Bit late with this update. Like lots of others I’ve been a bit busy, but you could almost say that for my whole adult life! Nevermind, for those who don’t follow on Facebook, here’s a summary of the past month’s posts.
On This Day – 1st March 2011
#OTD2011 and a trip to the local(ish) River Idle which was carrying a foot of extra water. Not normally good conditions for the Idle but I had hoped it might stimulate a late season barbel into having a munch. I miss fishing the Idle, not having fished it much since the EA ravaged the bankside vegetation, that and the tendency to stick the weed cutter through immediately after the fish have spawned. I find it’s so much more of a challenge than a ‘noddy’ river like the Trent(!) and maybe it’s time for me to revisit some of my old stomping grounds. Given the choice, do you prefer easy fishing or more challenging intimate waters?
On This Day – 1st March 2017
And here’s a bonus #OTD, this one from 2017 at Westerly Lake near York. I had a thoroughly enjoyable day catching roach and skimmers on the pole whilst just a little way off to my left Brian Skoyles targeted perch with his favourite prawns.
He wasn’t to be disappointed, either.
On This Day – 1st March 2018
When I kicked off this series of daily reflections I wondered whether I would be able to find enough material for each day of the year. Looks like the coming month will not be a problem as I’ve already got more than I can cope with on many of the dates. Here’s yet another bonus image. Bit different to the weather we had in 2019, eh?
On This Day – 2nd March 2010
#OTD2010 It’s when I look back at images like this I realise just how quickly the years are slipping by. Dean Macey had asked me about filming a sequence on the Trent and I said, no problem. Then it rained a bit and the river came up, right to the top of the banks and I still said, no problem. But he wasn’t willing to risk the expense of a film crew blow-out. What a film he could have made! Blue skies, impressive river carrying a couple of metres and I had something like 5 barbel through the middle of the day. No monsters admittedly, but great action.
I gave up this ticket and do miss the stretch. Mind you, when I first fished there it was a long walk and completely deserted. By the time I had moved on it was like Piccadilly Circus, cars parked on top of the floodbank and far too many bivvies for my liking – especially as they were completely unnecessary. It had been a prolific day water but I guess too much pressure tends to change that.
On This Day – 3rd March 2010
Couple of #OTD memories today. This first one dates back to 2010 and a perfect evening, in solitude. Fishery all to myself, one man, one rod and a beautiful sunset. I wish more folk would post pictures that share the soul of fishing rather than the trophy at the end of it because let’s be honest, we have very little control over what picks up our bait on a river like the Trent. The size of fish caught hardly sets you out as a better angler, does it? Does it make the bait you use any more or less of a winner? With bivvies, bite alarms and multiple rods now the norm, with sessions measured in days rather than hours, has there ever been a more persuasive case for the time bandit winning out over technique, knowledge and skill?
On This Day – 3rd March 2011
A bonus post from, #OTD2011. As you probably have worked out by now I’m not driven by size or species. I simply enjoy catching fish. The where and the how are very important to me. Take darts, If you need a double one to finish but land in double 20 you don’t go shouting round the room how good you are! Sometimes hitting a lower target is the pinnacle of success. With the season end looming my soul needed to hit a double one. A last gasp barbel, any barbel, from the Idle, using touch legering, in shallow, crystal clear water. And I succeeded, making this fish far more rewarding (to me) than any 12-pounder from the Trent. Does anyone else get that? Do you understand where I’m coming from? Or is it still Big Bertie or bust for you?
On This Day – 4th March 2012
A bonus post. #OTD2012. Herring-sized dace are great fun to catch and I used to enjoy great sport on the River Don at Denaby catching huge nets of fish like this one, feeding them up in the water until I was catching 3 feet deep in 12 feet of water. It was only possible for a few weeks each year towards the tail end of the season and subject to water levels. For the rest of the season they were simply nowhere to be found. A new housing development has made access more difficult than it used to be and the stretch has dropped off my radar. I wonder if they are there now?
