Angling: Goal-den days ahead but be wary of some advice

Best bar-bel none: Barbel expert Boston Spa's Karl Heptonstall, says early-season fish need extra care.
Best bar-bel none: Barbel expert Boston Spa's Karl Heptonstall, says early-season fish need extra care.
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Officially, the first days of summer and the start of the new river campaign, everyone’s goals are different, though all as important as each other’s – match wins, personal bests or a perch on a worm will give the same satisfaction to those achieving their aim.

Traditionally the weeks before the start of the season are a time of clubs’ fisheries’ management meetings, members’ meetings, work parties, and generally listening or reading about how the powers at the top are spending our money to take our sport forward.

Accepting that not all anglers are rocket scientists, most of us have a good understanding of the environment, and care passionately about all wildlife, above and below the waterline.

It is with this understanding I have to take to task – with a smile and a wink – some of the answers, recommendations and statements given by some of our respected bodies.

Cormorants – not every angler’s favourite! These black, oily-feathered, hook-beaked, fish-eating birds are a protected species despite its numbers rising inland from around 2,000 in the 1980s to over 25,000 in recent years. They eat, on average, over 1lb of fish per day. The maths are easy and the answer easier = fish stocks unsustainable. Everything is okay though as the solution to stop the birds was passed to Leeds and Districts primary contact president Stan Jeffreys who reported to our eager meeting the state of the art development funded from our obvious overflowing rod licence revenues.

Step 1, purchase or acquire a life-size mannequin; Step 2, make a replica shotgun from plastic waste pipe; Step 3, dress the mannequin with camouflage clothing and sit him in a shooting position. I made the point maybe a high viz vest and bright dayglo cap might be best for a scarecrow, but was assured that the experts insist on camouflage clothing to make the mannequin blend in and be difficult to spot from the sky. Am I missing something?

Hopefully the next few months will not be all about defending our fisheries but will see the positives and success stories achieved by our trusts and agencies on our region’s rivers.

The signs are looking good; here are a few early-season venues that should be worth a try. River Calder around Mirfield working downstream for those looking for traditional float fishing, John Cottons average depth 6/8ft good roach fishing to waggler hemp and caster, Pear Tree weir streamy water dace and roach with the odd big ide possible, below the bridge slightly deeper water through to Newgate and Ship Inn again waggler and caster for roach, chublets and perch.

Below the Ship’s weir are some flier pegs for big bags of chub with match weights every season topping 30lb, the shallow runs of Calder Bank Road through to Sands Lane will be good for dace and roach with the potential of a decent barbel always good for the heartbeat when caught on the float and light tackle.

Further downstream the recently acquired Mexborough Estate could be worth an early-season visit, remembering that it was here that broke the river’s match record with 76lb of skimmers and bream only a few months ago.

Mirfield AC membership books are available at £28.

The Environment Agency’s fish-rearing facility at Calverton report that the barbel are later in spawning this year than they can ever remember. Even with the advantages of poly tunnels the cold nights have not given the water temperatures needed.Barbel anglers should be aware and act accordingly in the early weeks of the season.

Junior angler, Liam Matley, aged 10. PIC: Steve Fearnley

Angling: Leeds and District initiative puts junior anglers at forefront and challenges other societies to follow its lead