Can it really be Christmas again? Well, considering the local shopping centre has been piping the sounds of Slade, Mud and Greg Lake into the ether for at least two months it must be getting pretty close!
Anyway, please allow me to wish all you regular blog visitors a truly memorable Christmas.
This months music widget starts atomatically so you may wish to scroll down a couple of pragraphs and either switch it off or lower the volume. Sorry about that. Afraid I can’t work out a way to do it automaically.
As it’s Christmas I’ve decided to create a special bumper edition with lots of bonus features, just like the weekly angling papers do. However the main difference is this one won’t cost you twice the cover price!
Does that wind you up? I know it does me. The journalists take a week off but still expect you to pay for two weeks papers by creating a special one that’s absolutely packed with nothing but padding – no news, one column from each of their ‘stars’, a poll that goes something like, ‘Who made it into our best angling columnists in history list? ‘ In at number one, two, three, five, seven, eight and ten are, would you believe, all the regular columnists.
Now turn to page 44 for ‘The Best Tackle Items Of 2009’. Hang on, aren’t these the same items that the advertisers are buying space for?
What about ‘Match Special’ – with no match results because the paper went to press before the Christmas party…
Pictures Of The Year – what a great idea, no-one has to waste time writing words and they get to republish the pictures you already bought through the summer.
A Christmas Puzzle – turn to page 45. Hang on, there is no page 45. That’s because this bumper edition is so flimsy. Most advertisers who pad out the pages each week have decided there’s no point in advertising when the shops are closed so you only get 44 pages.
But it doesn’t stop them doubling the cover price.
Rip-off or what? Yes, you’ve been conned.
And that’s why I never buy a Christmas edition of an angling ‘newspaper’… Sort it out guys!!!
Today’s Music Widget
If you’re wondering what that noise is, I do apologise.
Click the green ‘II‘ pause button on the music widget below and it’ll go away. On the other hand, if you like what you hear, just leave it playing or shuffle through the tracks. I must say there’s a few tasty tracks among this selection of ‘progressive’ rock.
But back to Christmas – here’s a little eye candy for the red blooded males out there…
And just to balance things up, one for the ladies…
You never realised Jack Hargreaves had a dark side, did you?
On the other hand, the fellow bears a striking resemblance to Des Taylor, don’t you think?
But, back to reality. I looked through some old diaries the other day and the way fishing has changed this past 20 years couldn’t be more apparent. Back then I was working on the Railways and all annual leave had to be used up before the end of December. I invariably had some days left and these were usually tagged onto the Christmas period freeing me up to go fishing as much as two or three times a week. The venue I fished around Christmas was (predictably) the Trent and what a river it was back then.
Honestly, you can forget this flash-in-the-pan barbel stuff. Enjoy it while you can because it won’t last, trust me. The Trent has changed it’s character more times in my lifetime than your average woman changes her underwear and rest assured it’ll change again soon.
Twenty years ago it was a stick float anglers’ dream. And I really looked forward to the winter fishing. How I’d love to revisit those times and run a stick through again. I simply loved the tidal reaches at Carlton and if you caught it with a tinge of colour then a right royal roach-fest was on the cards. Great big dogs they were, mint conditioned and great fighters, too. Plus you actually had to work for your fish.
It’ll upset some, I know, but you could train a monkey to catch barbel using modern feeder tactics. Could you teach one to present a stick float and loose feed maggots? Not a chance!
However, as it’s the season of goodwill I’m trying to avoid ruffling the feathers of those who hate this site so much they simply can’t keep away from it!
Whilst I appreciate it’s not exactly normal to show off our Christmas cards but in this case I feel it’s worth making an exception. Each year I look forward to receiving a card from Peter and Frances Drennan, mostly because they are really nice people but also because their cards are simply a joy to behold. This year’s card certainly didn’t disappoint, certainly living up to the amazing high standards of previous years with a picture depicting two cased roach caught from the Hampshire Avon at Downton back in 1942 by Bill Warren.
Flip it over and there’s a picture of the same Bill Warren with a young Peter Drennan who is cradling a 10lb barbel, caught from from the Royalty cica 1959. The picture was taken by none other that sorely missed legend, Peter Stone.
Thank you very much Peter, your card will, as ever, be receiving pride of place on the mantelpiece and then be filed away for posterity. Here’s to the next one!
