‘The Concentration that comes with Age’

John Bailey

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I noticed these words in a recent post, and they got me thinking hard. Is it too far a leap to suggest that concentration all but equals patience, which in turn equals acceptance? My point is that having a mind-set that copes with failure is a huge advantage if you pursue wild fish, especially. Concentration, patience, acceptance are all necessary if you dedicate your fishing life to brown and sea trout, and perhaps to salmon, and even trophy coarse fish, above all.

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The Frome

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The Tay

That’s why I so liked Andrew Jackson’s recent comment to me up on the Warden beat of the Tyne. “Blanks don’t bother me,” he said. “Every blank day moves you further along to the day when you do catch.” This reminded me of my ferox trout years. I first tried for them around 1978, stepped up the pursuit from 1984, and finally landed one in 1990.

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The Wensum

I needed concentration (and patience and acceptance) on that quest, for sure, but did these qualities accrue with age I wonder? After all I was not even in my thirties when this “feroxide” (to quote Chris Yates) struck me down. Again, I have just been on the phone to “Whitey” Whitehouse, telling him about a carp filming trip I have returned from, which saw us blank for the whole three days. “Blimey Guv,” says Whitey. “That’s nothing. Three years in salmon fishing, and you’re lucky to see a take, never mind a fish.”

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The Usk

Whitey, Andrew, me, we all began fishing as young kids when we caught nothing either, so perhaps concentration is not necessarily less to do with age than what you are conditioned to accept. The three of us started our angling careers when there were no commercials or easy waters, and even canal gudgeon represented a triumph.

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The Ure

I hesitate to take this further, but I’ll throw it out there. Could all of us face the need to rethink our fishing in the future? Many of us remember the trials of the 1970s, and I’m not sure if we are not enduring worse. Where to start?

Climate change? Cosmic shortages of everything? Dicey economics seeing rising inflation and deepening poverty? Covid? Travel by road, rail or air ever more expensive and problematic?

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The Tweed

A blind destruction of the UK environment, aquatic most especially? Let’s not even mention the world, and the geopolitical mess we are heading for? A PM whose keynote speech is built around beavers?

In short, are the days when we thought nothing of driving 500 miles for a spot of salmon fishing numbered? If we are forced to fish more locally in our futures, it strikes me we will need all the concentration, patience, and acceptance that we can muster.


The post ‘The Concentration that comes with Age’ first appeared on FishingMagic Magazine.

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xenon

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So, if I read that right John, you stuck it out for twelve years before catching a ferox? Bonkers-would have given up long before then myself.
 

sam vimes

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Not unexpectedly, my personal circumstances changed quite dramatically about eight years ago. That lead to a total reappraisal of my fishing and how far I was prepared to travel for it. I've been steadily drawing my horns in ever since. Once a year or so, I relax my self imposed limits and go somewhere distant as a treat.

For the most part, I travel no further than fifteen miles to fish. It's usually less than five miles. I have a couple of spots on the river and three stillwaters (I only fish one of them) about two miles away. I fish far more often than I ever did in the past. If I had to travel far this would not be possible. The trade off is that expectations had to be reduced. I've actually found it quite liberating. Spending more time actually fishing than in the car is never a bad thing. Not going to fantastic venues, miles distant, also doesn't impact on my willingness to endure the sometimes inferior local venues. I remember well the days of travelling regularly to the Trent to fish for barbel. I loved it, but it utterly spoilt the local barbel fishing for me.
 

rob48

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I well remember the "trials" of the 1970s. If you drew a peg you were unlikely to win from on Trent matches you still had a reasonable days fishing, as there were 5lb of roach and 2lb of gudgeon on every peg. It didn't matter where you drew, unless the river was extremely out of sorts, you'd catch. And this was from what was supposed to be a "dirty" river. Now it's super clear and clean there are loads of pegs devoid of fish, bar the odd predator, but for most of the summer you can see the bottom in six foot of water halfway across the river.
You could park up more or less anywhere and never gave a second thought that your car might be vandalised, or missing entirely, áfter you'd been fishing nearly all day, and the roads were nice and quiet when you set off on a morning and not much busier on the return journey home.
If there are any more trials like these on the horizon please put my name on the list.
The state of the rivers now probably does equate to the acceptance/patience theory because nobody can catch fish that aren't there. When the fish population was more evenly distributed I'd always maintain that failure was due to angling mistakes, most specifically incorrect assessment of the peg's potential and thus feed requirements on the day.
 
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grayson

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I think some rosy tinting action going on. Every week fish are being caught which were beyond most 70s anglers' wildest dreams . Read BB and a 4 lb tench was a monster in his day and even Walker never had a six . Double figure barbel and six pound chub were the stuff of dreams and in the local rivers I accept it is not as good as it was ten years ago , but compared to the slim pickings of the 70s (blanks more common than now , a 3 lb chub a monster ) I can't complain . As for trout , I have access to records going back over a century and the inconvenient truth is club members catch more, and often bigger wild brown trout and grayling than we ever did in some half misremembered halcyon past .

