Gone Fishing: The Consultant’s View

John Bailey

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SERIES 4, EPISODE 1 - NORTH UIST

Some of you will love the programme, and will have watched BBC2 on Sunday 29th August at 8.00pm to see the first episode of Series 4. And some of you will not have done. The TV remote is in your hands, and whether to like Mortimer and Whitehouse and their fishing antics is a choice in your own hands. Like the programme or not, that it has generally done great good for fishing is beyond doubt. That fact alone makes me proud that I was blessed with the job of Fishing Consultant for the series nearly five years ago.

I use the word “blessed” for many reasons, in no particular order. Paul and Bob are 100% down-to-earth, great guys of whom I have become massively fond. The whole crew is a joy to work with, and there is nothing in the show that is artifice. Everything happens as you see it, without a jot of the cheating that has characterised some angling shows over the years. Personally, involvement with the show has got me out and about, meeting great anglers everywhere in the UK, taking me to places I have loved in the past, and to new venues I will love in the future.

For the next weeks, I thought I’d share thoughts and photographs inspired by the different episodes. These then are the consultant’s takes on what you might have seen on screen. But don’t worry. I’ll restrict them to just five points each week so that the programmes can speak for themselves!

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Just getting there is spectacular!

NORTH UIST IS THE STAR HERE

Everyone in the team was blown away by the island. “Barren but beautiful” I think Bob called it, and that is an understatement. The startling clarity of the air and the amazing shifts of light. The almost constant howl of the wind and the ever-shifting tides. A world as much water as land, and a Zen-like purity and serenity that blew the largely London-based crew away. I don’t know for sure, but I’d hazard a guess that no other venue has made the same impact as Uist. In the film, I think the music complemented the landscape miraculously… but perhaps that was the gin and tonic talking? Andy’s stunning drone work has never been more telling, I think we’d all agree?

‘DON’T WIND’

When Bob lost that first fish, using the hackneyed word “gutted” does not come close to describing the pain we all felt. The Valley Pool is immense, and the savage wind blowing across it made fishing desperately hard, even for Paul, who is a top, top caster. For Bob, waders full of water, this must have seemed an incredibly daunting task, a leap so far out of his comfort zone I was amazed he took to it with such pluck! We all know the dangers of hooking a big trout on a spinner especially, never mind in a gale and in a rising tide. For me, watching out of camera, that Bob got the fish so close represents his best bit of fishing since Gone Fishing began.

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‘AND AWAY…’

Yes, the release of the fish has become an integral part of the show, but it is a genuine part. I have often spoken of the real concern Paul has always shown for the fish caught, to the point that even getting him to hold fish for the camera is a struggle. Fish welfare always comes first, and I think that belief paid off handsomely here. The shot of that final pearly white trout shooting away across the silver sand in the crystal water was beautiful beyond belief in my eyes. A lot of adjectives there I know, but deservedly so for once perhaps.

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A SLOWER MAN

When Bob asked Paul if age has slowed him down at all, I nearly laughed out loud. Getting either of these two to commit to a date is impossible… and will become worse when Paul is back in the West End with Fools and Horses. I guess retirement at sixty-plus is fine, but perhaps not if you are lucky enough to be working at what you love? These are two lovely blokes who radiate pleasure wherever they go, whatever they do. OTT? Not if you know them. And then, as Paul said in the programme, there is his daughter Delilah, and if any dad has loved his little girl more than Paul does her, I’d be amazed. “Slowing down?” It will need more than a bit of heart trouble to convince those two to do that.

JOHN AT LOCHMADDY HOTEL

We were based at this superbly traditional hotel, and John was our guide in the film. He and his family run the Lochmaddy and it is a haven, believe me. I rely a lot on local experts, both in preparation and during the filming, and John was way up there with the best we have met up with. He was that wonderful mix of deep knowledge, accessibility, humour and tolerance that makes for a great guide. Personally, I’d have loved to see more of him in the film. I accept that in 26 minutes or so, time is tight, and the focus has to be on the boys, but John was an exceptional character. Perhaps you need to get yourselves up there one day to see for yourselves!!

