Nostalgia Ain’t What It Used To Be
Back in November I was looking back through some old images, I’m sure you have a few, too, and it set me to thinking how everything is now instant, in the moment. Folk can’t even eat a meal without sharing images of it on the Internet. They tell us where they are, what they are doing, eating and drinking. We even go on virtual holiday with them and it’s all a bit shallow, really. But does it matter?
Then I took a chill pill and came to the conclusion that if it keeps them happy, no one gets hurt? Of course, it didn’t take me many seconds to realise I’m not so different, except I’ve been doing it via the medium of newspapers and magazines for over 30 years. Guilty as charged, M’Lud.
Take away the meals and the memes, the rants and the videos of cats, the adverts and the broken hearts, fake news and Russian manipulation, and what exactly is left? Dig deep enough and there are some wonderful images. Unfortunately in the realm of fishermen it rarely goes much deeper than here’s me at Peg 1A, or Gunthorpe weir, or x names the spot with a fish. I caught it on Blogs’ bait, aren’t I a clever boy? And that’s about it. There’s no soul. No history. No great feeling of awe and wonder. Indeed if Facebook had a dislike button it would prove very interesting. What I would love to say to these people is tell me the story, entertain me, or teach me something I can benefit from.
Indeed, what exactly does this picture say about you, where you are, or the fish. Is it a genuine achievement? Your turn to sit in the front seat of the rollercoaster. Roll up, roll up! Come on, provoke my thoughts. Otherwise it’s just meaningless fish porn.
Is this making any sense?
Anyway, conscious of the fact that a lot of people have told me they don’t subscribe to social media, the kind of people who come here, hoping to be entertained, titillated or amused by my latest blog post or article. They never see my Facebook posts, and that’s a shame, because since my trawl through those old images, I’ve begun a ritual of posting a daily image from the archives, aptly titled, ‘On This Day’ (or as the cool kids would say, #OTD). The reaction to them has been very positive with lots of favourable comments and folk then posting their own images in the threads below my offerings. It was clearly proving to be interactive. And then Daiwa picked up on them. They are now featuring some of the posts on their own Social Media platforms which has led me to think that you, dear reader, should not have to miss out just because you don’t subscribe to Mark Zuckerberg’s world domination project.
I’m not even sure how this is going to work. I’m sure it will evolve but for now it’s time for a bit of a catch-up. To start with I’ll share the pictures already published on Facebook, with the text, and we’ll take it from there. Feel free to come up with your own ideas on how this can be improved. Just post them beneath the article.
So, here’s the story, as it unfolded. In this first month I wasn’t too prescriptive on the calendar dates because, to be truthful I had no idea where it was heading. Here was an idea, gelling and forming, evolving. You will see in the next month (when I get around to publishing it) that I begin to dig deeper and gradually delve deeper into the archives.
On This Day – 26th November 2016
This is the image that kicked off the theme. It was the first image of a challenge to myself. Could I find an image from any given date in the calendar year where I had gone fishing?
There I was, wandering down a local canal, drop shot rod in hand, when I came across Dan Esox. A larger than life character who I’d previously never met before. We had some fun, I can tell you.
And we caught a few fish, as you can see. Dan introduced me to Ned Rigs that day. What an eye opener! You really must try them.
27th November 2012
Being introduced to lure fishing in the dark with soft rubber shads by Alan Dudhill was a real eye opener. On my first attempt I cauhht my first Trent zander. This was my second session (now as a zander expert!) and what a battle I had, in the dark, using a light jig rod. It’s definitely a technique worth persisting with. It’s amazing, not just how predators locate prey in the dark, but how willing they are to attack.
28th November 2017
Looking at this image you might think it was a chilly February scene. It was not, and as you can see I was already in chub mode, feeding liquidised bread through a cage feeder with flake on the hook. The wind was blowing a hooligan. I had already tried and failed elsewhere. This was pretty much a puncher’s chance, a wild swing hoping to land a knock-out punch as the bout came to a conclusion. Now I reckon I can pretty much land any chub that swims on the Yank ‘n’ Bank feeder rod matched with 5lbs line but this day I had just the one bite and whatever it was from took me straight past that bush without stopping with inevitable consequences.
Is it me or does everything seem about a month behind this year (2018/9)? I’m sure winters used to start much earlier.
29th November 2015
In the shadows of former steelworks and foundries, close to one of Europe’s largest shopping centres, here in the heart of Sheffield’s Don Valley you can catch trout and grayling to your heart’s content. providing you can find access to the water the fishing is free for all. Centrepin, stick float, bait apron and maggots. Proper old school stuff.