Not to be outdone, one well-known angling personality sent me an electronic Christmas message. Can you tell who it is yet?
No, it’s not Rolf Harris, it’s Martin James – and I’m guessing that’s the Radio Lancashire studio console he’s sat in front of. Shame to see Martin’s started drinking on the job!
Martin James’s angling show is broadcast on BBC Radio Lancashire each Thursday evening at 7.05pm and you’ll fing it by clicking here: Martin James There’s a ‘listen live button on the right hand side of the page.
Alternatively you can click here: I Player and scroll through the available programmes. Martin’s latest broadcast can usually be found right at the top of the main programme list.
The weather was still pretty mild so I decided to dig out one of my light lure rods and throw a few plugs around. These light rods, like the 7 foot Daiwa Shogun, weigh next to nothing in the hand, cast well and will put a decent sized fish on the bank with no trouble.
Teamed up with a quality fixed spool reel, loaded with 50lb braid, I was away and running. Let me at them! I thought.
Many anglers ask why I use 50lb braid when no pike alive will break that, especially on a light spinning rod. Well, the purpose of the braid becomes evident if you snag a lure. The braid is stronger than the lure’s hooks so if you pull hard enough the hooks open out and you get your lure back. Simples!
With most of my favourite venues carrying a load of dirty water (rivers, drains AND canals) I set off for a little lake I’ve had my eye on for a while and quite fancy to throw up a decent fish or two. At about 30 acres it’s a fair old sheet of water and fishing blind meant I was clueless. Trouble with piking is if you start asking questions about a lake you give the game away.
Unfortunately I returned home just as clueless as when I set out having not attracted a single follow despite chopping and changing lures while staying as mobile as I reasonably could. The trouble was, I kept dragging the lures into banks of Canadian pond weed and that makes it impossible to keep a lure working properly.
I ran through an array of floaters, shallow divers, deep divers and all to no avail. It was as if there were no pike in there and who’s to say there are? The only way to find out is to keep plugging away (if you’ll excuse the pun).
Despite covering a fair bit of water the fish showed no interest whatsoever but the trouble with pike on a big water like this is they could all be half a mile away at the other end of the lake. But it was good to get out in the fresh air even if my back does ache a bit now!
Another four sessions like this one and I’ll have covered the whole way round the lake but it’s hard to keep the enthusiasm going when you don’t get so much as a follow.
Oh well, I may try again tomorrow.
Of course, some folk will still be obsessing about barbel, whatever the weather.
Which brings me nicely on to:
The Barbel Police – Episode One!
Before you hit play on the cartoon below, scroll back up and turn off that infernal music!
Eat your heart out Walt Disney – there’s a new kid on the block – and trust me, there’s more to come next month when Keith Arthur interviews Des Taylor!
Good Luck Andy!
I gave up posting on Barbel Fishing World’s forum around a year ago after a nasty little spat blew up out of nothing but jealousy and bitterness. One of the site’s many anonymous posters began broadcasting seriously damaging statements such as, ‘DO NOT BUY BARBEL DAYS AND WAYS’ in fonts an inch high. That and, ‘Never buy a DVD made by amateurs’.
BFW’s moderators initially showed no inclination to remove those statements and I was left with little choice but to seek appropriate redress from those involved. Let’s face it, if you deliberately try to wreck the profitability of a legitimate business without justifiable cause then you must accept the damaged party is likely to require compensating.
I’m not sure he was too pleased about the whole episode but it certainly highlighted a few home truths. Folk who post lies, malice, slander and libel on internet forums invariably do so whilst hiding behind silly names, multiple user names and blank profiles. These same folk are no strangers to cyber bullying, trolling and hunting in packs and very few sites seem bothered enough to do something about it so the perpetrators get away with it and actually begin to believe they’re untouchable.
But they’re not above the law as a number of court rulings have proved.
Graham Marsden at Fishing Magic was probably the first to become so totally exasperated by the same few individuals causing trouble that he began banning them. He took a brave stance, going so far as to actually ‘out’ several individuals – naming and shaming. To this day they keep using aliases to try and get back onto the site but the nature of their posts soon highlights who they are and ultimately they find their IP address blocked. But it doesn’t stop them trying or bragging about their ‘cleverness’.
