FISHING.CO.UK is going weekly, starting next month. Most of our regular monthly articles will continue but we shall also be running both weekly items and a weekly special feature in addition. One of the new additions will be an "As it Happens" column. This will really utilise the potential of the Internet, but it can only happen with your help. If you or a friend makes a good catch or has some interesting news, tell us about it. Send it in, (maybe with a pic?) and it will go straight up on the net on the front page of our great fishing web-site. That day, no waiting. That means we now have a place for pieces like the 4lb 8oz grayling photo and this:
John Young is really heaving out the carp this season. Fishing a small but quite hard Colne Valley gravel pit, he has managed to catch almost every known fish in the lake this season. These include 4 out of five known thirty pounders. What makes this different is that John is rarely fishing for more than a couple of hours at a time and has taken all his fish in daylight. Well done John, it just shows that a bedchair and a bivvy are not essential items when carp fishing. John wins this weeks star prize of £10,000 for his catch. (Or is it a polo-shirt? I can never remember).
Here’s a note for your diary. Neil Depledge of the Walton branch of the PAC has secured some weekend pike fishing at Thorpe Park – fishing at a prestigious venue from as little as £10 per day. The dates run weekends Nov 20-21, Dec 11-12, Jan 22-23, Feb 12-13 and Mar 4 -5. Contact Neil on 01784 243117 between 6 and 9pm to book your places. You don’t have to be a PAC member either. Don’t miss it.
Attention budding authors! We will be shortly launching a ‘Story Time’ section - send in your short stories to me, the editor, and you could win big cash prizes. £500,000 can be won! Or is it a baseball cap? No that’s it – It’s definitely £100 for the best story and there will be runner-up prizes too. We’re looking for stories of at least 1000 words, so get scribbling all you aspiring writers.
Of all the angling writers that I ‘ve read, and there have been quite a few in my 49 years, only a few really stand out. Naturally enough, these are the ones who have become my favourites. These people are invariably chosen for being both excellent communicators and top grade anglers, a very rare combination. If I think of these anglers as musicians, they would be the top singer/songwriters of the game. Last week I met, for the first time, Bob Dylan. Okay it was not really BobDylan but it gives you an idea of the degree of respect that I have for the man, and the esteem in which I hold him. His real name, which many of you will be familiar with, is Dave Steuart. (No, it’s not the one with the Eurythmics).
Bill Rushmer recently described Dave in this magazine as "the greatest all-round angler that has ever been. His knowledge is second to none". I’m not going to argue. I’ve met him.
Now an old warhorse of seventy years, Dave and his wife Kay own a piece of paradise. Kay (Joni Mitchell?) is also an angler. I would not dare to clash swords with her and compare my catches with hers because I’d lose - and I’ve caught a few. This is one very remarkable pair of people. After a long hard climb from the devastation of post war Britain, they forged their way through the angling world to achieve a dream. They then quietly attained that dream and all but disappeared from sight when they retired. Now I know why.
Five acres of heaven is a small strip of land in Hampshire. When the Steuarts bought it, it was just a rough parcel of land, worth little but for it’s one remarkable asset, it contains a short length of the river Test. Those five acres are now finely manicured gardens and that stretch of water has been attended by the finest angling surgeons around. A cut here, a tuck there, has produced a breathtaking little home fishery with everything a man could want, just outside his back door. Oh, didn’t I mention? The Steuarts have built a house and made their home here.
Dave’s off the cuff remarks like, "We laid 14,000 sandbags over there, and narrowed the river to increase the flow" were spoken in such a matter-of-fact manner. Years of hard toil reduced to everyday patter. Looking around me, I could see the reality and was "gobsmacked" as my kids say.
Ah yes. Kids. Dave and Kay say they have none, but after spending a day with them, I now know different. The river holds their finny children and those children are loved and cherished far better than some human kids I know. As Dave escorted me around the place he pointed out the salmon holding areas to me. "There, that one’s about 14lb and there’s a couple of smaller ones just behind it" . After a morning’s heavy rain, the water was holding some colour and I couldn’t see them, even with Polaroids. So he repositioned me. This went on about four times – Dave was determined that I should see the fish. I was on the point of lying to try and save some face when suddenly, there they were. Staring me in the face in fact. And I always thought that I was quite good at spotting fish. Now I know different.
Feeling a little like "Grasshopper" taking instructions from his Kung Fu master, I trotted a float down for grayling and chub. "They’re not chub they’re dace" he roared. They were too – huge dace! I caught a gorgeous roach of around a pound in weight and enthused about it whilst Dave apologised that the two pounders were not showing. As if I cared. The occasional brown trout really livened up the sport – fishing with a 1.7 hooklink is a rare thing for me. Taking the rod from me the Master says "You don’t want to do it like that, you want to do it like this". I watched him. He was right. I do want to do it like that. I do, I do. "Get rid of this damn cartwheel and get a decent ‘pin" . I will Dave, I will.
But even in paradise, the black clouds of hell can be seen on the horizon. In the time that Dave and Kay have tended their paradise, the river has declined. The salmon runs have dwindled to a mere fraction of what they were. Upstream fish farms, pollution, abstraction and poachers have all taken their toll. As we sat and fished from a garden bench, a pair of poachers made rude gestures at us from a bridge upstream, vanishing when we started after them. But they would be back. These, said Dave, are the dead-line poachers, in it for the money - not the angling variety who are just looking for some good sport. These are the killers that cannot be ignored. But ignored they are. "The police don’t want to know, even when I remind them that poaching is a criminal, not civil offence. It’s theft, pure and simple but the authorities do nothing".
With the evening came the eels and the end. My fishing was over. Heaven was closing up for the day. As the sun set, I thanked my remarkable hosts and waved goodbye, headed back to the Smoke. I’d spent the day with Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell. I was so happy I could have cried. Encore!
Back to this months edition: Have you checked out the bookshop yet? Yes, that’s a new one. Also new is our fishery reports section. Contact us to add your fishery details and keep the world informed of how it’s fishing every week. It should be up and running within a few days, as will the Angling Calendar. At last Roddy Hayes has got his first big-game article to us – the first of many we hope. Still at sea, Russ Symons targets ling this month while Mike Thrussel surfcasts for cod. On the game scene, Martin Cottis reports on the Peregrine International, Ian Muckle visits Loch Fad and Sandy Forgan investigates the chances of a Y2K salmon. Then, a sneak visit to the wildwaters of Scotland by Brian Tarlite leads us on to the coarse scene. Keith Lambert gives a full exclusive report on that giant catfish trip to Kazahkstan and Graham Marsden stays at home. Home for him is the Severn where he goes a-barbelling, as does Matthew Spence who revisits the Teme for a fish or three. A little in the way of education from Dr Paul Garner: this month he diagnoses the basics in pike fishing and Marisa Ippolito adds the female touch to the Scots snappers. Thames carp are uncle Bill Rushmer’s topic this month with Ian Wakeford advising on how to get the best from bait-boats. Alan Tomkins and Rob Hughes continue with the carpy tales and Dave Harrell reports on the John Smiths angling championships. Oh, and there’s one from me about Britains biggest freshwater fish. What’s that then? Well, read it and find out!
There – try saying that lot in one breath! A feast of articles from some top names, all for free on FISHING.CO.UK. Bookmark us now!