November 29, 2010

A Tad Chilly

I haven't fished for a bit and, quite frankly, the thrill of sitting around in the cold and wet has failed to ignite my passion. However, I do enjoy a spot of ( I can't believe I'm about to type this), extreme fishing (sorry, but I didn't do the whole crossed arm, Geordie tosser routine).

Fishing in extremes of weather is fun as any fish caught is both notable and memorable. Give me drought, floods or frost and I'm up for it - well, weather permitting :-)

With this in mind and with the thermometer failing to reach a plus reading for several days, I set off to a favourite winter chub swim with a bag of bread and some thick socks. My plan was to walk the beat and suss it out before having an hour or so after a those chub. I've done it before in very cold conditions and usually manage to winkle a fish or two out with a five pounder very much the target.

As I approached the river I knew immediately that any chance of fishing was out of the question. The floating ice rafts were a dead give away and the marginal ice did little to raise my spirits. However, I was surprised to find a section of about two hundred yards or so, totally frozen over! As I got closer I could hear a sort of rustling sound, similar to dry leaves being blown about. This turned out to be the floating ice crashing into the solid surface. I was watching the birth of a glacier - well, not quite but it was a first for me to see the river completely covered in ice and the frozen section is obviously growing by the minute as the ice is packed higher and higher in little waves. It really was a beautiful sight, I just wish I had camera with me rather than the phone. I'll go back tomorrow and get some decent shots but for now, have a look at these.

November 23, 2010

A Rant

Has your television got one of these?

Mine has and its been working overtime.

I met Jeremy Wade at a fishing show at the NEC. Having read and re-read Somewhere Down The Crazy River that he co wrote with Paul Boote, I was eager to hear what he had to say about Mahseer so I talked him into doing a talk at the BS Conference.

He's an interesting bloke, obviously from a very privileged background and able to travel widely and indulge himself. He spoke with great enthusiasm about India, his recent trip to the Amazon and his quest for the Arapaima. He came across as a decent sort.

However, I have just been watching the latest in his 'River Monsters' series and I do wonder what planet JW is actually from and what sort of of an impact his trashy little program is having on the public's opinions of fish?

Obviously made for an American audience, the program plods along with every point reiterated ad nauseum and each dramatic recreation shown over and over. I hate this form of delivery, it really does play to the dumbest member of the audience and leaves anybody with three or more brain cells frustrated. Bloody Yanks. But that is not the worse of it, its the whole demonising of each species of fish that irks me!

For those of you that have missed it, the premise of the show is that Jeremy heads off to all corners of the globe in search of 'monsters' of the deeps that have a history of dragging poor native children from the banks into their watery graves. Each species is made out to be more dangerous than the last and the hyperbole comes thick and fast.

His claims, in tonight's show, that a modest catfish could pull a fisherman to his untimely death was just ridiculous (whatever happened to carrying a knife so that you can cut the line in the event of a dunking?). In a previous episode the Wels catfish was portrayed as a man-eater and I think next week he claims that a gudgeon once ate a horse. It really is rubbish.

In these days of health and safety (don't get me started), can you imagine the pitch to the TV executives? "We are going to dangerous places to try to catch man-eating fish and will be in mortal danger 24/7". Its not going to happen is it? This is just a guy on a fishing holiday selling out to "The Man" for a few shillings and it sucks. What really annoys me is that a properly presented program about one man searching the World for large and exotic species could appeal to a wide audience but once again the television companies bottle it.

Of course, to get a minority interest show on mainstream TV you need a 'celebrity'. Quite why this is so I really don't know but it is just one more dumbing down of TV and the media in general. Enter Robson 'kin Green. I cringe at the thought that the many anglers around the world that meet this precious little prick will believe that the rest of the UK's anglers are so whiney and ungracious. Now here's a bloke that should be introduced to a true man-eater.

But I keep on watching. I know, I should turn the bloody thing off but its fishing and we are starved of new material so I am yet another hopeless case just hoping that it may improve.

For those of you that crave some escapism I'm currently reading 'Globetrotter's Quest' by Tony Davies-Patrick, (reduced to £15 at Carp Talk books), I just wish we could have something like this on the telly.

November 20, 2010


So, there's a new kid on the block, what's all that about then? The Association of Barbel Fishers has popped up in the barbel world and will no doubt cause a bit of a stir.

It raises a couple of questions such as 'do we need another group?' and, 'if the BS is losing members hand over fist (apparently), will it survive?'

In my ever so humble opinion, yes, there is room for a new group, after all the Barbel Specialist Group has faded into the sunset so there are about 150 souls looking for a new group to sort out some quality get togethers for their biannual fix. I hope that the ABF manages to capture a good number of them and sate their needs.

Barbel fishing had altered tremendously over the last ten or fifteen years as has society. This means that information is far more readily available and the mystique of barbel angling has been largely dispelled. As a result there is less dependancy upon groups and societies to help up and coming anglers. Therefore, I doubt very much that the new ABF membership will ever grow much above the low hundreds but hey, what do I know? I hope that it is successful and that it reaches its full potential. There certainly seems to be a lot of good will and energy in the group and the Chairman - Keith Truscott - is just the man to help to steer it through its first year. Thereafter the committee will be democratically elected and, should it ever become necessary, removed. I think that this alone will appeal to a lot of people.

