Stillwater GT4000 Baitfeeder reel – now just £19.99

The Stillwater GT4000 Baitfeeder reel is one of the most popular reels of 2010 and now it’s even better value thanks to a £45 saving on the full RRP.

It’s a ‘hybrid’ reel that sits in-between a big carp reel and a match reel and borrows the best features from both areas – the power, spool size, and guts of a big carp reel, in the compact size of a match/feeder reel.

They have an RRP of £64.99 but were previously on sale for £29.99 which was incredible in itself, but we’ve managed to get you another £10 knocked off the previous selling price!

The 4000 size is perfect when shorter, lighter rods are being used for stalking carp and has found favour with commercial matchmen fishing tactics like the method feeder, PVA bags, pellet cones, and also specimen chub and barbel anglers.

The GT4000 features great line lay and a big spool for longer casts, and it also has bags of power for controlling big fish.

“When I first saw these reels earlier in the year I knew they would quickly become best-sellers, and I’ve not been wrong,” said Angling Times’ Steve Fitzpatrick.

“They simply tick all the boxes in terms of size, build quality, and with them on offer at £29.99 they were a great buy for all commercial match, pleasure, pike, and carp anglers.

“With a further £10 off the offer price this really is a deal not to miss out on.”

For more details on this great reel, click HERE

New fly fishing tackle offers are now online in our shop


Game anglers looking for a tackle bargain can now take advantage of our new reader offers shop with two new deals online today.

Recommended by the team at Trout Fisherman magazine, there are two Shakespeare Odyssey fly rod and reel outfits on offer, designed for catching trout from day ticket stillwaters.

The first set consists of a Shakespeare Odyssey 9ft 6/7wt rod, and to go with it you’ll receive an SGT2 reel plus spare spool, fly lines, backing, flies, a double sided, clear view fly box, tackle bag and landing net.

The second deal is a lightweight fly outfit and consists of a Shakespeare Odyssey 8ft 6in 5/6weight rod which is a great river rod which will also find favour with anglers who love fishing nymphs and dry flies on small stillwater pools.

Both sets have an RRP of £188, but are available to users for just £60 - a saving of £128!

Trout Fisherman editor Russell Hill said: “These sets are perfect for those intimate day ticket stillwaters, are deals no trout angler can’t afford to miss out on.”

The 8ft 6in 5/6 weight kit is available HERE

The 9ft 6/7 weight kit can be found HERE

Time to kick sea fishing out of the Angling Trust

As it is ‘that time of year’, I thought I’d give you some ideas of what I would like to see happen in the next year and beyond. After all, The Noughties are nearly gone and we are about to enter the Troubled Teens

1 First, I would like to see the Angling Trust achieve proper recognition by anglers but, as a realist, I know that isn’t going to happen because not enough of them know, or care, about it. With that in mind, the Trust must start a campaign to become THE force in angling politics.

It has recently been quoted - and possibly misquoted, as I never got to the real bottom of it - as saying that it will campaign AGAINST a rod licence for sea fishing.

If that is the case, I believe that the Trust should cast aside all concept of representing sea anglers, who neither want, nor respect, representation, and concentrate on those who are prepared to pay for their sport. So, No1 on my wish list - kick sea angling out of the Angling Trust.

Now, being able to concentrate properly on those who pay for their sport, it is time to vigorously campaign for real recognition by the Government and be given the chance to issue rod licences, or at least sell them on the Government’s behalf. If individual doctors can be charged with running their own little health service for their patients, surely angling, in particular sport anglers who are nett givers to the environment, should be charged with running itself.

2 A cut of the licence fee or, even better, cut FREE from the licence fee and granted autonomy. When that is done, maybe the Trust could turn its attention to what have become known as commercial fisheries and actually put some controls and checks in place. To my mind, the concept of digging a lake, filling it with water then invasive species - imported carp hybrids being top of my particular dislike list - and simply allowing people with little or no skill to catch them, is morally reprehensible.

I am certain someone couldn’t just start a farm or a zoo in the same manner, so while we complain about the lack of respect everyone other than anglers afford fish, we actually pour the ultimate disrespect upon them.

3 No-one would be allowed to open a fishery without certified fishery management knowledge.

4 No fishing for fish in a newly-stocked lake for a minimum of nine months.

That will keep the Johnny-come-lately cash grabbers away. If fish are looked on as an investment demanding a return, we are on a very slippery slope.

5 Next, we must resume some kind of control over our river and canal banks.
Many canals and some rivers are now either unfishable, or unsafe, due to outside interference that contributes nothing to their upkeep.

The main two undesirables are cyclists riding their bikes where no bikes should be ridden, and boats that simply moor up and stay put. How on this earth anyone thinks it is a good idea to have bikes riding willy-nilly along what are public footpaths is beyond me.

There are no signs asking cyclists to ride carefully, no indication of who has right of way - it won’t be anglers, you can bet on that, even though we pay - indeed, there is just no control. That is wrong.

As for the people who have just decided to leave the rat race and live on our waterways for free, well would you like them pitching a tent outside your house?

So, let’s clean up the waterways. I was once told by a British Waterways spokesman that there isn’t much you can do with a huge barge that hasn’t paid its licence, lived on by people who don’t exist. Don’t they have cranes any more?