Of course I worry about climate change , the recent crash in local chub population , cormorants , violent floods and abstraction - but things are nothing like as bad as when I started my fishing career . Back then my local ponds , if not polluted , had stunted roach and tiny perch, all my local rivers and canals were polluted horrors and the odd trip to somewhere like the Trent was usually a gudgeonfest.

Like SV , I used to travel far more for my fishing but I finally realised there's far more within 10-45 minutes drive than I will ever get round to exploring .
 

rob48

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It's not unexpected for individual fish to grow larger when they have less generational competition for food supply. The large shoals of chub in the Severn and Trent for example aren't there in the same quantities any more, so the reduced pressure on the survivors enables them to flourish.
As for rosy tinting action, coachloads of anglers from Lancashire crossed the Pennines every week to fish the Trent, I doubt they'd have bothered doing that just for a gudgeonfest.
 

mikench

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Having only commenced proper fishing barely 6 years ago and at the wrong side of the age graph, I was already set in my ways, fed up of work and travelling. Just visiting my parents involved a 145 mile round trip and I rarely avoided some hold up on our congested motorways. I do not regard myself as a fisherman or an angler just someone who goes fishing. I have waters available all over the country, receive kind invitations to fish with friends I admire as anglers and whose friendship I value, and can travel far and wide. Sadly I don't and barely make a dent in the variety of waters I frequent. Clearly covid has had an impact plus the normal life difficulties we all face which have impacted on my gregarious nature and willingness to try somewhere new. I do plan to become more adventurous and to take up some of the kind invitations to fish further afield.

However for now, my weekly forays I still find enjoyable. The chats and laughs I share with others keep me sane and I still enjoy being a bit of a tackle tart and trying new methods with new (to me) rods and reels. Why is tackle so addictive?. I'm slow to learn but enjoy doing so. I sometimes feel I missed out on over 50 years of fishing but in truth other interests, travel , work, bringing up 3 kids and life would have reduced the amount of time I had available. I enjoy reading about the exploits of many here on FM and hope to continue to observe ,take note and contribute. I will never be able to compete with them but then I'm not wanting to. I enjoy what I do.
 
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nottskev

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I usually enjoy John Bailey's articles, though for me he does get a little melodramatic with the "passion". This time, though, I'm not persuaded that we might be worse off than in the 70's. Local, accessible fishing for North Westerners was generally dismal at that time by comparison, and anglers today would not, I think, get out of bed for the kind of catches we regarded as the norm. This is not to deny the loss of many small waters like ponds and marl pits, angling bans on public waters and the serious threats to rivers. The article seems confused, and JB conflates, imo, poor fishing with the necessarily limited returns of fishing for wild game fish, surely always minority species for almost all of us and often not only rare, but well above most of our angling price points. Equally I'm not sure if JB sees not catching as the proud domain of the resilient zen angler or a source of despair.

For a short article a few things grated and puzzled.

"In short, are the days when we thought nothing of driving 500 miles for a spot of salmon fishing numbered?"

Oh those days! Hands up all those who had days when they thought nothing of etc.

"Concentration, patience, acceptance are all necessary if you dedicate your fishing life to brown and sea trout, and perhaps to salmon, and even trophy coarse fish, above all."

What's the "even" doing there? Putting coarse fish - trophy ones, of course- in their place?

And I've read this sentence several times without it making any sense

"Whitey, Andrew, me, we all began fishing as young kids when we caught nothing either, so perhaps concentration is not necessarily less to do with age than what you are conditioned to accept"

This one, for me, read like a rough draft.
 

markg

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I fished the Thames as a kid, didn't catch much, Martin Salter who we never hear from anymore caught a 2lb+ roach there last year. Plus catches of carp and bream have improved considerably as I understand it from the areas I fished and caught nothing much. I think comparing fishing to the 70's or 60's depends where you fished.
 

nottskev

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Having only commenced proper fishing barely 6 years ago and at the wrong side of the age graph, I was already set in my ways, fed up of work and travelling. Just visiting my parents involved a 145 mile round trip and I rarely avoided some hold up on our congested motorways. I do not regard myself as a fisherman or an angler just someone who goes fishing. I have waters available all over the country, receive kind invitations to fish with friends I admire as anglers and whose friendship I value, and can travel far and wide. Sadly I don't and barely make a dent in the variety of waters I frequent. Clearly covid has had an impact plus the normal life difficulties we all face which have impacted on my gregarious nature and willingness to try somewhere new. I do plan to become more adventurous and to take up some of the kind invitations to fish further afield.

However for now, my weekly forays I still find enjoyable. The chats and laughs I share with others keep me sane and I still enjoy being a bit of a tackle tart and trying new methods with new (to me) rods and reels. Why is tavkle do addictive?. I'm slow to learn but enjoy doing so. I sometimes feel I missed out on over 50 years of fishing but in truth other interests, travel , work, bringing up 3 kids and life would have reduced the amount of time I had available. I enjoy reading about the exploits of many here on FM and hope to continue to observe ,take note and contribute. I will never be able to compete with them but then I'm not wanting to. I enjoy what I do.

