Steve Pope Barbel Fishing

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Late January Update

One of the great advantages we anglers have over other mere mortals is the magical ability, and frequent opportunity, to let our minds wander far away, to reflect on times gone by. I suppose it must have something to do with the countless hours we spend lost to the world on riverbanks in the quiet countryside, waiting with excited anticipation for that reel to spin. Silent contemplation, pure bliss.

I have not managed to wet a line since before Christmas, outside the snow is still lingering on the tops of the surrounding hills stubbornly refusing to go away. But no matter which way you cut it, this has not been 1963!


Back then the snow fell on Boxing Day and stayed around till March, I can just about remember it! No central heating in those days, and somehow we managed to get ourselves to school, probably because most of us walked there. Perhaps we were made of sterner stuff? For sure we didn’t have to contend with the Health and Safety issues that invade just about every aspect of our lives today. Even the Thames froze over, check THIS out!

It took almost two months to complete Round 3 of the FA Cup, can you imagine that today?! Yep, the weather has been a real pain these past few weeks but it really is nothing new, it’s just that we always have to find an excuse, thats another curse of our times, if only we could just  accept that every now and again winter is going to be bloomin’ cold.

Just a couple of years before the Great Freeze we heralded in the start of a new decade which without doubt in historical terms has been the most momentous of my lifetime.

The sixties, a time of great hope and dreams which opened up the doors for so many, but with the benefit of hindsight it’s probably true to say that we are now reaping not just the rewards but the downside too, as those with such rebellious minds back then have since entered the portals of power.

Yesterday I watched the John Sullivan Only Fools and Horses prequel called Rock and Chips, it was superb. rock and chipsFor one and a half hours I not only went back in time with Del Boy and his mum, my own memories of that era came flooding back as well. The soundtrack was spot on as you would expect and there wasn’t one song that I didn’t remember. Now that ages you!  Check out my 1960’s jukebox which includes a lot of the featured records and a few of my own favourites from back then.

The programme had plenty of cracking lines and Phil Daniels playing Grandad has put a whole new interpretation on going night fishing!  The Ritz cinema, memories of Saturday mornings for me down at Turnpike Lane, don’t recall the usherettes being quite as glamorous as Del Boy’s mum, but I can remember the daft song we all used to sing!

The first scene where the gang are hanging around the prefabs struck a chord, my fishing pal Gary lived in one close by to Seven Sisters station, and while I didn’t get to go on a jolly boys outing to Margate I did get to go on the coach trips with the fishing club and to be honest they seemed every bit as raucous as the Peckham Boy’s beano’s!

My mum was expecting back then as well, and just like Delboy I had a new brother before the year was out. Good job he wasn’t named Rodney!

As I write it is exactly ten years ago this week that our beloved mum passed away. I can remember it all as if it was yesterday. From the first phonecall from my brother telling me something was wrong to the last call from the hospital just a few days later to say she had gone. A week when your life is turned upside down with no warning at all, a week which confirmed how fragile our existence actually is, a very sad week which will stay with me forever. I reckon mum will like the jukebox.

It was around this time that I went to see Spurs for the very first time. Well, August 26th 1959 to be precise, the first home game of the season against the Baggies, the first time my dad had ever taken me. I remember some of it, I remember where we stood and that the result was a 2-2 draw. I also recall the stool my dad had made so that I could stand against the barrier and see the game, sometimes I wish I still had that stool when I find myself stuck behind someone six feet plus at a music festival, a right pain when you are a few inches shy of six feet yourself, well to be honest a good few!  This was the year when Spurs beat Crewe 13-2 in the Cup, my abiding memory of that is that I didn’t get to go with dad, something about revising for the 11 plus.

Never mind though, the following season I saw practically all the home games and what a season it was, the Double Season! teamphotoNo big deal these days but back then it was massive, I can remember standing outside the Tottenham Royal watching the parade along the High Road, magical days. Since then Tottenham has regularly played a part in my life but these days my interest in football has waned. It’s probably just me getting older but I just don’t have the same connection anymore, the players are very much here today and gone tomorrow. My nephew loves it though, mind you my brother probably gets fed up with all the different names and shirts, this seasons hero is next seasons villain especially when transfer time comes around. Not like my day when mum used to sew a number seven on the back of a white V neck tee shirt and I would be Cliff Jones forever!lineup

The team above is engraved in my mind, I would struggle to name half a dozen in today’s eleven.

