‘Forget about cricket mate and show me some of your Pommie fish’

23 Aug
With the visit of Australian broadcaster and big game fisherman Al McGlashan coinciding with the recent Ashes Test Martin Salter was left wondering how to keep the English flag flying beside the water, particularly as the UK is not blessed with magnificent species like this yellow tailed kingfish.

With the visit of Australian broadcaster and big game fisherman Al McGlashan coinciding with the recent Ashes Test Martin Salter was left wondering how to keep the English flag flying beside the water, particularly as the UK is not blessed with magnificent species like this yellow tailed kingfish.

 

What are the chances of an Australian fishing mate coming to stay in the UK on the very day when England comprehensively win the Ashes? Sadly, Al McGlashan, the professional recreational ‘fisho’, film maker, writer and photographer who helped me get to grips with fishing Down Under, must be the only living Australian who neither understands cricket or who genuinely doesn’t give a ‘rat’s arse’ about the great game.

Al was returning from a fishing and filming expedition to the British owned Ascension Island, home to some of the most spectacular yellow fin tuna in the world. This lump of rock in the middle of the South Atlantic can only be accessed via a special military flight from Brize Norton airbase in Oxfordshire, less than an hour from my home in Reading, so I arranged to have Al stay over for a few days and promised him an introduction to some traditional English fishing.

Al McGlashan had just returned from catching and filming some of the thousands of huge yellowfin tuna to be found off Ascension Island in the South Atlantic

Al McGlashan had just returned from catching and filming some of the thousands of huge yellowfin tuna to be found off Ascension Island in the South Atlantic

 

Starting from humble origins working in a local tackle shop Al McGlashan has become a leading figure in Australian recreational fishing and now hosts a third successful TV show on Channel 7 entitled ‘Al McGlashan – Fishing with Mates’. This followed on from ‘Strikezone’, his first venture into broadcasting, and then the popular ‘Big Fish – Small Boats’. Fishing is massive in Australia with an estimated 4 million anglers in a population of around 22 million and Al’s popularity stems not only from his ability to catch huge snapper, marlin, and kingfish for the cameras but from his predilection for jumping in the ocean to film them in their natural habitat regardless of the attentions of the local shark population.

I was with him the day after a particularly hairy encounter with a 500lbs Mako shark that decided to attack a marlin that was being unhooked beside the boat. Al was in the water filming the release when a massive shape rushed past him and grabbed the rear of the marlin, thrashing the water into a blood soaked foam. Inevitably Al continued filming and his amazing pictures went world wide giving him a new found celebrity status with people coming up to us on the beach asking him to sign their copy of his front page story in the Sydney Telegraph.

A massive mako shark attacks a marlin as its being unhooked. Not a common sight in UK waters!

A massive mako shark attacks a marlin as its being unhooked. Not a common sight in UK waters!

Several years and many hundreds of big fish later my problem was to decide where to take this big game fisherman to enjoy an angling experience in the more genteel surroundings of the English Home Counties. Luckily I had the help of my friend Dominic Martyn from the Environment Agency who had been out to Oz and caught some tremendous marlin in Al’s company and who was keen to meet up. We decided that there was no point even thinking about sea fishing in the UK as there’s very little that could match up with sport to be found around Australia and in any case we wanted to show our guest something completely different.

With carp a definite no no for an Aussie the next obvious option would be to target barbel but as our local rivers, the Kennet and the Loddon, were running painfully low this would have meant an all nighter with a less than even chance of success. We only had half a day to play with and so decided to introduce our man to the intricacies and delights of crucians and tench at Marsh Farm. This popular day ticket fishery is run by Godalming Angling Society, an Angling Trust member club. Access to freshwater fishing in Australia is mainly free of charge and the concept of day ticket waters or buying a club permit is entirely unfamiliar to most Australian anglers. We told Al that whilst there were plenty of fine fish to be caught here the catch and release regime meant that our educated quarry would require a degree of subtlety and finesse that he might find hard to comprehend.

Al was accompanied by his good friend Mick Lomas, a fine angler and former charter boat skipper operating out of Sydney – the city I fell in love with in the 18 months I lived out in Australia. Both Al and Mick were similarly bemused when we took them around the onsite tackle shop at Marsh Farm. If the boilies, hair rigs and seat boxes weren’t weird enough for our Aussie guests the sight of strawberry flavoured flavoured luncheon meat and tins of hemp and snails prompted them to ask, on camera, ‘do your Pommie fish really eat this crap mate?’

The sight of tins of strawberry flavoured luncheon meat and other carp food had the Aussies thinking that we had finally lost the plot

The sight of tins of strawberry flavoured luncheon meat and other strange carp additives convinced the Aussies that we had finally lost the plot

Just to make our guests feel even more homesick the skies opened and a summer shower greeted our arrival at the water’s edge but it at least meant that they got to experience the delights of fishing under a brolly. Dom took Mick up to a nice looking spot beside a gap in the island that ran along the centre of the lake while I set Al up next to some inviting looking lily pads in area that had produced some good catches earlier in the week.

This fine looking Marsh Farm tench helped Mick to forget about the Ashes drubbing that had caused national mourning back in Oz.

This fine looking Marsh Farm tench helped Mick to forget about the Ashes drubbing that had caused national mourning back in Oz.

Lightly baiting with a cloud groundbait and a few pellets eventually generated some interest but even our delicately shotted floats rigs couldn’t seem to outwit the shy biting crucians who were merely nudging the bait before ejecting it. Even so it was great see how enthusiastic my big fish friend had become about positioning his tiny pole float, number 16 hook and single grain of sweetcorn as close to the pads as possible in pursuit of a fish that he would cheerfully use as livebait back home!

They might not grow as big as marlin but Al was impressed with the plucky fighting qualities of our English tench

They might not grow as big as marlin but Al was impressed with the plucky fighting qualities of our English tench

Like all good anglers the world over it didn’t take Al long to get the hang of a new fishing style and when our near side float swim failed to produce anything more than some smallish roach he was happy to try feeder fishing across to the island. The swim feeder has finally made it out to the colonies, Aussies call them ‘berley cages’ , but they are far from in common usage. Al had certainly never before fished with dampened 2mm pellets, a tiny method feeder, banded hookbait and quiver tip. However, he was soon plopping one onto a spot I had previously baited and in no time at all the tip was pulling round and the rod was bending with an Australian marlin fisherman on one end and an English tench on the the other. The smile on my friend’s face reinforced my view that angling is indeed the great leveller.

