25 years-of-precious-time-1990-2015

Jon Hall, the river keeper at Broadlands on the River Test, caused quite a stir Facebooking this monster pike he caught on the fly last week on his home water. It weighed in at a colossal 31lb 4oz. I asked Jon what he caught it on, “A big home made one :)” came the reply. Maybe he is being a bit coy …….


Possibly the biggest Pike 31lbs 4oz

Last month the Environment Agency (EA) released figures for national rod licence sales in England and Wales covering the past ten years. Abolish Fishing Licence for children under 18None of the news was particularly good. The high point for licence sales was in 2009 and in the past four years the number of licences bought by adults has declined by 15% and by children a whopping 35%. The only growth area has been in concessionary licences to OAPs that rose by 10% in the same period. This data sparked a round of comment in the national and fishing press pondering why, despite the many ‘kids go fishing’ initiatives, there has been this decline.

I am as keen as anyone to see children fishing, so I started to bend my mind around the problem. Currently the under 12s don’t require a licence, 12-16s pay £5 for the annual freshwater licence and the over 16s the full adult rate of £27. It is not a hard thing to buy on-line, assuming you have a credit or debit card but of course you have to be 18 to have a credit card.  Fine you’d think, let an adult pay for the licence, but we can all easily imagine the difficulties that may present. Of course you can still buy a licence over the counter at any Post Office but they are gradually vanishing.

I could go on forever analysing why kids can’t or don’t buy licences but really I’m asking the wrong question. After all in what other walk of life do we require a child as young as 12 to buy a licence to engage in an innocent, healthy, outdoor pastime that  will spark an interest that will last a lifetime? Immediately I can think of none and the more I think about it the more absurd it becomes. I have no idea what proportion of the EA’s £23 million of licence income comes from kids licences, but I suspect it is pretty small. In an age when we are seeking engagement and participation for any sport the fishing licence has to be the ultimate barrier to entry.

From now on wherever I get the chance I am going to bend the ear of anyone who will listen to get kids licence abolished for everyone up to the age of 18. Wish me luck!

Retweet this message via Twitter #kids2fishfree if you agree.


Wireless-Portable-FishfinderThis is the time of year when lots of very tempting trade catalogues drop on to my desk; like any of us ‘gear heads’ I like a new bit of kit, however expensive and regardless of the fact that the sales promise will likely come to naught.  Well, it is all part of the fun.

The Leeda catalogue is the mightiest in size of them all, running to nearly 500 pages.  I am sure the Leeda guys will not mind me saying, but it hasn’t always been regarded as top notch brand, but with the Wychwood gear making a name for itself and some impressive new lines under their banner like GoPro, Sealskinz and Petzl times are a changing.

My favourite bit of kit has to be Wireless Portable Fishfinder from Deeper.  It is a small, lighweight portable black ball that encases a sonar device, allowing you to attach it to your line or float in the water finding fish as you go.  The bluetooth connection to your phone via the Fishfinder app brings up the display highlighting the position and depth of the fish.  I can’t imagine how I’d use it on a chalkstream but hey, it might be fun.

Is this the most expensive hook in the world?


But devoid of any modern technology it was the Mustad 27/0 shark hook that took my breath away at £250 ($385 ). Yes, two hundred and fifty pounds for a hook. It might be stainless steel, it might have a bit of chain on it and it might be almost 18 inches from hook bend to eye, but really £250? I am obliged to for the description:

The ULTIMATE Shark fishing hook from Mustad!  
Designed at the special request of Chris Fischer, founder of the OCEARCH ocean research organisation and star of National Geographic’s Shark Men, this monster hook is (believe it or not) a purpose-built catch and release hook, designed to snare big sharks and get them to the boat, with minimal lasting damage.

The hook comes equipped with a 75cm/32.5in chain weighing in at 2lbs 12oz, while the hook itself sports a chemically sharpened, turned in point and a bend-out strength in excess of 4,000lbs!

I have never seen a more expensive hook. Has anyone?

Newsletter Quiz
Five random brain teasers.  Answers at the bottom of the Newsletter.  It is just for fun!


1)   Who lives in a dray or drey?

2)   What is a baby otter called?

3)   What is ichthyophobia?

4)   What is the current British record for casting a #5wt line with a single handed rod?

5)   The Scottish Dee flow into the sea in which town?
Have a good weekend.

Simon Cooper of Fishing Breaks

Simon Cooper is the founder and managing director of Fishing Breaks the leading agent for chalkstream fishing in England. He has over 120 miles of river under his control, across eight counties and twenty rivers.  Fishing is mostly let by the day and if you want advice on which to choose Simon regularly fishes every beat under his care, living by the company motto time is precious. use it fishing.  It is not a bad job!



Quiz answers: 

 1) A squirrel  2) A pup  3) The fear of fish  4) 130′ 9″ held by Paul Arden; effectively your full fly line plus half as much again  5)  Aberdeen



Monday, March 2nd, 2015