It’s been a while since I blogged. Blogging is time consuming and it takes a lot of energy and enthusiasm to maintain what can easily take over your life. I spend far too much time sat in front of a computer screen as it is, but that doesn’t mean I’ve completely retired, as this effort proves. Guess I’m now an occasional blogger, tending to post when I actually have something to say rather than thinking of something to say because I need to blog.
To be fair most of my day-to-day minutia in the past year has been published on Facebook, but I’m rather losing interest in Facebook. Initially it was the constant barrage of game requests that did for me. How pointless are they? Now it’s the adverts. And who cares what some stranger ate for his breakfast? And why should I ‘Like’ a tackle shop I’ve never visited, a bait company I’ve never heard of, or even Olga from the Volga and her scanty panties?
Countless companies were clearly using my friends list as a marketing opportunity and nothing more. Some even have the audacity to post, ‘Thank you for the advert’. That’s taking the biscuit, don’t you think?
And then there are those with Facebook diarrhoea. The ones who can’t go more than an hour without pontificating on their little throne. Jeezus wept! Do they have nothing interesting at all happening in their lives?
Of course I’d better mention those who apparently spend their entire lives trawling the net for something to copy and paste. Usually it’s political, or racially motivated, a slogan or God forbid a funny film clip, or should I really say a clip they think is hilarious.
If only it were. Facebook is a masturbation substitute. Only the person who’s posting is stimulated.
So I cleared out my burgeoning friends list. Sorry if I dropped you. It’s nothing personal, but did you go to school with me, invite me to your wedding or share an unforgettable experience? Chances are, you didn’t.
Hmmm. How do I explain this action without causing offense? I needed a little personal space. Somewhere that I might just share relevant stuff with family and close friends. I really don’t want to tell 5,000 strangers and all their friends that I’m going on holiday and my house might be empty for the next two weeks, now do I?
But it would be rude to cut off the genuine ‘followers’ who show an active interest in what I’m doing on the angling front. Let’s face it, we’re all a bit nosey, aren’t we? I’m no different. Trouble is when you have several thousand ‘friends’ your feed updates constantly, going blink, blink, blink, blink, blur… And then the eyes glaze over. You can’t read it all. It’s information overload, so I switch off.
It was time for change. Time to withdraw my private stuff and create a public figure ‘Page’ called the Bob Roberts Angling page which now replaces my personal profile. Visitors to the page get exactly the same updates as before and have exactly the same opportunity to post comments, but it stops the games immediately and what’s more, unless you tick the ‘Like’ box I cannot contact you, so that benefits you, not me.
Moving my stuff across was easy. Moving my ‘followers’ was a whole lot harder and frankly I’m not even trying. I see others who are in the same process desperately begging folk to ‘Like’ them, as though having a few thousand ‘Likes’ makes them somehow important. It’s demeaning really. Sad even. ‘Like me, please! Please like me. Come on, lick my like button…’ Jesus! Talk about insecurity and wannabees. Just let it grow organically. Folk will find you. Eventually.
Personally I’m not totally convinced I’m going to continue using Facebook much longer. Every third post on my timeline still seems to be an advert and the delightful staff at Zuckerberg’s Multimedia Empire keep bombarding me with suggestions I pay to pester even more people. Well frankly, I don’t want to. I don’t want to force my thoughts and musings onto other folk unless they buy in to them voluntarily. If you want to know what I’m doing you will seek out my page for yourself. Or read my blog.
I’m very conscious that posting to Facebook takes away the energy and resources required to regularly update my web site. Maybe you’ll find me here more often in the future after all. Facebook’s like a sugary snack. It gives you a quick buzz, it ain’t filling, intensely fattening and makes you lazy. At the end of the day there’s nothing there except a bunch of folk wanting to draw attention to themselves, not to mention numerous anglers you once respected who turn out to be rabid racists, religious extremists, homophobics, right wingers and idiotic idealists. Some days I honestly despair.
It goes without saying we endured a pretty dismal winter on the rivers front. I didn’t set foot on the banks of any of the main Yorkshire Rivers and even my local River Don has been largely ignored. Things have been dire.
I did pay the occasional visit to the Trent and I’ve spoken with a number of anglers who caught quite well, but once they started talking about ten ounce feeders my eyes glazed over. It may be your thing but it ain’t mine. I’m simply not that desperate to catch and certainly not on tackle that has the potential to inflict serious damage on a fish’s mouth. Sorry folks, but we may as well go back to cramming hundreds of pounds of barbel into keepnets again.
I did sneak in a few trips towards the back end as levels stabilised but my results were hardly impressive. Indeed my trips were so memorable I had to trawl through my hard drive to recall when and where I went. Mostly I’ve been adopting a ‘that’s why it’s called fishing and not catching’ approach!
I did catch the odd nice barbel and a few decent chub here and there kept me going but I found myself drifting onto commercial stillwaters, as much to get a few bites as anything. Of course, when I did don my fish catching blinkers I didn’t have too much trouble catching but isn’t it always the ones who try hardest who will reap the rewards?
