A NEW BOOK NOW OUT. Targets set and achieved.

My third book, 'Targets set and achieved' is now complete and ready for sale. As the title suggests it reflects the past seven years of my fishing. Twenty different rivers where double figure barbel were caught, crucians and roach to near record size, perch, chub, tench and bream to make the mouth water. All will be in the pages and well illustrated with lots of colour photographs.

There is a 1000 copy print run of the hardback edition and a further 40 leather bound copies for the connoisseur.

Copies available from myself just email phlpsmith9@aol.com or ring 07980 394864 for details

Still a limited number of leathers available.

Alternatively use the web page http://www.philsmithangler.co.uk/ where you can order by Paypal or credit/debit card.

Saturday 4 February 2012

Catching a fish in today's rivers?

Jeff Hatt, in his blog Idler’s Quest – this can be found on my side bar - writes of a recent trip after chub and raises a few interesting questions.  Within the various comments made in response can be seen a number of interesting thoughts and I feel it was a theme that could be developed to a greater degree than just my own comment on that blog.

It seems that as a general body, anglers always hope for the best and will give numerous reasons why we failed to catch on the day.  Travelling around to numerous venues up and down the country I consistently hear the same type of comments being passed as to the lack of fish on the rivers, less fish - but of course there is no real problem!  Looking to support our moral we know the fish we seek  are there somewhere, maybe upstream or downstream avoiding the one or two anglers that might fish this stretch and put ‘pressure ’on them.  Could be that there is a big shoal of fish under a nearby bush, or hiding elsewhere just waiting for angler to find them.  Yes, there are many excuses offered for our lack of success, but the most obvious is that they are no longer there.

It is an absolute truth that fisheries up and down the country are being decimated by a number of different factors.  High amongst these are the illegal fishing by Eastern Europeans and of course otters with cormorants coming close behind.  It is no coincidence that on many venues you have more chance of catching a specimen fish than landing one of the smaller samples of the species.  I read in this week in the angling press of the vast numbers of assorted fish that are being restocked into the rivers by the EA, but can they keep up with the predation – I doubt it, and the cause should be tackled before the effect.

10 years ago I could have gone out for a short afternoon/evening session and almost guaranteed the capture of a chub - even in today's conditions.  Both the local River Leam and the River Avon offered chances of 4lb fish with an occasional 5lb specimen.  Now I am not even sure of catching a chub even in good conditions.

Today’s rivers are not pressured – there are just not enough anglers fishing on them to give anything approaching pressure.  Match fishing on rivers has almost gone the way of the Dodo - the main reason being they don't catch fish consistently.  30 anglers fishing and 2 or 3 catching is not what they want, but often the smaller fish shoal up as protection against cormorants - safety in numbers so to speak – and of course the angler sitting on one of these shoals catches.

Now when I go onto a river section I am probably the only angler there, if there are several others with me it is usually because of known big fish that live in the section and that in turn comes down to big fish or bust – there are few if any backup fish coming through.  Almost by default those big specimens are old – what happens when they go as they surely will over the coming seasons?
                                     A view of Adam's Mill when monster barbel were common, now probably none left at all!


  1. A thought provoking read Phil and one that I have often mulled over whilst wetting a line.

    The harsh reality is, if some things aren't done to try to readdress the serious issues facing depleted fish stocks, then the outlook is a very grim one for the future generations of anglers.

    Kind Regards

  2. With all the issues currently threatening our rivers i think it could well be a case of making hay whilst the sun shines.

    I could devote a whole blog entry to the different problems my local rivers face but im thankful that, so far, they havent been affected too badly, certainly nothing like the extent that some of the southern rivers have.

    Crayfish, Cormorants, Otters, Poachers, Pollution, Abstraction, Hydropower, Mitten Crabs, etc, the future looks bleak doesnt it?

    Big rivers like the Trent, Severn and Thames can absorb the effects of many of the above issues a lot better than smaller rivers but even they can only hold out for so long.

  3. There's always hope and nature has an uncanny way of redressing the balance sometimes, I suppose my glass is always half full which isn't a bad thing and probably saves some depression!

    My dad moved up to this area in the 60's and tells me that at that time the Soar was more or less an open drain with nothing much going for it, when I started fishing it 25 years back you could get plenty of bites on maggot more or less anywhere, today and I can go and catch pretty much anywhere but the fish are bigger. However I hardly ever on my travels see anyone fishing with methods likely to catch small fish, its all gear designed for larger specimens, I can't tell you what the head of up and coming stock is but I do now that I still see a good few small fish topping at dusk. Thats just one river of course.

    Pollution problems are much reduced nowadays, one problem in that often wiped out more fish than the predators could do in a long time. Fish theft for the table isn't large scale generally despite, yes if they net an specific fishery they can do untold damage and yes stealing fish is not on anyway but lets just consider how many pike matchmen threw up the bank for years.

    Predators are fish threat number one, otters are the theme of the decade but actually its the cormorants that are top priority in my eyes. Otters may take large specimens but its the back up fish which are more important, without those we have nothing. Yes otters have wiped out fisherys, but then again many of those fishery's are, or were, artificial in many respects anyway and wether we like it or not there was a time when otters were the norm and had they not been virtually wiped out those fisheries may have never even got established in the first place.

    Then water management comes second in my eyes, too many people on a small island with not enough resources and no one who can manage what we do have correctly.

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  5. I hate to say it Rob but when it comes to the state of the rivers local to me my glass is not only half empty but it also has a dirty big crack in it. Sure there are still a few fish to catch for the few who are willing to put the legwork in but with current levels of otter predation I doubt they will be there in a few years time. All along the river clubs are giving up stretches due to the fact no one fishes them anymore, these fisheries were only ever viable in recent years due to the low stocks of specimen sized fish which are now mostly gone. I know otters aren't to blame for everything that is wrong with the river but at the moment they are basically finishing off the Gt Ouse, I'm sure some fish will survive but its hard to see the river ever recovering in my lifetime, which is pretty gutting.