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You probably won't recognise this man but A. J. Mundella (along perhaps with Walton - see below) can take credit for the Bill instituting a closed season from 15 March to 15 June for freshwater fish. Known officially as the Freshwater Fisheries Act and colloquially amongst anglers as the Mundella Act, it became law in 1878. 

Anthony John Mundella, was British manufacturer turned Liberal Party MP and Cabinet Minister, and served in the House of Commons from 1868 to 1897. He played a significant role in establishing universal compulsory education in Britain and building the state education system. As President of the Board of Trade, he helped reduce working hours, raise minimum employment ages, and implement laws against cruelty to children.


Referring to Walton's 'The Compleat Angler' R.B. Marston author of 'WALTON AND THE EARLIER FISHING WRITERS' suggests that "if these words of Walton had not been ringing down the centuries ever louder and louder, our fresh-water fisheries would have long ago been destroyed. Those of to-day should be grateful to Walton for the elevating influence exercised in popular opinion on behalf of their pastime by his delightful and charming book. They owe to him a book, which even now at this distant period has some value as a practical work; but they are above all indebted to him for the high principles of the sport which he inculcates. Marston thinks that "if these words of Walton had not been ringing down the centuries ever louder and louder, our fresh-water fisheries would have long ago been destroyed. These and many passages in which unfair and unseasonable fishing is denounced have kept alive the true sporting instinct among anglers, and enabled them of late years, when by combination they became powerful, to obtain from our government laws for the protection of their interests which as individuals they asked for in vain. Marston is particularly referring to Walton's words - "But above all the taking fish in spawning time, may be said to be against nature ; it is like taking the dam from the nest when she hatches her young."


W. J. Turrell writing in 1910 felt all was not quite perfect however saying  "It is a matter for regret that the Mundella Act for the enforcement of the fence-months for coarse fish in England is not universal in its application, and that the large extent of the Norfolk Broads is exempt from its provisions. It is not so much the loss of the fish taken during the fence-months which is to be deplored, as the demoralising effect which the taking Fish in spawning time exercises on the sporting instincts of those who indulge in such practices. I have known anglers so lost to all sense of shame, that they have actually incurred the expense of setting up the specimen fish, which they have caught during spawning time, thus affording a permanent tribute to their lack of sportsmanlike instinct. 


Cormorant fishing has been practiced in many parts of the world for centuries and it’s quite a surprise to find that this unique method of fishing gained popularity in England during the reign of King James VI and I. Cormorant fishing in England had been inspired by the accounts of Chinese cormorant fishing, which were translated into English and printed by Richard Hakluyt, an Oxford educated, ordained priest, who was better known for promoting the colonisation of North America. King James VI became fascinated in this method of fishing and commissioned John Wood to train cormorants for his amusement. Wood became the official "Master of the Royal Cormorants" in 1611 and was paid £30 (£6,700 today) for his services in training the birds to perform their duties. He trained the cormorants to dive for fish and eels, and to disgorge the catch on a signal. Robert Wood, John's son, also became involved in cormorant fishing, and helped set up cormorant houses near Westminster Palace in 1618.



Cormorant fishing was not only a popular sport during this period, but also became a means of diplomacy. The Wood family became involved in the so-called cormorant diplomacy, when in 1619 Robert Wood was sent with a gift of cormorants to the Duke of Lorraine (Henry II). In 1624 he was sent away again with six cormorants to the King of Poland and in the same year his son Luke Wood carried three cormorants to Venice but  was detained by the Duke of Savoy, and subsequently a compensatory payment was made to Robert Wood. One can only assume that Luke Wood had little option but to stay.

Cormorant fishing is now practiced mainly in China where displays are put on for the entertainment of tourists (pictured) though it is still considered an efficient method of catching fish in a number of remote regions.


We all do it. Too many rods. Too many reels, tackle boxes, and floats. The psychology of collecting is a fascinating subject that has been studied by psychologists, sociologists, and anthropologists for centuries. Collecting, whether cane rods, centrepin reels, or priceless oil paintings is a complex behaviour that can be driven by a variety of motivations, emotions, and psychological needs. Understanding why people collect and the impact that collecting has on their lives can provide us with really interesting insights into human behaviour and psychology.

