Lee Swords Fishing

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Fishing’s Constant Waterside Companions

Here is part of an article I did for the Anglingstar in 2008. I own an old book, in fact I own a lot of old books but this one is a special one as it was written by one of “my” regions greatest ever anglers and angling writers Tag Barnes and it is called “Waterside Companions” Tag was what I would class as a real fisherman in so much as he could turn his hand to every aspect of our pastime and was successful at everything he set his mind on.

To this day there is a picture of Tag Barnes on the wall in the ticket office at Ladybower reservoir, with him holding what I believe was the biggest fish of that season, a truly amazing fish it was too!

Unfortunately I never got to meet Tag Barnes in the flesh but I do get a feeling of the man through his writings and he is as far as I am concerned one of “my” types of angler. If I could build a time machine a days fishing with Tag would be one of my things to do!

Most of the really good anglers that I have met over the years have also been good countrymen and by that I mean they are at one with nature and simply blend into their surroundings becoming one with every aspect of our sport. They are also competent all-rounders that have a feel for the game that can only be achieved through years of learning.

On the Blob!

A Horse faced Glinder ( as named by Olivia T’gan Swords aged 7

This is something I try to emulate in myself, I know that first and foremost I love the big rivers and especially the Trent but I can cast a fly and I have won money in matches as well as throwing my breakfast over side a couple of miles off the coast of Whitby. Every aspect of angling has something that I enjoy but in all honesty I have to say that I enjoy the wildlife just as much as the fish, especially in winter when I can often find myself with little else to do but observe.


The season before last I did a long session on the banks of the river Trent and by the time I was leaving the wildlife in the area had totally accepted my presence and all but ignored me, it was a fantastic experience to watch fishing’s constant waterside companions.

The  foxes and badgers trudging along the woods edge searching for breakfast or watching the Tawny and Barn Owls prepare to declare open season on the rodent population but an experience I am afraid would be lost on many anglers especially the youngsters who simply do not have time for the bigger picture in their quest for ever more or ever bigger fish.

I did have hair and good looks at one point in time


What I would say to these individuals is that they may as well fish on an indoor complex if fish are all that they are interested in because without the wildlife fishing becomes sterile and one dimensional.


And as I have already said it is the wildlife that is important to me as an angler as I find myself with more time and the inclination to really notice the little things that surround me…I especially love the birds that treat the angler like a mobile snack shop.







Robins are the main culprits but they are closely followed by chaffinches and blackbirds (notice that I haven’t included swans, ducks and other water birds because most of the time they simply accost the angler like flap footed muggers rather than entertainers that put on a little show and ask for scraps as payment) Water birds as I have said are generally a bit annoying, they tend to just dive in and help themselves, which has lead to conflicts (Some ending up as a casserole in cider with root vegetables and herbs if the specimen carp lads “legend mill” is to be believed)


Although the exception to the water birds that irritate me would be the tame herons that dance for dead-baits at Dam Flask, they really do amuse me no end. I once lost over £10 of golden rainbow trout to a dancing heron and if I am perfectly honest it was worth every penny just to see one of them at extremely close quarters.


Indeed my fishing would be immeasurably poorer without the appreciation of the wildlife that surrounds me on every trip and therefore I urge everyone this coming season to stop and look and maybe, just maybe if we are lucky we may just raise up another Tag Barnes or Fred J Taylor from within our ranks as we are truly a poorer lot without their type.

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