Bobs Blog - January 2009
The New Year is a time for making resolutions and my first one is to give the old Internet warriors a wide berth. There are some real sad types who haunt the angling forums hell bent on winding folk up, causing trouble and generally behaving badly. There was a time when you could have a sensible debate on the forums but that's no longer the case. I feel for the average Joe type of angler who views the Internet as a potential resource for finding information.
My second resolution is to get out on the bank more in the final weeks of the season. Since giving up the day job I have to be honest and admit that it's a taken a while to adjust to the lack of pressure, to actually realise I can fish whenever I want to. Indeed that I should take full advantage of the opportunity. DVD Update
A trip down to Wales was needed to shoot the links for our Barbel Days And Ways, Volume Two, DVD. With the weather as it has been there was no way we could do them outdoors so I had a word with hotel owner, Peter Smith, and enquired whether we might use his bar in the Caer Beris Manor. It's a rare treat to sit in the bar with its oak panelled walls and all manner of stuffed fish and fishy pictures, many of which are signed by quite famous anglers.
It also gave us a chance to do a bit of research on the River Wye. Come summer I'm pretty sure we'll be back to film a few sessions for a future BD&W film.
Although I say it myself, Barbel Days And Ways Volume Two is looking fantastic. We've agonised over this one, mainly because we've tried to take on board all the constructive feedback we've been given. The music will probably be toned down a bit but there's no pleasing everyone where music is concerned. We've also decided to include far more underwater footage and some of this is quite revealing about how rigs work, how barbel find food and how they eat it. However, one man's interpretation can vary significantly to another so even when we release the stuff it will cause a great deal of debate.
When we pulled together the first volume we deliberately held back on the amount of underwater footage we included, simply because we would have been accused of copying Guy and Stu's films – which would have been a million miles from the truth, but try and telling that to the 'warriors'. Having shown our credentials we believe it's now time to up the bar a bit. May's release will determine whether we've achieved that goal. With the links to film, voice-overs to record, a soundtrack to dub, titles and so on, there's a whole lot more work to do before we can actually say it's finished.
New Angling TV Show On The Cards?
I woke good and early but couldn't get the thought out of my head that there was something I had to do. And then the penny dropped. I'd been asked to help out with some TV programme or other. That was it, a pilot for Setanta Sports. Hang on, where did I put the producer's number. I was supposed to phone him now I come to think about it.
Aghhhhh!!! The number didn't connect. Turned out I'd been given a wrong number – only one digit wrong, a seven instead of a one but it might as well have been all eleven wrong. Eventually I was able to track the guy down:
"What time do you kick off?" "Nine-thirty." I checked the time – 09.10!
"Err, just need to have a quick shower and I'll be with you in no time." I lied.
"That's okay Bob, just get here when you can. There'll be a coffee waiting."
Anyway, ignoring the fact that I managed to wreck a tyre on the way, I strolled into the shop with as much nonchalance as I could muster to be greeted by the producer and crew, Dean Macey, Nigel Botherway, Jamie Masson and Kerry Hopkins, who was co-hosting this pilot with Dean.
It's called 'The Casting Couch' and it's not a million miles away from the format of Soccer AM. Sort of a knock-about show with guests, humour, novice challenges etc. By all accounts Setanta Sports are keen to have their own angling show.
I'd never met Dean Macey before but he really is a sound guy. I'm sure we'll fish together in the near future as he's dead keen to come up and try a few of the Northern rivers. Nigel's an old mate. He was the secretary of the Angling Writers Association before I took on the job back in 2003 and despite much talk we've never yet managed to get it together on the bank. Perhaps this summer.
Where Have All The Anglers Gone?
It was nice to wrap up and have a walk round Worsborough Reservoir today. You know there wasn't a single angler on the whole place. What is it with Barnsley and District waters? Mind you, I don't blame anyone for not fishing on a day like this one - grey skies, low cloud and temperatures not rising much above freezing, not to mention a lazy breeze that would cut straight through anyone who was wearing anything less than the very best thermals.
