Smoke and Mirrors – Lee Swords

Oh well, I guess we’ve not had a rant from old Swordsey in a while so grab the tin hat and fasten your seat belts because you’re in for a rocky ride…!

Smoke and Mirrors

By Lee Swords

The start of the river season has been ok for the most part, as I type this I am on 62 barbel with 4 doubles to a respectable 12lb 7oz and just under 30 chub over the 4lb mark to a whopping 6lb 2oz beast, not too shoddy for a once a week angler that has only done the one night session so far.

Not bad at all… not the best returns by a country mile I would bet… but not bad all the same.

However if I listened to everything and everyone I met on the bank or in tackle shops I could get myself in a bit of a doom and gloom situation as all I am hearing are Armageddon type prophecies of damnation! The riders of the apocalypse are on the hoof and our waterways are fated to be destroyed before our very eyes…

Yes, they probably are but not as most people would have you believe, nothing in nature is as it ever seems, problems are never simple and the answers that they require are rarely monosyllabic in structure, therefore “Bang! Bang!” is not going to cut the mustard in my opinion.

That’s why I will not get myself too involved in the whole knee jerk culling debate, not that I am a vegan-type tree hugger, far from it in fact (I would cull loads of people given half a chance) rather I would prefer not to be hypercritical of my own standpoint when becoming involved in debates that involve creatures such as otter, goosander, merganser and cormorant.

My position in this whole argument is a simple one: if man gets involved in anything then eventually it will belly up and go wrong, and I mean go wrong on an epic scale for one reason and one reason alone, “because man is involved”.

We have a habit of awarding ourselves certain designated letters of power such as Dr and PhD which we believe elevates an individual’s mental standing within our species onto a higher plane of existence, therefore allowing us as a species the rights to begin tinkering in things that we have no absolutely no concept of whatsoever… and pretty much without exception the results of our tinkering have been utterly catastrophic.

So why would it be any different if we got involved in an argument about removing species that did not fit our criteria simply on the grounds that we do not like them and what they do?

Why would it be any different to how things turn out when we decide to add species?

What occurred when Nile perch were introduced into Lake Victoria by well meaning men of learning? Did these so called “super fish” eliminate the poverty of the local populace that had fished this great Rift Lake since before the Eve Mother was even a twinkle in her fathers eye.


It started the greatest extinction of species known to modern man…but it was ok because all of the species that died out were fish, utterly unique cichlids mostly…, but fish none the less…, so it didn’t really matter.

Has anyone been held up to account on that one?


But surely it would have been forecast on one of these computer generated projection models that clever people love to bang-on about?

Obviously it did not.

Therefore the argument that if we wish to have any sway on the matter of potential threats to the waterways of the UK we will have to put our hands in our pockets and get some serious scientific evidence is utterly shot to bits. All the experts in the world didn’t predict what the outcome of seeding our rivers with non-native crayfish would be… did they?

The PhD crew didn’t even have the sense to give the dammed creatures a health check on arrival to the UK!


I mean seriously what type of morons allow unfettered immigration into their country without having health checks carried out at point of entry… That would be really dumb.

But the sound of “cash” generally makes the loudest noise therefore all the experts saw were the positive financial impact that another harvestable source of high quality protein would bring into the local economy.

That is why (in my opinion) scientific evaluations are equal only to the cost of the paper they are printed on when valued on the exchange rates of toilet paper manufacturers and compared to that air pocketed double fluffy pink stuff that you get from the supermarket in packs of 12 scientific evaluations are worth pretty much nothing!

So I will stick with the fishing and continue to e-mail the Prime Minister my concerns when I see fit to point out the errors of his ways.

And that is something anyone can do…Go online and get his email address and send him a list of your concerns, maybe if we can block up those Whitehall servers we will get some progress on the “issues” that matter… maybe.

Anyway I will let you mentally compile a list of problems whilst you read on and then you can check if your problems match mine.

This season, I am fishing the Trent properly, which to those that do not approve of bivvies and other suchlike contraptions of the Devil means that I am using a center-pin reel and everything that goes with it so that the Barbel Police look kindly upon me and don’t place a warrant out for my arrest after I spent pretty much the whole of last season sat behind at least three and sometimes four rods in my search for the elusive personal bests.

And if you are using more than two rods on the Trent…get the extra licence…because you WILL get caught…The EA is very active at the moment and I have already been checked twice. Keep up the good work boys!

Not that I would care a great deal if the barbel Police did send out an all points bulletin because of my tactics as I had a great season, I banked hundreds of fish and upped my personal bests on barbel, chub, zander, eels and Tommy ruffe. The last of those species taking a cluster of worms that looked like medusas head on a bad hair day but as I have always said “They don’t print pb’s on gravestones” so with that in mind I have dropped down a gear for the early part of this season so that I can save myself for a serious crack at the river come winter time.

I really do fancy it to throw up a couple of big chunks from this autumn and into winter and I hope I am there to catch at least one of them.