You can read more about Al’s exploits here:

http://www.almcglashan.com
http://www.facebook.com/AlMcGlash
http://instagram.com/almcglashan

It’s all been rather good

7 Aug

I had a feeling that 2015 was going to be a good year. With fishing trips lined up to the stunning landscapes of the Himalayas for golden mahseer, to the beautiful west coast of Ireland for bass and pollack and later in the year to the Scilly Islands for some big, brightly coloured wrasse it wasn’t hard to see the basis for my optimism! However, the fishing has been pretty good back on the home patch and I can’t really complain about my season so far with two personal bests in the bag and some nice hauls of other favourite species.

Breaming at Distance

A morning double but the action soon ceased

A morning double but the action soon ceased

First up was a kind invite from my good mate Will Barnard, Angling Development Manager for Thames Water, to try a session on their famous Walthamstow Reservoir complex in North London. I had told Will that I wanted to improve my pb bream which has been becalmed on a rather modest 10lbs 12ozs – a fine fish at the time from Dinton Pastures but which is now barely a specimen on many modern waters. I was told that I could catch them in daylight hours as long as I could feed and cast 90 odd yards close to the island at Walthamstow No 1 where the big slabs liked to patrol. Now I hate playing fish on poker stick stiff rods, especially something like bream which are hardly renowned for their fighting prowess, so I spooled up a couple of soft action carp rods with ten pounds Berkley Big Game line which would be sufficient to reach the spot and just about strong enough to cope with any ‘nuisance’ carp that would put in an appearance. The groundbait was a big mix of brown crumb, fish meal, various pellets, corn and dead maggots laced with oils and spombed out with aid of 40lbs braid and a glove to stop those nasty finger cuts when a cast goes wrong. Friends of mine have often remarked that I seem to enjoy baiting up as much as I do catching and there’s some truth in this as laying the table for an intended quarry is all part of building the sense of anticipation which makes fishing so special. However, this long range bream game is bloody hard work and after 45 minutes of hurling our loaded spombs to the horizon Will and I were ready for a cup of tea and a breather.

On a new water I’m a great believer in listening to advice and so was happy to be guided by Will regarding bait and rigs. A helicopter set up with artificial corn on the hair and critically balanced by three live maggots on the hook had worked well in the past and I was more than happy to go with this. The one thing that did leave me with some lingering doubt was the need to be landing our bait so tight to the island when all my instincts told me that bream prefer more open water. Anyway I knuckled down to a rhythm of long casting and regular feeding with Will and myself sharing the swim which was on one of the many sturdy fishing platforms provided by the fishery and maintained by Thames Water’s excellent team of rangers.

Not the target but a lively intervention on bream gear during a quiet spell

Not the target but a lively intervention on bream gear during a quiet spell

After a while we began to get a few indications and a drop back bite saw Will off the mark with a slab that just scraped ten pounds and after a couple of abortive takes I weighed in with one of a similar size. Despite topping up the feed things went pretty quiet in the middle of the day although the carp angler on the next peg was hauling out his intended species with an impressive display of accurate casting. I popped down to see him a little later and he told me that the carp love to hug the margins and that he had reeled in his open water rod as all he had found there was bream. By now my doubts were beginning to grow and they were compounded when my left hand rod, which had been cast up onto the island shelf, roared off in a decidedly unbreamlike manner. A few minutes later I was hoisting a fighting fit Thames Water mirror carp onto the unhooking mat – not the target of the day but a welcome distraction from staring at motionless bobbins.

A big, beautiful Walthamstow bream of 13lbs 6ozs - new personal best for a happy Martin

A big, beautiful Walthamstow bream of 13lbs 6ozs – new personal best for a happy Martin

Both Will and I couldn’t stay late and as the afternoon ticked by I felt it was time for a last throw of the dice. I slung out a few helpings of feed into the deeper water at 60 yards, right where a couple of miscast spombs had landed earlier in the day. I had planned on leaving the spot alone for a while but when a great big bream stuck its nose out and smiled at us only ten minutes after baiting up I feverishly wound in and stuck a bait in what I hoped was the right area. Time was running out and I wondered if I had missed my chance but right on cue the buzzer sounded on the nearer rod and I found myself connected to a seriously large bream that even had the temerity to take a bit of line on the way to the landing net. At 13.06 it was job done and, as the light began to fade, it was a very happy and grateful angler that released the big slab back into the waters of this amazing fishery right in the middle of London.

Little Bars of Gold

One of the pleasures of working for the Angling Trust is being able to help anglers turn good ideas into practical action to improve fisheries and benefit our sport. When angling artist Chris Turnbull contacted me a couple of years ago to see if we could do something to promote crucian carp and protect and enhance their threatened habitat, little did I realise just how popular this cause would become. We now have clubs and fishery owners contacting us on regular basis for advice on creating bespoke crucian fisheries, much in the way that Godalming Angling Society have done at their trailblazing Marsh Farm complex. We also have a thriving Facebook Group for the Association of Crucian Anglers (ACA) – now where have we seen those initials before? – regular fish ins, advice and information videos and a National Crucian Conservation Project (NCCP) which brings together experts from the Environment Agency and elsewhere with the declared aim of improving the prospects for this wonderful little fish.

In fact, it was an NCCP trip down to Marsh Farm last month that gave me an opportunity to grab a few hours after work on the adjacent and famous Johnson’s Lake which is the home of the current record crucian. I was there to film the release of some brood stock into Godalming’s wildlife pond which will provide a future resource for both the EA and for other fisheries in the area. Because of the stupid restrictions on public sector marketing imposed by this daft government it is sometimes difficult for my colleagues at the Agency to promote the fabulous work that they do. Luckily we have no such qualms at the Angling Trust so I bowled down there with film maker John Sutton from Clearwater Photography to record proceedings. John, who is a good mate, is a former EA Fisheries Team leader turned photographer and is a whizz with the camera, especially when it comes to anything outdoors or with fins, and we quickly had all the shots and interviews we needed.

I had no meetings that evening so the rods were packed in the car and I set about tapping up my friend and Godalming A.S. committee member Mike Holcombe for some advice on where on the lake I might find those little bars of gold. I had fancied the deeper railway bank where it’s possible to fish a float up against the lilies but I had been warned by a fellow ACA enthusiast that some of those swims were teeming with tiny tench and pastie size king carp which rather put me off. The wind was warm and blowing strongly from the South West as Mike and I walked around prospecting likely spots. The lake was busy but there was one swim I fancied on the windward bank that would put me into the area where a big bag of quality fish had been taken a few days earlier. It was a shallow weedy part of the lake but a bit of leading around revealed that the marginal weed ended about 18 yards out so I clipped on a medium spomb and lightly baited the 20 yard line with a mix of sweet fish meal groundbait and a few casters and pellets. I’ve found at Johnson’s that the crucians are attracted to groundbait but over doing it on the particles can either make them very picky or fill up the swim with tench.