Still on the sporting theme and coming bang up to date, I’m really enjoying watching the Australian Open  on TV. Aussie OpenMind you I’d rather be sitting on Circular Quay in Sydney watching the tennis on the big screen they put up, sipping wine on a balmy Aussie summer’s evening. Perhaps next year. Anyway it’s all building up nicely and I’m really looking forward to watching Murray play Nadal although my loyalties are going to be tested. Ever since I met Nadal on a flight from Australia back to London five years or so ago I’ve been a fan. I’d been watching him before he became one of the very best and no one on the plane recognised him…but I did. He was incredibly courteous and quite happily chatted to me while we waited for the carousel to deliver our cases, can take an age at Heathrow! So I always cheer him on in the Grand Slams. But now I  have a dilemma because unlike many of my fellow countrymen I actually support Andy Murray, why not?  He’s not Mel Gibson wearing face paint, and he most certainly is the nearest we are ever going to get to a tennis winner! murraySo I’ll be rooting for Murray, he has a real chance and a final with Federer will be awesome!

Staying Down Under, the other day I had the surreal experience of being asked for my eldest daughters hand in marriage while chatting to my prospective son-in-law through the computer screen via Skype!  The wonder of this new technology, has to be better than a telephone call though and saves on the embarrasing pauses in conversation when its face to face, I just blamed the time delay! Looks like I’ll definitely be in Sydney next year!

I can’t wait to get back out there, looks like I could well be spending my real old age down under, I’ll hang out with all the other old rockers in the Manly Boatshed, one of my favourite places on the planet. Especially on comedy nights and that leads me nicely on to comedy back home, no, not the inane ramblings on some Internet forums, I’m talking about Rhod Gilbert, I’m really warming to this guy. Rhod GilbertLiving up here on the border is obviously having an effect, probably all the Welsh TV!

Unlike Alan Carr who is popular but makes me want to smash the telly, this comedian is actually funny. I switched on hoping to watch Rob Brydon but Rhod was on instead and he certainly kept me watching, even more so when his guest came on, a Scouser by the name of John Bishop who is just as funny. No swearing, just highly amusing anecdotes, perhaps there really are some good comedians out there, just wish we could see more of them rather than Mr. Carr. Check out John Bishop just HERE

Fishing wise, Robson Green is back on our screens with his Extreme Fishing series. I know he took a lot of flak last time out but I have to say I enjoy watching this programme. Ok, he’s an actor first but in my opinion that’s one of the reason it works. What with the recent River Monsters series with Jeremy Wade we’re not doing too bad on the TV front and like it or not these shows do attract decent audiences. Robson GreenI’ll be making sure I catch each programme, has to be better than most of the stuff on offer at the moment on our screens.

Some one else who went against the trend and reported favourably on the Robson Green show is my good friend Steve Partner. Steve is the Associate Editor at Angling Times and I’ve known him for fifteen years. Ten years ago along with Fred Crouch and John Found I did a centre spread feature with Steve on the River Teme, titled Barbel Fishing – The Call of the Wild, a great header.

That day Steve caught his first barbel and our relationship was forged when Steve attended one of the first Barbel Society Conferences and was able to get a full interview with the late and great Peter Stone. Steve PartnerSteve is now arguably the best Angling Journalist commentating on our sport, especially when tackling the big issues. He’s not afraid to write controversial pieces that may rock the boat but ultimately get your mind working and questioning. You can google Steve and read some of his articles and check out the Angling Times website HERE.

Many thanks to everyone who has contacted me saying how much they like the site and to those who are leaving messages here. Feel free to ask any barbel fishing questions and either I or my pals who contribute articles will get back with the answers. I can’t answer questions in my capacity as Barbel Society Chairman, you’ll have to join up and ask on our forum for that, but I can answer general related questions. As I’m always saying it really is worth joining up, you’ll make plenty of friends and enjoy your barbel fishing even more!

Big thanks to Lol Breakspear, Lee Fletcher, Fred Crouch, Fred Bonney, Don Caliendo and Rich Frampton for their contributions to the site, their work is much appreciated . There will be lots more over the coming months so keep looking in.

Finally, try and get yourself down to Enfield next month to the Barbel Society meeting, where Fred Crouch and myself will be there to have some laughs and talk barbel

All the best


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