from the van. It’s a sad reflection on the Noughties but on a new stretch it pays to keep an eye on your vehicle until you know the lie of the land.
I baited, fished a bit and then fished a bit more. Nothing. Not even a chub rap. So I went for a walk. Within a hundred yards the river began to look a little more inviting with quite a few interesting features and I really should have moved, but I had a book I wanted to finish and I was just feeling lazy.
Anyway, the fish might come onto my bait at any time. With no-one below me I might draw fish from a hundred yards or more away.
So I took some pretty stunning pictures (though I say it myself) – the images you see here have NOT been Photoshopped. This is how it was and it kept me happy but next time I’ll put a bit more effort into the fishing.
Time was when these folk fished elsewhere!
On the upside I discovered a very likely looking chub swim and I wouldn’t be surprised if it held a few barbel, too. Must give it a try next time.
Oh well, better press on. I’ve my gear to sort out for the weekend when I’ll be down on the Wye again with chub in mind. I might even sneak in a few hours barbel fishing on Monday as Peter has gained access to a rather prolific private stretch that he’s hoping he might be able to secure for the exclusive use of his hotel guests.
And then it’s the netting party at Anglers Paradise. Not been down for the past couple of nettings so I guess I’ll have to show my face, get covered in mud and share a few beers and laughs with the lads down there. I might even wet a line but that’s not something I can guarantee!
Here are a few images from yesterday…
Appeal For Information
Finally, spare a thought for Sheffield angler Mick Somerset. Having enjoyed a day’s fishing at Dunham on Trent with his mate Mick Lomas they’d lingered a little longer on the bank than they meant to - who hasn’t done the old ‘one last cast’ which turns into an hour, eh? Consequently it was a bit of a rush to get all his gear packed away and back to the car. We seem to drag a mountain of gear around with us these days and there’s nothing quite like a stile or a clapper gate for throwing a spanner in the works.
With light rain beginning to fall and the light fading, Mick struggled up to the stile which is just upstream of Dunham Bridge on the Sheffield bank, I’m sure lots of readers know the spot intimately. A fellow angler who had been fishing for barbel was also struggling and, as you do, the pair shared pleasantries and swapped notes on their day. It seemed a good idea to park his gear at the stile and make the last leg back to the car in two hops.
As the light rain turned into a downpour things got a bit hectic. We’ve all been there, rushing to pack everything in the car before it gets soaked and then hitting the road so you can get the demister working before the windows fog up.
Well, it was only when Mick got home that he realised he’d left his two-week-old ‘Theseus’ seat box at the stile containing a couple of Daiwa TDR reels, a Shimano fixed spool, at least a hundred pole floats, spools of line, bread punches, hooks, you name it. Of course he jumped into his car and drove straight back to Dunham but there was no sign of his box.
Now I’m an optimist. I like to think that the three guys who were fishing near the stile found his box and have held it in safe keeping until he makes contact. If you have any information as to the whereabouts of Mick’s box please give him a call on 0114 246 6240.
And Finally – Finally, let’s close with a name check for some other angling blogs:
Blogging – The Real Catch
Looking back at what I fondly recall as the heyday of fishing magazines (the 1980′s) when we had series like Wading On, Love Stories, Tales Of Tydd, Ron Lees’ Life and Times, Geoff Bucknall’s Diary, my own Tales of the Riverbank and many, many more of that ilk, you could put forward a case that those monthly columns were the fore-runners of today’s angling blogs.
Alas they’ve all been consigned to history by the incessant desire for information – we’re in the gizza rig, gizza bait and tell me the exact swim age now.
Angling blogs are kicking against that trend, sharing fishing exploits with anglers who seek the soul of angling rather than the fishing version of a Haynes Car Manual.
Blogging is clearly a worldwide phenomenon, totally unregulated and there’s no quality control either. Blogs range from the fascinating and the addictive right down to the mundane and downright boring. Everyone’s at it, or so it seems.
I discovered some statistics (above) that reveal the phenomenal scale of blogging worldwide and you have to bear in mind this was 18 months ago. Back then there were 112,000,000 blogs on the web and the number was growing by 175,000 every single day and rising. Where does it end, eh?