 

Some overhanging branches meant that casting was slightly tricky but by adopting a kneeling position I could avoid leaving my gear in the tree – something the previous occupant had clearly failed to do. I much prefer catching crucians on a float but there’s no doubting the effectiveness of the flatbed feeder, short hook link and banded pellet as a method. I used Sonubaits F1 hooker pellets on the hair and loaded the feeder with a mix of dampened 2 mm pellets topped of with more of the sweet fish meal groundbait. It only took a couple of casts before the tip crashed round in what was obviously a tench bite. From that moment on it was virtually a bite a cast, first from tench from 12 ozs to 5 lbs and then from chunky crucians, almost all of which were over the two pound mark.

At 3lbs 2ozs this lovely Johnson's Lake crucian was another personal best

At 3lbs 2ozs this lovely Johnson’s Lake crucian was another personal best

My personal best crucian of 2.12 was soon bettered by a fish of 2.13 but this PB was short lived as within the hour a beauty of 3.02 came to the net. Despite a few fish falling off the hook on the way in – an occupational hazard with short links and barbless hooks – I landed ten tench and ten crucians in a little over three and a half hours fishing. Quality sport from a top class fishery and proof positive of what can be achieved with good fishery management.

If you want to find out more about the National Crucian Conservation Project go to the Angling Trust webpage at

http://www.anglingtrust.net/crucian

Or check out our videos here

and

Martin joined Mark Owen from the Angling Trust and the EA's Head of Fisheries and Biodiversity Sarah Chare on a visit to look at some great habitat improvements on the upper Kennet. However, proceedings were distracted by news of the Australian batting collapse!

Martin joined Mark Owen from the Angling Trust and the EA’s Head of Fisheries and Biodiversity Sarah Chare on a visit to look at some great habitat improvements on the upper Kennet. However, proceedings were distracted by news of the Australian batting collapse!

And the sun keeps shining…

My other great love is test match cricket and there is no finer spectacle than The Ashes. Having lived out in Australia for a while, and been privileged to watch England lift the trophy at the Sydney County Cricket ground in 2010, I am an avid follower of this great competition. Not least because it gives me an opportunity to hand out some serious stick to my Aussie mates – that’s when I’m not on the receiving end of their own unique brand of abuse! August 6th was already shaping up to be a good day. The sun was set to shine and I was looking forward to visiting some habitat enhancement schemes on the upper Kennet with the impressive Sarah Chare, the Head of Fisheries and Biodiversity at the EA. Driving up to Hungerford I had to make a few calls and forgot to check the radio for news of the first session at at Trentbridge. I needn’t have worried as the texts were soon pinging in with the news of the Australian batting collapse and Stuart Broad’s amazing bowling figures of 8 wickets for 15 runs in a less than ten overs.

Best of all I’ve got three Australian fishing mates staying the weekend so it seemed only fair to record the highlights for them so we can watch it again, and again, and again !

 

 

Fishing for Votes ?

27 Jul
Jon Cruddas MP with his first fly caught carp

Jon Cruddas MP with his first fly caught carp

When I first arrived in the House of Commons in 1997 I was impressed at the wide array of All Party Groups that had been established by MPs and Peers who shared common causes and who would come together to discuss, debate and raise issues of importance to their areas of interest. I was surprised, however, to discover that Britain’s most popular participative sport was not on the list – hardly a ringing endorsement of the impact of the national angling organisations that were around at the time. There was a House of Lords fly fishing club but after attending one rather stuffy dinner I came to the conclusion that this was never going to be the vehicle for getting angling higher up the political agenda. My problem was that there were strict rules about the membership of these All Party Groups with 20 nominees required from across the parties. Although I could easily round up ten Labour MPs from my own side, including several keen coarse anglers, I also needed anther ten from the combined opposition parties and there wasn’t anyone who seemed as keen as me to take this forward and to put in the work.

Luckily all that changed in 2005 with the election of Charles Walker as Conservative MP for Broxbourne in Hertfordshire. Charles tracked me down within days of his election and soon we were arranging some fishing trips. I had the pleasure in helping him catch his first barbel and he helped me iron out some of the many flaws in my fly fishing technique. Charles was clearly a fine all round angler, a great orator and just the person to help get the All Party Parliamentary Angling Group off the ground. We were joined by my neighbouring MP Richard Benyon who represents Newbury whilst on the Labour side we had Mike Foster from Worcester who was an accomplished match fisherman and my old friend Jon Cruddas, the MP for Dagenham. After I retired from the Commons in 2010 Charles took over from me as chair of the group and then passed the baton to another keen Conservative angler, George Hollingbery.

George took the group from strength to strength and was instrumental in getting the government to press the EU to introduce new minimum landing sizes and other conservation measures to protect declining bass stocks. Having a group of like minded MPs from across the political spectrum has proved invaluable for the Angling Trust and has enabled us to have a real impact on policy which simply wasn’t happening in the past.

A nice four pound plus chub for Christian Hollingbery and his Dad George.

A nice four pound plus chub for Christian Hollingbery and his Dad George.

And of course it’s not all meetings, debates and parliamentary questions. We actually went fishing as well. It was thanks to George Hollingbery that I caught my first salmon on the fly and I returned the favour by teaching George how to catch chub and grayling on the float. George has now been promoted to the government Whips Office which precludes him from involvement in our group but Charles Walker is back at the helm and very quickly got in touch with me after the general election to arrange an MPs fishing trip before the summer holidays.

I suggested we link up with Brian Clarke, the angling writer for The Times who had been out with us before, and try something a bit different. We were to fish for trout in the morning and for carp on the fly in the afternoon. There were a couple of waters near my home in Berkshire that would be just the ticket and the arrangements were duly made. Our party was to be Walker, Cruddas, Clarke, Benyon and myself along with Owen Smith the Shadow Secretary of State for Wales.

MPs Charles Walker, Owen Smith and Richard Benyon put political differences to one side as they search for trout on a low  River Pang in Berkshire.

MPs Charles Walker, Owen Smith and Richard Benyon put political differences to one side as they search for trout on a low River Pang in Berkshire.