One of the most important aspects of collecting is the emotional attachment that collectors develop to their collections. This attachment can be seen as a form of emotional regulation, providing collectors with a sense of comfort, security, and nostalgia - nostalgia playing a big part in the collecting of fishing tackle of course. The act of collecting can be seen as a way to keep memories and experiences alive, and as a result, collectors may develop strong emotional connections to their collections that are difficult to break.

Another important thing is motivation. Collectors may be motivated by a desire to acquire and possess rare or valuable items, to complete a set, to display their status or identity, or to fulfil a personal passion or interest. This motivation can be both internal and external, and can often be driven by a need for validation or recognition from others.

In some cases, collecting can become obsessive and compulsive, with collectors spending an excessive amount of time, money, and energy on their collections. This behaviour can have negative consequences for the collector, including financial problems, social isolation, and sometimes lead to mental health issues.

Organising and categorising collections is often an important aspect of collecting. Collectors may need to keep track of a large number of items and their related information, which requires a high level of organisation and attention to detail. This can be both a source of pleasure and frustration for collectors, as they strive to create order out of chaos.

Collecting can also provide social connections for collectors, as it can serve as a means of connecting with others who share similar interests and passions. This social connection can provide opportunities for networking, learning, and personal growth. This trait seems particularly strong in anglers.

In some cases, collecting can be motivated by a desire to preserve and document important historical artefacts, artworks, or cultural objects. Collectors may see themselves as custodians of these items, responsible for their care and preservation for future generations. One angler who is doing just that is Steve Chambers (Episode 1 of the podcast) with his fast growing collection of Carp Catchers Club memorabilia from the 1950’s. 

Collecting can also be a means of personal expression and creativity, allowing collectors to showcase their individual tastes, preferences, and unique personalities. The act of collecting can be seen as a form of self-expression, and can provide collectors with a sense of pride and accomplishment.

For some, collecting can be a part of their identity, providing a sense of belonging and group membership, especially in cases where the collection is associated with a specific subculture or community. Collectors may see themselves as part of a larger group of collectors who share similar values and interests.

Finally, collecting can be seen as an investment opportunity, as some items may increase in value over time, providing collectors with a potential financial return on their investment. 

Do yo see yourself here? Some are less attractive traits than others - some we'd rather not admit to. Others are perfectly plausible - the perfect cover when a partner questions our true motivation. 


Tight Lines and wet nets. Joff


Want to know if it's worth leaving the warmth of your bed? Will the fish be biting? Take advice from John Turton's ANGLER's MANUAL of 1837.


Fish bite well in close, warm, and gloomy weather, or during soft sizzling rain, or when dew is strong. They are often very eager in small rivers and brooks, after a shower that has a little raised and discoloured the water: on a gloomy day; after alight night, and with a little wind, the best fish will feed: they also rise and bit well in rivers a little below the place where sheep are being washed. Trout bite well when the water is rising, or when it is clearing after a flood. When there is a flood, and the water keeps up some days, and is not very thick, while it is shrinking within the banks, angle near the ends of bridges, and in shallow still places, where the fish lie, or in turnholes and back current streams: at such times and places, the author has often taken fine fish with the artificial fly, and also where the froth lies, spots very few would think of trying with the fly.



It is of little use to angle with the long line under a scorching sun, in the middle of the day, during the summer months. It is almost always bad angling in a cold east or north wind, especially in the spring or autumn of the year. It is never good fishing when 'snow-broth' is in the rivers. Are fish will rarely or never feed the day after a dry or windy night; for in those nights they glut themselves, and will not soon feed afterwards. It is of little use fishing in very long droughts, when the rivers are very low, the water dead, and full of fine green weed, vulgarly called 'croggil', which adheres to the knots of the lash, clogs the hooks, and covers th flies, so that no fish can take them, and it is quite troublesome to the angler. it is commonly bad fishing when the mill next above you stands still, and there is no stream running. It is of little use, in most instances, to fish with the fly, when the wind is very high; chub, roach, and dace, never rise when there are great waves on the water.