30th November 2012
The Trent, in flood, is a beast of a river. This shot was taken from the roof of the old mill tower at Carlton, just north of Newark and shows just how vast it becomes.
I spent the day searching for somewhere Mike Townsend and I could wet a line, eventually settling in at Smeatons. Not surprisingly we never saw another angler.
1st December 2014
This was a tough old day spent chucking lures on the Stainforth and Keadby Canal. The pike and perch simply weren’t playing ball but persistence paid off in the end with a real last gasp take, just as I was almost back at the car. Late afternoon sun against the one bush that had a little colour in the leaves made for a cracking picture. Pictures like this are ‘made’ and not just taken by accident. I always try to visualise the end result when I plan a pictures taking into account light and background.
2nd December 2013
This image shows the fence end where many years earlier I caught my first ever 2lb roach (on float fished hemp). Alas several miles of this once roach-filled paradise are now closed-off to angling completely. Don’t be fooled by the sign. It lies! I had called in hoping to sneak a few hours but the local dog walkers and professional nosey parkers were queuing up to tell me, you can’t fish here, private, not allowed, go away!
Also on this very day in 1983 I fished the tidal River Trent at Carlton, just below the stream mouth. The river had been up 5 feet in the week but was now running clear. A hard frost gave way to a weak winter sun that barely raised the temperature above freezing, a light downstream breeze intensified the chill, yet I was bitterly disappointed to ONLY catch 8lb of roach (mostly bits) with the biggest going a pound.
Oh for a time machine! What you wouldn’t give for a nice day’s roach fishing like that in adverse conditions. These days you’ll hardly see anyone using a float on the Trent between October and March. Pound roach have become increasingly rare.
3rd December 2014
I’m not a complicated predator angler. Simple deadbait tactics are my usual stock in trade. Any success on the catching front revolves around nothing more complicated than travelling light, keeping mobile and being prepared to battle through dense undergrowth to find areas not normally fished by the crowd. There’s nothing like that thrill when, on a day when noon approaches and you were thinking any chance of success had gone, the line suddenly pings out of the drop-back indicator clip, the alarm wails and you prepare to wind down in the hope something pulls back. This one certainly did!
4th December 2011
An evening spent chasing Stillwater zander on a freezing cold Midlands water, filming for a sequence that never made the final cut of Caught In The Act. A cracking long exposure photograph taken without using flash.
5th December 2008
We’re heading back 10 years for this reflection. Overnihht snow on the ground, already melting away. A tiny Yorkshire river that regularly threw up quality roach to float fished bread…
I miss this place…
6th December 2017
Brian Skoyles and I were invited to fish Wetherby and District’s delightful stretch of the Wharfe. It proved to be a tough day in low, crystal clear conditions but we still had our share of ladies. Pie and Peas and well kept pint in the club house afterwards was a great way to end the day. Huge thanks to Nick and Co for being such wonderful hosts. Season tickets for the club waters are a steal and available on line from the club’s web site.
7th December 2013
Today’s #OTD treat is from 5 years ago, slouching on stage at the Northern Angling Show with a man who I’ve enjoyed the company of, on and off the bank, on countless occasions, Des Taylor.
Whoever’s bright idea it was to sit the guests on a low sofa needed their head testing. We were practically horizontal – mind you, that wouldn’t have been the first time this bloke’s had me in that state! It might work for Jonathon Ross surrounded by TV cameras but a couple of bar stools are much better for both the paying customers and the speakers where an angling show is concerned..
8th December 2011
A special one today. One of my biggest ever chub, caught on my first visit to a new river using simp tactics, good old wag and mag.
Predators apart, it reminds me how few of the big fish we see reported in the media are caught on anything else except legered boilies. Do you find it odd how carp and barbel anglers get upset by accidental chub, tench and bream captures but when one of these happens to be a giant that attitude changes to, hey look at my new PB, I’m on page seven…? Caught on Blogg’s bait, of course. And folk say we need to make fishing more interesting to attract kids. Perhaps we could start by not giving over so much space to identikit anglers, calling them experts and specialists. No they are not, they are clones.
9th December 2006
A dozen years ago. As you can see behind me, the Trent was carrying a drop of extra water. Yes, the ‘island’ behind me is where the top of the bank would be in normal conditions.
Not a time to take risks and whilst barbel will feed during a flood, let’s not get carried away like some do and make wild exaggerated claims that flood fishing is easy. It isn’t. And it’s not for the novice.