We started on a lake near Theale and a few stocked trout succumbed to Charles while the rest of us struggled. Instead we decided to explore the nearby river Pang. This tiny Berkshire chalk stream is a favourite of Richard’s and he was keen to see if we could tempt some wild fish before we stopped for lunch. Unfortunately the river was just too low to make fishing viable but I’m sure the guys will be back there once the flows pick up as the Pang holds some lovely grayling and some beautifully marked brownies.

The trout weren't playing ball on the Pang but Owen Smith couldn't resist a cast of two in this pool.

The trout weren’t playing ball on the Pang but Owen Smith couldn’t resist a cast or two in this pool.

Richard Benyon very kindly laid on a nice lunch for us at Englefield House where the talk centred around the make up the new government and the campaign to become the next Labour Leader. Hardly anyone had attempted to catch carp on the fly before so I kitted them out with some deer hair dog biscuit imitations and a bag of Chum Mixers before leading a convey down to the lake where I hoped the carp would prove more cooperative than the trout had been earlier in the day.

Charles Walker MP quickly got the hang of feeding the carp into casting range and landed several fine fish

Charles Walker MP quickly got the hang of feeding the carp into casting range and landed several fine fish


I needn’t have worried as the fish were almost as keen as the anglers. Charles Walker hooked up on one of a pod of fish that were nosing under the bank when we arrived. Shortly after both Jon Cruddas and Owen Smith were playing carp and enthusing about their fighting qualities.
A happy Jon Cruddas in action

A happy Jon Cruddas in action

Best fish of the day went to Owen Smith who has become a carp convert.

Best fish of the day went to Owen Smith who has become a carp convert.

Although the fish inevitably became more wary after a few had been landed most people were enjoying plenty of action. Funnily enough, although Brian Clarke was undoubtedly the most accomplished fly angler of us all it was he who was having most trouble converting his takes into fish on the bank. Sometimes this happens in fishing and it takes longer for the expert in one discipline to get into the zone for another species or technique. Brian is not only skillfull, he is persistent as well. I persuaded him to move to a spot where the fish looked a little less spooky and sure enough his reel was soon singing as a Berkshire carp headed for the horizon.

Fly fishing legend Brian Clarke  with a well earned fly caught carp.

Fly fishing legend Brian Clarke with a well earned fly caught carp.

With Parliament now in recess I guess the next time I hook up with our parliamentary supporters will be at the various party conferences in the autumn. But the great thing about having these strong angling relationships is that if anything happens that needs political intervention we know that there are a group of MPs who are only too happy to wade in on our behalf.

All systems go on the Thames Tideway

5 Jul

For lovers of London’s river this is shaping up to be a good year. On Sunday 20th September the second TideFest event will take place on the Thames at Kew, Brentford and Barnes and last week the final legal hurdles were cleared enabling the new ‘Supersewer’ to be built which will remove millions of tonnes of storm overflow sewage discharges which enter the river every year.

TideFest 2015

TideFest is a new river Thames event which took place for the first time last year on World Rivers Day to highlight and celebrate the recreational importance of the Thames Tideway to Londoners. TideFest 2015 is taking place on September 20th at Strand on the Green, Chiswick and at other locations along the Thames Tideway. TideFest is proud to be a partner of Totally Thames and to be supported by the Thames Tunnel Now Coalition and the Thames Tideway Tunnel.

Tidefest is taking place this year on Sept 20 and will feature another great angling competition where some good weights are expected

Tidefest is taking place this year on September 20th at Kew, Brentford and Barnes and will feature another great angling competition where some good weights are expected

Activities for All

A wide range of activities are currently being planned for Sunday 20th September including:

1)Paddle boarding – Active 360
Pre-booked sessions for those new to paddleboarding, an Eco tour from Kew to Hammersmith and an evening river tour to Richmond. There will be a race at Strand on the Green at 4.30pm.
2) Kayak Taster Sessions – Edge Paddling
Turn up and try kayaking with qualified coaches
3) Nature reserve community days – Thames Water
A day out at Kempton Nature Reserve – an internationally important wetland habitat with great bird life. There will guided birdwatching walks and species surveys suitable for both adults and children.
4) Community activities, refreshments and displays
The marquees on the riverside embankment will host displays on the history of the Thames Tideway, historical artefacts collected by local archivists, painting by local artists, children’s activities, refreshment stall and an information point.

 

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5) Tideway displays
Look out for the display boards on the history of the Thames from Thames Water and Thames Tideway Tunnel at local venues including the London Museum of Water and Steam.

6) Junior angling games
The charity Get Hooked on Fishing will be holding a series of angling related activities on the foreshore aimed at children and newcomers to the sport.
7) Angling Competition
The Angling Trust has organised the prestigious Thames Tideway Angling Championship which will take place at Strand on the Green and Barnes. 60 top anglers from across the UK will be taking part and spectators are welcome.

As well as bream there are some good shoals of dace and roach to target and both the Kew and Barnes sections

As well as bream there are some good shoals of dace and roach to target and both the Kew and Barnes sections

Last year's winner Clive Westwood picked up £500 plus pools money. This year there is £1000 up for grabs.

Last year’s winner Clive Westwood picked up £500 plus pools money. This year there is £1000 up for grabs.

8) On the Foreshore
Children’s activities including river dipping, water testing and games designed to describe what’s going on in the river are being organised by the environmental charity Thames 21
9) More Foreshore Activities
A series of highly informative Archaeological Walks and tour of Oliver’s Island will be held in the afternoon at Strand on the Green. There will also be a visit to the Lot’s Ait boatyard to learn about the history of boatbuilding on the river. A guided walk from Strand on the Green to Brentford via Lot’s Ait will also be available

Strand on the Green looking downstream from Kew Bridge towards Oliver's Ait. This will be the venue for many of the activities at this year's TideFest

Strand on the Green looking downstream from Kew Bridge towards Oliver’s Ait. This will be the venue for many of the activities at this year’s TideFest

10) Isleworth Ait visits
The London Wildlife Trust is once again offering people a rare chance to visit their nature reserve on Isleworth Ait.

As well as angling there are sailing races, foreshore walks and chances to try out kayaking and paddle boarding

As well as angling there are sailing races, foreshore walks and chances to try out kayaking and stand up paddle boarding

11) Sailing competition
The SoTG Sailing Club will be holding their annual TideFest Challenge Trophy competition. Spectators welcome.
12) Boating events
The RIver Thames Society is organising four one hour boat trips from Kew Pier on the historic Thames launch the Windrush. Guided commentary included
13) Acoustic Music
It is hoped to have some live acoustic performers to entertain the crowds on the embankment.
14) Freshwater fish tanks
The Environment Agency will have their fish tanks on site displaying the fish and eels that live in the Thames Tideway.

