Angling – What does it mean to you?

I saw a really nice thought provoking article by UK angler Pat Gillett on the Quest Baits blog. Pat is a long time specimen hunter often turning his attentions to the rivers in his region and their large barbel.

I too think angling and carp angling gin particular has lost its way. Ok I make a living out of fishing, but I’m sure those of us who have been fishing for over 20 years will remember the days when carp fishing had a mythical magic about it.

Fortunately the wonders of nature have not changed and a kingfisher alighting on ones rods is still a marvelous sight.

See the original article here:

“ ….I was talking to a mate of mine the other day (a good match angler) and it brought home to me how we all derive different pleasures from angling. To him it was all about the competition and the sheer numbers and weights of fish, obvious really, has this is what is needed to win matches. To me angling pleasure comes from something totally different. After being an angler for over 35 years the need to equate everything to numbers has long since gone. It’s more about ‘just being there’. It’ easy to get drawn into the numbers game and easy to lose sight of why we actually go fishing.

I do like to fish for larger than average fish (for my area) but that only comes from the many years of fishing and thus building my way up from catching smaller fish. To get the most enjoyment I need to be on the right venue and to be catching ‘on my own terms’.

One thing I try to avoid is ‘over pressured’ stretches of river or lakes, unfortunately the presence of bigger than average size fish tends to bring with it loads of fish chasers and swim jumpers and at times a total lack of angling etiquette. I fished one of these stretches (on a small river) a couple of times about a month ago.

There were no anglers present at all when I got there at 4pm (nobody had been catching). On both occasions all remained quiet until between 9 and 10 pm when anglers turned up and jumped into the swim next to me even though there was still nobody else on the stretch. They then proceded in piling in more boilies than I would use in a month. I am not sure if it is a lack of etiquette or angling knowledge, but all this achieved was to spoil the fishing and any chances of catching (especially when you considerthat the optimum catching time was between 10.30 and 11pm, so you wanted everything really quiet.). You really do see some stroke pulling on these sort of venues which is why I very rarely bother with them, preferring to walk a good way up or downstream instead.

Therefore unless I can find some big fish that nobody else knows are present in a stretch I’m fishing, I have to accept that the very biggest (usually known and named) will remain out of reach.

For me the essence of river fishing is about exploring and finding your own swims and fish, and not just following the crowds and always fishing known swims or hammering swims that other people have taken the time and effort to find. To go down this route would take away my enjoyment, which makes it all a waste of time (this is ok if you are only interested in numbers and weights, but to me fishing is about so much more). The sort of the things I have just mentioned seem to be rife on the smaller rivers where the same barbel can be resident in the same old swims for season after season.

This is the biggest reason I’ve come to love fishing the Lower Severn (can’t wait to start around October) and Upper Trent so much. You can be fishing in solitude for good average size fish (plenty of double’s), always with the anticipation of that unknown ‘whacker’ picking up your bait, The fact that you still have that ‘factor of the unknown’ really adds to the atmosphere and the expectation of the angling experience. You are fishing for totally wild fish that can move up or downstream many miles if they so wish. Plus of course by fishing the quieter area’s you get to see so much more of the wildlife that the English countryside has to offer. I always find it quite funny when I see how fascinated people are whilst watching wildlife programmes on T.V. basically watching things that we has anglers take for granted (kingfisher’s, herons, otters etc.).

It can be hard work at times, with lots of hours spent fishing when you are uncertain even if there are any barbel in the area you are fishing. But this just makes it all the more rewarding when you do catch a good fish. You’ve done your own thing, found your own swims and fish and not just followed the crowds.

Fishing plenty of different swims / area’s / rivers definitely helps build your ‘river craft’ and catching from many different places helps you gain a lot of confidence. Gone are the days when you turn up at a venue and have your day ‘ruined’ because somebody is fishing in your favourite swim that you always fish (and therefore have little confidence in fishing elsewhere). Catching from many different places gives you the utmost confidence in your bait and methods and so if you are not catching then it’s probably because the fish aren’t there, so it’s time to start looking elsewhere again.

Through doing this for the last dozen years or so I have managed to find several stretches on the five different rivers that I have fished (Severn, Trent, Dove, Teme and Warwickshire Avon), that more than meet my requirements, quiet unspoilt fishing, good average size barbel (I have been lucky enough to have caught 11lb+ barbel off all five rivers) and so am never spoilt for choice for somewhere different to go.

I did fish the same couple of swims on one particular stretch of the Lower Severn for a season or so (before I was confident to venture else where) and although I did catch plenty of barbel, after a while I felt like I was just ‘going through the motions’, as apart from the river levels changing, the fishing became pretty much the same every trip. As I say, fine if you are just into the numbers game, but I get bored doing the same old thing week in week out and now find I can no longer fish like this.

So just a few thoughts on what is basically the essence of my river fishing. If you are getting a bit ‘stale’ or bored fishing the same old stretch for those known fish, sit back and re-evaluate why you actual go fishing (is it a numbers thing or is it just being there?) and maybe have a go at a bit of pioneering. You may well find that you get much more enjoyment and sense of achievement from finding your ‘own’ fish and from fishing a variety of venues.


Pat Gillett…. »

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