I had to smile as I walked down the right hand bank looking up from the dam where the hideous looking walkway and platforms have been constructed. Perched on a pole sticking out from the water is a sign giving out a telephone number for the Samaritans. I once received the battering of my life on these pegs from Coarse Fisherman magazine owner Simon Roff, who in those days fished for Barnsley Blacks, and a pretty accomplished bream angler. It was summer, the middle of a heatwave, flat calm, and we'd drawn these shallow pegs. At the off Simon balled it in. I took it easy and loose fed with just a small amount of soft ground bait. Half way through the match I'd had around 14lb of skimmers and roach on caster while Simon was biteless - tearing his hair out.
And then a wind sprung up from no-where. A light breeze at first and then a nice ripple, blowing right into our faces. I didn't flinch when Simon caught his first skimmer, or the second, but when he started getting one a bung I was stuffed. I needed to feed, and feed pretty heavily at that but he had his bed of groundbait right where he wanted it.
I balled it in but by then it was too late. My fish backed off, his kept coming and what had looked an easy win for me at the half way mark turned into a disaster as Simon cruised ahead of me. At the whistle I had thirty-odd pounds while Simon won the match with 40-odd. A lesson learned but I'm certain that had the wind not got up I'd have battered him. My mistake was in not gambling at the first sign of the ripple coming on but we can all be wise after the event. Oh well. They were happy days. Shivering Me Timbers
I'm not a big fan of January when it comes to fishing. Perhaps it's my failing memory but January always used to be freezing cold, but settled. This year has been a right old mare of a month. One day it's cold enough for rivers to ice over, the next they're flooded. I'm sure the fish don't know whether they're coming or going. I certainly don't and it's hard to work up a deal of enthusiasm either.
I went back to the Idle for a session imagining that it would be sock on. We'd had a bit of rain a few days previous, which in my warped way of thinking would have put a bit of extra warmth in the water. Of course I still spent ten minutes scraping ice off the car when I loaded up...
The river was carrying a bit too much colour for caster to work but hey, when you've only got casters with you that's what you use. I kicked off in the same swim I did so well in last time but you know what? I didn't have a bite in the first hour - time to move. So I upped sticks and move off upstream.
A bite first cast suggested that it had been a wise move and steady if not spectacular action from then on saw me begin to put a few fish together, but what on earth was going off down at the West Stockwith pumping station I'll never understand. For much of the day the river was like a mill pond – clearly the gates were shut. Suddenly the river started running – BACKWARDS! It was racing through in the upstream direction at a hell of a lick and it came up a foot in the space of 15 minutes. Next thing you know it is raging off in the opposite direction and all the crap and floating debris that caused problems on its way upstream was coming back again. Needless to say, bites were hard to come by for a while. Oh well.
Losing Fish Is A Real Pain
I also ventured up to the other small river I mentioned in my previous blog. Where I'd found the snow melt tricky before, this trip brought home to me how much cold water it was carrying back then as the river had dropped a good 18 inches. That meant much of the river was barely a couple of feet deep, fairly clear and not moving a great deal.
It was white over when Matt and I got there with a proper haw frost and a weak, wintery sun. Good conditions for walking to distant swims and getting the circulation going. It didn't look promising to be honest but I picked a swim that was calling out to me. Do you get that feeling sometimes?
First run through the float buried and I found myself into a substantial fish that I'm certain was a roach – a BIG roach. They can push two pounds in here and my heart was thumping, I can tell you. Then the line went slack... Damn!
I was gutted. Days like this can easily be one bite days. It was a half hearted cast that sent another lump of bread out into the same swim and I could barely believe my eyes when the float buried for a second time. This one didn't come off but alas it was no roach. A 2lb chub. Oh well, beggars can't be choosers.
Leeds Secure More Water On The Swale
My Leeds and District Yearbook arrived in the post this week. Great value for money and some terrific waters to fish. This year Leeds have taken on their old stretch at Helperby, on the Swale, again. It was a sad loss when Leeds gave it up a few years ago as it has a decent head of barbel and chub to target. Should take a bit of pressure off Topcliffe and Asenby, too.
Adult books are a steal at £43 with Senior Citizens and Intermediates costing £19 and Juniors just £12. Great value. For full details including detailed fishery maps and a pretty useful forum log on to: www.leedsdasa.co.uk
Work is well underway now on a project that's dear to my heart. I don't do many live shows because I will only do them when I've something pretty special to share. I've promised to give talks at two barbel shows in the spring, The Barbel Catchers Club on 25th April and the Barbel Society Conference on 3rd May. The shows will be film based rather than slide based or in Powerpoint. We're talking a couple of high-end multi-media shows here and as far as angling's concerned this will be state of the art, cutting edge stuff.