TideFest is organised and supported by a whole range of environmental and river groups, including the Angling Trust

TideFest is organised and supported by a whole range of environmental and river groups, including the Angling Trust

 

FURTHER DETAILS
Ticketing and charges: Thanks to the generous sponsorship from Tideway Tunnels and Thames Water all the activities are either free or offered at a substantially reduced rate.
More information: http://totallythames.org/events or contact Martin Salter at the Angling Trust or martinreadingwest@gmail.com

Check out TideFest Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/thamestidefest

And look out for the new website which will be at: http://www.thamestidefest.wordpress.com

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     LOOK OUT FOR THE TIDEFEST LOGO

MORE GOOD NEWS…..

London Environment and River Groups Welcome Legal Go Ahead for the Thames Tideway Tunnel

Environmental groups campaigning for the early construction of the Thames Tideway Tunnel to remove millions of tonnes of untreated sewage that enters the river every year have given a warm welcome to the news that the last remaining legal hurdle has been crossed with the rejections of the two outstanding judicial reviews lodged by objectors to the project.

The Thames Tideway Tunnel will intercept 34 storm overflows like this one at Putney and, together with the Lee Tunnel, remove up to 39 million tonnes of untreated sewage from the Thames every year.

The Thames Tideway Tunnel will intercept 34 storm overflows like this one at Putney and, together with the Lee Tunnel, remove up to 39 million tonnes of untreated sewage from the Thames every year.

Last week, at the Court of Appeal, the two remaining applications for a Judicial Review of the Development Consent Order process for the Thames Tideway Tunnel, were heard by Mr Justice Sales. The judge conclusively rejected the two applications by Mr Graham Stevens and a group called ‘Thames Blue Green Economy’ fronted by Lady Dido Berkley. There is now no legal route available for the applications to proceed further and construction on the long awaited project is expected to begin in 2017.

The Tideway Tunnel team, whilst obviously pleased with the decisions, made no public comment other to state in a message to local authorities:

“After a long and exhaustive process to reach this position, the project team can now focus 100 per cent on bringing the tunnel scheme to fruition. We look forward to continuing to work with you to achieve this.”

However, representatives of the river and environmental groups that make up the Thames Tunnel Now coalition were more than happy to acknowledge the comprehensive rejection of the judicial reviews which they always felt were without foundation and were simply a device deployed by opponents to attempt to derail the project.

Debbie Leach, Chief Executive of the Waterways charity Thames 21 and chair of Thames Tunnel Now said:

“This is more great news for everyone who cares about having a cleaner Thames here in the heart of London. We all depend on the water in our rivers and need to protect it whenever we can – this project means that we can look forward to a River Thames we can be truly proud of, that we can use and enjoy safely and with confidence and where fish and wildlife can thrive.”

Gordon Scorer, Chief Executive of London Wildlife Trust added:

“The Courts have consistently made the right decisions for the River Thames and Londoners. We need a sewage system fit for the 21st century, a system that no longer fouls the Thames, damaging the river’s fragile ecosystem and threatening the health of all who use it.”

Tim Webb of the RSPB said: “The Thames is tainted by sewage whenever
London’s drains struggle. Leaping this judicial hurdle will allow it to
become an asset worthy of our world class city. Water is life and clean
river water brings a lot more life on and beneath its surface as well as
at its edges. We and the courts have chosen life.”

 

 

Goodbye to a Classic Angler

29 Jun

Frank Guttfield, 1939 – 2015

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Frank Guttfield with his personal best Thames chub of 8.02 courtesy of Mike Tucker’s back garden

Just before the start of this year’s river season fishing lost one of it’s great ‘classic’ anglers. Frank Guttfield, author, broadcaster, and an old school specimen hunter, who fought and subdued many a big fish in his time, had finally lost his battle with cancer.

His first book, In Search of Big Fish – a year of his diary targeting big fish – was published in 1964 and became a sell-out cult-classic. He went on to write for all the major UK angling publications, including the Angler’s Mail and Angling Times as well as the Daily Mail and Fisch und Fang in Germany. He appeared on primetime TV, featuring as a fish expert on Johnny Morris’s ‘Animal Magic’ on BBC One, also co-starring in several episodes of Jack Hargreaves’ iconic ‘Out of Town’ on ITV. His second book, The Big Fish Scene, was published in 1978 and showed how the angling world had evolved since his first book – featuring chapters from a new breed of ‘Specimen Hunters’ including John Wilson, John Bailey and Kevin Clifford.

Frank didn’t follow trends in fishing, particularly when the bolt-rig revolution spread from Carp fishing into the rest of the specimen world. He described using bolt-rigs as “trapping rather than fishing”, as to him, fishing involved a strike. This sort of static, hands-off approach, however successful, was at odds with everything he had learned about fish and fishing over his 65 year angling career – the importance of lightweight, finely-balanced tackle and that the biggest fish were the trickiest to catch of all. Most of Frank’s big specimen chub, barbel and roach were caught light-ledgering, a tactic that he perfected over the years. He could hold bottom in raging flows with a minimum of lead, by fine-tuning the bow in his line and position of his rod and I am certain Frank regularly caught fish that an angler using heavier leads wouldn’t have even known were there.

In recent years he used these tactics to devastating effect on the Thames, landing 9 Chub over the 7lb mark. His best of 8lb 2oz is one of the largest ever recorded on the river. This personal best was landed only 3 months before his death and proves it is always worth ‘one last cast’, even if the odds are gravely stacked against you.

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Frank’s personal best barbel of 13.10

His other angling achievements include a 9lb plus Tench – which I think was at the time the second largest ever recorded – and also Rudd up to 3lb 5 oz, but river fishing was his true love, especially the Thames and its tributaries. In total he caught more than 200 Roach of over 2lbs, with a personal best of 2lb 14oz 8drms from the River Windrush in Oxfordshire. He caught many other personal bests on these rivers too – Barbel up to 13lb 10oz on the Thames and Perch of 4lb 4oz and Dace of 1lb from it’s tributaries.