On This Day – 4th March 2003
Once again I’m doubling up on my daily #OTD post. First off today we’re heading back to 2003 and here I am on the River Severn in the company of an old mate. Seems I made a sufficient impression for him to mention it in his Angling Times column! I love nothing better than running a stick float through and catching roach. What’s your favourite technique?
On This Day – 5th March 2015
Today’s offering which comes from #OTD2015. It was one of those days you write the script for in your head. A crisp morning blessed with bright blue skies. First call was on a small river, literally just for ten minutes. A smash and grab raid. Couple of casts, one fish and then a dash to the Trent for a roving session. Long before lunch I’d done the business and the day wasn’t over yet…
On This Day – 5th March 2015
Having caught what I wanted from the small stream I jumped in the car, drove down to the Trent. My luck didn’t end there, as….
The bright sunshine didn’t put the fish down as I expected. It gave way to hazy cloud which gave beautiful light. Perfect for pictures if I could keep up the catching. Bream kept me busy but I don’t mind that. I fish for bites and any fish is a bonus. Then, late in the afternoon I found myself attached to something that clearly wasn’t a bream. Don’t you just love a winter barbel on scaled down end tackle. Give me March over June any day.
On This Day – 6th March 2009
Someone asked me what #OTD meant the other day. Fair point, I guess, so henceforth I’ll use the full term #OnThisDay and in todays case it’s a reminder of how time flies. Exactly 10 years to the day on the River Swale. I rarely get up to the Swale these days and that’s a shame as it’s a lovely river. From memory the biggest of this brace was a shade over 6lbs but I could be confusing it with another day! Cracking fish all the same on nothing more complicated than maggot feeder. Had quite a few fish on what was a bitter cold day. Where would you love to revisit from your past
On This Day – 7th March
Looking back, the 7th March has been kind to me so I’m offering 3 recent examples for my #OnThisDay series. The first goes back to 2012, the tidal Trent and a bright sunny day following a sharp frost. Not remotely ideal conditions but as the days tick down to the closed season you have to be in it to win it and sure enough my efforts were rewarded with this fine zander. In an era when we are seeing more predation than ever before, do you think the introduction of zander to the mix, by the selfish actions of minority anglers, with no permission from controlling clubs or the EA, has been a good or bad thing? And where should we draw the line?
Today’s second offering for #OnThisDay looks back to 2014 and a short session on a small river. Yes, if I want to catch ego massaging fish I’ll head straight on down to the Trent which surely now is the UK’s finest and most consistent river(?) – after all, do folk from Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire or Yorkshire travel regularly to the Severn, Thames, Wye, Avon or Stour? Plenty come the other way though. But when I want to clear my head, to enjoy peace and solitude and chase a few chub on rivers that will never break records or grab the headlines it’s a small river for me every time.
And here’s part 3 of #OnThisDay. Fairly recent, 2015, and the prefect chub day. The stretches I fish seldom ever throw up truly massive Chevins but if you stick at it a few decent fish can be caught, like this fin perfect specimen which fell for simple bread flake. Me, I’d prefer to catch half a dozen good chub then one big one but in my experience if you want that big fish then it’s a case of putting the hours on stretches that only throw up the occasional fish. Do you agree?
On This Day – 7th March
Heading back to 2010 and a cold, cold day in North Yorkshire. The first shot was take AFTER lunch and the frost still lay hard on the ground. Not surprisingly bites were at an absolute premium but I came good in the end, thankfully. Do you reach that stage where you are so determined you refuse to pack up and go home until you eventually get a bite? Sometimes it’s like the fish take pity on me!
On This Day – 9th March
A couple of images for #OTD. The first was four years ago to the day. I was chubbing, but hey, would you turn your nose up at a bag of bream like this, taken in the space of a couple of hours? And my next offering goes much further back, to 1991 if you will. I had dropped down to the Great Ouse near Newport Pagnell for a spot of piking. This one came from just off the river in a side pool. Happy days and fond memories. Somehow I fear the end of the 2018/9 season is going to fizzle out like a damp squib, don’t you?