Hugh Tempest Sheringham was born in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, not far from EFGEECO HQ, and went on to win a scholarship to Westminster School and Trinity College, Cambridge. He later became a journalist, honing his writing skills with an elegant, witty and informative style. In 1903, while fishing on the river Lambourn, he met William Senior, editor of ‘The Field’, who offered him a job as the angling editor. He wrote for the magazine until his death in 1930.

Sheringham spent a lot of time fishing in the Kennet valley, particularly for roach. His writing favoured the pleasures of fishing for rudd, roach, chub and dace, even though it was unusual to rate coarse fishing as highly as trout and salmon fishing at that time. He was equally adept with a fly rod as he was with trotting a float down a river for roach or spinning for pike. In the following passage he talks of observation, contemplation, and the requirement for a leisurely mind. The first few paragraphs sum up perfectly a lazy early July morning , the soporific calling of the doves and the constant activity of insects lulls the reader into a trance like state perfect for an empathic understanding of his words. He mentions 'a cork float with a crimson tip as 'very necessary to proper angling for tench; it supplies one touch of colour that is wanting in the landscape'. He must surely have read the famous story of J.M.W. Turner transforming at the last minute his rather blue-grey 1832 seascape painting 'Helvoetsluys' with a simple dab of red on a sea buoy. Robert Leslie recounted that the 'intensity of the red lead, made more vivid by the coolness of the picture caused even the vermillion and lake on Constables nearby painting in the same exhibition look weak'. Here's what Sheringham had to say....

A BRACE OF TENCH - The cooing of doves, the hum of bees, and all the pageantry of high summer seem somehow to be recalled by the word "tench." Perhaps it is that this fish invites meditation. During the hours, or it may be days, that he has to wait for a bite, even the most unobservant angler can hardly fail to take note of his surroundings. And so the doves and the bees gradually compel a drowsy recognition; the wonderful lights and shades of a July noon first catch and then arrest the eye; a discovery is made that the sky glows with the blue of the south, and that the water is a marvellous and transparent brown; moreover, the insect world moves to and fro, a constant procession of unending activity, and yonder emerald dragon-fly is hovering above the crimson cork that marks the whereabouts of the angler's neglected worm. A cork float with crimson tip is very necessary to proper angling for tench; it supplies the one touch of colour that is wanting in the landscape, and it is a satisfying thing to look upon. A severely practical mind might argue that it is as visible to the fish as to the fisherman, and might suggest a fragment of porcupine quill as being less ostentatious. But, however one regards it, tench fishing is a lengthy occupation, and must be approached with leisurely mind. The sordid yearning for bites should not be put in the balance against artistic effect. Besides, it may be said of tench more emphatically than of most other fish: if they are going to feed they are, and if they are not they most certainly are not. As a rule they are not, and their feelings are therefore not so important as the angler's.


Anglers who watched the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II can't have failed to spot one particular banner hanging in St George's Chapel at Windsor. I know we did. Featuring two pike the banner belongs to Richard Luce or Baron Luce a member of The Royal Order of the Garter, an order of chivalry founded by Edward Ill of England in 1348. It is the most senior order of knighthood in the British honours system, outranked in precedence only by the Victoria Cross and the George Cross. Pictured below the crown is a key, emblematic of Saint Peter and frequently appearing in ecclesiastical heraldry - St. Peter being the patron saint of fishermen. In the banner the key is flanked by two martlets mythical birds much like swifts or house martins without feet that never roost from 'the moment of its drop-birth until their death fall: The two pike are positioned vertically on the banner but are more commonly seen horizontal such as in the coat of arms pictured here.

Luce deriving from (Esox) Lucius is an alternative name for a pike and Robert Nobbes in his 1682 THE COMPLET TROLLER suggests that the name Lucius is derived " either a lucendo, from 'shining in the waters, or else (which is more probable) from Lukos, the Greek word for lupus (wolf) for as," says he, "the wolf is the most ravenous and cruel amongst beasts, so the Pike is the most greedy and devouring among fishes. So that Lupus Pisas, though it be proper for the Sea-wolf, yet it is often used for the pike itself, the Fresh-water Wolf?'