Fishing Stories

Since his cancer diagnosis in March of 2013, Frank didn’t do much fishing. He blamed a lack of energy most of the time and suffered from anxiety. An old friend did get him out to fish from a mate’s garden that backs onto the Thames on the last day of the season in 2014 and he only went and caught yet another 7lb chub. That was pretty much it for fishing until this year when his old mate Chris Tarrant, almost literally, dragged him out to fish from the same garden. This time he bagged his fish of a lifetime, a chub of 8lbs 2ozs, despite the jibes from Chris shouting “Come on, stop playing about with it, Guttfield!”

The one fish that Frank really didn’t like was bream and on the last day of the 2015 season he went with the same friend back to the same garden swim. He had a bite and struck, but when it had surfaced his hopes were dashed as a beautiful pale golden bream of around 8lbs+ came into the net. It wasn’t weighed because he wasn’t interested, it was a bream after all, and he wouldn’t even lift it for the photograph. The irony is that the very last fish he ever caught in his life was one of his most disliked species, a bream.


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The very last fish Frank caught – a dreaded bream – captured with his friend Jeff Woodhouse

As regular readers of this column will know at the Angling Trust we have set up a special tributes page on our website so that people like Frank Guttfield, who have made a significant contribution to the world of angling, can be acknowledged and remembered. It is called “A Life Well Fished” and on Frank’s page we have some lovely tributes from his son Fred and his friends and fishing partners Chris Tarrant and Jeff Woodhouse. Their words also form some of the basis for this piece.

You can read the tributes in full here http://www.anglingtrust.net/page.asp?section=1074&sectionTitle=Angling+Tributes

If anyone else who knew and fished with Frank wants to add some thoughts and reminiscences of their own please get in touch with me through the Angling Trust office in Leominster.

I can’t remember exactly when it was that I first fished with Frank – probably around 17 years ago when I joined the Red Spinners. We both enjoyed fishing the smaller Thames tributaries around Oxford. Sadly they were already in decline but both the Windrush and the Evenlode still held a few fine specimen chub, roach and perch if you knew where to look. That was one of Frank’s great strengths, he really was quite expert at not just catching fish but at tracking them down. For several years he ran a small syndicate on the Windrush of which I was a sometime member and he guided me on to a number of very welcome two pound roach which are still my favourite species today. But I guess it was chub fishing that was Frank’s speciality and he was certainly one of the finest exponents of light ledgering that I’ve ever seen.

Frank was a man interested in many things including politics and persuaded me that I should have him up to lunch in the House of Commons during my time there. I was happy to oblige and I shall never forget him pulling out a musty old file and regaling me with some conspiracy theory he had about corporate wrong doing that I should be investigating. I asked him when all these shenanigans were alleged to have taken place and he said: “Oh .. sometime in the 1960s but I was just waiting until I met the right person to take this on!” Although I politely declined Frank’s kind offer to immerse myself in a 30 year old case many miles from my own constituency we remained on good terms and he particularly enjoyed fishing with some of my angling MP friends including Charles Walker who now chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on Angling. Frank even persuaded me to offer a work experience placement to his super bright young son Max who proved to be a great asset to my parliamentary office.

Frank could be awkward and irascible, charming and warm, grumpy and witty but there was scarcely a dull moment when he was around. There was always something going on in that sharp brain of his and it is a great shame that he has fished, written, spoken, loved and laughed for the last time.

Operation Leviathan – An important part of improving fishery protection.

23 Jun

There has been a somewhat mixed reaction on social media to our story about sponsored carp angler Myles Gibson receiving a prosecution for fishing where he shouldn’t. He was accused of illegally catching the 52lb Common Carp known as ‘Jim’s Carp’ at Tatton Mere on 5 August 2014. Macclesfield Magistrates’ Court handed out the conviction to Mr. Gibson on June 11th and found him guilty of a Schedule 1 Theft Act offence for fishing without permission at Tatton Park. He received a £240 fine and £620 costs.

http://anglingtrust.net/news.asp?section=29&sectionTitle=Angling+Trust+News&itemid=2606

It was reported by the BBC that Mr. Gibson climbed over farmer’s fences in the early hours of the morning, negotiated a 12ft hedge and ignored “no access” signs to reach the mere on private land owned by the National Trust where he fished from a reserved area which is a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest).

Many anglers have welcomed the fact that at long last the police are taking wildlife crime, fish theft and poaching a lot more seriously thanks to the Rural Crime Strategy which has enabled the Angling Trust to engage with the Association of Chief Police Officers and UK National Wildlife Crime Unit to raise awareness of poaching and fish theft, and work with an ever-increasing number of police forces to initiate high profile and ongoing initiatives such as Operations LEVIATHAN, TRAVERSE, and CLAMP DOWN

The recent conviction has led some anglers to question whether the decision was proportionate in light of other threats facing fisheries. Let us be absolutely clear that Operation Leviathan, which was launched earlier this month, is the largest multi-force and multi-agency operation to target illegal fishing. It came in response to anglers concerns over poaching, fish theft, illegal fish movements and stockings and the unauthorised taking of fish for the pot. For years anglers have quite rightly been complaining that the Environment agency and the police simply weren’t taking issues like poaching and fish theft seriously. As a result of Operation Leviathan we now have the relevant people working together to apply the law and bring offenders to court. And yes this may well mean that alongside those getting nicked for stealing or smuggling fish could be one or two more well-known specimen anglers who get caught ‘guesting’ on someone else’s water.

The illegal movement of fish remains a threat and needs strong enforcement

The illegal movement of fish remains a threat and needs strong enforcement

What we can’t do is pick and choose where, when and who the police decide to prosecute as the law has to be applied without fear or favour. However, it would be a great shame if anglers were to think that the only priority for enforcement action will be targeted on those fishing for pleasure where they shouldn’t. We want to deter the illegal movement of fish which is massively irresponsible and can spread lethal diseases and infections. We also want to clamp down on fish thefts including taking fish home for the pot, whether it be by migrant anglers or those who are born and bred in the UK.

You can find more information on operation Leviathan here: http://anglingtrust.net/news.asp?itemid=2605&itemTitle=Operation+LEVIATHAN+Launched+at+West+Mercia+Police+Headquarters&section=29&sectionTitle=Angling+Trust+News

Nasty Ranters

There’s something about the ‘Facebook Commentariat’ that brings out the worst in people and it doesn’t take much for a debate about fisheries enforcement to degenerate into some pretty unpleasant comments about people of different races and backgrounds. Reading through some of the nastier online rants one would think that Myles Gibson had been forced to climb those fences around Tatton’s Mere at gunpoint by a gang of angry Poles!