6 I want anglers to have a voice that’s strident and supportive of angling in Parliament. I am disappointed at the apparent lack of visibility of Martin Salter’s replacement, Charles Walker MP, especially as he has the River Lea at the very heart of his constituency.

And, while I’m at it, I don’t know what has happened to the assurances given by Mr Benyon, boss of Defra. Once again, the commercial sea fishing interests seem to be getting not only a larger slice of the marine cake than that to which they are entitled, but the whole cake, stand and table that the stand sits on!

7 Finally, I hope and pray that the great upswing in sport enjoyed by so many river anglers continues.

I know that some rivers, mostly small ones, are in possibly terminal decline through predation - although my opinion and general observation is that abstraction and degradation are the root and branch of the problem - but many of the bigger rivers have been quietly improving, year on year, not necessarily with just the size of the existing ancient fish living there increasing, but numbers of ‘pleasure’ fish - roach, dace, perch, even small chub and skimmer bream that are now around.

If it keeps going, we might even start seeing anglers becoming sick of every-cast-a carp, and learning how to fish again.

Yeah, right!


Big pike and catfish are suckers for vodka-flavoured baits

Many anglers use dips and flavourings to give them an edge in their predator fishing, but one man has taken it a step further, revealing that the secret behind a string of 30lb pike catches is neat vodka.

Irish fishing guide Dave Mason has been injecting the spirit into his deadbaits with unbelievable results, the alcoholic edge being responsible for the capture of pike to 39lb 10oz and countless others over 30lb.

The Belfast-based specimen-hunter, who owns the popular angling holiday and guiding service Monster Tours, believes it’s the slick of alcohol slowly oozing from the bait that is responsible for producing takes when all other offerings fail.

His own experiments fishing with vodka on many of Ireland’s premier pike waters have seen the boozy baits more than double the catch-rate of standard sea deadbaits, while sessions on Spain’s River Ebro, where he targets the waterway’s catfish population with halibut pellets soaked in vodka, have delivered similar results.

“Every 30lb pike I’ve caught has been on a sprat or seabait injected with vodka,” Dave told AT. “People wouldn’t believe how much difference it makes to your catch-rate.

“When the fish has been injected with alcohol it practically explodes in a cloud of juices as it hits the bottom. I’ve seen slicks appear on the surface when the pike takes the bait.

“Both myself and my customers have lost pike that we wouldn’t even dare put a weight on while fishing with vodka baits, and in Spain we ditched our usual fish baits and tried vodka-soaked pellets against standard offerings.

In a week the ‘special’ bait produced 26 fish, with the standard offering tempting only two. Need I say more?” Fisheries scientist and well-known specimen angler Dr Mark Everard is not surprised at the fish-catching qualities behind vodka-enhanced baits.

“The injection of alcohol into a seabait such as a sprat or herring will help release the oils and juices that predators love and home in on,” he explained.

“Dave also mentioned that he likes to mix a little fish oil with the vodka, which can only help to further boost the attraction of the hookbait.” Predator guru and Angling Times columnist Neville Fickling is one of the sport’s most respected pike anglers and, despite admitting that he wouldn’t inject his baits with vodka, he applauds those anglers who are constantly searching for an edge with their baits.

“Fishing is full of wacky and experimental ideas, which is always great to see,” he told AT. “It’s important to try new things in order for new tactics and baits to evolve.

At the end of the day, fishing is all about confidence.

So if trying something like this gives you a boost within yourself, then that can only be a good thing.”


Match fisherman make most of us anglers look like wimps!

In this Arctic weather they are an inspiration to all of us Take a long look at this photograph. Analyse it carefully - study the detail. Admire the statuesque pose of the anglers, the symmetrically cut rectangles in the ice, the bleak mid-winter light, the snow-covered ground that masks where earth gives way to water. Stare long enough and you can almost feel the icy chill of a north-easterly.

I don’t know about you, but it’s one of the bleakest angling images I’ve seen in recent years. But also one of the most inspirational too.

“Anglers,” the caption ought to read, “will not be beaten - no matter what the weather throws at them.” It’s matchmen, unsurprisingly, who are the stars of the show. I have never completely understood what drives men to sit side by side, on allocated, randomly drawn, pegs to fish to set rules and allotted time. It’s not that I dislike it, more I struggle to understand the motivation. Fishing, for me, has never been about beating the next man while under the confines of strict regulation. 

Competition, I suspect, is the chief incentive, and numerous big-name matchmen have admitted as much when I’ve quizzed them about it - if they weren’t fishing they’d be competing elsewhere. It just so happens angling provides the vehicle for their desire.

But despite not truly ever grasping the ethos, there’s no denying match anglers are the most dedicated bunch of the lot. Who else would smash through ice on days more suited to polar bears than human beings to scratch around for a few ounces?

Take Dave Mallet as an example. True, he chose to fish a contest on a relatively ice-free River Salwarpe in Worcestershire, but he still braved the Arctic conditions for five brutally-cold hours to catch just a single 4drm perch. However, he was the lucky one. The rest of the field didn’t so much as muster a single fish between them.

And what about the 40 anglers who fished on the River Severn at Bridgenorth last weekend. Forget a fish, the entire field failed to induce a bite! But no-one complained, no-one asked for their pools money back and no-one left berating their luck. In fact, I wouldn’t mind betting they’ll all be back again next week. And they won’t be alone either. Match anglers across the country have continued to display a dedication that borders on madness over the last few weeks, making the rest of us who have opted for the warmth and comfort of an armchair and a TV look like wimps.