But I digress. I’d like to wish Andy and his moderators all the luck in the world when they launch a new version of Barbel Fishing World in the new year. It will be a members-only site with an annual joining fee but most importantly, members will have no choice but to post under their own names rather than silly aliases. Hopefully transparency will bring decency. We shall wait and see.
Definition Of Irony?
The guy, hiding behind an alias (obviously), had posted up a message to the effect that, in his profound opinion, forums were now officially dead; sooo-over; finished; last years thing. And maybe they are.
But why, if you believed that, would you be posting your thoughts about it on a forum?
I think the irony was lost on him!
What A Plonker!
As a kid I was fortunate to fish a lovely ornamental lake in the grounds of Cusworth Hall. ‘Cussy’ was a delightful place and very popular with local anglers. It contained good stocks of that very rare species in these parts – crucian carp. The head of roach was excellent, too.
Later on carp were introduced and this was practically a first. There were no carp to be caught from anywhere in the vicinity of Doncaster when I was growing up. It wasn’t until the mid-60’s that a few were put in Askern Boating Lake and Sanderson’s Pond. Some of these then found their way to Carcroft Pond – very naughty!
A couple of years ago Cusworth Lake was drained so repairs could be carried out. The fish were held in a nearby stock pond ready to be returned. Well, the work is now complete, the fish back in their original home, and guess what? The fishing has been stopped – for ever!
Based on what I feel was very bad scientific evidence the council decided it was necessary to carry out an environmental impact survey before allowing fishing to recommence and it appears that water voles have suddenly established a colony on the lake and as a result the new mayor is adamant that fishing must be banned.
Err, what? Haven’t anglers lived in harmony with water voles for centuries? The UK water vole population only came under threat when woolly-brained tree-huggers began liberating mink from fur farms – one of which was located just three miles away from here at Cadeby…
It would appear that it’s okay to ride skateboards, let dogs run wild, sail boats, paddle, throw stones, play radios and anything else the flocks of picnickers decide to do, but don’t you dare sit there quietly bothering no-one!
Local campaigns and pressure from Angling Times have come to naught. Fishing is now banned – in the heartland of fishing. South Yorkshire has more anglers per capita based on rod license sales data than anywhere else in the UK, so this council isn’t even concerned their action will upset a significant number of voters – because they feel they are beyond reproach.
As you probably realise, I hail from Doncaster, a town built on coal, railways and laterly, it would seem, call centres. I’m not proud to say this but you have to look very hard to find much that’s good about Doncaster. Let me tell you a bit about my town council…
In 2002 Doncaster Council made national headlines for being involved in the worst local government corruption case since the Poulson scandal of the 1970s. The fallout involved hefty jail terms for a senior Labour councillor and a property developer and the virtual elimination of the old, miner-dominated Labour party in the South Yorkshire town, which had already seen two former council leaders and two former mayors among 21 councillors convicted of fraud.
Following the death of ‘Baby P’ in 2007 the council’s Social Services Department was cited as being one of the worst in the country. And things haven’t got much better…
It was inevitable that sooner or later the good folk of Doncaster would revolt and they did exactly that at the last election. Out went the old guard and a new one was ushered in.
To say the new mayor was unprepared for his appointment is an understatement. He was simply hoping to save his deposit and probably believed that he had more chance of winning the Lottery than an election.
Take a listen to this radio clip. Radio Sheffield’s Toby Foster is interviewing Mayor Davies on his first morning in office. Toby grew up about 200 yards from where I’m sat now and a finer radio broadcaster you’ll struggle to find. No-one will ever accuse him of pulling his punches!
Now you’ve heard it, tell me, is it possible that any town in the entire United Kingdom has a more incompetent and useless mayor than Doncaster? Honestly, he’d be at home in La-La land yet this is the man who says we can’t fish the lake at Cusworth.
You really couldn’t make up a story like this, could you?
My old mate Macca has produced yet another cracking sketch, this time of Clive Goode with a 47-4 mirror. He has no training and only picks up a sketch pad once in a blue moon but the bloke definitely has a talent.
Imagine how good he might be with a bit of training and more than a passing desire to draw?