I caught some nice perch, mind, and a few bumper nets of roach, so mustn’t grumble too much.
By the time March came round I was past the point of caring and spent the final week of the river season in Sri Lanka chasing a giant trevally.
I suppose it was Sod’s law that the sea would be as rough as hell and the fishing we’d spent months dreaming about (surface fishing with poppers) was nigh-on impossible.
I did catch a whacking great lump on my first day out but in the days following it was a case of light jigging for smallish reef fish before we abandoned that and headed inland to try and catch barramundi and featherbacks. Even that was pants. All-in-all the fishing was an expensive disaster but at least the company was good.
I arrived back home just after the closed season had begun and as I could have predicted the rivers were in perfect nick. But were the fish in our rivers actually spawning? Of course not. What a farce the closed season is. I’m all for having one, but does anyone with an ounce of intelligence seriously think it’s properly scheduled? If our law makers were in charge of a canary they’d probably keep it in a fish tank.
As for the so-called traditionalists they’d bring back cholera and put bubonic plague germs on the protected species list. Tradition has its place, be in no doubt of that. It’s called Morris dancing and should be performed around a Maypole and no-where else.
It’s time we anglers stopped worrying about tradition and what city dwelling wildlife lovers will think if we disturb a blade of grass in the countryside during April. In the grand scheme of things it doesn’t make one iota of difference. Unleashed dogs will continue to harass birdlife along the river banks, canoers will paddle through the spawning grounds and bird voyeurs will lurk around in the shadows getting all excited that they have found some otter poo. Meanwhile none of these folk recognise fish exist and care even less. The only thing they are really interested in is spoiling the joy of thee and me.
Just remember, these same folk do not object to the culling of bambi and thumper. Why then do you think they will be so outraged by sensible management of cormorants and otters?
Spawning? – Give Over!
It came as no surprise to hear tales of barbel ‘spawning’ very early this spring. ‘They are chasing each other all over the gravels already’, I was reliably informed.
Of course they are. And this is what’s wrong with casual observation by uneducated folk being acclaimed as evidence and scientific fact. Male barbel gather on the shallows long before the females do and like a bunch of excited teenage boys you get a bit of boisterous behaviour.
What these folk are witnessing and reporting isn’t spawning at all and as such it makes a complete mockery of any spawning survey carried out by lay people, effectively rendering it a futile endeavour. Traditionalists demand the closed season dates should not be altered without proper scientific evidence to justify a change. Well pardon me for pointing this out but the dates were imposed without scientific evidence and they are being justified by ill-informed dogma.
Perhaps we should stop pretending such surveys have any credibility whatsoever. If I want a medical opinion I seek out a qualified doctor. I certainly don’t ask an uneducated bloke down the pub for a second opinion.
Seriously, go and visit the EA’s national fish farm. They will tell you the exact criteria required for barbel to spawn. Watch and listen carefully to my interview with Alan Henshaw during Barbel Days and Ways Volume One. As leader of the team that developed the process for artificial spawning and raising of barbel in this country he’s the oracle. He IS the science. Just because you might not agree with the facts doesn’t mean you can alter them by employing a bunch of casual observers with a biased viewpoint.
I somehow seem to get dragged into attending more and more shows these days. Next year I think I’m going to start asking for a reasonable remuneration for doing them. After all, I can easily spend a whole week or more preparing a decent show and most of mine are one-offs. Even I get bored hearing them a second time.
I do actually enjoy the performing part and meeting lots of people but driving round the country can be a drag. The more memorable shows were The Northern Angling Show in Manchester, Kelham Hall raising funds for the Nottingham Piscatorial Juniors and of course the Barbel Show staged by the Barbel Society. I’m speaking at the Tenchfishers do at the back end of May, the Kev Green Memorial day in August and the PAC Conference in October but unless someone wants to cross my palm with silver I reckon it’s time I took a break from these kind of events.
When I received the estimate for repairing my van last week I realised being a nice guy doesn’t even begin to pay the bills.
Footnote: Apparently I am not speaking to the Tenchfishers. Yes they invited me. Yes I spent the best part of a week creating a dazzling slideshow. Stu began editing 3 bespoke film clips to give the presentation a bit more ‘wow’ and then I hear that they’ve booked a different speaker because I didn’t chase them enough after agreeing I’d do it. You can imagine how I reacted to this news.
Green Un Semi Final
I had the pleasure of running my Club Match Angler Championship semi final again on May Day Bank Holiday. Over a hundred club anglers fished at Lodge Farm Fisheries and some of them enjoyed cracking sport. A lot struggled mind, which is partly explained by having matches on the same lakes on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, but the lake owners are going to take that while ever the rich pickings are there to be had.
Because we’d filled three lakes the other two were very busy with pleasure anglers. That’s an awful lot of day tickets, countless bags of pellets, plus 80 breakfasts on top for good measure. Do the sums, that’s not a bad income for one day’s work, is it?
No wonder they’re digging two more lakes.
As for the match, let’s just say we’ve a cracking final in the offing with an incredibly strong line-up at Sykehouse Fisheries on June 8th.