Their mantra is simple: “We will leave our families at home and drive miles through snow-covered roads. We will wrap up like Michelen men in a futile bid to stave off the cold. We will fish, Eskimo-style, through strips in the ice cut with chainsaws. We will spend the next five hours trying to get a solitary bite, never mind a fish. We will go home frozen to the bone to face ‘why bother?’ questions from loved ones, friends and work colleagues. We will, of course, struggle to justify ourselves, but, at the end of it all, our message is clear ¬ we will never, ever, stop fishing.” And that is what sets match anglers, the real dyed-in-the-wool, never-miss-a-weekend-no-matter-how-bad-it-is boys, apart from the rest.

Like the picture, you are an inspiration to the rest of us.

Match angler takes biggest ever brace of chub during competition

The biggest brace of chub ever landed in a match has been taken by an angler fishing the River Nidd in Yorkshire.

John Leyland was competing in a Bradford No1 Angling Association match on the waterway at Cowthorpe, near Harrogate, when he landed the pair weighing in at a staggering 7lb 4oz and 6lb 11oz.

The specimens were the best of a match-winning bag totalling 32lb 3oz from seven chub, a figure that beat the second-placed angler by nearly 20lb.

“It’s a catch that’s hard to believe, especially as I was really struggling to get a bite for most of the match,” said John. “I started on the feeder before moving to stick float and then tried waggler as the conditions changed. It was only when I explored the bottom of my swim which seemed to have a sunken tree that I started to get bites.

“I had all the fish in the last hour to double maggot on a size 16 hook,” he said. “I couldn’t believe the size of them and it took a while to get each one in because I was only fishing 3.5lb line. I asked a mate in the next peg to witness the bigger fish and at first glance he thought I’d caught a carp.

You just don’t expect fish of that size from a little river like the Nidd.” As the icy conditions crept back across the country, though, it wasn’t just the match scene that threw up big chub this week. Representing specimen hunters in pursuit of the species was Basingstoke rod Alan Stagg, with the Gardner Tackle-backed angler taking a brace of big fish that tipped the scales at 6lb 7oz and 5lb 13oz.

Fishing the River Blackwater in Essex, Alan tempted both specimens with legered breadflake presented on a size 8 Talon Tip hook on a set-up using a small cage feeder loaded with hemp and cheesy garlic-flavoured liquidised bread.

“Five pound fish are a rarity for the Blackwater,” Alan told AT. “And sixes are few and far between. I’m sure that this is the biggest brace of chub ever landed from the river and I’m pretty sure the bigger fish is one of, if not the biggest chub ever to be caught from the river.”


Maver Abyss X rods selling like the proverbial hot cakes

Maver has reported record product sales for its new Abyss X rods, just three months after launching the budget-priced range at its September trade show.

As many manufacturers continue to struggle during the traditionally slow winter trading period, the Redditch-based company by contrast has been fighting to keep up with the unprecedented demand from customers for the nine-strong selection of match and feeder rods.

So much so, in fact, that orders for the Abyss X range over the past three months have outstripped sales of any rods that Maver has released in its history.

“They are selling like the proverbial hot cakes!” is how Maver supremo Phil Briscoe described the best start to a product launch that his company had ever seen.

“At the end of day, it’s as simple as this ¬ these rods have been grossly under-priced. When you look at their build quality, plus the high specifications of the fittings, and consider that all the blanks are constructed using the highest grades of carbon, with no added glass, they represent great value for money. My only concern is how long I can maintain the current prices,” added Phil.

The comprehensive series of Abyss X rods consists of five match rods and four feeder models. Six of the nine are built on two-piece blanks that look and feel ideal for targeting commercial fisheries using pellet waggler and Method feeder or straight lead tactics.

The three remaining rods have been designed as more traditional three-piece tools which, although perfectly-suited for commercials, will also be ideal for use on natural venues, such as rivers and larger lakes.

Designed for all levels of angling ability and subjected to months of thorough fieldtesting, the new Abyss X rods all boast impressively slim and light black and blue carbon blanks, quality line guides, graphite screw lock reel seat fittings, EVA and cork handles and folding hook keeper rings.

With a sweet through action and an impressive recovery speed, they really do look and feel like rods costing a great deal more than the asking price.

In a nutshell, it’s easy to see why Maver has scored a huge home run with the Abyss X range - they are quite simply unbelievable rods for the price!

Win great coarse, sea and game tackle kits by answering our quick angling survey

In order to ensure that keeps adding the best and most relevant Where to Fish content, we need your help.

And by helping us you could win one of 57 great coarse, sea or game fishing tackle items, totalling over £3,000, detailed below.

This is a simple prize draw - all you have to do is answer a few basic questions about where you fish and your details will be put forward into the prize draw. Simple!


All we ask of you is to take part in our simple survey by clicking the Go button below. You will be taken to another page containing the simple survey. It only takes a couple of minutes to complete and will help us enormously.

By answering the survey honestly, we will know which area of angling you prefer - coarse, sea or game - and will therefore place your details into the correct hat to win the correct prize.


