Fishing vehicle? I’m inclined to take the bus…

pexels-photo-191327.jpegJust one of those days when the fly fishing newsfeed happens to churn out polar opposites of the same theme.

At the premium end, hard on the wheels of the Bentley Bentayga [TF487] comes Rolls-Royce’s debut in the SUV market and I have to say I’m underwhelmed. You can’t stick that iconic grille on just any automobile genre and think, “Nailed it…”

Well you can, but I’m not sure you’re right. Looking at the Cullinan is like looking at the family butler as he whizzes past you on a skateboard on his day off, complete with back-to-front baseball cap. Something’s not right.

Give me Sam Soholt’s inventiveness instead, transforming an old school bus into a field sports motorhome with a difference. I was about to refer to it as the ‘budget’ end of this mechanical tale but mulling over the costs his labour of love is likely to have incurred, you’re probably looking at half a Jag’s worth, as it is.

Enjoy Bosnia, Slovenia while you can, anglers

pexels-photo-921913.jpegWe highlighted growing concerns over the spread of Balkan hydropower projects in our News page of TF506, but as always, the voices of those affected hit home far harder than any statistics.

The nuts and bolts are here, the people who must live with them, here.

“Then they finished the war, I don’t have nothing and I start from the bottom…and, I don’t have anything again…”

Trout, pike and the search for balance

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Pic courtesy of ReflectedSerendipity

It’s a common misperception among those on the outside of the magazine industry – “How do you fill all those pages every month?”

On the inside, the question is routinely turned on its head, with “What the hell do we leave out?” being easily the more common question as press day approaches.

The dilemma tormented us once more last month, as my investigation of the hottest potato in Irish angling at present had to be shoe-horned into some 900 words in TF issue 503, out today.

Anyone who’s been asked to précis War & Peace will understand my frustration. Doing justice to an increasingly rancorous dispute over the balance of power within Ireland’s western loughs is likely to call for much more newsprint in the months ahead.

At its heart is a dispute over the viability of trout co-existing alongside pike in these showcase waters. To quote from our article:

“In one corner, trout anglers insist that unchecked pike populations will lead to the demise of brown trout in the loughs. In the other, pike anglers insist that Mother Nature has managed this balancing act for centuries and should be left to get on with it.”

For a summary of the pros and cons, you’ll have to read the article, but I received further input on the debate from two other sources for which there was simply no room on the printed page without diluting what was already there. Taunted By Waters, therefore, steps into the breach.

Firstly, I heard from Conservation Section of Oughterard Anglers [OACS], based on Corrib’s southern shore. They reject any claim that pike are indigenous, explaining that, “Officially under the EU Water Framework Directive pike are still classed as being non-native/non-benign to Irish waters by the IFI [Inland Fisheries Ireland]. The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) still class pike as being invasive to Ireland.

“If pike were native to Ireland they would be found in every watercourse in the country just like brown trout but this is not the case.”

They also reject the notion that pike, however they got there, have acquired any kind of ‘squatters’ rights’ in Irish waters.

“We know from extracts from the book, The angler in Ireland: or An Englishman’s ramble through Connaught and Munster, during the summer of 1833 by S. Belton, that Lough Corrib was ‘infested’ with pike and that trout fishing was extremely poor,” they told me, citing the following extract from the book in support:

“Salmon are taken in Lough Corrib, as also some very large trout; but the Lake, being infested with pike, no great sport can be expected; and few are caught, except by cross-fishing.”

The OACS point out that the Corrib Fisheries Association (CFA) was set up in 1898, with the aim of restoring Lough Corrib as a trout fishery, a project based on pike control and  stream enhancement.

“Within a few years of the CFA establishment, trout fishing dramatically improved,” they said. “Ever since, pike have been culled on the Corrib and trout stocks have flourished in spite of other pressures such as the roach introduction, zebra mussel introduction, lagarosiphon introduction, loss of spawning habitat, climate change etc.

“No scientific evidence has ever been either produced domestically or internationally, which shows that pike have a benign or positive effect on salmonids.”

Instead, they argue, biologist Dr Ron Greer, in his 1995 book Ferox Trout & Arctic Charr, described as “…part of the mythology of the pike anglers’ sub-culture that pike are some kind of ecological balancing act. This is simply not the case in small, shallow charr and trout lakes.”

