After the enforced break we can all get back on the rivers and canals again and hopefully have some good sport. I know some people still take a three month break after March 14th but I reckon it's time to completely review the close season across the board. The three month closedown is nonsense in my opinion and should be scrapped. Anglers would then take their own close seasons to suit themselves. In the depths of winter when there's snow on the ground, several degrees of frost and the rivers are in flood is the time to take a weekend off, not April, May and June.

The close season was originally introduced many years ago to enable fish to spawn in peace. With climatic changes as they are we've now got a situation where species like dace had spawned before the old season ended and species like carp will be spawning after we start back up. I go to Ireland every year in May and when the roach and bream are actually spawning there, you don't catch them, simple as that. However, that spawning period is usually over in a few days and then we're catching again with no harm whatsoever to the fish. It really is time to review the whole thing even if it's initially only done on a trial basis. Let's face it we can always switch back to a three month layoff but unless we try a change we'll never know.

Changing the subject, as I told you last month I'm back in the Drennan England squad for the Home International in Scotland later this month. I'm delighted to be in the squad and looking forward to the weekend. The venue is Kilbirnie Loch and it's very big, and quite shallow from what I can remember from my last visit there in 1987. On that occasion I made my debut for the full England team and I can recall travelling up with Ian Heaps and feeling very nervous fishing alongside a lot of top names who had been my heroes for many years. I've kept match results of all the matches I've fished since 1979 and the diary shows a return of 16 1bs of roach on long range waggler in that match. From what I can remember the venue suffered a big fish kill shortly after that and went into a big decline. Hopefully it's now recovering well and we'll all get a few. There will be two new caps for this match in the form of northerners, big Mark Lucas and Derek Bennett. Both are exceptionally good anglers and I'm sure they will do well on their debuts. Back for the first time in seven years is Barnsley's Keith Hobson, an angler I have always rated very highly on a variety of waters. Keith is an brilliant float angler and the venue should suit him down to the ground. The squad is then made up with former World Champ Tommy Pickering, my own team mate Sean Ashby, Kim Milsom, Mark Pollard, Lee Addy and former British Open winner Stuart Conroy. It looks an interesting squad, picked by coach Mark Addy. I reckon it will be a good battle over the weekend of 31st July/lst August. It's a long way to travel for most people but if you're in the area that weekend spectators are very welcome to watch the two day event. Unlike World and European matches which are fished for three hours, we fish Home International matches over five hours each day. The other rules stay the same though with no legering allowed. One of the biggest problems on venues like Kilbirnie Loch is that if it's very windy on match weekend then bait presentation on a float can prove to be difficult. Let's just hope for some decent weather and good returns for everyone, especially the England team !!.

From time to time in this column I will be putting the spotlight on new tackle just hitting the shops and giving you an insight into what's worth investing your hard earned cash in. This months spotlight falls on the new M.A.P.BOX and M.A.P.CARPTEK POWER TUBE pole. In addition we've got the new DERRIBOOTS NEPTUNE boots to tell you about.

Firstly the new M.A.P. box. Please excuse me for being a little bit biased towards this box but having been involved with the design from the outset I have to admit to being very proud of the finished article after lots of prototypes were made and then re-made. The end result is a box which I consider to be the best on the market. So what's so different about it you may ask? Well, there are loads of unique features which stand this box out from the others. Bear in mind that for years I have used AS1 and Boss box systems, both of which I rate very highly. To launch a box under the M.A.P. banner was always going to need something very special design-wise and in my opinion we've achieved just that. The box has external legs which are better than internals as you can fit accessory bits to them, with internal legs you can't. We've gone for square section legs as these are much more robust and sturdy, particularly when you insert long legs for sitting out in shallow water for pole fishing. I've never liked small diameter round section legs for this reason. The drawer system is one of the main benefits of the new box. You can switch between shallow or deep drawers as the drawer channels have been designed to take either. This means you can obtain spare drawers to do specific jobs for you and plan for venues accordingly. If you're going on a mainly pole venue you will generally need more shallow drawer space to store your winders. For general river fishing you may want more deep drawer space for things like swimfeeders and big floats. With the M.A.P. box you can achieve both things with the same shell. In addition to the box there are a whole host of spares and accessories available. There's a new platform, again with square leg sections. With wading legs also available, this piece of kit is invaluable on shallow lakes or rivers where you need to wade out and have a table top for putting all your kit on. There are accessory brackets available, so the days of trying to get banksticks into difficult ground are now a thing of the past. I can well recall the days on the Severn when anglers had to use a build up of stones to support their banksticks on rocky riverbed. Now you can just fit an accessory bracket to your box, or stand and slot in the relevant bankstick or feeder arm. How times have changed !!

The new M.A.P. Carptek Powertube pole at thirteen metres is a really exciting piece of kit as it's the first pole of it's kind to have three different types of power kits (supplied as standard with the pole) to do specific strong line jobs. The first power kit is suitable for 'up in the water' maggot and caster fishing, with elastics from six to twelve. The second kit is stronger, being more suited to elastics between ten and fourteen and the real bagging kit, the super power top, is designed for use with elastics from twelve to twenty. The pole comes with a free 4.70m "hit & hold" margin pole which can also be fitted onto the main pole if a very large fish is encountered. This pole would also be excellent for use in Ireland or Denmark where you often need strong "line to hand poles" for putting power gum instead of elastic, you will have the ultimate bagging pole. In tests we caught carp up to eighteen pounds on this pole along with some very impressive Ireland catches without any problem and I would recommend it as probably the best value for money carp/big weight pole now available. Incidentally there is also a 1.5m extension available to take this pole up to 14.5 metres.

Both the box and the new pole are available from M.A.P.stockists. For details of stockists near to you contact Leeda who distribute all M.A.P. products across the U.K. on 01527 529030.

During the Angling 99 exhibition at the N.E.C., I visited the Derriboots stand and was immediately impressed with their new Neptune boots which were being launched at that show. Now, over the years I have suffered a lot with cold feet at times so it's always been important to me to get the best, warmest types of wellies or waders available. I've been using the new Neptune's since the show and can honestly say they're brilliant. For the technically minded they're manufactured using a seam free process which means they are totally waterproof, and are supplied with a thermal lining for use in temperatures down to minus 40 degrees centigrade. The design of the boot is excellent with a special grip sole and they look to be hardwearing. For the not technically minded, like me, what it means is that my feet stay warm and dry which is what I'm really interested in. I only wished they made waders as well!! For further details contact Derriboots on 0181 519 7878. In addition to the new Neptune boot they also do several other designs and everything is shown in their catalogue which they will send to you. That's it for now. Time to get back on the bank. I'm fishing five or six days a week at present so things are very hectic it's a hard life but someone's got to do it !!!!.