However, as I have already said, my relaxed approach to what I catch is really flying in the face of fashion and I as I have already said, according to the doom merchants I am a fool not to be making hay whilst the sun still shines as there will be no fish in the system come autumn, they will have all been eaten by the “axis of evil” also known as the otter, goosander, merganser and cormorant, to which you can also add the ever present threat posed by the mitten crab massive, the crazy gang of Chinese immigrants that arrived in the bilge tanks of some cargo ship or other around a hundred years ago but are now moving north at a rapid rate of knots ( sideways of course ), the over-populating xenophobic zebra mussel that live only to purify their surroundings plus the marauding mad-headed mink and the syphilised signal crayfish!

Indeed there are so many threats to this great pastime of ours that it is easy to look at the simplistic forecast of doom and disaster but that would be a grave mistake.

I do not want to sound inflammatory but I believe the vast majority of it is no more than an unfortunately timed smoke screen that poses very little enduring threat to anything, the proper stuff that is really important and extremely dangerous to our long-term survival is slipping under the radar unnoticed.

The biggest threat we face in the long-term is not in possession of fins, claws or even dagger sharp teeth…no…It most likely has a PhD and sits on advisory councils.

Give a bloke or a bint a PhD and he or she believes that they can prevail over the all of the worlds problems…They can conquer famine, tame nature , build cities into the stratosphere and even cheat death himself.

Take this summer for example, so far it has been very dry, which I suppose is linked to “global warming”, which if I am to believe what I am told by all the clever people on television that have these PhD’s after their names means that I should be happy to pay even more green taxes in the knowledge that I am saving Polar Bears by the dozen, recycling more rubbish so that a factory in China can make more rubbish and buying the wife one of those fancy hybrid cars that sound like milk floats just so that we can arrive at our destination safe in the knowledge that we have used the same amount of palm oil as I would have used at work to fry three stone of haddock and a sack Maris Piper potatoes… and to cap it all off I would be advised to get a loan from the bank at 24% interest apr so that I can have some expensive but not that effective solar panels fitted to the roof of my house.

I could even have a couple of small ones fitted onto my scalp as that is getting rather more sun on it than I would like now that my head hair has gone all Albanian and moved darn ‘sarf in search of work (it is currently employed off the books keeping my buttocks warm)

Like doing any of that would make a blind bit of difference to anything in the long-term. I would be better off spitting down the barrel of a 50 calibre rifle in an attempt to deflect the inevitable as I pulled the trigger.

If the British angler wants to worry about something that really will have an impact on his fishing he need not look any further than blokes like Sir Bob Geldof that wish to feed the world.

Humanity is the greatest threat we face… we are a pathogenic bacteria that befouls everything we touch. The only saving grace we have is that there are parts of the world that are not suitable for human habitation but that isn’t stopping the West from feeding them, so that we as a species can breed out of control and take up ever more of the worlds finite resources. The World population will reach 7 BILLION this year and a fair chunk of those new people will be wanting to move over here in search of the nearest supermarket and free hospital so that they can in turn have even more babies.

We are removing virgin jungle at an unsustainable rate just so that we can have mahogany toilet seats and when all the good stuff has been chopped down and burnt the local farmers use the clear space to plant crops that will supply us with everything from Coffee to Bio-diesel!

Let’s cut down a vibrant environment so that we can have a nice espresso from the garage as we fill up on green bio-fuel for our 6 litre 4×4’s we use to take the kids to school with…, yeah…, that makes sense!

This week there are moves within Government to remove and or relax restrictions on greenbelt land because “London” is now full… When the greenbelt laws fall everything that is green and pleasant is doomed.

In less than a hundred years rivers like the Trent and Severn will have been swallowed up within giant cities made of metal glass and concrete and our beloved waterside environments will be nothing more than culverted water supply points for a population that is so wildly out of control that fishing for recreational purposes will be nothing but a distant memory.

So don’t get too emotional about the otter taking the odd fish here and there if you are not catching that much on a low and clear river and instead step down your gear a couple of notches and increase the amount of small particles that you are introducing into the swim.

There are most likely a few fish knocking about. Okay they may or may not be the mega barbel that we would like but what the hell. I would rather catch a few big roach on scaled back tactics than endure a blank session where the only bites I am likely to get are from the horseflies.

Either that or have a go at a stillwater, when I fancy a break from the rivers (and it does happen now and then) I like to fish a little three lake venue called Alderfen at Wroot. It is just the ticket when I fancy a bit of R&R away from the river, it’s a place where I can arrive with just a couple of rods and a little bit of bait and expect to catch something of merit, be that a 5lb plus tench or a bream of over 8lb, its all good fun. The fish don’t just line up and make an orderly queue towards the keepnet but at the same hand they don’t play too hard to get either.

I like to fish with tiny hand rolled boillies to sort out the better specimens in the lakes otherwise I would get pestered by millions of small stuff, which in itself isn’t a bad thing. At least it proves that the lakes inhabitants are having a good time… just like those that live in the Trent if the clouds of fry are anything to go by.

All the best


PS: Send that e-mail to Whitehall!

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