Coarse fishing prize list

1 x Shakespeare Mach 3 XT 11ft Pellet Waggler rod worth £139.99
3 x Shakespeare Mach 3 XT 035FR reel worth £84.99
5 x Mitchell Avocet Gold 040RD reel worth £45.99
10 x Shakespeare Mach XT holdall worth £42.99


Sea fishing prize list

1 x ABU Revo braid boat rod worth £171.99
3 x Penn DSargus 6000 reel worth £89.99
5 x Shakespeare Salt XT Flattie Spin rod worth £64.99
10 x Shakespeare Salt rod holdalls worth £33.99


Game fishing prize list

1 x Pfleuger Trion fly rod worth £159.99
3 x Trion fly reel worth £97.99
5 x Trion XT Spin 11ft rod worth £77.99
10 x Deluxe folding armchair worth £37.99


So - to stand a chance of winning one of these great ABU, Shakespeare, Penn, Mitchell or Pflueger products just take part in our simple survey. Good luck!


Cudmore Fisheries plans new predator water

One of the country’s best known commercial match venues has this week revealed plans to stock over 2,000lb worth of pike into its lakes.

Cudmore Fisheries in Staffordshire, home of the high-profile Fish O’Mania final, is to release the predators into its Tara pool next month, with fish being stocked ranging in size from a few pounds to over 20lb.

The move follows the venue’s plans to turn itself into a new National School of Angling, as reported in last week’s AT, with the new predator pool designed to offer individuals the chance to learn about the species, as well as attracting more experienced pike anglers to the venue.

“We’ve already ordered the fish and the licenses are in place, so we’re just waiting for the pike to be delivered in January,” Cudmore boss, Cyril Brewster, told AT.

“There’s a huge demand for predator fishing in the UK, but very few commercial fisheries catering for it.

“It’s also a part of our plan to launch the National School of Angling here.

The pike will mean we can cover another aspect of angling.” “It’s all about offering as much choice as possible,” he added. “We’re also looking into introducing zander to the lake, but we’ll need to work very closely with the EA on that.” Not everyone is as positive about the plan, however. Predator ace Mick Brown, who has more experience than most with pike fisheries, has his doubts about the project.

“There’s nothing wrong with a predatory commercial fishery, but it needs to be run correctly with a balance between making money and the welfare of the fish,” he told AT. “Carp can be caught 30 times a year and be fine, but a pike only needs to be caught two or three times over a year before it starts to suffer.

“Cudmore really needs to limit the pressure these fish will get, especially on a water of this size, otherwise the pike will really suffer, and I’d suggest they should work with a body like the PAC to get the best advice possible.

“I don’t want to be negative about the project, and I hope they can make it a success, but I’ve been involved in similar fisheries before and they never seem to work,” he added.


Fish O'Mania anger at lack of southern fishing matches

Anglers are outraged that there are even fewer Fish O’Mania qualifiers in the south of the country for them to fish in 2011, following last week’s announcement of an increased prize fund of £30,000 and a new 300-peg mega qualifier.

Only three matches out of the 16 will be in that region - Monk Lakes in Kent, Somerset’s Viaduct Fishery and Devon complex Stafford Moor. Southern anglers will face journeys of hundreds miles to reach a qualifying venue - other fisheries with a tried and tested track record being overlooked.

One qualifier will be split across two separate fisheries for the first time in the competition’s history, a bold move that has divided opinion and angered some fishery owners who feel they have been overlooked when they could host a good match all on one site.

“The sad fact is that there are no venues of sufficient size in the south to host such events,” said Angling Trust competition organiser Mick Turner.

“We used to use Willinghurst but last year it was almost a complete disaster with terrible fishing. A lot of anglers said it was unfair and if there was another qualifier there, they wouldn’t fish it. As for splitting a qualifier, we were struggling for a venue in the East Midlands so decided to hold one across two venues at Holly Farm and Peatling Pools. The Midlands isn’t short of venues  - we could host all 16 there!” One eastern water that had and then lost a qualifier was Norwich complex Barford Lakes, which had to cancel its qualifier at the last minute in 2010 owing to an outbreak of KHV, which made the Angling Trust reluctant to return.

“We were disappointed that we were not asked to hold a qualifier, not just for us as a business but also for local anglers who always have to travel so far to compete in Fish O’,” said Barford’s Sarah Thomson.

“Our decision to cancel wasn’t taken lightly but we couldn’t be confident of match returns at that time and felt we wouldn’t have been able to deliver value to anglers and the standard of fishing that we feel a match of this importance requires. It’s just a shame that after all the years we have worked hard with Mick and the Angling Trust to provide fair and smoothly run matches that a qualifier wasn’t awarded to Barford.” But what of the people that make the event what it is - the anglers? Milo Bordon Angling rod Miles Levy, based in Hampshire, regularly competes in Fish O’ qualifiers and he isn’t too impressed with the lack of choice in the south.

“Personally I think there should be more qualifiers in the south but I’d agree with Mick that there are a lack of venues,” he said.

“Some fisheries could accommodate such a big match but they would be very peggy. Surely if there can be a split qualifier in the Midlands then there can be one in the south? Gold Valley and Willow Park are two possibles, and I’m sure venues would be willing to negotiate peg fees.” Online entry for Fish O’Mania XVIII runs from Monday, January 17 at 9am until Monday, February 7 at 4pm. Match tickets are £25, an increase of £2 on 2010, and all entrants need to be paid up members of the Angling Trust.