Parts of the show will be set to music – LOUD music, so don't come complaining later!!!! Stay away if you want a peaceful night – this show will rock!
My toughest task has been to mix the tracks so the music samples flow effortlessly into each other which ain't easy when you're trying to blend classical stuff with the Beatles, Kid Rock and the Prodigy. And then it's been a case of editing camera footage, applying graphics, images and special effects to make up something that will be rather an eye-opener. Who knows, it might even be a jaw dropper for some.
One thing's for sure, a few folk will hate the show and I'm sure they'll moan an absolute bucketful on the Internet forums. Doesn't stop 'em turning up, does it? But 'am ah bovered'? Too right I'm not. The majority will at least appreciate the effort that goes into a show like this.
You see, unless someone breaks the mould we're going to be stuck with boring old slideshows where some guy who's full of his own self importance will show us the same old pictures of a sad man holding up a wet fish and then telling us how clever he was to catch it. Trouble is, it takes ten minutes to prepare a simple slide show. I've just spent a whole week editing the three minutes and 26 second opus that will merely be my show opener. I'm sure it'll be worth it in the long run but there's a whole lot more work to do before it's finished.
Hutchie's Latest Book
I've been reading Rod Hutchinson's latest offering, Carp Along The Way, Volume One, and it's a rollicking good read. Published by Angling Publications it's not the normal carp book in as far as it isn't some guy aiming to catch the biggest fish in the land, nor is it a glossy step-by-step instructional tome. Rather it charts Rod's haphazard journey through life from childhood to adulthood and the characters and tales of time when life appeared somewhat simpler.
What it does is place in sharp focus how carp angling has changed and how recently a 20lb carp was regarded as a big fish and that for 20 years anglers like Hutchinson genuinely believed that Walker's 44lb record would not be broken for a very long time and they felt much the same after Yates' fish.
The book frequently made me laugh out loud, something of a welcome change where angling writing is concerned. Modern articles tend to lose the soul of fishing and concentrate far too much on the products that writers are sponsored to fish with; you know sort of stuff I'm on about, "Mount your Nutrabaits boilie on this Drennan hook, tie it to a Kryston braid, secure the Korda lead in the clip, cast it out to the horizon with the Daiwa Infinty..."
My God, when are editors going to wake up and realise that this is just sooo boring? There is obviously a need for instructional articles but there is a limit, you know. The limit is reached, in my view, when you think you're actually reading an advertorial rather than an article.
Copies cost £23.99 and you can order copies direct from: http://www.anglingpublications.co.uk/shop.php
Little Egret Press Releases
On the subject of books I'm somewhat inundated at the moment with new releases. I've long been a fan of the Little Egret Press and Tom O'Reilly does a sterling job in banging out limited edition copies of great angling books.
There are three 'new' books on offer although new isn't exactly the right word. John Wilson's 'A Specimen Fishing Year' charts his adventures throughout 1976, a time when Norfolk was brimming with specimen fish of all species. 'Walker's Pitch 2', edited by Peter Maskell dips into the articles Walker wrote in the Angling Times between 1960 and 1966 and finally we have another book from Tom O'Reilly himself. 'Silver Spirit' describes the times he has spent chasing trout and salmon in Devon and his native Cornwall.
Full details are on the LEP web site (www.l-e-p.com) and once again, I'll publish full reviews when I've had a chance to read them all – thank God it's winter!
In a recent article on the site about the River Don barbel potential I referred to a book that was available as a PDF download from the Environment Agency web site called 'Doomsday To The Dawn Of The New Millennium' by Chris Firth. It charted everything that you might ever want to know about the River Don.
Alas the web site has been updated and it is no longer available as a download. However, the Leeds office has a few copies left in stock and they have kindly offered to send me one free of charge. How good is that?
I initially made contact through the Agency via their web site (http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/contactus/default.aspx) and simply sent them an enquiry. I'm not saying that you'll get one for free but there's no harm in asking what the score is. Good luck!