The motto HONI SOIT QUI MAL Y PENSE is the dialect of old Norman-French spoken by the medieval ruling class in England and translates as 'shamed be whoever thinks ill of it!

Happy days and wet nets - Joff


We were recently sent a pair of very special floats. The Allcocks "STREAMSEARCH" is a float that acts like a vane and can travel across AND upstream in the current. Pomenteg immediately disappeared into his office to fetch me a copy of "FISHING" the popular coarse and sea angling magazine of the 1960's. In the April 1968 edition Arthur Clarke writes an article titled  'THE AEROFOIL FLOAT'. In it is illustrated a float made from balsa and formed into the shape of an aeroplanes wing - an aerofoil. Two models are recommended, one where the river flows left to right and one for right to left. The idea first mooted by an 'aeronautically-inclined friend' was put into action with Arthur trialling it in less than ideal conditions- "the river was high and coloured, and running at several times its normal speed". Arthur goes on to describe what happened. "My first cast was caught by the wind and fell about a foot out from the bank. I started to retrieve and then stopped. As the push of water acted on the vane, so it gradually moved out and away from the bank exactly opposite to normal float behaviour. I watched, fascinated, as it slowly moved out almost to midstream and then stopped, steady as rock. I released some line and the float moved downstream and slightly in towards the bank. At that point, down it went. I struck and landed a nice dace of around 10 oz."

The Allcocks Streamsearch float works on exactly the same principle. Rather than requiring two different models, clever wire loops enable one to connect the float for a river flowing in whatever direction. Pomenteg has one, I have the other. We'll report back after our maiden voyage!

Happy days and wet nets - Joff


In his book 'ANGLING for PIKE' - a practical and comprehensive work on the most approved methods of fishing for pike or jack Bickerdyke includes accounts of 'new tackles for spinning, live baiting, and trolling.' Here's what he says...


Artificial Spinning baits are simply legion; but the old-fashioned spoon-bait (Fig. 40), with certain improvements, still holds its own among the best of them. It is now made with each side half gold-plate and half silver-plate; and what are termed "Norwich" spoons are fitted with a glass eye.

The Clipper (Fig. 41) is one of the best of the artificials; it not only attracts the pike, but hooks them in a most satisfactory manner. The angler should always keep three sizes of this bait, using the small size on calm, bright days.



Phantom minnows, also, are rare good baits, but rather ex-pensive ones, as they soon get "chawed" up.They are made either of silk, sole-skin, or snake-skin. The silk phantoms are the least durable, but I fancy they take more fish than the other kinds. They are softer, and collapse more thoroughly when seized by the pike than do the sole-skin baits. In some waters red phantoms are very killing; coloured blue, they are supposed to show best in thick water. I have taken many pike on phantoms silvered all over. They should be kept in several sizes. Two triangles at the shoulder (see Fig. 42) are unnecessary, and spoil the spin of the bait; one is sufficient. The Cleopatra (Fig. 43) a flexible, metal fish, is another bait which I have found very killing, particularly in the medium and small sizes. Then there is that excellent bait the Devon minnow, which has probably caught more trout, pike, and salmon than any other bait ever invented. It should, of course, be large, mounted on gimp for pike, and the hooks should be strong. The Comet made by Bambridge, of Eton, is also a most excellent artificial spinning bait, and has accounted for many pike.


Poor Thomas Pritt. he never got to see the publication of 'AN ANGLER'S BASKET'. His friend C.P. Roberts writing in the introduction to the book said "There is always a feeling of sadness, mingled with joy, at the birth of a posthumous child; welcome though the new arrival may be, and doubly dear, perhaps, from the circumstances under which it comes into the world, its friends are irresistibly reminded of the parent whose friendship they have lost, and whose fostering care will be wanting to his child.

Such feelings are evoked by the issue of this book which its author had prepared for publication, but which, alas! he was not destined to see through the press." Thomas writes throughout the book of fishing tales, advice, poetry, and songs. Here he speaks amusingly of the need to remain confident in your choice of rod and not be swayed by the opinions of others. 