No apology needed for the late start/return, Mike. You're a stalwart on here and a year-round angler, massively upskilled (not to say equipped :) ) from where you started. You do know your pb tench is about 3lb heavier than mine? There's a strand in fishing where we like to play up the authenticity and challenge of our choice of fishing, like we're doing "real" fishing, but in the end nothing makes more sense than simply doing the fishing you like best, even if it doesn't put miles on the clock. The questions you've posted over years on all conceivable fishing gear and methods give us a chance to show our expert knowledge, something we anglers are always keen to dispense. You're welcome to come down for a day on any of the waters around here.
 

steve2

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Far from "concentration comes with age" the need to catch fish with me started to disappear with age. Having been there done it and got the tee shirt type the need to catch got less and the other distractions on the bank started to take over. Reeling in the rods and leaving the rods while going for a wander with the camera and binoculars. I have always wanted to know what was round the next bend. I can just sit there and taking in the sights and sounds and watching what is happening around me.
So as far as fishing goes my concentration with age is a lot less but when I look back it most probably always as been. I have always be a hunter fisher rather than a sit and wait type.
 

grayson

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It's not unexpected for individual fish to grow larger when they have less generational competition for food supply. The large shoals of chub in the Severn and Trent for example aren't there in the same quantities any more, so the reduced pressure on the survivors enables them to flourish.
As for rosy tinting action, coachloads of anglers from Lancashire crossed the Pennines every week to fish the Trent, I doubt they'd have bothered doing that just for a gudgeonfest.
Trouble was , where I used to fish, in Yorkshire , there were often very few fish - and mainly small. I remember a fur 'n feather 600 pegger we fished on the Ouse in the mid 70s . Lousy conditions, true , but the winner had just 4 oz .. Coachloads from where I grew up - on t' right side of Pennines - also fished the Trent. At least they caught - roach on a good peg and (you guessed ) gudgeon on a bad one.
 

rob48

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Trouble was , where I used to fish, in Yorkshire , there were often very few fish - and mainly small. I remember a fur 'n feather 600 pegger we fished on the Ouse in the mid 70s . Lousy conditions, true , but the winner had just 4 oz .. Coachloads from where I grew up - on t' right side of Pennines - also fished the Trent. At least they caught - roach on a good peg and (you guessed ) gudgeon on a bad one.
Yeah, I remember the big Association FnF matches, often coinciding with poor conditions due to the necessity of staging them in early December. They were important events at the time though.
Thing is with the super-clean Trent of today, if the silvers don't show there aren't hardly any gudgeon to be caught, certainly for the last fifteen years or so. There was a lot of excitement in one of the Burton festival matches late summer as someone put a whip caught 8lb of them on the scales. No-one could remeber the last time anyone had done a weight of them.
 

Mark Wintle

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Yeah, I remember the big Association FnF matches, often coinciding with poor conditions due to the necessity of staging them in early December. They were important events at the time though.
Thing is with the super-clean Trent of today, if the silvers don't show there aren't hardly any gudgeon to be caught, certainly for the last fifteen years or so. There was a lot of excitement in one of the Burton festival matches late summer as someone put a whip caught 8lb of them on the scales. No-one could remeber the last time anyone had done a weight of them.
There is the true story of the big Leeds club, fed up with dire FnF matches in December back in the 70s, deciding to hold it in July; yes, you've guessed it - a massive July flood. Our 1970s Dorset Frome matches were feast or famine; one Christmas match no fish caught, another won with half an ounce, and another had one peg above a bridge where the winner had 12lb of roach whereas everyone below blanked, yet other matches were dace bonanzas.

Like others I care far less about what I catch than I did and I'm having far more fun trying to capture what is happening on video.

Regarding travel; a mate and I did the 400 mile round trip (in a Mini Clubman) to Newark to watch the 1977 Gladding Masters and I've done not far short to Peterborough and back for a big Nene open or three.
 

rob48

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That Gladding match was a bit of a rough day and I remember Pete Palmer showing how to fish the waggler. Brilliant angler. Worth the drive just to watch him IMO.
 

steve2

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With travel most of my longer journeys 150 mile trips followed by 8 hours or more fishing and 150 miles back home in a day were done before motorways. We must have been mad or just mad keen.
 

whitty

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I drove to Loch Ken one Friday night,fished Saturday,packed at 5pm then drove home,absolutely exhausted and totally crazy....how I didnt have an accident I dont know,falling asleep at the wheel two or three times on the M6...
 

Steve King

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In 1987 I joined a club that rented a prime stretch of the Kennet. I spent one or two days a week for a whole season trying to catch a barbel and failed!

The last time of that series of sessions, I had a savage take from something huge that decided to head towards Reading like an express train! The 8lb line snapped with a resounding crack!

I was utterly broken! Not that long after that my first marriage failed and I didn’t fish for around two years. I started fishing a day ticket section of the Kennet and concentrated on chub with reasonable success. It was I suppose inevitable that I caught a barbel! The rod was totally inadequate, but I managed to land my first first barbel.

Thereafter I caught barbel regularly. I’m not entirely sure why I failed so miserably that first season in pursuit of barbel!
 
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