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Birkin

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Enjoyed the series so much I have watched them all again including last night.
 

Loxie

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Keep them coming, it's up there with the best of them, even my wife looks forward to it, makes a change from escape to the chateaux (yuk)
Indeed my misses loves it too, which is why it's been such a good thing for angling: even civilians enjoy it too!
 

Loxie

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Keep them coming, it's up there with the best of them, even my wife looks forward to it, makes a change from escape to the chateaux (yuk)
Indeed my misses loves it too, which is why it's been such a good thing for angling: even civilians enjoy it too!
 

John Bailey

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SERIES 4, EPISODE 2 – BURGHLEY BREAM

Well, of course, bream were the species advertised, but they were a complete no-show, to Bob’s relief. But first, let’s talk about estate lakes, the waters where I grew up on, both in Cheshire, but more especially in Norfolk from the late Fifties. Holkham. Blickling. Felbrigg. Gunton. Bayfield. Letheringsett. Wolterton. Barningham. Melton Constable. And that’s barely the half of them! They were constructed in the main between 1750 and 1800, with a good number of date variations and, in the case of Blickling and especially Holkham, involved excavations over a decade and the labour of thousands of men. Burghley is, of course, built on the same scale and is equally huge at 20-plus acres. Moreover, Burghley appears to have survived with fish populations rather more intact than most of the Norfolk lakes mentioned. Some Norfolk waters were diminished by pollutions, but most had their small fish stocks annihilated by cormorants and their large fish decimated by otters. The crash of these lakes between, say, 1995 and 2020, has been devastating. Shallow waters offer little protection from predators and Burghley has been lucky to survive, to a degree intact.

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Can there be a more wonderful place to fish?

All estate lakes, in my experience are (or were) monumentally beautiful. The 18th century must have been a good time to be alive… if you were an angler, rich, and escaped the plethora of diseases that we took for granted ’till mid-last century. Burghley, as the film showed, remains a paradise on earth, thanks to centuries of careful care and stewardship. Before moving on, can I say that nowhere have we been received with more generosity than at Burghley? It was the warmth of those who live and work there that made the episode even more special than the park and those stunning tench.

Let’s consider those tench? They are special. They are exceptionally (I’d actually say uniquely) deep for their length. In fact, some I unhooked reminded me more of leather carp than tench, such was their bulk. I am not confusing build and bone structure with spawn, by the way. There was evidence of this in some fish, but it was minimal. Why was this? Genetics? Possibly, though I don’t know about these things in a scientific way. I’d guess that these fish were stocked many decades ago and left to develop in their own way, with little disturbance. In addition, the lake is supremely rich with seemingly superb water quality. It heaved with daphnia, even in the early part of the spring… something that made me worry about the fishing.

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Stephen watches the action!

In fact, picking up on that last point, I arrived at the lake on Saturday and, along with the brilliant gardener there, Stephen (who was a rock throughout) I began to bait two swims. I baited all day Sunday too, and then all day Monday, whilst we were filming the general views and drone shots. After two and a half days of piling bait in, I never saw a bubble or a fish roll. Stephen and I could have been throwing bait around the park as far as any fish were concerned. It was therefore a colossal relief when the first tench appeared after only 20 or 30 minutes of fishing.

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A word on the fishing. The prebait consisted of Vitalin, corn and boilies. During the filming we basically used two feeder rods and two float rods, all set up with boilies on the hook. The Boys prefer float fishing, and happily this tack proved by far the most successful. We fished Andrew Field’s wind beaters at twenty yards (less in the case of Bob’s blue rod) and bites were unmissable. Once again, using barely any shot on the line and a hair-rigged boilie as an anchor proved to be a top approach.

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The pike? Paul loves his fly fishing, and it did appear the lake has a healthy population of jacks, hence the boat sequence… which to everyone’s amazement Bob handled with aplomb. However, there was a back story to this. On Monday, when reeling in a Spomb, I was followed by an otter that turned out at my feet to be an immense, almost coal-black pike. I have seen some BIG pike in my time, and this was right up there. It appeared once more, when it followed in an eight pound tench and drifted around the area for ten minutes after, just exuding menace. No surprise really. There is no angling pressure and I’m sure a tench every month or so allows a good pike to grow enormous.