On This Day – 7th March
Looking back to #OTD2010. Fabulous light, the burnished gold scales of a pristine chub from a tiny stream as the fishing season draws to a close. One of a dying breed sadly as otters are ravaging our special little out of the way places on a daily basis. With no anglers on the bank for 3 months they will have a field day, but we can take some solace that nesting birds will join the menu and relieve some of the pressure, eh? What a sadly and badly managed countryside we have, ruled by ‘townies’ and do-gooders who don’t have a clue! Is it me, or do these folk with their good intentions cause more harm than good as they selectively save their chosen favourites?
On This Day – 11th March
What’s the hardest venue you have ever fished?
I reckon the Yorkshire Ouse is up there among the toughest rivers in the country. It can produce some spectacular fish and bumper catches, but only if you’re in the right swim on the right day. Come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough springs to mind.
Location is everything. There’s a spot, miles from any access point, where perch congregate prior to spawning. Shoals of quality fish to well over 3lbs.
Back on this very day (#OTD2015) I decided I would make the effort and give it a go with drop shot and light jigging gear. Not surprisingly the pegs were empty, though the river was up 18 inches or so. It wasn’t long before I had my first take, a small pike. Clearly the fish appeared willing to have a little go.
And then a voice piped up, ‘What’s tha doin’ ‘ere, Bob?!!!’
It was none other than Denis White with his loaded up motorised trolley. ‘There’s a match on today, ah kid. Surely tha’s not walked this far to pleasure fish!’ Said the bloke who’ll be due a telegram from the Queen any time soon. ‘We allus ‘av a knock-up on Thuzdiz!’
And straggled out behind him were a troop of extras from Last Of The Summer Wine who made me proud to be a Yorkshireman. Full of grit and determination. I somehow don’t think the next generation will be doing this, do you?
On This Day – 12th March
As the rain falls, the river levels rise whilst the temperature dips, we hardly need reminding that in 48 hours or so the current river season will grind to a close. That those barbel anglers with a conscience lost so much of the summer due to the high temps offers scant relief. Funnily enough, 3 years ago to the day (#OTD2016) the Trent was up a few feet. I’d not had the best of winters but Kevin Stephenson took pity on me, ‘Here,’ He said. ‘Try some of my bait.’ So I did. And guess what? While he blanked I nicked two on his bait. Of course that left me more confused than ever. Coincidence? Stroke of luck? Good angling? Impossible to tell. My other fish was a double, but this belter was my fish of the season and one of my all-time favourite barbel images. It was certainly a stunning fish.
On This Day – 12th March
For today’s second post here’s another look back at today in history (#OTD2015). What a difference a year made. Glorious spring weather, river looking in perfect trim, as was every fish I caught. I do hope the EA comes to its senses and adjusts the closed season dates. Were it not for it being the final days and folk wanting a drink in the last chance saloon before the landlord calls time, there would be practically zero anglers on the rivers this week, or next. So what’s the problem, I ask?
On This Day – 12th March
And finally, another bonus picture for today; the year was #OTD2014 when I skipped the end of the river season altogether – but let’s not complain too loudly. It wasn’t exactly a hardship. Here’s me with a fish, probably a ‘red-thingy-ma-jig’ or some such similar creature. Like practically everything else I caught that week, it had mouth full of sharp teeth and was predatory! Cool shades though, eh?!!
On This Day – 13th March
Couple of #OTD images. The first goes way back, to 1991 in fact. The venue, Clumber Park. In those days the perch fishing at the top end of the lake was so prolific you had to rock up at least an hour before daybreak just to get a peg – and I mean any peg! The fishing was phenomenal. How times have changed. And then we come forward exactly 20 years to the day (2011) when I was treated to this whacking great ‘Cuda. Fishing has always been a journey with me, constantly changing, constantly learning with doors closing and opening all the time. One thing is for sure, the fishing we enjoy today will be very different again in 20 years time, mark my words.