The real angling 'awards' of 2010

This week Angling Times reveals details of the 2010 Angling Awards. But what about the stories that escaped under the radar? Here are my alternative choices

The most obvious story of the year

Winner: The demise of the Willis Worms £50k match.
Despite assurances that a ‘secret millionaire’ was backing the scheme, the match disappeared amid a puff of smoke when anglers refused to stump up the £50 entry fee. Nothing - not even a Bond movie on Christmas Day - was more predictable.

The Gerald Ratner Award for the biggest marketing gaffe

Winner: THE Angling Trust.
When you’re short on ideas and members, and the country is in the depths of the worst recession for 50 years, it’s fair to say the best way to encourage more people to join your organisation isn’t by raising the fees by 25 per cent.
Yet that’s exactly what the Angling Trust did this year. Brilliant, eh?

Look-a-like of the year

Winner: Zyg/Wagner.
When I made mention that Zyg Gregorek, owner of Anglers Paradise, looked like X-Factor’s Wagner, I didn’t anticipate how many people would agree. But agree they did. So much so I’ve heard Zyg plans to get up at his famous New Year Party and impersonate the Brazilian former lion-tamer with a Beatles melody.  
The irony is, he’ll probably do a better job.

Storm in a tea cup

Winner: Twitchers.
I always suspected bird-watchers were a strange bunch, but little did I know how vindictive they could be too. After writing about the bizarre mentality of individuals who traipse across the country to sit in a damp hide hoping to catch a fleeting glimpse of a ferruginous duck or paddyfield warbler, I became Public Enemy No 1 in the world of twitching. Forums called for my head on a plate, while letter writers wanted me publically flogged ¬ while dressed as a lesser spotted warbler. Okay, I made that last bit up, but you get the idea.

Daftest quotes of 2010

Winner: Carp anglers.
This award goes to any of the carpers who mourned the death of Heather or Two Tone in a manner more in keeping with a human-being than a carp. Fellas, how can I put this - THEY WERE JUST FISH! To describe their demise as tragic/painful/crushing/life-ending, while having spent months and years trying to stick a hook in them, is a cast-iron exercise in hypocrisy.

Ridiculous research of the year

Winner: RSPB claims cormorants don’t harm fish stocks.
The RSPB is a massive body that has millions of members, millions of pounds and a whole lot of influence. In many ways, it’s everything the Angling Trust should be and isn’t.
But that doesn’t stop it spouting tripe from time to time - and this was a prime example. Sadly, it was also further evidence of how organisations like the RSPB can con the public with spurious ‘research’ more entrenched in fiction than fact.

Most under-rated fish

Joint winners: Stephen Pounder’s ferox trout and Stewart Allum’s salmon.
I have picked joint winners for this one. Pounder’s 26lb 8oz ferox trout from Loch Awe was a shining light in a sea of specimen-fishing predictability, while Allum’s fly-caught 30lb-plus salmon from the Hampshire Avon was, as Matt Hayes said at the time, one of the achievements of the decade.

Most over-rated fish

Winner: Anything caught from Rainbow Lake in France.
Granted, the fish in this expensive-to-visit French lake are big, but the methods required to catch them are so far removed from normal angling they are meaningless to all but the handful who fish it.

Funniest picture

Winner: Barry Austin
This one was easy. The image of Barry Austin, the 55-stone giant who eats enough food in one day to feed a small African country for a year, still makes me laugh. But not as much as Barry’s claim that he’d taken up fishing ‘to get more exercise.’ And he wasn’t even being ironic.

The Walter Mitty Award for the story containing the least amount of truth

Winner: Burbot spotted!
Some stories you can take with a pinch of salt. Others, however, have more than a faint whiff of bullsh*t about them - and these three reeked.
First was the ‘piranha’ in Radnor Park ¬ a ‘man-eater’ that turned into a fruit-eating pacu.
Then there was the ‘sighting’ of a panther on a lake in Kent - again, evidence was as scarce as the hair on Bob Nudd’s head.
But the winner has to be the ‘burbot’ spotted in Cumbria’s River Eden.
Despite this fish having been extinct in the UK for decades, and despite scientists ruling out its return, one angler presented what he believed was indisputable proof of a burbot’s existence. Sadly, the photo he took was of a twig.

Most dedicated angler

Winner: Mr Finnemore.
Owen Finnemore, the Oxford angler who travelled by bike, train, then bike again, to this year’s Pike Champs in Cambs, wins by a mile. Quite why anyone would want to matchfish for pike is beyond me, but having made that decision, to then choose a bike as a vehicle to get there defies all logic.
But this story has another, even more bizarre, twist. Despite all that effort, Owen dispensed with proven methods like deadbaiting to flyfish instead. He ended up with a solitary 1lb jack. Anglers mad? Clearly.

Funniest story

Winner: Bob Nudd DVD sends patients to sleep.
In May a doctor in Glasgow launched a scheme allowing patients to watch a film of their choice during surgery. By keeping them distracted and not having a general anaesthetic - they apparently enjoyed a speedier recovery.
The No 1 choice among men? Bob Nudd’s Guide to Pole Fishing.
It wasn’t just a funny story, it was also reassuring to know that I’m not the only one who suffers from instant narcolepsy the moment I’m exposed to a technical angling video.


Volunteers championing the cause of the River Thames

Like many other anglers I have the great good fortune to have access to a stretch of river that is totally free to fish ¬ licence required, of course.