I’ve been a coarse fisherman for nigh on 50 years and yes, there have been times when I’ve strayed into places I shouldn’t have been. However, we all know the rules and have to accept the consequences of our actions.

And of course it is fair enough for anglers to ask what actions the Angling Trust are taking in respect of complaints about migrant anglers taking fish without consent or in contravention of the fishery bylaws and what else are we doing to improve stillwater fisheries or for carp anglers in general.

The vast majority of anglers in the UK, from whatever background, abide by the rules and fish within the law and there can be no selective application when it comes to enforcement. People who knowingly and deliberately break the rules can have no cause for complaint when they are found out. This applies as much to poaching as it does to fish smuggling or theft of valuable fish.

The Angling Trust's 'Building Bridges' project has done valuable work in getting out the catch and release message to migrant anglers.

The Angling Trust’s ‘Building Bridges’ project has done valuable work in getting out the catch and release message to migrant anglers.

 
Building Bridges

The Angling Trust’s Building Bridges Project, has made great progress in educating migrant anglers about fishery rules and bye-laws and has encouraged these anglers to fish legally and in accordance with UK traditions.

Building Bridges Manager Radoslaw Papiewski said:
“Migrant anglers are also fed up with the minority of migrant poachers who do not care about any laws and regulations regarding fishing. In our eyes these people are criminals and we strongly support enforcement actions taken against them when they are caught. Migrant anglers are also signing up as bailiffs in their own clubs and for the Angling Trust’s Voluntary Bailiff Scheme which is proving to be a successful way of overcoming some of these issues.”

The Angling Trust has produced a free “Guide for Anglers Reporting Offences to the Police” which includes guidance on how to ensure call-takers understand how serious angling offences are. http://www.anglingtrust.net/policeguide

And here’s a list of yet more fisheries enforcement and improvement work that the Angling Trust is delivering on behalf of all anglers.

Ten Things the Angling Trust is Doing About Fisheries Enforcement and Improvement

The Angling Trust has raised awareness of tackle theft by educating police officers at forces throughout the country about the value of fishing tackle and how anglers, who often fish in solitary in isolated places, have been the target of theft and violence. The Angling Trust has also worked in partnership with crime fighting company SmartWater – a world leader in forensic technology – to address tackle theft. A bespoke forensic taggant, unique to each individual customer, has been developed for anglers and made available to Angling Trust members at a very generously discounted price. http://www.anglingtrust.net/smartwater

The Angling Trust fought a long drawn out campaign to negotiate on behalf of anglers tor new measures to tackle predation of fish by cormorants and goosanders. Fish eating birds not only take small fish, they can damage large specimens too, leaving them exposed to disease. This campaign has been successful in securing funding to employ 3 Fishery Management Advisors who help clubs and fisheries with the issues around fish eating birds and advise those encountering other predation problems. http://www.anglingtrust.net/fma

The Angling Trust has set up a Voluntary Bailiff Service in the South East of England and has so far trained over 90 Volunteer Bailiffs to support the Environment Agencies Fishery Enforcement team in this area. The VBS has already successfully contributed evidence and has found illegal angling equipment, drugs, guns and money stashed along the waterways. Nationally there are over 500 more anglers waiting to become Volunteer Bailiffs if we can secure more EA funding to roll out this campaign nationwide. http://www.anglingtrust.net/vbs

The Angling Trust publishes a list of Environment Agency prosecutions each month at http://www.anglingtrust.net/prosecutions. Every angler, regardless of the offence they commit or their nationality, appears on this list and this has raised awareness of the issues around fishing out of season, taking fish for the table, fishing without permission, fishing without a licence and so on

There have been some high profile cases involving migrant workers which we have been involved in such as https://www.gov.uk/government/news/northampton-pair-ordered-to-pay-over-700-for-illegally-poaching-fish and these have been covered in our press releases and in angling media and in national media and we have contributed quotes for these on behalf of angling. However, the list of Environment Agency prosecutions (see point above) demonstrates that migrant anglers are a small minority of those prosecuted with just 12 out of the 121 cases listed on our website possibly being offences by migrant workers.
The Angling Trust has set up its Building Bridges Project which educates migrant anglers about angling’s rules and bye-laws and encourages these anglers to fish legally as part of angling clubs and at commercial fisheries. The Angling Trust has employed Radoslaw Papiewski, a respected Polish angler to run this project. Migrant workers, who come from cultures where coarse fish are regularly taken to eat, have taken quantities of fish, both legally and illegally, in recent years but the Building Bridges Project has made real progress integrating these anglers into UK clubs and getting them fishing according to UK customs. As part of the project we have produced multi language signs and posters that are available free at http://www.anglingtrust.net/buildingbridges

The Angling Trust has also taken the migrant angler issue to Westminster, requesting a Parliamentary Debate to identify further sources of help. This work is supported by Daniel Kawczynski MP, the Prime Minister’s Envoy on the Polish & Eastern European Diaspora in the UK, whose office is currently arranging meetings with the Polish and Lithuanian Ambassadors in London to help get the message out.

The Angling Trust works with Cefas to crack down on illegal fish movement, fish theft and the spread of disease that this can cause. No responsible angler wants to see illegal fish turning up in our waters and we are key supporters of Cefas in their conversations with the angling community on these issues that enables those with information about illegal fish movements and imports, fish theft, tackle theft and other angling related crime to anonymously report these practices. For example, a KHV outbreak can kill all the specimen carp in a fishery very quickly. KHV is often spread by illegal fish movements.

The Angling Trust has begun discussions with the Environment Agency on the controversial issue of the coarse angling licence for the use of multiple rods, which has been a long-standing complaint of many carp and specimen anglers who feel aggrieved at having to buy two separate rod licences. Should Carp and Specimen Anglers Have to Buy Two Full Rod Licences to Fish With Only 3 Rods? Well, the Angling Trust believes that the current arrangements need to change as they don’t seem fair to carp and other specimen anglers using three rods, but being charged for four. The moves by the Angling Trust and the Environment Agency have been welcomed by leading figures in the carp world. We hope to report back on progress in September and any changes might come into place in 2016. http://www.anglingtrust.net/hottopics

The Angling Trust has set out an action plan to address the problem of otter predation. We have called for an increase in the funding made available from the Environment Agency for fencing of still waters, and for it to be made available to club and syndicate waters, investment in research into methods for deterring otters from still water fisheries, recognition by government agencies that reintroductions of otters were misguided and mismanaged, and that lessons must be learned for any future release programmes for other species, an end to the release of rehabilitated otters which have been injured fighting with other otters, or on the roads, for Defra and the Environment Agency to accept that there is a serious problem from otter predation on many still-waters and Defra and to stop referring to otter numbers as evidence of successful restoration of water systems. http://www..anglingtrust.net/otters