On This Day – 14th March
As this is the last day of the river season I’m going to share 3 images from closing days in the not too distant past. This first one’s from #OTD2014. I’d not enjoyed the best of winters, indeed I’d struggled to catch barbel but it all came good in a final flourish to leave me wondering what I could have caught in the next few weeks had the closed season been more sensibly timed
My second end of season celebratory post is from the River Dove, #OTD2012. This was to be my last shot at catching a big perch from the river as I’d already decided to give up my ticket. Too far to travel, roadworks and too much traffic on the M1, not to mention too many speed cameras. I sometimes still regret that decision but what a way to say goodbye. Float fished worm produced a string of fabulous specimens gave me a morning to remember, topped off by this right old lump (weighed by another angler) at not far short of 4lbs. The perfect way to say goodbye to a very kind river, but the day was yet young…
As I worked my way downstream, having a dabble here and there. One swim screamed perch, I say ‘swim’ but it’s an area that doesn’t get fished as the bank has collapsed and is quite treacherous but I managed to scramble under a barbed wire fence, down the bank and gain a perilous foothold. With a large slack down the inside, a nice crease at two to 3 rods out, it looked so inviting though no perch appeared to be home. Then the float dragged under. I lifted into what at first felt like the bottom. Then it moved…! Thoughts of landing a PB perch evaporated as the slow and sluggish fight drew out. I was beginning to think I’d hooked a pike, but no, it was a great big barbel that rolled over on the surface in front of me. This was not the easiest of swims to net such a fish but I managed it in the end to round off yet another fabulous season. Happy closed season folks!
On This Day – 15th March
Oh well, it’s the closed season and like many, that leaves me thoroughly depressed. So I’m doing a bit of navel gazing for what to post in my #OTD series and I’ve come up with this little gem from 1992, the March issue of Match Fishing magazine. It’s for those who think they have recently invented fishing with steak and mince!
I well remember fishing the Great Ouse at Haversham and the late Len Gurd telling me it would not work on a hard river like the Ouse, especially in daylight. Took me ten minutes to catch one if I recall correctly! I’m also betting this was the first ever use of the word ‘vegan’ in any fishing magazine, ever.
On This Day – 16th March
On This Day – 17th March
When the river season ends it usually takes me a few weeks to rediscover my motivation. Decent stillwaters are few and far between in these parts and it’s a bit early for them anyway. In some ways it’s a bit like fancying a steak but the only food on offer is broccoli quiche. For my on this day image I am featuring #OTD2014 and the Stillwater in nearest proximity to my house. I can actually see it from my garden, yet this was the first time I had ever wet a line there. It’s suffering badly from neglect but there’s nothing wrong with the fish it contains as these prime roach suggest. Six casts, six fish, all in the same landing net head. It’s not always about the biggest, or the most, is it?
On This Day – 18th March
I do wish I could travel like I used to but this pre-existing kidney issue has ruled out any chance of getting insured until I get a transplant. Consequently I’m pretty much grounded in the UK for now. Still, it’s nice that I have some great memories to look back on. Here I am #OTD2014 on the Indian Ocean, or was it the Andaman Sea(?), I forget. It’s an expensive indulgence but a rich man can buy all the blue water kudos he wants. It’s not pioneering and you don’t need masses of knowledge or experience. I know one bloke who had never fished in his life yet caught a marlin on honeymoon. Think of those posh golf clubs, it’s not how good you can play, it’s a case of deep pockets and having all the right gear to fit in. But it’s still a massive buzz to have something like this pulling your string! I loved it!!!! But let’s not get carried away, the skipper took me to the spots, told me which lure to use, where to cast, he even tied my knots. It’s a million miles from the delicate art of trotting a stick float to fool a timid roach.
On This Day – 19th March
How fitting that I had a call last night from Mark Gregory who now runs Alderfen Fisheries, near Wroot. No day tickets now, but you can buy a season ticket just for the match pool, or a joint 5-lake ticket covering the 3 at Alderfen plus both Mesters lakes. I say fitting because today’s #OTD was always planned to feature the match lake at Alderfen from a visit I made on this very day in 2015 when I pretty much had the lake to myself and enjoyed a cracking session catching quality roach on the pole. Of course, these days you can never seem to get away from the mud pig thugs that infest everywhere!!!