You can see some other examples of his work here
Fishing For A Bit Of Fun
I do like to highlight other fishing web sites you may not have stumble upon yet, especially when the owners put in a great deal of effort and this month’s blog is no exception. If there was an award for a fishing web site that does exactly what it says on the tin then Fishing 4 Fun would be a prime contender. You’ll never have heard of most of the guys who contribute to it but they certainly know their stuff. As well as plenty of info on venues and techniques there’s a very active blog section to which a good few anglers post their adventures. Check it out:
Another cracking site I came across features blogger Steve Collett. This guy’s certainly caught his share of lumps in recent times:
A Rough Guide To Angling Coaches
I keep getting enquiries about coaching. Unfortunately most of them are asking if I’ll put them in touch with John Wilson! Well, I’m not even sure that John does any guiding in the UK but if he does it won’t come cheap. Try contacting Angling Times.
I’ve also been asked about Bob Nudd so I thought why not create a directory and these folk can then stop pestering me! Unfortunately it’s not as easy to find the information as you might think but at least I’ve had a stab.
The following anglers all offer a coaching or guiding service. I’ve given an approximation of costs and if you click on each link it’ll tell you how to contact them:
Bob Nudd – £225
Tom Pickering – £250
John Allerton – £250
Neil Machin – £250
Matt Hayes – £Negotiable. The last I heard his daily fee was in excess of £400
Chris Ponsford – £? I do believe Chris charges in the region of £150 per day
Steve Pope – £? Web site suggests ‘competitive rates’
Broadland (Norfolk) Guiding – up to £150
Ray Walton – £? price negotiable
Allan Griffiths Predator Fishing – £70-190
Alex Peters– fishing on the Wharfe and Yorks Ouse – £50 -130
Martin Cullen– Negotiable – up to £75 for 2 anglers providing you are staying at his Temeside guest house
Professional Anglers Association – The association for professional guides based countrywide and links to individual sites. Prices will vary considerably
The Complete Angling Experience – Cumbrian delights – prices negotiable. I can personally reccommend Chris Bowman though.
Of course, there will be many, many more anglers out there who offer guiding services. If they (or you) care to send details of how to get in touch and prices then I’ll add them to the list.
Martin James has asked me to include his details in my guiding directory. Martin will guide guests on the Kennet, Hampshire Avon, Loddon, Ribble, Wye or Aire fishing for coarse or game species. Tackle and baits, or flies, are supplied and all he asks in return is that you make a good donation to the Army Benevolent Fund or Crossroad Care. Cheques should be made out as payable to the charity you choose rather than to Martin himself. His contact details are as follows:
A Right Old Free For All
A few weeks back, Stu Walker and I invested a fair bit of time and effort into providing our existing Barbel Days And Ways customers with a bunch of completely free and unique screen savers (Available here). As far as we are aware there is nowhere else that you can find underwater images of barbel in their natural environment like these.
We just thought it would be a nice touch and a way of saying thank you. After all, we were unlikely to make any sales from our efforts because we have no new products to offer and we were sending the images to existing customers.
The response we got back was phenomenal. Dozens of customers took the trouble to email us and say thank you. I’m sure dozens more decided they prefered their existing desk tops and deleted the emails. After all, some folk would sooner have a family or maybe a holiday image on their desktop and we fully understand that. It was simply a nice gesture on our part.
Or so we thought.
One customer, that’s right, just ONE, took umbridge, but did he email us? No. He decided he’d make his complaint publicly on a fishing forum:
Complainant: ‘Any chance you can build in a PLEASE DELETE ME FROM THE MAILING LIST in your emails Bob?’
Complainant: ‘If I did that to everybody that SPAMMED me I’d be doing nothing else!’
And so it goes on…
Sad really, isn’t it? Oh well, merry Christmas Fred! I look forward to reading your many, ‘Just bringing this back to the top’ messages in the coming year.
PS: I’d have never guessed who Barbelism was…
Would I Mike?
Another IP bites the dust.
The Beautiful Game
Right, for those who have no interest in football unless it involves Manure or Chelski, I’ll say goodbye and thanks for dropping by again. Have a happy new year and I hope you catch the fish of your dreams in 2010.
Proper football fans may wish to read on…
For those who appreciate that football isn’t necessarily all about winning baubles, flash cars and birds, here’s a shout for that minor cup competition in which you know you’re up your own backsides when you field the reserves against anyone you consider beneath your status – I’m talking about the League Cup.