10th December 2013
On This Day looks back to 2013. A stretch of the Trent I have fished only once in my whole life. Realising I’ve not been back since comes as a surprise as it’s on one of my club tickets yet rarely sees much angling pressure as it’s not what you would describe as a ‘classic’ barbel area.
Had you asked I might have said I’d fished it as recently as 2 years ago but I’d have been hopelessly wrong. Time flies, doesn’t it? Standard quivertip, cage feeder and bread did the business. Must return there, soon.
11th December 2015
Is there a better silver fishery in the north? The quality of the roach in Messingham Sands is outstanding. A popular day ticket fishery that delivers the goods in all weathers, all year round. Good parking, roomy pegs, big perch, too. Well worth a go.
12th December 2012
On This Day (#OTD) six years ago. Mike Townsend says, let’s go chub fishing. Jeez was it cold! Colder than the proverbial witches tit. And guess which idiot left his coat at home? Yes, me. That’s frost in the backgound, not snow.
There’s something special about winter fishing that no summer trip can beat. Plus you get the river to yourself more often than not. Just don’t leave your coat at home!
13th December 2015
I have to say the face of British politics is an ugly one, so let’s park those dark thoughts and look back to this exact day 3 years ago (#OTD). The River Don, backdropped by Sheffield’s industrial heartland, the location of so many foundries and heavy industries, a river that in living memory was one of the most polluted in Europe. Yet here I was catching wild brown trout and grayling by the score and all for free.
Perhaps not the leafy valleys and sparkling, managed chalk streams some might associate with those species, but wild and rugged in its own way. A river of distinct character. In my wildest childhood dreams I could not have imagined such a transformation. I would have said there was more chance of Dear Theresa growing a pair of big fat hairy balls and sticking with her strong and stable, no deal better than a bad deal, these are my red lines, I can be bloody difficult, it’s a good deal for the UK, etc, etc. How wrong could I be?
14th December 201
15th December 2010
A tiny river, lots of snow, lovely roach. One of those days when it’s fabulous to wrap up and get out there but you almost don’t want to catch because that means wet hands and wet hands are numbingly cold hands.
Looking out of the window we might have some of this on the way again. Tight lines!
16th December 2004
Heading back 14 years and a trip across the Pennines to fish with Gary Knowles. We met up, Gary’s CD was blaring out punk music, 9 inch nails if I remember. Mine? Puddle Of Mud. It was my first visit to the Ribble, a long walk across frosty fields to Redscar. Anyway, it was bloody cold, the river clear and very difficult. Lovely location, mind. We both used cage feeders and bread before I decided to show him how to fish properly! The conditions were perfect for running a big balsa down the far side amongst the fallen trees.
As darkness fell Gary dropped below the weir and had his biggest ever Ribble chub of that time (5-15), an immaculate specimen. As I recall he wasn’t impressed by the wild and often exaggerated claims of six pounders made by some folk. In those days a ‘six’ from anywhere was a huge fish. Probably the equivalent of a seven today. Sorry about the quality of the image but this was in the very early days of digital photography, but I’m sure you get the idea. Fond, fond memories of a fabulous trip. Oh, and he mugged me into doing a slideshow for the Blithfield anglers (As you’re here, you might as well do a talk…). You still owe me that day on Blithfield Gary!
17th December 2013
Not a bad fish to land on the pole. Pink hydro, pound bottom, size 20 Gamma Black hook – and you should have seen the fish I lost. OMG! That was a proper crocodile…
May have to return for another go. What do you reckon next time – blue hydro?
18th December 2006
The Trent was high and mighty. Look at the bend in those rods! Sadly I blanked (I think) but you have to be in it to win it.
19th December 2006
In the past we had proper frosts. They seem quite rare these days. This was 2006. Makes you want to dig out that cheese paste from the freezer, eh? Nothing like catching a few chub in this kind of weather. Or perhaps grayling.
20th December 2003
Fifteen years ago today I caught my first River Dove double. I was fishing as a guest of Andy Harper and the weather was so grim he asked me if I’d mind looking after his gear while he took his black labrador home. It literally wasn’t fit to turn a dog out, but one bite was enough to make braving the awful weather more than worthwhile. Happy days. Great memories.
21st December 2006
This was 12 years ago, shooting a feature for the now long forgotten Coarse Fisherman magazine at Fiskerton on the River Trent. Happy days.
