Tag: facebook

The angling week that left me with more questions than answers- part 2

The question  declining roach stocks has been a hot topic on Facebook with many passioned points of view, embellished by the wisdom and insight of Trevor Harrop who runs the Avon Roach Project.

The decline of roach

I’m fairly new to social media but when I posted a message saying I felt the major and central answer to the decline on the river Wensum was the presence of cormorants these last decades, my Facebook account went barmy. It is generally agreed that cormorants are a factor but getting rid of them would be no silver bullet, a phrase everyone likes to use these days.

All manner of reasons were put around why our Norfolk rivers, the Wensum principally, doesn’t seem to support big roach anymore. All sorts of solutions were offered, predictably alliance between individuals and statutory bodies, fundraising, projects, monitoring, data collection, meetings, committees, you name it. Pretty much everything but direct action.

The Snail?

One of the comments really struck me, though. It was suggested that roach grow slowly to about six years of age and then catapult forward in growth, largely because they change their diet to snails. Could it be that the Wensum doesn’t hold enough snails anymore to support big, fast-growing roach? I took this on board and was nearly convinced.

Then, I thought of the stretch of Wensum between Elsing and Lyng a few years back. At the time, it was heaving with good roach between a few ounces and a pound and a half. Over a couple of autumns and winters, I also either saw or caught plenty of fish between one pound fourteen ounces and two pounds nine ounces. Obviously, given a chance, the Wensum can still support big roach. The question is, with the amount of cormorants, do those roach ever seriously get the chance to live for 10 years or more. My gut feeling is a big no.

Cormorant population explosion

I’ve also been trying to find out why there has been such a massive increase in the growth of continental cormorants over the past 40 years or so. Their numbers have spiralled from virtually nothing to over one and a half million. Many of those have come to the UK because the continent has not been hospitable enough for them. What on earth caused this amazing increase in the first place?

Sometimes, it just seems so easy. I remember back 10 days or so, on the Island at Kingfisher Lake, when Enoka and dear friend Mick Munns just couldn’t go wrong. You walk off thinking you know all the answers and that you are really king of the lake.

How quickly you can be brought back to earth.

John Bailey

Fishing via Facebook tells only half of this new story

Well, let the truth be out. I’ve been carried kicking and screaming into the 21st century, into the modern age of communication. So what is the story around social media- here I take a look at the pros and cons.

Yes, I’m forced to admit that modern social media is good for so many things in angling and I’ve come to recognise that. Being able to share your triumphs almost instantly enhances that moment of supreme pleasure. It’s extraordinary that you can catch a good fish one second and the world knows about it the next minute. I also have a growing sense of community, of being a part of a likeminded circle of anglers that I never even knew existed. My WhatsApp group gives me instant access to my close friends and also entry into angling niches that I was totally unaware of previously. I’m finding that I am privy to a treasure trove of information on tactics, rigs, baits and even new venues. It’s like whatever I want to know about anything in the sport, I only need ask.

Social media can turbo-charge campaigning

So much of my time is spent on conservation issues and I am now finding that social media can speed up all my campaigns massively and almost instantly. Whatever I might have to say about cormorants, or otters, or the decline of roach, my words are spread to thousands no sooner than they are uttered. There is no doubt that social media has enabled the angling community to build up a far better grasp of what is important now and in the future. It’s a really strong force for mobilising opinion.

I’ve got to mentioned the financial benefits, social media has massively increased the ability of manufacturers to promote their products. It’s not a one-way street however. Social media also enables independent reviews that enable people to choose gear far more selectively. There is so much advice out there, so instantly on tap, an angler knows exactly what he or she might really need.

The spread of ideas and inside information

New ideas in angling can be spread so quickly now because of social media and I have benefited from that, too. I’ve already cottoned on to the use of single circle rigs for pike dead baiting, for example, and the Ronnie Rig (Spinner Rig) for big, suspicious carp. In the same vein, slightly left of centre angling disciplines have now received their full share of the spotlight because of social media. Lure fishing is a great example. For years, it’s been rather on the periphery of fishing but now, because of social media, it’s right there in the beating heart of it.Whether it is lure fishing , fishing with a centrepin or tench fishing there are groups devoted to these passions which enable us to immerse ourselves in this sport in a way we never could before.

A great way to engage the next generation

Perhaps best of all, fishing and social media go together when it comes to promoting the sport to kids. Social media is the vehicle of choice for anybody now over the age of six it seems. Social media is cool and many of the angling stars there are lads in their teens and early 20s. This is especially so when it comes to YouTube where so many of the angling stars have arrived on the scene in the last 5 years.  Carl and Alex ; https://youtu.be/iqebOrn0ltw are building there angling careers based on engaging content communicated in the venacular of the new world of media. My great friend and protege James Buckley is sharing his angling adventures via his blog; https://anglingbuckley.wordpress.com/  .

Watch outs

So what’s not to like? First up, I’m becoming more wary of much of the so-called information that I’m reading on social media. A lot of it, I’m pretty sure from my own experience, is not altogether simply right! The point is, that in the past, when a book or an article were written, you knew that the author was tried and trusted and what he had to say was very generally built upon decades, probably, of experience. Not everything that you read in the old fishing books you could take as gospel but a lot more of it was more right than what we see on our screens today.

But most of all, I just wonder if social media dents that magic and the mystery of this extraordinary sport of ours? To some degree, angling is all about our own explorations and discoveries. This is what makes it perpetually exciting for me. And then, of course, there is the simple delight of getting out into nature, being as one with the aquatic environment. This is a very real satisfaction for very many of us and it can easily be disturbed by the constant pinging of a smartphone. There are times when you need to breathe, and breathe deeply to smell the roses along your angling pathway.

Social media is a force for good in angling if embraced in the right way but let us not lose sight of the real value of the escapism and mindful therapy that fishing and nature can provide.