Now my team, Donny, must have the worst record in the entire history of cup football. With the odd, very rare exception, it is so dire we used to consider it a giant killing act if WE beat a non-league side. So imagine my surprise at finding little old Donny featured in a competition to pick out the best ever League Cup moments because we are right there in the top 50!
Scroll down to the 8th from bottom clip and you’ll find Fourth Division Doncaster Rovers humbling Aston Villa at the old Belle Vue Ground in 2005.
It is the only proper ‘cup run’ that I can remember in my whole life. We beat Man City; we beat Aston Villa and we came within a couple of minutes at the end of extra time of beating Arsenal in the quarter final.
Reaching the unthinkable heights of the Championship has meant we now don’t even enter the FA Cup until Round 3 (and we get our own page on teletext – how cool is that?). Of course we still draw the same old banana skin clubs in the cup that used to knock us out in Round 1, the difference is we now provide the disappointing draw for those minnows who have clawed their way past their peers in the hope of a glamour tie at Old Trafford or Anfield.
Poor old Brentford’s dreams of an away trip to the Emirates, White Heart Lane, Stamford Bridge, or even Craven Cottage were crushed when they were pulled out of the bag first, but things got even worse for them when the next ball was announced their opponents as Doncaster Rovers. My favourite football blogger described it perfectly: ‘Drawing Rovers in the FA Cup 3rd round must be what it feels like to be handed a set of dictionaries after winning Countdown.’
Anyway, following on from my last blog when a Forest fan had the nerve to gloat about beating us for the first time in about 50 years: ‘I am pretty sure now Donny will have a long way to go to beat Forest.’ He said. And he may be right. While Forest have been splashing multi-millions around chasing their dream we have had to let two of our best players go because we simply couldn’t afford to keep them and we’ve struggled with a crippling injury list – although if Stock and Brooker can get fit for Christmas I’ll be a happy man.
Statistically Brooker is without doubt the hottest striker in the UK, scoring a goal for every 25 minutes played since he signed for us. Unfortunately he’s only played for 25 minutes! Stock is simply outstanding in midfield and has forced himself into the Welsh team. He can tackle, shoot, provide the long and short passes with unerring accuracy and take a mean penalty, but I’m guessing the only reason we’ll be able to hang on to him until the summer is because he’s been out this past couple of months and no-one could assess him.
So, Forest fans, yes you beat us this time but before you get too cocky, do take a look at the fourth goal in this little clip from the Boxing Day massacre which took place at your ground a year ago. Just in case you’re not sure, Forest are wearing red while little old Donny are playing in blue. Twenty passes, no Forest man gets even close to the ball, and that includes the keeper when the ball is chipped over his head into the net.
Twas a goal to gladden Cloughie’s heart. “Young man,” He would have said, “That’s how you play football…!”
Oh, go on then, one last Rovers mention before I go to bed. This was written by Matt Holland, the former Ipswich, West Ham and Charlton legend:
“Doncaster Rovers are another side who enjoyed a spectacular performance last weekend when beating Crystal Palace (0-3) and I couldn’t be more pleased for them, as I know their boss Sean O’Driscoll well from my Bournemouth days.
If you’ve not seen a lot of Rovers you might be shocked by what you see. The town might not be the most fashionable but their team is so slick to watch that I’d compare them to Arsenal in the style they adopt. They play some unbelievably good football that’s delightful on the eye!
I’m not in the least bit surprised as Sean O’Driscoll has always loved to play passing football from back to front. He’s a preacher of the beautiful game that’s for sure. If Donny had a prolific natural goalscorer in their ranks they could easily be in the play-off picture. As it is, they do struggle to score goals on a consistent basis and that may hold them back. I’d pay to watch them though!”
Well, we’ve got Billy Sharp on a season-long loan and he’s scoring for fun at the moment, so who knows? Quite honestly I’d settle for just dragging ourselves clear of the relegation zone but with Stocky, Brooker and Locky all now back in training I’m actually daring to feel a whole lot more optomistic than I did a few weeks back.
Crikey, the last thing I would want is to be flirting with the Premiership. God help us if that ever happened!
What’s the betting 2010 will be a roller-coaster.
Happy new year everyone!