The Angling Trust’s new Fishery Improvement Fund is helping to ‘protect fish stocks from predation’ and ‘get kids into fishing’. This fund re-invests part of the proceeds of Environment Agency rod licence sales in England into projects directly benefiting anglers. Applications are welcome under two themes: ‘protecting fish stocks from predation’ or ‘getting kids into fishing’. With its award from the Angling Trust’s Fishery Improvement Fund, Deeping St James Angling Club erected otter-proof fencing and gates after losses from otter predation had reached a point where fishing was becoming unsustainable. Clubs and Fisheries do not have to be Angling Trust members and can apply at: http://www.anglingtrust.net/improvementfund

Funding for Otter proof fencing is available through the new Fisheries Improvement Fund

Funding for Otter proof fencing is available through the new Fisheries Improvement Fund

Join the Angling Trust

So there you have it – we can sound off on social media as the mood takes us or we can do something positive to help fish and fishing by joining the Angling Trust for as little as £2.50 a month or £25 a year.

The Angling Trust is here to represent you and protect angling. The more anglers who join, the louder our voice becomes. By becoming a member, you fund our work to promote angling and its future, to fight for better fish stocks in both the marine and freshwater environment and to campaign against threats to angling.

Join or Renew Online – click HERE – pay as little as £2.50 a month
http://www.anglingtrust.net/page.asp?section=32&sectionTitle=Join+Angling+Trust

Join or Renew by Phone – call 0844 7700616

To join the Angling Trust over the telephone by Direct Debit or using your credit/debit card, please call 0844 7700616 (Option 1) – calls cost no more than 5p per minute. Please pay by Direct Debit, it’s quicker and helps keep our administrative costs to a minimum. Just call with your account number and sort code – it’s that easy!

This year tench really is my ‘doctor fish’

18 May

Apologies for the recent radio silence and I know I promised to write up the Himalayan mahseer trip as my next blog entry but I’m afraid things got overtaken by the backlog that greeted me on returning from the mountains. I then allowed myself to get dragged into the General Election campaign, firstly on behalf of the Angling Trust with our Manifesto for Angling that was sent to all political parties and then for myself as I tried, and failed, to help win back my former seat of Reading West for my colleagues in the red corner.

The polls were wrong and there was a clear blue winner at the General Election

The polls were wrong and there was a clear blue winner at the General Election


Thinking that the outcome of the General Election was on a knife edge I completed a thorough review of what the main political parties were offering to do for fish and fishing. I was pleased that Labour signed up to the Angling Trust manifesto and sent in this quote from Shadow Fisheries Minister Angela Smith:

“Labour is proud to have a strong tradition of support for Angling.  We recognise not only the economic contribution that anglers makes but also the role they play up and down the country in working to improve our water and marine environment. The manifesto for angling contains some positive ideas for how the next Labour Government can both improve our natural environment and support Britain’s most popular sport. We worked constructively with the Angling Trust when Labour was last in Government and we look forward to doing so again.”

However, Labour’s own environmental policy was one of the weaker on offer and their own manifesto made almost no reference to fish or fishing. In any case it turned out that far from playing a part in government my former colleagues were consigned by the electorate to another five years in the political wilderness. And believe me I shared their pain, after all, many of these vanquished politicians are still personal friends of mine.

The Angling Trust maintains strong relationships on both sides of politics and we were happy to acknowledge the Conservatives record in government with new controls on cormorants and support for angling projects. They did agree, following a chance meeting between myself and the Prime Minister in the Commons cafe, to include a promise in their own manifesto to deliver ‘a sustainable bass fishery’. The Tories also committed to concluding important projects like the Thames Tideway Tunnel to improve water quality.

The Conservatives’ most prominent angling MP and Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Angling Group George Hollingbery was typically supportive and said:


”Angling is one of the biggest participant activities in the UK and important to the country at many different levels.  The Angling Manifesto hits all the right notes:  we know how beneficial angling can be to those that are involved and should encourage more people to pick up a rod; with so many people involved already, we know that a number of areas of government policy should always recognise this very large interest group; and we know that angling is a force for good when it comes to the environment and the health of our streams, rivers, lakes and oceans.”

As expected the LibDem and Green manifestos were strong on the need for greater environmental protection with commitments to reduce water abstractions through wider water metering and construction of new reservoirs. However, neither party had anything to say about angling and did not respond to the Angling Trust’s manifesto despite being chased on several occasions.

So whilst the Angling Trust did a good job in getting fish and fishing on the broader political agenda it is just one party with which we will have to deal in government. It looks as if marine fisheries will be remaining with George Eustice at DEFRA, despite his elevation to Minister of State, whilst the freshwater side is likely to come under the new Parliamentary Under Secretary Rory Stewart who was as surprised as anyone to have landed a job in government following his outspoken interventions on defence spending in the previous parliament.

There's not much a good tench can't heal

There’s not much a good tench can’t heal

Taking a tench break

Despite my years in politics I was as shocked as most people by the decisiveness of the Conservative election victory. I really couldn’t see any result other than a hung parliament and I was hopeful that my team would make at least some modest advances. I was up all night at my local election count trying to support the defeated candidates and to put a brave face on what was a disastrous night for Labour. Clearly I was going to need some recovery time and as luck would have it I had booked a few days off with some fishing mates in an attempt to track down some of the large tench and carp that live in the Cotswold Waterpark.

Check out the tail on this chunky nine pounder

Check out the tail on this chunky nine pounder

Big gravel pit perch always have such great colouring

Big gravel pit perch always have such great colouring

I rarely fish for carp but I was hopeful that tench would be my ‘doctor fish’ and give me something to get over the disappointment of the previous week. I couldn’t have had a better start as on the first evening I had a chunky 9.04 which I caught on rubber casters. Several more tench between five and seven and a half pounds followed and other friends weighed in with some lovely carp and a surprise perch of 3.12 to Andy Cowley on a lobworm. We pulled off on the Thursday as the heavy rain closed in but it was a welcome break that put some nice fish on the bank and some necessary time and space between two very different experiences. It seems that a week can be a long time in both politics and fishing!

And the final fish of the trip was this lovely fully scaled mirror of 30.08 to my mate Mike Robinson.

And the final fish of the trip was this lovely fully scaled mirror of 30.08 to my mate Mike Robinson.

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