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On a last, more sombre note, the Boys talked about parents and losing them. This struck a chord with me, as so many of their more serious topics do. My parents died when I was in my twenties, and though I thought about them every day then, their memory burns far brighter today, not that far short of half a century later. Perhaps as you yourself age, in an inexplicable way, their influence grows? That is history for you. At Burghley, it did not necessarily seem that the past really is a foreign country.
 

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SERIES 4, EPISODE 3 – THE LAKE DISTRICT

Can I thank “iainmortimer” (Fly Fishing Forum) for his lovely comments on the episode last night? (September 12th) My only problem with the charming things he has to say is that they rather undermine my own carefully prepared observations! I will start by saying I watched the programme with my late twenty year old stepson, who has never been fishing in his life, and when he wasn’t staring at his phone, he pronounced it kinda cool, dead funny and sort of serious, all at the same time.

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Fishing the trout lake

Yes, I do think that the whole worth of the programme has matured since those first episodes four (!) years ago. There’s more assurance about it, and whilst the humour (for me) has got better, B and P have more confidence when it comes to revealing matters close to them. Sometimes you learn to expand into roles, and at the same time I think the viewers themselves have learned what the series are all about too. There was barely anything caught last night, yet the episode was a cracker, and that has been the wished-for result from the start. Last night showed them at their most human, and it’s because they are so human that so many have taken them to their heart. (I think!)

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Toby above the lake

What my stepson does not realise yet is that as you get a fair bit older, you look back to your early years with something more than nostalgia. When Bob met up with old mate Cags (or whatever), and reminisced about the old school gates and Porky Mortimer as the young Bobby Moore, these weren’t throwaway memories. Bob I felt was talking about those halcyon years that defined him and his life to come. Because Bob is a sunny sort of guy, he looked back on his teenage experiences as carefree, a time when “you don’t remember the rain, the grief, the occasional arrest”. Paul mentioned George Orwell and Coming Up For Air, wherein his feelings on going back like this are nothing but gloom… perhaps this highlights the difference between Paul and Bob to a tee!

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There are times when really you can let the programme do the talking and I’ll shut up. My last comment is that both venues were stunning, and that Eric was one of the three most exceptional local guides I think the many programmes have been graced with. The weather was FAR worse than the film actually portrayed, and at times the temperatures shrank to a miserable three degrees. It was barely possible to fish, never mind catch anything. His trundling worm technique is not completely revolutionary, but he has perfected it into something very special indeed, and I would have loved both boys to have caught whoppers for Eric’s sake. Sometimes these exceptional guides put their reputations on the line, and the televised result does their skills no justices at all. Thank you to B and P, the G/F team, and you lot for watching and saying such nice things. It’s the best gig of my life!

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Day one really was icy, cold and wet…
Day two perked up a lot!

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Ally, the patient camera man!

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Lakeland Paradise
 

uplands50

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Great stuff, this is the only fishing programme that has come close to equalling “A Passion for Angling”. for it‘s insights into angling, why people fish and that catching fish is only a small part of the joy of angling. Keep them coming.☺️
 

John Bailey

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The light grows over the Bure on the dawning of June 16th

SERIES 4, EPISODE 4 – THE NORFOLK BROADS

I was never enthralled by the concept of the Broads, perhaps because familiarity breeds contempt. Because of the pressures on it, I have spent fifty years avoiding the Broads on June 16th, not actively seeking them out. Did you see that boat traffic? What you did not see were the midges that infested the river as dawn broke, and old JB was piling in the bait. Horrendous! But that grand old willow made for a lovely structure to film round, and I thought the Boys did a nice job extolling the virtues of the Broads as ‘The People’s Playground’. Very Sixties with Smash potatoes (on which I lived as student), Jaffa cakes and Mateus Rosé. I thought the ruffe was nice, and I hadn’t seen one for decades, but I was surprised Paul’s decent perch and Bob’s reasonable pike did not make the edit – at least you have my stills as a record!