Greer’s book touched upon another issue that resonates among Irish trout anglers, 22 years on: the unlawful introduction of pike into waters where they previously weren’t.  OACS claim that Ireland’s  Owenriff system, a Corrib tributary and a major salmonid nursery, was “destroyed” when pike were illegally introduced there approximately 10 years ago. This theme also arose in Scotland in the early 2000s.

One man who has gradually come round to the idea of active control of pike numbers is Larry McCarthy, who runs Corrib View Lodge & Angling Services with his wife Michelle.

By-laws introduced in 2007 cut the number of pike to be retained by anglers in Ireland to just one a day, provided it was  less than 50cm in length, and McCarthy believes this led to a key shift in the ecological equilibrium.

“Foreign tourists were taking many pike up until 2007 and many of them just stopped coming over after that,” he explains. “That was a big controlling factor gone and so, while I was all for leaving Nature alone at one point, I believe things have now tilted too much in the pike’s favour.

“I don’t want to see pike eradicated and the argument that trout anglers kill too many fish is valid, but the loughs should be afforded care as a true wild trout fishery. Any way we can protect it, we should follow it.”

The outcome of a review of existing pike control measures by Inland Fisheries Ireland is expected next year. Never have the words ‘watch this space’ been more pertinent…

Man losing interest in porn movie aroused by arrival of Izaak Walton

I used to keep a tally of Headlines I Never Expected to Write in a Million Years. I stopped at 22.

A film director takes his parents to what is labelled a ‘secret feature’ screening at a film festival in the States. He anticipates some harmlessly entertaining movie that at least approximates to family viewing. What he gets is Nymphomaniac: Volume 1.

“That’s the movie with real sex and penetration.” His words, not mine.

Cruelly delighting in his discomfiture, entertainment magazine Vulture collars the embarrassed director’s mother afterwards, to get her verdict on Nymphomaniac‘s finer points.

And the money quote – “My husband Steve was pretty reluctant to stay for the movie. But when we got to the part where the older gentleman [Skarsgård] pulls out the Izaak Walton book and they start comparing graphic sex to fly-fishing, Steve leans over and says, ‘This looks interesting. I’ll stay awhile.”

Rag trade as in touch with reality as ever

Grey pork pie hat with a band and a feather.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just how many anglers did the Watanabe fashion house consult before launching this year’s Men’s Collection, I wonder?

“Junya Watanabe Spring Menswear 2014 takes on a hunting and fishing theme and quite alluringly might I add. These men will have no problem catching prey in these get-ups, complete with cross-body bags, camel coats and collared dress shirts. Watanabe infuses the pork pie hat with a fisherman vibe to complete a chic workingman’s outfit.”

So gushed one commentator from whatever planet it is on which fashionistas reside. Not that she was alone in spewing such guff…

“In an unusually forthcoming concession, Junya Watanabe said he “wanted to convey resort in a cool way” with his Spring collection. The resort he imagined was clearly somewhere with access to the great outdoors—hiking and fishing featured prominently as leisure activities…

“…So the backpacks—and fishermen’s bags—were the collection’s fulcrum, matched to the mutated outerwear that was another essential component of the show. An inside-out patchwork of construction has become a clear Junya signature.”

Click on the ‘slideshow’ button at the link, if you dare. And do let me know how the pork pie hat with a fisherman vibe worked out for you on the Teviot this summer.

“And some extra padding around the crotch, if you please, Mr Wader Manufacturer…”

Pacu frito (fried pacu) gross fish teeth

Pacu frito (fried pacu) gross fish teeth (Photo credit: yrpopqueen)

Ever since the global warming debate kicked off in earnest, those of us who still remember the colon-loosening experience of seeing Jaws on the big screen have had a singular dark thought tapping away in the recesses of our mind.

Nasty fish, heading north.

If this tentative dread tended to take the form of great whites off Bridlington or Babbacombe in our fevered imagination, the ultimate predator has been usurped by a tropical tiddler, which, like Joe Pesci in Casino, seems all the nastier for being small, making its menace unexpected.

Say hello to the pacu. Ideally with your legs crossed.

“‘The pacu is not normally dangerous to people but it has quite a serious bite, there have been incidents in other countries, such as Papua New Guinea where some men have had their testicles bitten off,’ said Henrik Carl, fish expert at the Danish museum.”

Now they’re just off Sweden. That’s even more north than us (because I know you’re wondering). And many thanks to the vindictive Mr Carl, who has left us with a quote that may take days to leave my head.

“They bite because they’re hungry, and testicles sit nicely in their mouth…”