Saturday 20 October 2018

Pike Time

Where do the weeks go?
My daughter left for university and I miss her more than I could have ever imagined.
Then just over a fortnight ago Rich and I traveled up to Kettering for the annual PAC convention.  This was actually the first time I'd ever attended purely as a paying punter, in the past I've always had a job to do.  However we were on limited time and horrendous roadworks/diversions ate even further into this so we didn't even see any of the speakers.  We did spend a few hours in the tackle hall talking to lots of friends from across the country, which is always my favourite part of any convention anyway.  It was good to catch up with the likes of  Rob Shallcroft, the Denis & Tim double act, Brian Birdsall, Saint John Currie, Eddie Turner, Dave Lumb, Chico who still hasn't sold me anything, Stephen Harper aka the only sane man in Norfolk and the not even remotely sane Neville Fickling who granted an extended audience.  We both spent a bit of cash too, emergency wire (as I've mislaid my trace making box and it's driving me fucking mad!), a book from the affable Barry McConnell (more to follow...) and a rubber lure from Neville which did exactly what he predicted, caught a few fish then dismantled with the body sinking slowly out of netting range.

"The Eel Angler" by Barry McConnell

Nearly all of my angling friends had read this book and all rated it it highly.  I always planned to borrow a copy and have a read but then I got chatting to Barry at the convention who mentioned the knock down price and I thought why not?
First impressions, it's a Stephen Harper production.  I know this means it will be visually fantastic because that's what Mr Harper does.  Obviously I can confirm this is the case.  As for the content well I love anecdotal writing and that is exactly what we have here, the story of how Barry and friend's Eel angling evolved, similar in a way to Watto's 'Pikers progress' only with Eels, obviously. Barry is a good writer who can really set a scene and put you in the place, I could easily visualise the waters and events described.  He also has many years of experience with catching big Eels so has a wealth of interesting stories to tell with British Eels to over nine pounds.  Unlike most species there is comparatively little known about big Eels, they certainly don't come with pet names and a history of captures, the air of mystery remains.

Barry likes to fish long sessions, two or three nights at a time and this is something I can relate too, I enjoy being by the water for days, fishing gives me the excuse to be there.  The book covers Barry's fishing in waters all over the country, most notably the Meres of the North West but Canals, pits and lakes are also covered.  All things considered there is enough interesting material here to make a really good fishing book.
But 'The Eel Angler' gives us even more.  There are four chapters covering the trips to the antipodes made by Barry and friend Pete Drabble aka 'The Anguilla Guerrilla", in search of truly enormous Eels.  The pair made to trips to New Zealand and two more to Australia where a slightly different species of freshwater Eel grows to almost unbelievable weights.  These trips are genuine pioneering adventures which see the pair literally hacking their way through jungles at times.  They catch some huge Eels too...

I like this book a lot, it's just my kind of read.  If I have one criticism it's Barry's writing is a bit inconsistent.  I mean it's good all the way through but for large parts of the book the writing is excellent.  To me it seems that some of the chapters are a little rushed, with a bit more care the end product could have been even better.  That said it is still a very good book which has inspired a couple of my angling friends to try their hands at Eel fishing themselves.  And yes, I too can see the appeal, pioneering unknown waters for never caught fish, the trouble with me and Eels is I just don't like the bloody things.  But never say never...

So autumn, Pike fishing