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The Staithe where we filmed on the 16th June

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The crew on the Thurne

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Richard Starling, the legendary warden on the Upper Thurne

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Thurne shots

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A fellow fisherman shows what the Broads can produce

I’ll also add it was good to see “our” Robbie Northman get a bit of screen time and I’ll add this. The ep started with a fire aboard Captain Bob’s boat, and it was far more serious than it seemed on TV. In fact, they got back to the staithe with smoke everywhere, and Robbie bravely hurled himself on board to deal with the danger and evacuate the Boys. He’s not only the best young angler in the UK, but the most resourceful too. (BTW, old JB was just gawping at it all along with the rest of the team!) Good job Paul had that 1950s haircut, or his usual flowing locks might have been a fire hazard.

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Bure mayhem

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For me, the highlight was a lonely few hours on Dungeon Corner on the upper Thurne, waiting for them all to turn up in Robbie’s boat. That was the night P and B spent in the wind-blasted windmill, and the former got not a wink of sleep. I was at Dungeon by 6.00am, and they rocked up at 11.00am, so I had plenty of time to think, reminisce, and watch the gentle but inspiring landscape. The day before I had met with iconic warden up there, Richard Starling, and that had stirred memories of my useless pike campaigns there in the mid 1980s. Of course, whilst I failed, others did not, notably Fickling and his short-lived record pike of forty two pounds or thereabouts. Are there still monsters there? Just possibly. You write off the Thurne at your absolute peril.

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Robbie Northman demonstrates drop shotting to Bob

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Paul and Bob with a perch of their own

As P and B in part proved! They did catch fish in gin-clear water, and whilst I waited for them that damp, menacing morning when I half expected to see Black Shuck the wolf dog coming for me, I spotted a very decent perch or two wandering past. Perhaps I shouldn’t have left Norfolk after all? And it was good to see that bream, Bob’s long-term nemesis. The bream with “the obliging manner”. I won’t forget that one!

So, for me, not a trip to stir my soul, but as I have said, perhaps I was too close to it all to appreciate the homely charms of Broadland like the Boys did. And you can’t have drama all your angling life. I, for one, would do well to remember that.

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Bob cracks a Bure pike!
 
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John Bailey

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SERIES 4, EPISODE 5 – WELSH WILD CARP

First, all the blindingly obvious observations. The landscape in the Borders is staggering. The weather on day one was a hundred times tougher than it looked. It’s great that wild carp get a bit of exposure. They are on their last legs, and the country’s extremities are their last strongholds. Great that the show crosses boundaries in the sport, and shows how game gear can catch so-called coarse fish. There was huge tension in the team after the first day wash-out, and the exultation on Bob’s face when Paul caught their first fish typifies how genuine the programmes are.

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The film didn’t get across how evil the conditions were on the day…
3 degrees and snow early morning. No wonder they are dressed like mountaineers!

Now. More serious. Thank you, as ever, to the many people who helped behind the scenes to allow us on these sparkling venues. They are special but they are vulnerable, and I hope there is no over-fishing as a result. This always worries me. Not for selfish reasons, but rather as I worry about the fragility of wild waters that can easily be damaged.

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B in the accommodation on the Wye

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P and Marina

As some will remember, we featured Marina Gibson on the sites a while back. There was next to nothing shown of the scintillating casting sequence she filmed with Paul. This girl is masterful. Paul was gobsmacked. If those who suspect her credentials could have seen this segment they would have been silenced forever. Yes. She’s pretty gorgeous, but that is hardly her fault. She is a Premiership fisher above and beyond all things, and the detractors should remember that and bury their jealousies. She’s also a deeply caring, genuine young person, and you cannot say that about many today.

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Hardly fair!!

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Second day at lovely Llyngwyn was much kinder!