The sport is brilliant and there are miles and miles of it. The trouble is that it is free fishing. No one controls it, looks after it or defends our rights to fish it. Enter Thames Anglers Conservancy.

Another local angler, James Page, who goes by the pseudonym of ‘A Mushroom’ (cover blown mate!) decided that, following copious pollution from sewerage works, something had to be done.

Borrowing the name from the old organisation that ran the river from Staines to Teddington (Port of London Authority downstream, NRA upstream, before the EA was formed), the Thames Conservancy, he set about enlisting the help of others in recruiting members.

The group has just passed the 800-member mark - in under 12 months.
Membership is free because every officer is voluntary and money is raised by running events, also usually free but with a bucket passed around.

Some benefits are obvious already, with the TAC involved with residents’ groups, boaters (powered, rowed and paddled) as well as Thames Water and the EA. In a recent venture the club organised a pike-handling day at Walton on Thames. More than 80 turned up for tuition, 44 of them juniors who were all provided with a free set of forceps by Les Webber’s Angling Projects.

Other clubs were involved, namely the Walton branch of the Pike Anglers’ Club and the Osprey Specimen Group. Pike were caught and instruction on safe handling and unhooking was given, as well as demonstrations of how to fish, what tackle to use and descriptions of likely swims.

The EA was there, as were Thames lock staff - all in all remarkable co-operation and coordination.

Regular litter picks are held and the 200-black-bag mark rapidly approaches.

This relatively easy task holds the club, and angling in general, in great stead with the public, both local and visitors, of which the Lower Thames gets at least its fair share.

There is a full list of activities, with talks, shows and matches all in the pipeline. It may be parochial but anyone can log on to and see just how a similar group may benefit them.

It really does make sense.


New fishing club to ban poles in all its competitions

A new northern matchfishing club is to be formed that is planning to ban the use of poles in all its competitions.

Formed by three Yorkshire-based match anglers, the club, Bradford Pals, is planning to run its first match next March and will hold monthly competitions for just rod and reel anglers from then on.

“We formed the club as a reaction to the dominance of the pole on the club matches we all fished,” said co-founder Steve Vaughan.

“Basically if you didn’t fish the pole you’d never win, and for those of us who like to fish the waggler or tip, or who can’t manage 16m of pole for a whole match, it just wasn’t fair.

“Our plan is to hold a match a month at various waters including Lindholme and Brafferton, and also a few different waters like Sally Walshes and Southfield that are a bit more suited to rod and line,” he continued.

“Don’t get me wrong, we all own and fish poles, but we just want to enter matches on a level playing field where we can use tactics we enjoy.” One man who understands the reasoning behind Bradford Pals is Barry Habgood, who took a similar stance against polefishing when he founded the club Addingdon Rods and Reels some three years ago.

“Good luck to them,” said Barry. “We took the decision for almost the exact same reasons. It was the same old anglers winning every week - the guys who didn’t have poles just didn’t have a chance.

“The members voted to ban polefishing from matches and now it’s loads better. There are more and different winners and it’s also just nicer fishing. We wouldn’t change it back.” David Faulkner, owner of Brafferton Carp Fisheries which will hold a number of the ‘pole-less’ matches, agrees that the move could be good for anglers, but not necessarily for commercial fisheries.

“From a fisherman’s point of view it will probably be great and I can see it really taking off,” he said. “I see loads of guys here who can’t compete with the poles, and they’re lucky to get within 50lb of the winning weight week in, week out, so it will give them more of a chance.

“The downside is that it might not be so good for the commercials, though, because they tend to be designed to work best with the pole.

“I think guys fishing the tip and waggler will want bigger, more natural lakes to fish on so they could end up arranging their matches elsewhere.” Venue Information For information on joining Bradford Pals contact Steve Vaughan on 07823320765.


Specimen chub caught during severe freezing conditions

With the majority of the country’s stillwaters frozen solid, anglers have been turning their attentions to the rivers, with chub being their target quarry.

Battling through heavy snow, Ted Bryan spent two hours making what would usually be a 40-minute trip to visit a southern river, with his efforts being rewarded with this 7lb specimen.

The Sydenham-based big-fish hunter had to break margin ice and recast two Nash Bait Fish Frenzy Soft Tutti-Frutti pellets every 10 minutes to find the fish. But after working hard to bank a chub of 3lb, his next bite saw him hook into the large specimen.

“I could see it was a big fish and I was shaking like a leaf when I netted it. I don’t know whether this was due to the cold or excitement,” Ted told AT. “A 7lb chub in the snow was the last thing I was expecting when I left home in the morning.” Ted beat his prize with a size 10 Nash Fang X hook attached to a 3lb mono hooklink.

Another angler to strike gold in the freezing conditions was John Mcgough, after the specimen hunter banked a 7lb 12oz chub from the Dorset Stour.

The all-important bite came shortly after he had lost another fish, with the big specimen beating his previous pb for the species by a single ounce.

A scaled-down presentation consisting of a single red maggot on a size 20 Drennan Super Spade hook and 2lb hooklink proved to be the successful tactic for John, who believes that the colder the river is, the better chance there is of catching a big chub.

“You don’t get many bites, but as a result the bigger specimens aren’t spooked by you catching numbers of smaller fish,” he said.
Returning to the same swim on the River Lea, from which he recently banked one of the biggest chub of the season, Keith Little has helped himself to another specimen - this time of 7lb 7oz.

