JOHN BAI­LEY

Fred’s chub and perch On A Mis­sion

Anglers Mail - - Match News -

Fred was a champ with chub and perch, and Kate and Si­mon were des­per­ate to do him homage. We didn’t quite make it to the Up­per Ouse, his beloved stamp­ing ground, but the Up­per Wen­sum was a good sub­sti­tute. Or not. Si­mon could not nail a perch over three ounces for the life of him, a mile off Fred’s best of 4.4, I be­lieve. And whilst Kate fished day, dawn and dusk, one lost gi­ant chub of per­haps 7 lb was her lot.

An event on day one told an in­ter­est­ing tale. In bright sun and crys­tal, low wa­ter, we’d lo­cated eleven chub and a very large bar­bel un­der an over­hang­ing tree in a swim about 4 ft deep. The bar­bel, as I say, was some­thing of a mon­ster, and three of the chub looked pretty tidy, too.

The fish cer­tainly hadn’t seen us, of that I was sure, and I de­cided to throw a freebie piece of slowly sink­ing flake just a lit­tle up­stream of them to watch their re­ac­tion. The flake hit the wa­ter and be­gan to move down the wa­ter col­umn, and four fish came to in­ves­ti­gate. How­ever, they kept their dis­tance and as they turned, the en­tire shoal dis­persed off up­stream. We fol­lowed them 50 yards and they were still go­ing, plainly scared wit­less.

Re­mem­ber, those fish hadn’t seen us and that flake wasn’t on a hook or at­tached to a line. The fish were just that neu­rotic. Kate and I looked at each other, and I re­mem­bered FJ’s favourite words: “I’ll be glad when I’ve had enough of this.”

Back in my very early days as a writer, when Fred was in his pomp, I once wrote that if I could see a chub, then I could catch it. What a load of bul­locks! A lot has hap­pened since Fred, the Tay­lor Broth­ers and Richard Walker were ham­mer­ing chub on the Up­per Ouse, and we think it’s this.

Since those glo­ri­ous times, the rise in the cor­morant and ot­ter pop­u­la­tion has been cat­a­strophic. Small chub up to a pound or two are now har­ried mer­ci­lessly by cor­morants.

Once they get to 3 or 4 lb they might be safe from the birds, but then the ot­ters come look­ing for them.

As a re­sult, our chub to­day whether on the Up­per Ouse or the Wen­sum or wher­ever, are on a con­stant state of red alert. There are times when they’re just im­pos­si­ble to catch, as Kate and I found out that glo­ri­ous, early au­tumn morn­ing. What we knew in the past doesn’t al­ways serve us in the present.

What a load of bul­locks!

Fred and fun

I’ve got a feel­ing it might have been Dick Walker that called the Tay­lor Broth­ers and the gang around them the ‘Joy­ous Crew’. The term cer­tainly stuck, and it was cer­tainly ap­pli­ca­ble.

When you read the lit­er­a­ture around the fish­ing that went on, you re­alise it was all about guitars, singing, jokes, camp­fires and liv­ing rough, of­ten sleep­ing in the fa­mous hut on the banks of the Up­per Ouse. Above all, Fred and his mates were men used to liv­ing off the land. Most of them had lived through a war and through far tougher times than our own.

Fred came from a fam­ily that boasted a fair num­ber of poach­ers, and he was a real coun­try lad. In honour of that, we had rab­bit pie for sup­per and we ate steaks off a grid­dle for lunch.

Above all, what we can all learn from Fred to­day is that at­ti­tude of his that in fish­ing, it should all be about all for one and one for all. There might have been a bit of friendly ri­valry

The lift float method from Fred’s book Tench – and one we caught us­ing it.

■ Pingers with a beauty – and his lift float spe­cials.

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