Her friend on the show, Mick, was a revelation. This man has been facing death, but remains upbeat, positive and dynamic, and an inspiration to us all. We live in an age where whinging is the norm, and we would well to remember how bloody precious life is. We are all so concerned with our self-importance, and our so-called busy lives, that we forget time races by and we will all be as dust in the blink of history’s eye. I am NOT being morbid. Just let us, me included, realise how blessed we fishers are to revel in the impossible-to-believe beauty of waters like those we saw in this episode. Last night highlighted that time is excruciatingly precious, and the joy of living should be paramount.

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Linked with that is Bob’s talk of physical decline. Both Paul and Bob are feeling their years, and remember the latter’s comment that his own bed is where he feels at his most contented. This has to be one of the programme’s appeals? There is so much yearning on TV these days. Yearning for wealth, celebrity, a sexy body, whatever. So many old values and aspirations are lost in the crazed drive for success, and many viewers respond to G/F’s reversal of this. Bob and Paul don’t need whopping fish or endless money. A good bed, good coffee, good companionship, a five pound carp, and they are truly happy. I don’t know about you lot, but it is doing me good to remember that.

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More wild carp action… the look of joy on Bob’s face!!


The post 'Gone Fishing: The Consultant's View – Welsh Wild Carp' first appeared on Fish & Fly Magazine

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Andrew B

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Great stuff John. My family love the program and none of em fish, albeit we’ve always watched Bob n Paul in their comedy days.
I also know a guy who seriously had never read a book until someone bought him the book, which goes into their health issues more.
I’m gonna stick up for Bob on losing that sea trout, couldn’t see that he’d done anything wrong and we all know that sea trout on spinners do just come off.
Those Tench by the way are special fish and make me long to go course fishing again.
 

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Filmed beautifully easy watch TV, what else would anyone want on a Sunday evening, mix in the two characters and a bit of fishing what is not to like , a little bird tells me its Upton on Severn this weekend
 

Warwick I

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lovely tv show , enjoyed last weeks show on the Norfolk Broads. We have been staying down there for a few years in the summer with our friends at Stalham. Its great to go back to coarse fishing again for a few weeks each year and to meet up with our friends Peter and his wife whom we have known all our life. like going back in time when we use to fish the local waters together when we were youths. Some outstanding Perch on the Broads nowadays.
 
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Gone Fishing: The Consultant’s View – The Severn​

SERIES 4, EPISODE 6

So, the last ep in Series 4 aired last night, Sunday 3rd October. There’s a general weeping and wailing on social media I am told, so it suggests that the new run has been a success, and thank you, the audience, for that.

The Severn Zander episode was subtly different I felt, both watching it on TV, and whilst watching it being filmed on the bank. For a start, Paul was blunt in his words on the way that rivers are being neglected around the country. For several years, he has wanted to be more outspoken, and these words are probably as far as he will ever be allowed to go. The truth is that most rivers we have filmed and fished have been in decline, to a greater or lesser degree, and everyone everywhere has bemoaned this fact.

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But getting things done? Forget it! There seems to be no appetite for meaningful change amongst the bodies charged with looking after rivers in this country, however much we might bang on about going green. Whilst we were filming, there was rain, and the the fishing on the Severn collapsed to the point we did well to catch anything at all, we were told. According to all who fish there, rain results in noxious run-off that kills sport for days. I don’t know about this, but after rain, the barges kick up trails of foam that suggest chemicals in the river that cannot be doing good.

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There was also the very contentious issue of the zander themselves to deal with. Paul made the point well, when he and Bob returned the first fish – I think it was. There is much controversy over the status of zander as alien species, and the correctness of returning them alive. I have already got into hot water over this, so will be neutral in my comments. Save to say the word “scapegoat” springs to mind. Over my long angling life, I cannot count the number of times the so-called authorities in charge of a declining fishery have found it easier to blame a voiceless suspect than go after the main culprit. That is especially so if that culprit happens to have more power and influence than the zander do.

So, in my mind, it was no bad way to end the series with a couple of spiky issues. Whilst the programme does aim to be reassuringly gentle Sunday night viewing, rest assured, Paul and Bob are as aware as any of us that all is not as paradisiacal as we show it, and there are dark currents beneath.