I do not know anything more amusing to an observant man than the varieties of opinion expressed by different anglers upon the same fishing rod. Say you have given Forrest, of Kelso, 5os. for a downright good rod which you think is above criticism, though you invite it. It is eleven feet long, moderately stiff, and what Artemus Ward would have called "a fair even-going critter."

No. 1, asked what he thinks of it, damns it at once with faint praise. "Well, he says, "it is a fair rod," but he " should have preferred it a trifle heavier in the butt."

No. 2 is more candid, and says at once "it is a whippy beggar, and he would not give you tuppence for it."

No. 3 thinks it is "a first-rate rod, a trifle heavy perhaps, and not very well balanced, but still it is very fair tackle."

By this time you are half inclined to send the rod back to Forrest and get another of a different build, when No. 4 arrives, and after handling it carefully and nearly breaking it in two in his efforts to see what it is fit for, he remarks that he would be ashamed to own such a thing, and walks off. Next day No. 5 has a go at it, he says it is "too heavy in the middle and too light in the butt."

No. 6 says "it is a splendid rod all but the top joints, which are very fine wood, but too thin."  No. 7 would not have it as a gift, and No. 8 says "it is just the rod he has been trying to find; it is rather too stiff for his fancy, but if you are inclined to part with it he will take it off your hands at 25 shillings." And so on. These are everyday experiences and we all meet them. They merely represent the fact that tastes differ. I have heard it said that one of the most difficult things in this world is to preserve harmony amongst the members of a mixed choir; but if you will take the first good rod you can lay your hands on, and invite twenty-five different men to handle it, I will eat it if you do not get twenty-five different opinions about it!




Pomenteg is very pleased with himself. Looking for some moleskin plus-twos that had been stashed in the loft he came across his old brown school suitcase. A flick of  the catches revealed not exactly a horde of treasure to be reported to the local Finds Liaison Officer but his copy of Freshwater Fishes - certainly a treasure to him. The little A5 sized album of all the Brooke Bond picture cards that were issued in tea packets in 1960 still gave him the same thrill of 5 decades ago. There was the ugly Wels catfish (Silurus glanis) that he’d seen mentioned in the fishing papers of the time...

...and the fascinating Lampern (Petromyzon fluviatilis) better known to young Pomenteg as a Lamprey, a seasonal addition to his fishing net when paddling the local streams.

The mysterious Burbot (Lota lota) too, nowadays spoken in hushed reverence, a fish of myth and legend and now considered extinct in the Uk was there in all its dull be-speckled glory. Pomenteg has never seen or caught Lota lota in fact there probably isn't an angler alive who has caught a lot of Lota lota but it seems there may be a chance to come face to face with one in the not too distant future.  It's possible a reintroduction scheme will go ahead and enable British anglers to experience a fish that only our great grandparents might remember. Natural England and The Norfolk Rivers Trust is masterminding a project to bring back this only freshwater member of the cod family but before then there will be feasibility studies and interestingly a DNA survey of the rivers to check that there are no traces at all of any elusive survivors. £80,000 is required for a five year pilot scheme to go ahead. All is not plain sailing however. Well known angler John Bailey suggests Burbot are the canaries in the mine and that their disappearance is just a red flag to the state of our rivers. Also, why introduce another predator when our fish are struggling enough with the likes of otters, Zander, and cormorants. Pomenteg can see his point but can't yet decide in which camp to raise his flag.

Pomenteg also learns that so popular was this series of cards that they were reprinted in the early 70’s. Want to know which decade your cards are from? Look at the back, if they're printed in blue they're from 1960. If they’re printed in black they're from 1973. Neither issue is any less a joy and Pomenteg is happy to report that they’re far easier to obtain for just a few guinees from a popular online auction site than they were back in the 60's when it was a case of waiting for the tea box to be finished before another card could be added to the collection.

Happy days and wet nets - Joff


At one time the use of fixed spool or threadline reels as they were known was considered unsporting, dishonourable, damaging to small fish, and a quick way to empty a river of its stock. This article is from Angling Times Friday July 10th 1953.

PLEASE COME BACK AGAIN- more musings will be added on a regular basis.