One highlight of the day was meeting 14-year-old David Thomson. What a talented kid he is. He had with him his quadcopter complete with GoPro camera and took some aerial images (both video and stills) of the match in progress. He also showed me the showreel he’d uploaded to his Youtube site. It’s here to save you searching:
It’s not that long ago since the angling papers began using wide angle lenses for catch shots which is now a de riguer feature of practically every article you read so how low long do you think it will be before someone uses one in a magazine article and how long before every one has a fish playing/ netting shot taken from a remotely controlled helicopter in it.
It’s the future, take my word for it! 😉
Footnote: Apparently if you wish to use a drone to shoot professional imagery you will require a helicopter license and attend a training course. The fines are quite staggering if you ignore the law and a second offence is punishable by imprisonment. Can this really be true?
On The Up
At last the weather is truly on the up. The sun has shone, my garden is flourishing and the urge to wet a line is there again. Just being by the waterside is a pleasant experience, even if it involves me being eaten by insects. Bet you are covered in red lumps and bumps, too.
Work parties are breeding grounds for gnat bites, don’t you think?
The tenching has been somewhat abysmal on the home front. Really need to get on the road and do something about that. But at least the bream and carp fishing is making up for that. Yes, I’m catching again, and I like it!
So there we have it on the fishing front. I’m sure lots of you are straining at the leash to attack the rivers on June 16th. If so, please remember what I keep broadcasting. The 16th isn’t glorious at all. Just because the rivers are open again it’s no excuse to go chasing fish that are still spawning or just getting over the exertions of spawning. If you care about the principle of a closed season then it’s the fish that matter, not specific dates. Otherwise I have to say it, you’re just a hypocrite.
Oh well, at least there’s a world cup to distract us all. Here’s the footie bit.
Football – It’s A Matter Of Life And Death
Bill Shankly once said that football is more important than life and death. Those who have enjoyed, or perhaps endured an emotional relationship with the beautiful game will understand exactly what he was trying to say.
Those who don’t understand the game cannot really see the point of it, nor do they want to, nor ever will they and I respect that position. It is their choice. The smart ones opt out and keep their counsel to themselves in the same way that sane non-religious folk steer well away from secular arguments.
Personally I don’t want to marry a black man. That doesn’t make me a racist or homophobic, I tread a different path, but I respect those who may wish to do one or the other, or both. What I certainly don’t do is go seeking out ethnic folk or those with a different sexual orientation to my own in order to mock them. I can’t see the fun in that and they certainly wouldn’t be impressed if I did.
I’m sure gays and blacks enjoy banter between themselves that steps over a line that white straight men could never cross and so do rival football fans. It’s because they understand and can feel each others’ pain so to speak. I will happily wind up Leeds United fans but show me one who’s genuinely been offended by it. They equally mock my team. We’ve both shared hard times.
I empathise with Bristol Rovers fans who’s team dropped out of the league last weekend. I know exactly how it feels and wouldn’t even attempt to direct even the lightest hearted banter in their direction right now because I feel their pain.
I might joke about Liverpool falling at the final hurdle in the Premier League, I might mock Man Utd’s catastrophic decline to 7th place, because let’s face it, their idea of failure and disaster is simply not in the same Universe as that experienced by the perennial strugglers of the football world.
Doncaster Rovers were relegated from the Championship this season in pretty cruel circumstances on the final day of the season. Seemingly under no threat whatsoever with 8 games to play, 7 defeats and a draw left them needing to equal or better Birmingham’s result in the last chance saloon. Donny went to Champions Leicester and were beaten 1-0 by an extremely dubious 75th minute penalty which happened to be Leicester’s 15th of the season – an astonishing number which leads one to think they must have some kind of difficulty standing up in the box. Or maybe the gravity is much stronger where they play.
Meanwhile Birmingham went 2-0 down at Bolton in the same 75th minute but somehow clawed things back to draw 2-2 by virtue of a goal scored so deep into injury time that the Doncaster game had already finished.
If you don’t understand the heart rending effect of football or the raw emotional pull then let me share what was happening in the away enclosure at Leicester’s KP stadium. When the Birmingham goal was scored one fan was so overcome with emotion he collapsed and died of a heart attack. And this is serious, I am not exaggerating, here’s a link.
Shortly afterwards I received a mocking post on Facebook from a Leicester born non-football person. Someone who knows f*** all about the game, the passion or its palpable physical emotions. He must have thought he was so funny.
His follow up posts did him even less credit than the first one. I’m sure you can guess his stance, it was only a joke, knew he’d get a reaction, thought you (I) was bigger than this, etc, etc. Bit like going round calling folk niggers whilst wearing a white hood and saying it was a joke. Then burning a cross.
The bloke (it always is a bloke, isn’t it?) is now removed from my friends list, blocked on Facebook and as far as I care doesn’t even exist any more. I pity him. He doesn’t realise or appreciate he’s ignorant. He doesn’t know what a first class arsehole he is. Nor, presumably, does he understand that football, for thousands of folk up and down the country IS a matter of life and death. To some, unfortunately, it is exactly that.
My condolences to Ray Dunning’s family.