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That all said, there were the lovely moments we have come to expect. It was my triumph to have found Mrs Shinn, Upton’s wonderful tackle dealer. What a truly remarkable lady. Zander guide, Tim, too. You only got a glimpse of the extraordinary character he is. We loved him. Charlie Cooper was another surprise, if you have seen him in his comedy series. In real life, he is the son I would always have wanted, and you cannot say fairer than that! Ted! That dog! What a truly grouchy, self-centred little hound he is. (Perhaps that’s his charm?) Paul got his grumpy, gruff “supposed voice” spot on. If that dog could talk, it would be pure venom that spouted out.

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A barge…

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…the nasties stirred up by its wake

It was a bit of a grueller for me, this ep, as I had to navigate the crew boat throughout, maintaining the exact position that Rob the director wanted to hold. This wasn’t always easy with an electric motor, and a small boat top-heavy with camera men and kit. And there was the fact that for once I would have liked to do a bit of fishing myself. I have never caught a UK zander, and I have always found them fascinating fish. It’s a great gig, of course, this Gone Fishing lark, but there have been many times indeed that I have had to put my own ambitions on the back burner!

So that’s it for another year! “Fishing is all about pretending to be the young boys we never will be again,” said Bob. The question on social media is whether we will all be pretending yet again in 2022! Let’s see!

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PS… the boatman with P and B is Tim…

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Paul playing a pike that did not make the cut

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The post 'Gone Fishing: The Consultant's View – The Severn' first appeared on Fish & Fly Magazine

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fixedspool

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View attachment 66492

Gone Fishing: The Consultant’s View – The Severn​

SERIES 4, EPISODE 6

So, the last ep in Series 4 aired last night, Sunday 3rd October. There’s a general weeping and wailing on social media I am told, so it suggests that the new run has been a success, and thank you, the audience, for that.

The Severn Zander episode was subtly different I felt, both watching it on TV, and whilst watching it being filmed on the bank. For a start, Paul was blunt in his words on the way that rivers are being neglected around the country. For several years, he has wanted to be more outspoken, and these words are probably as far as he will ever be allowed to go. The truth is that most rivers we have filmed and fished have been in decline, to a greater or lesser degree, and everyone everywhere has bemoaned this fact.

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But getting things done? Forget it! There seems to be no appetite for meaningful change amongst the bodies charged with looking after rivers in this country, however much we might bang on about going green. Whilst we were filming, there was rain, and the the fishing on the Severn collapsed to the point we did well to catch anything at all, we were told. According to all who fish there, rain results in noxious run-off that kills sport for days. I don’t know about this, but after rain, the barges kick up trails of foam that suggest chemicals in the river that cannot be doing good.

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There was also the very contentious issue of the zander themselves to deal with. Paul made the point well, when he and Bob returned the first fish – I think it was. There is much controversy over the status of zander as alien species, and the correctness of returning them alive. I have already got into hot water over this, so will be neutral in my comments. Save to say the word “scapegoat” springs to mind. Over my long angling life, I cannot count the number of times the so-called authorities in charge of a declining fishery have found it easier to blame a voiceless suspect than go after the main culprit. That is especially so if that culprit happens to have more power and influence than the zander do.

So, in my mind, it was no bad way to end the series with a couple of spiky issues. Whilst the programme does aim to be reassuringly gentle Sunday night viewing, rest assured, Paul and Bob are as aware as any of us that all is not as paradisiacal as we show it, and there are dark currents beneath.

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That all said, there were the lovely moments we have come to expect. It was my triumph to have found Mrs Shinn, Upton’s wonderful tackle dealer. What a truly remarkable lady. Zander guide, Tim, too. You only got a glimpse of the extraordinary character he is. We loved him. Charlie Cooper was another surprise, if you have seen him in his comedy series. In real life, he is the son I would always have wanted, and you cannot say fairer than that! Ted! That dog! What a truly grouchy, self-centred little hound he is. (Perhaps that’s his charm?) Paul got his grumpy, gruff “supposed voice” spot on. If that dog could talk, it would be pure venom that spouted out.