Check out the Alderfen Facebook Page for more details.
On This Day – 20th March
I’m tied up tomorrow so posting a few hours early rather than miss a day. This tale was just too good to waste as it’s a proper blast from the past, #OTD1993, 26 years ago. Here I am at the British Broadcasting Corporation being interviewed live on the wireless, broadcasting across the airwaves to the nation with Nick Fisher to mark the launch of my book, the Complete Book Of Legering. Lovely guy but nervous as hell. That book had an initial print run of 6,000 copies and every last one sold. Unfortunately David and Charles decided to drop out of the angling publications market leaving me high and dry with no second edition or softback. I even had to turn down an offer from a Polish publisher who saw a great market for the ‘wiggle tip’ in eastern Europe and wanted to reprint it (I already had a top selling video in that country with Polish language overdubs courtesy of Liam Dale). The fee asked for by D&C made that project impractical. Such a shame as I truly had the perfect face for radio!
On This Day – 20th March
Six years ago, #OTD2013, Alan Dudhill and I sat side-by-side on a windswept gravel pit, a battery of rods spread out in front of us while we brewed up frequently and put the world to rights.
It was a sociable day, taking turns on the rods, one for you, one for me. Lady Luck would determine who caught the biggest fish and on this day she took a shine to Alan.
It was a pleasure to slip the net under this girl as the old song lyric ran through my mind, ‘It coulda been me’. Yep, I could have been a contender, but did it matter? Not one jot. It remains to this day one of my favourite ever pike trips.
A couple of decades or so back, I frequently fished exactly like this with Archie Braddock to catch barbel. Do you ever fish like this?
On This Day – 22nd March
Seems amost like yesterday but 7 years have flown by since today’s #OTD2011 image was shot. A reminder that very soon fishing for silvers on commercials will be over until winter returns. Very soon it will be carp soup and bungee jumping, bagging, dobbing and pinging pellets. My how fishing has changed. More like a shoot-em-up computer game these days, don’t you think?
On This Day – 23rd March
Here’s a slightly controversial one. My #OTD image is from 2016 at Messingham Sands. A great perch venue. This is the absolute best time of year to catch a heavy perch. I say heavy as opposed to big because folk in the UK obsess on weights where folk on the Continent measure length. How do you feel about not being allowed to catch river fish that are in supreme condition, fitter and healthier than at any other time of the calendar year whilst targeting perch that are laden with spawn is okay? The trend is now to head for Holland because those 50cm fish might now weigh high fives or even sixes instead of high fours in October. Meanwhile authoritative pike anglers will be preaching don’t catch pike because they will be in pre- or post-spawn. Next on the ego list will be pregnant tench. And the weekly press will laud praise on such captures and on those who target these gravid fish. Is it all fair game or a bit hypocritical? I’m on the fence, you tell me.
On This Day – 24th March
Twenty-one today. Yep, #OTD1997 here’s me on the cover of German magazine all those years ago. The best thing about it is I didn’t submit it, nor was I any part of the magazine’s editorial content. I only knew it even existed when Tony Davies-Patrick sent me a copy. Imagine what a pleasant surprise that was. Great picture though!
On This Day – 25th March
A peek back to this day two years ago #OTD2016. Local canal and a spot of wasping. It’s easy to dismiss targeting small fish as a pointless waste of time, not worthy, not going to attract too many Facebook likes, but if I look back to when I was in my early teens I would have regarded catching a bunch of small perch as a red letter day.
I’m sure one of the reasons angling is in decline is because we have it our heads that when we take a youngster fishing we have to make sure he (or she) catches a big carp, or a barbel. Such fish were the stuff on fantasies, an achievement we might get after years of effort. It’s all so easy for them now and so easy to give up.
Are we ruining the dreams of kids by laying everything on a plate instead of allowing them to work their way up the ladder of success?