Fishing a short afternoon session, the 67-year-old retired lorry driver presented a double 10mm halibut pellet hookbait with a PVA bag of freebies close a set of snags, beating his quarry with a 15lb braided hooklink and a size 10 Drennan hook.


Brace of 2lb-plus stillwater roach caught by Mark Everard

Mark Everard showed that you can still catch in sub-zero temperatures after landing this pristine pair of roach from a lake on the Wiltshire/Gloucestershire border.

The 52-year-old angler targeted the local stillwater, having caught well there in previous cold snaps, fishing a drop-off on the edge of an ice sheet two rodlengths out.

Mark fished bread flake to net 14 roach during the session, presenting his bait on a size 12 Kamasan B520 over liquidised bread.

Incredibly, half of the roach caught were over the 2lb mark, including the 2lb 2oz and 2lb fish pictured.

Unfortunately, Dr Everard had a sudden end to his session thanks to a blizzard hitting shortly after this picture was taken.


12 Deals of Christmas – Treat yourself to a new year deal

There ise just one day left in Angling Times’ 12 Deals of Christmas – so it’s time to get your orders in quickly if you want your item to arrive before Christmas!

With the countdown now on to the December 18 closing date we’re urging anglers to order now or risk missing out on a dozen incredible deals on new tackle items.

There’s something for every angler on offer too with an limited deal on the new Avanti seatbox for just £200 (saving £800), carbon float and feeder rods for just £25 (saving £75), a twin top barbel rod for £15, plus loads of great stocking fillers, including a match reel and amazing tackle storage box sets from just a fiver.

Also online now is the new Avanti Electron Power Active 16m pole package – the UK’s best value 16m pole, plus a Van Den Eynde Winter Bait Pack for £10.

Order now at


DEAL 1 – Van Den Eynde Winter Bait Pack for £10

Over £26 worth of Van Den Eynde and Bait-Tech soft boilies, Aqua Colour bait dyes, and Liquid flavourings - ideal for stillwaters.

DEAL 2 – CK Complete Storage boxes – prices from just £5

Two sizes of high density, storage boxes perfect for pole fishing rig bits, waggler float gear, feeders and leads, carp rig accessories, and sea terminal tackle. Supplied with hooklength boxes with rig boards, four multi-compartment rig accessory boxes, and  10 removable dividers.

DEAL 3 – Avanti GTR3000 Match reel for £5

A great stocking filler reel for float and feeder fishing. Comes with a spare spool too.

DEAL 4 - Carbon feeder rod for just £25!

A 12ft Power Feeder rod designed for fishing with groundbait, pellet, and method feeders on commercials.

DEAL 5 - Eurorunner Excel 500 carp and pike reel - £10

This is one of the UK’s biggest selling carp reels and it’s been revamped for 2011 with an improved freespool facility, more lightweight body and new front drag system.

DEAL 6 – £1,000 pole package for £200

Limited deal of just 200 poles, the new Electron Power Active 16m pole package has every extra you need. Loads of spare kits, a power No 4 section, butt extension, and holdall.

DEAL 7 – 13ft Carbon Power Waggler rod for £25

Get a full carbon, £100 float rod for just £25 while stocks last! Anglers who fish the rivers, or want to fish a float down the edge will love it!

DEAL 8 – Avanti seatbox and FREE wheelkit with bump bar

RRP £999.99 Limited offer price £200 – there are just 100 of these boxes up for grabs in a never to be repeated deal – make sure you get yours.

DEAL 9 – Margin Pole for £30

Avanti’s Hyperactive Power Margin is a real hit and hold pole for handling even the biggest carp at close quarters. Also fits the new 16m Avanti Electron Power Active pole – great for extra kits and spares!

DEAL 10 – Cyclotherm Hooded Fleeces

Described simply as the best fleeces you’ll ever buy for £20. Available in match blue or carpers green they are guaranteed to keep you warm this winter.

DEAL 11 – Fleece hat, gloves, and neckwarmer set for £5

What a terrific trio this is – a top quality beanie hat, fleece neckwarmer, and a pair of fleece gloves – a must-have for all winter fishing!

DEAL 12 – Twin Tip Specimen/Method rod – NOW £15

We’ve knocked another tenner off this £89.99 multi function rod – but stocks are strictly limited.

SAVE £800 on a 16m pole – now just £200!

A new 16m pole package is set to take the country by storm this season as Avanti reveals their Electron Power Active pole will be sold at just £200.

Knocking £800 off the full RRP you get the full 16m Power Active pole and a spares package that includes a match kit inside the pole (rated to No 12 elastics), three spare power kits (rated to a 20 elastic), an ultra strong half butt extension, short No 4 section, and a full sized pole holdall.

This makes it one of the most affordable, and complete pole packages ever sold at this length and price.

Angling Times’ Steve Fitzpatrick was the first angler to test the new pole on the bank.

“This is a truly robust pole which will find favour with both commercial fishery anglers and those on a budget,” he said.

“For £200 you get a heck of a lot of pole for your money.”

Avanti have also added new stocks of their popular Hyperactive 8m Margin pole this week too, and this is great news for anglers who buy the Electron Power Active as all the top sections are interchangable!