There is one downside to the new group. It will draw comparisons to other existing groups even though they are all different in their make up. I am certain that there will be an element that identify that the new group is largely made up of ex Barbel Society members which may be construed in a negative way - depending on your own view point. Well, my view is simple. The reason for there being so many ex BS members is not the fault of the ABF, it falls squarely upon the shoulders of the BS.

I've put my hat into the ring and will even help out where I can. I am certainly looking forward to getting together with a bunch of like minded anglers at future events. I know a lot of the guys involved and can assure you that it will be a very buoyant atmosphere where all will be made to feel very welcome. I do hope that people don't focus on the negative, let's give the new group a chance to flourish and to establish itself. Hopefully, I will see you at one of their future events.

November 07, 2010

Paddy's pb

I've been on a bit of a mission this weekend. Paddy wanted to come fishing for a few days and I boldly offered to try and steer him towards a personal best. To find any pb in November sounds like a tall order but I had some things going for me, the main one being that Paddy's pb list is pretty lousy. I'm not having a go here, its because Paddy doesn't fish nearly as much as he should do and, when it comes to big fish, his record is pretty average.

Friday didn't happen, Paddy got involved in domestic responsibilities and arrived too late to fish so we had to make do with a brief riverside walk. Come Saturday and due to the mild conditions, we were going to have a crack at some carp. Paddy's still not had a double so we headed for a Shropshire water that is stuffed with fish including plenty of sizable carp.

There was only one other angler on the lake when we arrived and only one other turned up later. We fished hard and had fish bubbling and swirling on the surface all day but the sport was desperately slow. Paddy had one and I had two, added together they may have just formed a double. Oh well, Sunday is pike day.

After a late night -Paddy brought whisky! :-) - we got down to the river and started in a sheltered area at about 9.30. We each cast a smelt (yes Monty, damn the expense ;-) ) and sat back. "Its all about the first thirty minutes when you're piking" I said and I hoped that it would be Paddy that had the action as again, he's not yet had a double figure pike.

I suppose it was twenty minutes or so later that my float bobbed then slid away. The fight was brief but spectacular and I landed a thin pike of about 12lbs or so. The single circle hook was stuck neatly in the scissors and it was very easy to unhook. Even so, I still got 'bit' and bled like heck for ages.

I would put a picture up but Paddy used my phone to capture an image and well, to be honest, he's like a cow with a gun and all I got was a couple of video clips, the second of which lasted eleven minutes, most of which were of the inside of my pocket!

The pike didn't have any friends with it and we decided to try for chub and just maybe, a barbel. I fished a spot that has produced some good chub to me in the past including a number of five pounders but today I didn't get a touch. Paddy fished another crease swim that also produces well especially when there is a bit of water on as there was today. And so it was that, at about 4pm, Paddy rang me to say that despite it not quite being the 'five' he really yearned, he'd had a pb chub of 4.14.

So, not a monster but I can safely say 'mission accomplished'. As we emptied his truck at the end of the day, tired but content, I said that my one angling wish is that one day I have a catch of fish the weight of which is greater than that of the equipment I carry to catch it. Now that would be a result.

November 01, 2010


I appreciate good graffiti. Not all the tagging nonsense on ancient buildings and the like, that's just mindless vandalism. But, if you put a clever quip or comment in the right place then I'm all for it.

Of course there is always the traditional canvas - the back of a dirty van, I've had some chuckles whilst reading these. "I wish my wife was as dirty as this van" made me larf the first time I saw it, although copying another's inspiration is never clever. During the days when "drink a pint of milk a day" was the advertising catch phrase some wag licked his finger and etched "wank a pint of spunk a day" on a lorry - pure quality.

However, in the last couple of weeks I've seen the old standard "Clean Me" on a couple of vans but and it pains me to write this, written as "Clian me" and Clene me"! Lads (and I am certain it is boys), if you can't even spell a word like 'clean' then graffiti is not your strong point, take up stamp collecting or something.

On the subject of graffiti, I do see it as an art form and the more esoteric the better. I can now reveal the reason for Phil Bunyan being called a turtle botherer. Whilst he was working as a carp guide on Gran Canaria he caught - accidentally - a turtle, hooked fair and square in the mouth. Having unhooked the somewhat aggressive little critter, he took a felt tip pen and scrawled "Phil was here" on its back. I love this sort of 'art'. The idea that some other person may happen across that turtle and read it really tickles me.

I've been guilty of leaving the odd literary time bomb in the past but there was one that I wanted to do for absolutely ages and I realised my ambition a couple of years ago.

It all began with Wylie Coyota and his vain attempts to catch the Road Runner. I always liked the idea that you could put a little dish full of seed at the side of the road with, of course, a suitable sign and it would attract the target bird.

So, when I visited the Grand Canyon and drove the beautiful American desert regions of Nevada and Arizona, I came prepared and made a few stops along the way. I just hope that some following travelers appreciated my efforts.