WELCOME TO the Tuesday blog. Tuesdays mean Steve Collett, the boss of leading online tackle retailers Harris Sportsmail.
Steve’s blogs focus mainly on match fishing but also delve into his styles of pleasure fishing and specialist angling. He also appears regularly in Angler’s Mail magazine.
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FISHING FRED versus LYCRA LARRY!
PICTURE the scene. A warm afternoon, a canal in all of its summer glory, the white cow parsley contrasting with the burst of yellow from the creeping buttercup.
The almost hypnotising sound of a large diesel engine towing 14 tonnes of dreams in the shape of a canal boat, fishermen dotted along in equally measured spaces, the shrill of a moorhen… the subtle BIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIKKKKKKKE!
The silence is shattered by some 40-odd year old Lycra clad nutter who has been influenced by the summer Olympics, and along with his £2,000 he spent at Halfords (a voucher that entitles him to own all of the canal towpaths in England), shouting and ordering every angler and towpath user that dares interrupt his new record lap time of Burton upon Trent. It gives me an ice cream headache!
That’s what’s been going on this weekend, and after encouraging a friend kicking and screaming to get back on to the canals, I felt almost embarrassed at what I had put him through. I promised him a day of endless squatt fishing, with 200-300 fish the target. What he got was a little different, almost warzone like, with all of the towpath and canal users just waiting for the word.
Before all hell broke loose, I had dragged him away from the comfort of parking behind his peg, and the ability to throw his gear whereever he likes, and after 30 minutes setting up it looks like a jumble sale. I subjected him to dog poo, the Sky racing team, and Ben Ainsley’s irate uncle. I may have lost him back to the commies, I have no answer to this one.
With the success of the Olympics, a predictable boom in bicycle sales was inevitable. Fuel prices and the constant head banging by the relevant authorities to get us all fit, bike retailers have been doing a roaring business, and I’m all for that. In fact I can firmly put a foot in both camps, I own a mountain bike, that has seen as many mountains as Norfolk, and I am a fisherman. I have also had a dabble into boating-using these great waterways, so I think I’m qualified to put pen to paper on this subject… and it’s not looking good for us as anglers, again.
If I was to put my cycling head on, I love nothing more than to cruise along a towpath, looking for signs of fish, cruising carp, or staring at crumpet jogging, and I occasionally come across an angler with a pole out. I slow down and get off, but I can feel a cold shiver, as I am instantly enemy number one according to the angler. “Caught ‘owt mate?” is usually met with a grunt, that only people from Hindley, Wigan can understand. But I know how he feels, he has a precious bit of carbon worth as much as a family car, that he has worked very hard for, he just wants a few hours on the canal, in peace and tranquillity without having to twist his head like the girl from the exorcist every two minutes. It’s no fun anymore for the angler.
Then as an angler, last year I was fishing for silvers when I looked to my right and could see Chris Hoy hurtling towards me at a fair old rate. As I was shipping back a skimmer, I put my pole on the roller and said “two seconds, sorry pal” that was met with “*’#k off. I’m sick of having to wait for stupid anglers” and a swift kick was made to my number 6 section of my pole smashing it in half.
Before he tried to make off at speed, I won’t go into the details of what happened next, but it wasn’t pretty and the Lycra Larry was frogmarched to the bank to withdraw £250 to which he thought I was trying to con him! He just didn’t realise the worth of these items. I did take him some copies of the Angler’s Mail and the Chapmans catalogue during his six week stay in hospital (joke). But he had no idea and no idea what we were doing when shipping back… a bit of education was needed, or a meeting between the organisations? Maybe he should have a licence fee slapped on him?
Unfortunately for us the towpaths and canals are there for all, cyclists, joggers, walkers and fishermen, and I needed to get some clarification on what happens if a cyclist does break a pole, or exactly what action to take if there is an “accident.”
But unfortunately no one at British Waterways, or the Canal and Rivers Trust as they are now known, knew either but did give me a bit of info that comes in useful, should you ever get into an altercation.
- The speed limit for the waterway and towpath is 4mph.
- Cyclists are to “watch out for anglers tackle and give them time to move it before passing”.
- Third party liability insurance is recommended before cycling on towpaths.
I’m sure you will be able to recite hundreds of occasions where these have not been adhered to but we also have a few rules that we need to stick to. So have a look at the Canals and Rivers Trust website and make sure you are the right side of the law.
It’s a tough old subject this one, and a subject I think our governing body should grasp. It could be too big a fight, as last year over 21 million cyclists used the towpaths compare that probably not even 21 thousand anglers using them, we need to do everything in our power to keep ’em.
What a nightmare trying to choose this week. The England U18s making history, superb river weights, 9lb odd winning canal matches, Steve Ringer winning the Kamasan, MB qualifying at Evesham… there have been so many.
But this week I have gone for a guy who has been on the scene and winning matches for a while, but somehow always under the radar. This week he smashed a record he has been dying to do, along with others he has achieved, and with the weight going over the 200 lb mark he had to beat four more double ton bags to do it, Mr Simon Richardson.
Local legend Simon had managed to put together over 50 carp on maggots to record a mammoth 259lb 12oz a win and a new record at Bonehill fishery. Simon me old mukka, take a bow, this week’s deserved Angler’s Mail performance of the week.
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STEVE COLLETT RETURNS NEXT TUESDAY (AUGUST 6).
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