How many sadly missed magazine titles can you remember. Angling is not what it once was without them. If you grew up on Love Stories, Tales Of Tydd, Wading On, Snide Rumours and such like you will remember the true soul of Aangling journalism. We used to really look forward to each new issue of the magazines, to the rivalry between editors Hall, Dyson and Paisley. Can you honestly say you look forward to today’s output? How much more ‘I went guiding’ puffery can a man suffer before he says enough is enough? That’s not a criticism of any individual, they are all at it! Is this the legacy of Walker, Stone, Hutchinson, Marks, et al?
22nd December 1983
Really digging deep for this one. Back to 1983 in fact. Where have those intervening 35 years gone?!!!! The Trent was in flood. I fished at Carlton on the tidal a lot in those days for quality roach. Those who know Carlton will appreciate how high the vertical ‘cliffs’ are. Well the water was creeping over the top of them which is like 4 metres high and rising. We retreated into the beck that runs in just above the wharf, normally a tiny stream, inches deep but small fry would find refuge there in times of flood. We fished for tiddlers, happy just to see a float go under. Those were the days. The entry in my diary was brief, nothing much to write home about. we caught nothing bigger than an ounce yet still went home happy with lots to puzzle over, how could we have done better? I went back a few days later and doubled this catch, putting into practise what I’d learned.
When ‘experts’ say angling is declining, that it needs sexing up, they should look back at a simple day like this. It describes perfectly what has been lost. This was angling’s heyday when the Trent was far, far busier than it is today. We weren’t driven by fashion, we had passion. We were on a voyage of discovery. We were exploring, there was no Internet to point out every good swim. You found your own. Big or small didn’t matter, it was about being there. Happy to be catching anything that would pull a float under, no matter how tiny. HAVING FUN! It was never about being sexy. It never will be. If you think that, you’ve missed the point.
23rd December 1984
Yesterday’s diary extract proved very popular, so here’s another. This time from (#OTD) 23rd December, 1984. The Trent was a very different river in those days and I was privileged to enjoy some of the most enjoyable fishing of my entire life. What I wouldn’t give for a winter day’s float fishing like this again. Sure beats the hell out of any foreign adventure or double figure barbel. If only I could have realised what exceptional sport we were enjoying in those pre-cormorant and pre-otter days. And oh, for the want of a camera, too. That’s the truly annoying bit. No pictures. Everything is so easy today. But then again, things will presumably be very different from today in 30-odd years time.
Wonder what the Trent will be like in 2050? Will Brexit be sorted? Will the EU even exist. Answers on a postcard to Lee Swords.
24th December 1997
Here’s a rave from the grave, December 1997. You might recognise the weir behind me… Fantastic sport on lures.
Bet you’d upset a few doing that nowadays, what with the fashion for using multiple rods and strung out lines covering the maximum amount of water!
25th December 2018
Merry Christmas everyone. Thank you for your friendship and kind messages. Here’s to a bright future. Tight lines all…
26th December 2007
Not so much from this specific day as from the December, 2007 issue of Improve Your Coarse Fishing magazine shot on a tough, tough day. We were fishing the Leeds DASA stretch of the River Swale at Topcliffe with Stan Jeffries and the late Kevin Green was able to photograph this excellent chub. At the time it was the biggest one ever caught in front of the cameras during an Improve shoot.
Happy days. Kevin Green remains a very sad personal loss for which angling is the poorer.
27th December 2007
Today’s image is also a little out of sequence, but it did appear in Angling Times during December 1999 following a most enjoyable winter break at Anglers Paradise. A fabulous looking fish taken during a short daytime session on the Specimen Carp Lake. Paradise was, and still is, a great place to catch your first ‘twenty’.
28th December 1987
Another peep into my diary for #OTD. 31 years ago (1987) the River Idle below Bawtry was a different animal altogether, certainly compared to the pale shadow were are left with today.
They say, never look back, but for me it’s a case of look back in anger. What a fine river this was before the cormorants practically wiped it out.
What I wouldn’t give for a time travel machine! Where would you go?
29th December 2007
2010. Arriving in Devon for New Year, Sue and I shared a villa with Des and Marg. Many units of alcohol were drunk. Happy days, eh? We laughed so much. Des’s views on the education system, which quite clearly failed him but on reflection actually made him who he is, as it did me, were priceless. And we caught some fish, too! What was not to like.
There’s nothing quite like a New Year Party at Anglers Paradise.
Okay, now I have an idea where this idea is going but I’ll make a start on January over the next week. Hope you like it. Let’s see what the future (or rather the past) brings us as I continue to delve into the archives. I’ve certainly refined things and tightened up on the dates since the start of the year. let me know if you feel I’m wasting my (and your) time.