On This Day – 26th March
For today’s treat I’m heading back nine years to #OTD2010 and a nice session on the specimen carp lake at Lakeside Fisheries, Ranskill. I used to nip on there for the odd session before the carpers came out of hibernation. Place to myself and lovely pole fishing for pristine roach. I believe it’s been netted since then to reduce the number of silver fish but I’ll bet they didn’t get them all and there are one or two proper roach kicking around, fattening up on particles and boilies, don’t you?
On This Day – 27th March
I’m only heading back 12 months for today’s #OTD(2018). Messingham Sands’ day ticket lakes offer fantastic ‘old school’ sport for those of us bored with bashing out pasty carps by the hundredweight. Yes, there are lots of carp in the North and South day ticket lakes, and cats, but the quality of the silver fishing is outstanding. Plus, if you spend time on lobs or prawns, the chances are high that you’ll catch some nice perch, too. Go in with pellets instead of maggot or caster and you’ll catch skimmers. It really is a fishery with everything. Are there similar fisheries in your neck of the woods?
On This Day – 28th March
#OTD2012. Apologies if the foreign pictures bore you, but I’ll post twice today – a home and away if you like. This away leg was a giant trevally caught on a surface lure off the coast of Sri Lanka. GTs have the kind of face only a mother could love but boy, do they scrap. I’ve picked this one because it’s probably the best image of its kind that I have.
On This Day – 28th March
And now for the home leg, which most of us, if we are honest, will like best. This is #OTD2017, 2 years ago, and the same fishery I was at yesterday, Sykehouse Fisheries, Twin Isles lake. A real game of two halves. I set off catching silvers at full depth , loose feeding maggots. Gradually they came up in the water and instead of switching rigs I just shallowed up 6 inches at a time to stay in touch. Long lining often helps the fish settle. Once I found the ideal depth, what should turn up but a shoal of bream and all the fish in the second net were caught shallow. How often do we fish unsuccessfully for bream on the deck? How often have we said there are no bream there when in fact it’s solid and they have been sat in mid-water all along?
On This Day – 29th March
This cropped up as a memory on my Facebook feed from 8 years ago (2011): ‘It was so nice to bump into Bob Church again last night at the Kings Arms AC Charity bash. He’s one of this country’s finest all-round anglers. Unfortunately he’s suffering with Parkinson’s although he told me with a wry grin that he’s on some good drugs! Take care of yourself, sir.’
On This Day – 29th March
My actual #OTD images for today date back to 2016. I find March a tricky month to come to terms with once the rivers close. The Stillwater fishing is not exactly great in these parts and often slow to start, so I find myself bitting and bobbing around with no real sense of purpose, practically in mourning for the loss of flowing water opportunities. Then again, a few sessions on the local canals never go amiss. Spring fishing can be a challenge on canals like the Junky, or here on the Steak and Kidney near Thorne. Do you think the finesse is disappearing from angling? It used to be we’d drop to a 22 or even a 24 hook on the Trent and 12oz bottoms were nothing unusual in winter. It’s only really on canals where those extremes can still make a difference, don’t you think?
On This Day – 30th March
Ten years ago today, #OTD2009, I was struggling to catch a 3lb perch from the Stainforth and Keadby Canal. The Junky was always a better option but I’m pig headed and I was adamant I wanted one from the S&K, but the fish weren’t having it. I fished on 3 consecutive days, fishing blind, moving regularly battling a biting east wind, different stretches, determined not to stop until I succeeded. I thought I’d got one but that turned out to be a big eel, not something you see often in March but in the end I got there. It’s not hard to catch a big fish, is it? You just have to keep banging your head on that wall till one or the other breaks. A fool at one end, a worm at the other. Do you ever get into that sheer bloody minded refusal to give up mood?
On This Day – 31st March
Afraid I’ve been rather busy licking my garden into shape these past few days; even the car’s had a wash, so haven’t had much time to dig out a relevant #OTD image, so I’ll just run with this image from March 2015. It’s a sight that many, like me, are missing desperately.
Apparently it’s all fine and dandy to target spawning perch but not chub and barbel that are no-where near ready for spawning. Where’s the common sense in that, eh? Clearly it makes perfect sense to mad March hares and April fools.
Till next month, then. Tight lines.