If you buy the £30 Margin pole you can kit yourself out with an extra two spare Power Top 2 kits, as well as spare No3 and No4 sections for the 16m pole.

Together the two poles make the perfect package for all commercial fisheries.

• The Avanti Electron Power Active 16m pole and Hyperactive 8m Margin pole are just two of the 12 Deals of Christmas on this week.

There’s something for every angler on offer with carbon float and feeder rods for just £25 (saving £75), a new £1,000 seatbox for £200, plus loads of great stocking fillers, including a match reel and amazing tackle storage box sets from just a fiver.

They’re all online now – get your order in quickly.


Tech Spec

Avanti Power Active 16m pole package
Length: 16m
Spares supplied: Three long top-2 power kits, short No 4 section, pole holdall, and butt extension.
Elastic rating: Standard kit 12, Power kits 20
RRP: £999.99
Offer price: £200

Save £800 on a new fishing seatbox system

Match tackle giants Avanti have launched a complete seatbox system this week and are billing it as the ‘box bargain of the season’.

And with £800 off the full RRP plus a wheelkit/barrow conversion kit thrown in for free it would be hard to argue!

The Avanti Modulite Deluxe seatbox is one of the most advanced systems on the market today, and is on sale for a special offer price of just £200 from

Just 100 of these boxes will be up for grabs in a strictly limited offer – when they’ve gone, that’s it!

The Avanti Modulite Deluxe box system is based upon a ‘skeleton’ mainframe which is a solid base to build a box from and features fully customisable seat and drawers on top of the frame, plus a cassette style, slide out, stacking system below.

Underneath this is a sliding footplate which gives the box even more rigidity and comfort on the bank, with six adjustable legs providing stability on any terrain, plus the ability to bolt on accessories like pole and rod rests, keepnet arms, and side trays.

Angling Times’ Steve Fitzpatrick was the first to see this new box, and was impressed.

“You will not find a seatbox system as complete, well built, or practical as this anywhere for £200,” he admitted.

“Throw in the wheelkit/barrow conversion kit and you’ve got an easy to transport system too.

The Avanti Modulite Deluxe seatbox is just one of 12 Deals of Christmas on this week.

There’s something for every angler on offer with carbon float and feeder rods for just £25 (saving £75), plus loads of great stocking fillers, including a match reel and amazing tackle storage box sets from just a fiver.

They’re all online now – get your order in quickly.



Stop moaning about commercial fisheries - they have saved angling!

I have made no secret of the fact that I don’t really like commercial fisheries, says Angling Times' Steve Partner. Some, as far as I can see, are little more than featureless holes in the ground that are stocked to such a ridiculous level a group of blind monkeys could stage a competitive match. Anywhere that is capable of producing 600lb to a single angler in five or six hours is clearly a venue where the skill to catch is redundant, replaced instead by sheer strength and bloody-mindedness.

For me, the very worst examples are soul-less, depressing and thoroughly miserable places where the fish are a viewed as commodities rather than living creatures.

However, I am not, despite what some of my correspondents suggest, completely stupid. Most of these fisheries are actually very well managed, providing a service which a great many of the angling community frequent on a regular basis. And while I’d rather get stuck in the jungle with Gillian McKeith than visit one, I do accept their role in the modern-day angling scene. Love them or loathe them, commercials form a key cornerstone in today’s fishing world.

So what did I make of this week’s report that basically said this style of fishery is killing the sport? The one, put together by a group of researchers at Newcastle University, that likened commercials to supermarkets and indicated they will turn kids into one-dimensional robots that are incapable of appreciating the wider natural environment?

Well, I can sum up what I think in two words - utter drivel.

Look, commercials aren’t mine, or many other people’s cup of tea, but to claim they are to blame for essentially destroying grass roots angling isn’t just elitist nonsense, it’s plainly not true either.

Would these people rather send youngsters to rivers, places that cormorants, otters, pollution and abstraction have left heavily depleted, and see them catch nothing?

It’s hardly a recipe for longevity is it?

The rivers in this country are a pale imitation of what they once were, and this demise has led to the rise and rise of the commercial fishery. Without them thousands upon thousands of anglers would have been lost to the sport.

So what if they’re easy? So what if you don’t have to walk miles to reach your peg?

So what if there’s a tackle shop, café and toilet block on site?

Fishing is about individual pleasure and not something that can be judged solely on how well you can control a stick float.

Angling has changed immeasurably in the last 20 years, with commercials dominating and rivers becoming an afterthought. Instead of preaching sanctimonious clap-trap from the top floor of their ivory towers, the people responsible for this report need to realise that fact and accept the truth, however unpalatable it may be.

Commercials to blame for destroying angling? Don’t make me laugh. They’ve helped save it, more like.


River Loddon produces giant barbel on homemade boilie

A homemade boilie proved to be the key ingredient for specimen angler Neill Stephen when he hooked into this 16lb 2oz barbel from the river Loddon.

With just a few hours to fish his chosen stretch of the waterway, the London-based rod decided to experiment with swims, casting his rig, complete with a size 8 hook and paste wrapped around the lead, into the middle of one of the area’s last remaining ‘cabbage beds’.

“I made a few casts, none of which felt right, but I decided to leave the last one anyway,” Neill told AT. “Half an hour later the rod slammed round and I connected with what felt like a good barbel. The fight was over quickly and when I lifted the net up and felt the weight I got very excited.