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A barge…

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…the nasties stirred up by its wake

It was a bit of a grueller for me, this ep, as I had to navigate the crew boat throughout, maintaining the exact position that Rob the director wanted to hold. This wasn’t always easy with an electric motor, and a small boat top-heavy with camera men and kit. And there was the fact that for once I would have liked to do a bit of fishing myself. I have never caught a UK zander, and I have always found them fascinating fish. It’s a great gig, of course, this Gone Fishing lark, but there have been many times indeed that I have had to put my own ambitions on the back burner!

So that’s it for another year! “Fishing is all about pretending to be the young boys we never will be again,” said Bob. The question on social media is whether we will all be pretending yet again in 2022! Let’s see!

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PS… the boatman with P and B is Tim…

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Paul playing a pike that did not make the cut

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The post 'Gone Fishing: The Consultant's View – The Severn' first appeared on Fish & Fly Magazine

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Thought this last one was a bit of car crash actually
 

John Bailey

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I notice there have been several comments on the last episode, and I thought a brief conclusion might be in order and of interest to some?

First, even presuming I knew, I’m not at liberty to confirm or deny a Christmas Special and/or a fifth series. I’m sure some will think that’s silly, but that is how the BBC plays these things, and who am I to take on Auntie? Sorry, therefore, but you’ll just have to wait.

Second, I saw the zander episode was described as a 'car crash', and it is not for me to change anyone’s perfectly valid opinion. Zander were never a target that I got excited about personally but, as I wrote, I liked Tim the Boat hugely, and I did feel there was some solid effort to say something meaningful about the environmental problems facing rivers. I can only repeat that Charlie Cooper and Mrs Shinn were great, in my view, and that the quiet end to the last programme was reflective and fitting.

Perhaps we should all of us consider what we want from our fishing venues, our rivers in particular. I was sent a piece in the Angling Times yesterday in which trophy hunter Neill Stephen was lamenting the cost of some big fish waters, saying he felt they should be open to everyone at low cost. Hmm. That’s a nice sentiment, and I’m sure most rivers were both freely accessible and full of fish in the 16th century, for example.

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Today it is different. If rivers and natural fish populations are to thrive, then they need to be looked after, and we cannot expect the Environment Agency to do much for us in that regard. If we want to catch great river roach or massive wild browns, chances are someone will have to look after the stocks, and that will require payment and increased ticket costs.

I’d love all fishing to be free but, tragically, the state of the countryside and the abuse of rivers suggests you might get what you have to pay for in many catchment areas. That was not the case in my childhood, and I’d love to have the Fifties back again in a fishing regard.

What has that to do with Paul and Bob? Well, the last four years have seen me travel all over the UK, and very generally the best fishing can cost, or is looked after by dedicated clubs or individuals which keeps that cost down. Some anglers accept it costs a packet to watch Chelsea or drive a Range Rover, but expect fine fishing to be free.

I’m not trying to be controversial or elitist, and I have never talked to Paul and Bob about this so my views are my own, based on what I have seen. I’d love us all to fish fantastic, unspoiled waters, full of big fish at a minimal cost, but perhaps those days are largely gone? If you do know anywhere like that, let me know! If there were to be a fifth series, then I might come knocking at your door!

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Wonderful venues can cost money to look after and preserve
 

ibm59

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I thought both presenters , and Bob in particular , looked weary in this last episode.
I‘ve not been a fan of the series in the past , but this last season has changed my opinion a little.
I do hope that they’re both fit enough to carry on with season 5.
 

Elibank

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I thought both presenters , and Bob in particular , looked weary in this last episode.
I‘ve not been a fan of the series in the past , but this last season has changed my opinion a little.
I do hope that they’re both fit enough to carry on with season 5.
Speaking as a salmon fisher on a salmon fishing forum, if there is a season 5, I hope they change course from barbel and zander to salmon and sea trout.
 
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