Twitter maybe. Do anglers use Twitter?
I can imagine a nightmare scenario where the new rising star of angling is fishing, the rod hoops over and he catches an 8lb barbel. Now he has to weigh it, then photograph it, shoot a bit of DVD footage, text 17 mates and then to log-on to Twitter via his blackberry and tell the world. Two hours later he’s ready to cast in again.
When he gets home he has to write up the article for Barbel Bashers Weekly, re-word it (but use the same pictures) for Coarse I Caught It monthly and then update his blog. Then it’s time to fire off a few images to his mates and various sponsors making sure their products are strategically placed in the pictures. I failed to mention that this involves taking dozens of pictures in different jumpers and hats…
Madness? Trust me, it’s already happening.
But blogging is a popular art form (at least with those who write them!). Perhaps it’s this season’s fashion trend for anglers. Trouble is they kick off full of enthusiasm and ambition but very few stick at it for long. I wonder why that is? Maybe they spend more time playing with a computer than getting out on the river bank.
In case you’re remotely interested I’ve done a quick trawl on Google and here’s a quick snapshot of some of the blogs that have been around for a year or more. I’ve ignored any Johnny-come-latelys; if they’re still around in a year’s time I might revist them…
So here goes, Bob’s guide to The Good, The Bad and The Can’t Really Be Bothered Any More…
Fantastic images on this site and well written, too. You may even see Henry in a different light to the guy who’s on TV. Last updated 17th October 2009.
Again, some great images on this site. However, last updated 1st June 2009 with advertising for the new TF gear and guiding trips.
Two semi-recent updates, one in August 2009, the latest in September but both could easily be construed as relatively short adverts for the second batch of ‘Impossible’ DVDs rather than blogs.
These were weekly articles culled from his Daily Express column rather than a blog but it appears to have not been updated since 3rd May 2009
Mark Barrett’s Blog
Come on Mr Barrett!!! Not updated since February 2007
Same goes for the Pons – get your finger out! Last Updated: 14th May 2009
This used to be one of my favourite blogs until it faded away but now it’s back. The guy certainly knows his stuff. Last updated 16th October 2009
The piper calls the tune, I guess.
Ade Kidell’s section was last updated on 18th September 2009, Alan Stagg published his last effort on 28th September but Chris Ponsford’s page hasn’t been updated since 8th October 2008. Come on Chris!
There are several entries from some of Sonu’s match orientated consultants, too.
Stewart Bloor’s Angling Journal
Regular updates from a suffering Wolves fan – good on that man.
Pike Fishing UK
This blog appears to be updated once a month and was last updated on 20th September 2009
Match based, featuring various less ‘well known’ contributors that is regularly updated – well worth a visit.
David Edwards’ Deesox Blog
A nice blog that was last updated on 16th October 2009 – hurrah!!
Regular updates from Alan Yates and Jocelyn Dupre. Mick Brown last reported on February 3rd 2009
The exploits of Korum Consultants Julian Chidgey and Duncan Charman
Updated 5th October 2009
The Angling Lines Blog
More a Q&A than a genuine blog
Mike’s Water Log
This blog has not been updated since October 2008
Diary of a sea angler
Last updated 2nd October 2009
Norfolk Fishing Life
Last updated 8th September 2009
Northern based match fishing site, last updated 13th October 2009
A mixed bunch of carpers can be found at
Updated 25th September 2009
My old mate Nick Rowe from Reels On Wheels
Updated 4th September 2009
Jimbo’s angling blog
Last updated 28th September 2009
Lure Fishing Diary
Last updated 26th August 2009
Specialist Anglers Alliance
Called a Blogspot but it’s really a news page but that hasn’t been updated since 5th May 2009
Rob Kavanagh’s fishing blog
Not updated since 6th May 2008
And finally, this is well worth a look…
At least some are trying hard and, of course, if you know a good blog that I’ve missed and you’d like to share it then feel free to do so by sending a link using the comments facility below.